Warning Against Wars Like Iraq and Afghanistan

WEST POINT, N.Y. — Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates bluntly told an audience of West Point cadets on Friday that it would be unwise for the United States to ever fight another war like Iraq or Afghanistan, and that the chances of carrying out a change of government in that fashion again were slim.

“In my opinion, any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa should ‘have his head examined,’ as General MacArthur so delicately put it,” Mr. Gates told an assembly of Army cadets here.

That reality, he said, meant that the Army would have to reshape its budget, since potential conflicts in places like Asia or the Persian Gulf were more likely to be fought with air and sea power, rather than with conventional ground forces.

“As the prospects for another head-on clash of large mechanized land armies seem less likely, the Army will be increasingly challenged to justify the number, size, and cost of its heavy formations,” Mr. Gates warned.

“The odds of repeating another Afghanistan or Iraq — invading, pacifying, and administering a large third-world country — may be low,” Mr. Gates said, but the Army and the rest of the government must focus on capabilities that can “prevent festering problems from growing into full-blown crises which require costly — and controversial — large-scale American military intervention.”

Mr. Gates was brought into the Bush cabinet in late 2006 to repair the war effort in Iraq that was begun under his predecessor, Donald H. Rumsfeld, and then was kept in office by President Obama. He did not directly criticize the Bush administration’s decisions to go to war. Even so, his never-again formulation was unusually pointed, especially at a time of upheaval across the Arab world and beyond. Mr. Gates has said that he would leave office this year, and the speech at West Point could be heard as his farewell to the Army.

A decade of constant conflict has trained a junior officer corps with exceptional leadership skills, he told the cadets, but the Army may find it difficult in the future to find inspiring work to retain its rising commanders as it fights for the money to keep large, heavy combat units in the field.

“Men and women in the prime of their professional lives, who may have been responsible for the lives of scores or hundreds of troops, or millions of dollars in assistance, or engaging or reconciling warring tribes, may find themselves in a cube all day re-formatting PowerPoint slides, preparing quarterly training briefs, or assigned an ever-expanding array of clerical duties,” Mr. Gates said. “The consequences of this terrify me.”

He said Iraq and Afghanistan had become known as “the captains’ wars” because “officers of lower and lower rank were put in the position of making decisions of higher and higher degrees of consequence and complexity.”

To find inspiring work for its young officers after combat deployments, the Army must encourage unusual career detours, Mr. Gates said, endorsing graduate study, teaching, or duty in a policy research institute or Congressional office.

Mr. Gates said his main worry was that the Army might not overcome the institutional bias that favored traditional career paths. He urged the service to “break up the institutional concrete, its bureaucratic rigidity in its assignments and promotion processes, in order to retain, challenge, and inspire its best, brightest, and most battle-tested young officers to lead the service in the future.”

There will be one specific benefit to the fighting force as the pressures of deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan decrease, Mr. Gates said: “The opportunity to conduct the kind of full-spectrum training — including mechanized combined arms exercises — that was neglected to meet the demands of the current wars.”

A version of this article appears in print on February 26, 2011, on Page A7 of the New York edition with the headline: Gates Warns Against Wars Like Iraq and Afghanistan.

Iran Is Not Interested In Escalating Tensions, Iranian Diplomat Says


NPR's David Greene talks to Iran's Ambassador to the United Nations Majid Takht Ravanchi about the increasing tensions with the U.S. NPR's Peter Kenyon weighs in on the conversation.

U.S. To Send Aircraft Carrier Strike Group To Middle East, Citing Iran

The White House announced on Sunday that the U.S. will send an aircraft carrier strike group to the Middle East because of "troubling and escalatory indications" related to Iran. Meanwhile, a ceasefire has been reached after days of deadly fighting in the Gaza Strip. Here & Now's Jeremy Hobson talks with Aaron David Miller (@aarondmiller2), Middle East Program director at The Wilson Center and past adviser to secretaries of state in both Democratic and Republican administrations.

This segment aired on May 6, 2019.

Trump Administration Debates How Much Of A Threat Iran Is To The U.S.


A debate is underway within the Trump administration over how significant a threat Iran is to the United States and how to respond.

Pompeo To Confer With Putin And Other Russian Leaders In Sochi


NPR's Steve Inskeep talks to Russian journalist Vladimir Pozner for a preview of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's meeting with Russian President Putin and others in Sochi.


