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disappointing, if not surprising
by noteworthy at 10:55 am EST, Jan 3, 2015


Our authorization is obviously not required.

Dan Geer:

Things that need no appropriations are outside the system of checks and balances.


The police and the military are increasingly tribes of their own, separate from the rest of us ...

Rustin Cohle:

Of course I'm dangerous. I'm police. I can do terrible things to people with impunity.

Ta-Nehisi Coates:

When the police brutalize people, we are forgiving because ultimately we are really just forgiving ourselves. Power, decoupled from responsibility, is what we seek. The citizen who needs to look away generally finds a reason.

Rustin Cohle:

People incapable of guilt usually do have a good time.

David Cole:

These programs are best understood not as unique to Obama or Bush, or even the United States, but as reflections of how the world is changing in ways that threaten not only fundamental human rights to life and privacy, but the essence of democracy itself. As such, they raise questions that will not go away under this president or the next, but that will with increasing urgency confront nations around the world.

James Comey and Robert Hannigan have ... called for public debate on terrorism and technology. It is disappointing, if not surprising, that they see a need for public debate only when new technologies may impair their ability to monitor us, and not when such technologies enhance their monitoring.

James Fallows:

As a country, America has been at war nonstop for the past 13 years. As a public, it has not. What happens to all institutions that escape serious external scrutiny and engagement has happened to our military. For democracies, messy debates are less damaging in the long run than letting important functions run on autopilot, as our military essentially does now.

Rory Stewart:

Nothing is ultimately more damaging to the military than absence of criticism.

Charles J. Dunlap Jr., a retired Air Force major general who now teaches at Duke law school:

It's becoming increasingly tribal, in the sense that more and more people in the military are coming from smaller and smaller groups. It's become a family tradition, in a way that's at odds with how we want to think a democracy spreads the burden.

RE: disappointing, if not surprising
by Decius at 5:53 pm EST, Jan 4, 2015

Well, that certainly didn't cheer me up, but thanks anyway. :) I saw the James Fallows article make the rounds on Twitter a few days ago but I didn't read it. Most of the discussion centered on the F35. Its so unsurprising that projects like that suffer from the same sort of revolving door political corruption that Congress suffers from that it hardly warrants observing. The rest of the article is far more interesting and troubling. We don't remove generals for battlefield failures? More context please. There is a war on. Is that an old fashioned idea or are we asleep at the wheel? I need a drink...

RE: disappointing, if not surprising
by noteworthy at 7:51 am EST, Jan 5, 2015


We don't remove generals for battlefield failures? More context please.

Dexter Filkins:

Phil Klay's "Redeployment" is the best thing written so far on what the war did to people's souls.

Andrew Bacevich:

Why exactly did American military leaders get so much so wrong? Bolger floats several answers to that question but settles on this one: With American forces designed for short, decisive campaigns, the challenges posed by protracted irregular warfare caught senior officers completely by surprise.

Daniel Bolger:

Over a thirty-five-year career, Daniel Bolger rose through the army infantry to become a three-star general, commanding in both theaters of the U.S. campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan. He participated in meetings with top-level military and civilian players, where strategy was made and managed. At the same time, he regularly carried a rifle alongside rank-and-file soldiers in combat actions, unusual for a general. Now, as a witness to all levels of military command, Bolger offers a unique assessment of these wars, from 9/11 to the final withdrawal from the region. Writing with hard-won experience and unflinching honesty, Bolger makes the firm case that in Iraq and in Afghanistan, we lost — but we didn't have to. Intelligence was garbled. Key decision makers were blinded by spreadsheets or theories. And, at the root of our failure, we never really understood our enemy. Why We Lost is a timely, forceful, and compulsively readable account of these wars from a fresh and authoritative perspective.


A culture of mediocrity has taken hold within the Army's leadership rank—if it is not uprooted, the country's next war is unlikely to unfold any better than the last two.

Morning Edition:

we're not going back to a Marshall-style approach anytime soon, Ricks says, partly because civilians, including our civilian leadership, are too unfamiliar with the way the military operates. "I think until we hold our generals accountable for being effective, that we won't see much change in the way our military is led; we won't see that kind of adaptiveness that I think we need in our leaders."

Fresh Air:

His new book, The Generals, is about what he sees as a decline of American military leadership; it offers an argument about why the wars in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan have been ... [ Read More (0.3k in body) ]

RE: disappointing, if not surprising
by Decius at 5:11 pm EST, Jan 9, 2015

noteworthy wrote:

We don't remove generals for battlefield failures? More context please.

Fresh Air:

His new book, The Generals, is about what he sees as a decline of American military leadership; it offers an argument about why the wars in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan have been so long and so frustrating.

He says it boils down to one word: accountability.

We've had several terrorist incidents in the west in the past few years, and consistently it seems the people involved were already on watch lists. The Tsarnaev brothers, these people in France. They were already known to be dangerous.

The point is that nearly a decade and a half after 9/11 we're still not connecting the dots.

The whole problem was that the dots weren't getting connected, and instead of figuring out how to connect them, we've been busy building warehouses of additional dots.

How many hundreds of millions are we spending hauling meta-data in from all over the world? What if instead of collecting data on everybody's Grandma, we spent those funds looking more closely at the people that we already have some actual basis to suspect might be involved in Terrorism?

Successful attacks are battle field failures and should demand reconsideration of our approach. Mass surveillance may be draining resources away from the focus that is needed.

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