Noam Chomsky & Gilbert Achcar dialog in Perilous Power: the Middle East And U.S. Foreign Policy (2017) discussing “what are the prospects for military action” in Iran.  Chomsky declares that Iran has to be punished because it broke free of U.S. control in 1979.  The U.S. picture of Iran—as portrayed in media commentary and so on—says nothing ever happened in Iran up until 1979.  The installation of the shah in 1953, that kind of thing, doesn't matter.

Chomsky posits that there was a good study of the press coverage of atrocities in Iran.  From 1953 to 1979, when Iran was ruled by the pro-U. S. Shah, all the torture, massacres, and everything else got essentially no coverage at all.  Starting in 1979, after the shah was overthrown in a popular revolution, all of a sudden there was huge coverage of the atrocities in Iran.

In any event, Chomsky states, Iran broke ranks with the United States in 1979, and this is a crime for which it has to be punished.  And it goes way beyond rational state interests.  As with Cuba [now Venezuela], it’s the Mafia mentality: You can't allow disobedience to exist; it’s too dangerous because other people [Europeans frightened by U.S. Sanctions] might get the idea that they can be disobedient as well.


So Iran's going to have to be punished for that act of disobedience.  The United States supported Iraq in the Iran-Iraq war partly because they just wanted both sides to slaughter each other, but they also wanted to make sure that Iraq won.  When it looked like perhaps they weren't going to win, the United States just entered the war on Iraq's side: re-flagging the ships, shooting down the Iranian airliner, and so on.


The U.S. actually supported Iraq to such an extent that Iraq was given a privilege that no other country has, except Israel [murder of Rachel Corrie]: They were able to attack an American naval vessel and kill a few dozen American sailors and get away with it.  Who can do that?--[except Israel].  Iraq could get away with it because it was part of the attack on Iran.  After that, it just continues, [until 2019].

Trump claims that the Iran Deal was a “disgrace” that put Israel in danger.  However, as Chomsky declares 10 percent of the Israeli air force is in eastern Turkey at American bases there, flying reconnaissance at, or maybe over, the Iranian border—not to learn anything, just as a threat, saying “we're here.”  Israel is a nuclear state, everybody know that.  It's actually a little country, but it is a U.S. offshoot.  According to the head of research and development for the Israeli Defense Forces, its air force and armored forces are larger and more sophisticated than any NATO power apart from the United States.


And to beef it up furthermore the Bush administration supplied Israel over a hundred advanced jet fighter-bombers, equipped with what the Hebrew press in Israel calls “special weaponry—that's for the ears of Iranian intelligence, meaning probably nuclear weapons or [high tech weaponry]--some say bunker busters.  The dispatch of new aircraft apparently didn't get reported in the U.S., but you can be certain that Iranian intelligence hears it—it's in the Israeli press and military journals.  It's presumably intended to rattle them, to say, yes, you're under serious threat.


Views: 30

Comment by J.P. Hart on May 25, 2019 at 6:31am

...all of a sudden there was huge coverage of the atrocities in Iran...

I was up all hours after having had stumbled (and fell remorsefully somersaulted) via Free Factual Information deeply into)

Nixon and the Cambodian Genocide
BRETT S. MORRIS [4/27/15]

Operation Menu

Description Operation Menu was the codename of a covert United States Strategic Air Command bombing campaign conducted in eastern Cambodia from 18 March 1969 until 26 May 1970 as part of both the Vietnam War and the Cambodian Civil War. Wikipedia

and so forth on and on and IT's for sale for sure: WAR IS NOT THE ANSWER

We all probably know how very many sand/civilization Afghanistan Iraq war veterans who've endured multiple tours of duty--it is my sincere hope that if we knew what to do we'd gone dunn it yesterday; aren't we saying:..SECURITY YES--ARMAGEDDON NINE...?
Your diligent profound efforts are appreciated.
Spooky/Spikey how MAD/MIC can be readily construed and invoked as a surreal distraction from contextual boondoggling of would be aristocratic power merchants...dire dynamics: yikes!

Any direction-connection after OS gives up the ghost?

Comment by mary gravitt on May 25, 2019 at 1:47pm

I just read the posting that OS is giving up the ghost.  This is the saddest news I've heard post 2016.  I have a friend who know a little about IT and I will try to get his advice of creating a page of my own.  But it will never replace OS because OS does not Censure.

I've made so many friend and critics here on OS where I can vent my spleen.  I feel like it is a death in the family.

Let's keep in touch: gravittmary@gmail.

Comment by J.P. Hart on May 25, 2019 at 6:45pm

We shall!

'...we'll walk in the rays of a beautiful sun...yeah!'


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