But when I read this diatribe from Logan, I felt like I'd known Hastings my whole life. Because brother, I have been there, when some would-be "reputable" journalist who's just been severely ass-whipped by a relative no-name freelancer on an enormous story fights back by going on television and, without any evidence at all, accusing the guy who beat him of cheating. That's happened to me so often, I've come to expect it. If there's a lower form of life on the planet earth than a "reputable" journalist protecting his territory, I haven't seen it.
As to this whole "unspoken agreement" business: the reason Lara Logan thinks this is because she's like pretty much every other "reputable" journalist in this country, in that she suffers from a profound confusion about who she's supposed to be working for. I know this from my years covering presidential campaigns, where the same dynamic applies. Hey, assholes: you do not work for the people you're covering! Jesus, is this concept that fucking hard? On the campaign trail, I watch reporters nod solemnly as they hear about the hundreds of millions of dollars candidates X and Y and Z collect from the likes of Citigroup and Raytheon and Archer Daniels Midland, and it blows my mind that they never seem to connect the dots and grasp where all that money is going. The answer, you idiots, is that it's buying advertising! People like George Bush, John McCain, Barack Obama, and General McChrystal for that matter, they can afford to buy their own P.R. — and they do, in ways both honest and dishonest, visible and invisible.
They don't need your help, and you're giving it to them anyway, because you just want to be part of the club so so badly. Disgustingly, that's really what it comes down to. Most of these reporters just want to be inside the ropeline so badly, they want to be able to say they had that beer with Hillary Clinton in a bowling alley in Scranton or whatever, that it colors their whole worldview. God forbid some important person think you're not playing for the right team!
Meanwhile, the people who don't have the resources to find out the truth and get it out in front of the public's eyes, your readers/viewers, you're supposed to be working for them — and they're not getting your help. What the hell are we doing in Afghanistan? Is it worth all the bloodshed and the hatred? Who are the people running this thing, what is their agenda, and is that agenda the same thing we voted for? By the severely unlikely virtue of a drunken accident we get a tiny glimpse of an answer to some of these vital questions, but instead of cheering this as a great break for our profession, a waytago moment, one so-called reputable journalist after another lines up to protest the leak and attack the reporter for doing his job. God, do you all suck!
Maybe the larger story that is emerging from the McChrystal affair is the issue of why "traditional journalism" keeps missing the key stories.
The emerging answer is that Trad J is in bed with their sources and or with those that pay the bills.
This is why it is organizations such as Rolling Stone that that got not only this story but also the financial story right when the Trad organizations have missed them. It is why Michael Yon is on his own in Afghanistan. It is why - we the public - are confused about many issues that we don't have to be confused about.
No wonder fewer and fewer people read, view or trust them.
Why I fuss so much about the world today - Have I served her well today? What about your kids and grand children - have we done our best for them? For they are innocent - what is their inheritance and what did we do to affect it?
What ever the outcome of the meeting between General McChrystal and the President, I think it is time to rethink the process by which the war is conducted and I think WWII offers us a better model.
Strategy was conducted in conference with the key allies combining the political and military. Key issues such as Germany First were decided in these meetings. The year of the second front was another key call.
By having such conferences, the commanders could be sure of the resources and of the task ahead. None of this begging for men. All was clear for the Commander. All he had to do was to do.
What is clear for any commander in Afghanistan?
Both Roosevelt and Churchill were served by a top soldier who not only knew their stuff but all the players. More both Marshall and Brooke held their own egos in check. So the political leader could be assured of a sure advice.
The leader of the allied team in Afghanistan has to be a diplomat and subtle. How was McChrystal chosen? Imagine if Patton had been in Ike's job? We might have lost the war. Very poor advice. Based on of course not a clear strategy.
Marshall had his Black Book. He had tested every senior officer. He cleared the decks after the Louisiana Maneuvers and his black book had the names of those who had it. This was war and only the most fitted would get command.
But most important of all - stay or leave - we need to think our way.
If it is leave we need as thoughtful a man as one who would stay. This is General Julian Byng. It was his job to extricate the British (Australian and New Zealanders too) from Gallipoli. The withdrawal was the most brilliant retreat in the annals of war. Byng then went on to command the Canadians in France and was the architect of Vimy. He knew how to pick men and it was his support that made Arthur Currie his Canadian successor.
If it is stay then what does that mean. We have to have a real strategy. Can we rely on the creation of a state? Is this realistic? Can we rely on Karzai? If not then what?
It might mean hold and contain.
After their total defeat, the British had a holding strategy that worked for 100 years. That might work too - but it does demand a bit of homework! I wonder how much the Pentagon know of what the Brits did on the frontier - I bet next to nothing.
But there are officers like Maj Jim Gant who know what they are doing. They know how to do this.
This is not big army. This is not nation building. This is social war where engagement and trust and time all are essential. It means living and being like Afghans. It means being in villages for years - not in an American Compound but in the village putting your life in the hands of those that you are there to serve.
Sounds mad? That is what the Brits did for a century.
Gant is the 21st century 19th century "Social Soldier" who loves and understands the Afghan people and knows how to work within its culture to get results. Underneath "Big Army" are people like Gant who have a lot to contribute if the President is interested in hearing what is practical.
Such a strategy is based on the Tribal and not State idea. It demands a long term attachment to the Tribes and to being there as true brothers. Jim Gant's greatest supporter is the supreme writer of historical fiction today,Steven Pressfield- author of amongst other books - The Afghan Campaign - the story of another campaign that ran into trouble - Alexander the Great.
Here is how he answers the question of whether Americans could do such a job - become those that they serve and escape the bubble of their culture and Big Army:
Men for the job
Tribal Engagement Team members, should this concept be adopted, would be called upon to commit for multiple tours under the loneliest, harshest and most hazardous conditions imaginable.To succeed with the tribe they are assigned to, they would have to demonstrate impeccable combat credentials and, even rarer, possess the “people skills” to establish and maintain rapport across a cultural chasm—Western to Tribal Afghan—that has defeated every outside entity from Alexander the Great to the British and the Soviets.The task would be extraordinarily difficult, dirty and dangerous, and in the end would almost certainly be rewarded neither by career advancement (because the enterprise would be unprecedented and outside the normal channels of military promotion) nor by recognition from the public at large, who in all probability will rarely hear of it and wouldn’t understand or appreciate it if they did.
How can we identify and attract such men?
Do you remember this tiny, three-line ad from the London Times, December 29, 1913?
Men wanted for hazardous journey, small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful, honour and recognition in case of success.
5000 volunteers queued up in response to this advertisement, posted by Ernest Shackleton seeking crewmen for his Antarctic expedition.
I may be wrong, but I don’t think our young American warriors would respond with any less enthusiasm than their British cousins did a century ago to a similar call.Do you?
What is the strategy and what is the outcome. These are not the questions for the local commander - they are the questions for the political leadership. If there is a "Coalition" then they should be at the table.
Time to put the unworkable ideas of democracy and national building aside and to bring in people who know what they are doing to advise on what can be done.
Big Army has lost every conflict since WWII - for they miss the political point. Every army that has taken on Afghanistan has lost - including Alexander. Being powerful conventionally is not enough.
Alexander got out by bowing down eventually to the cultural realities of the place - if he could put aside his version of Big Army, then who are we to think we can better him?
A federal judge in New Orleans has blocked a six-month moratorium on new deepwater drilling projects that was imposed in response to the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The White House said immediately it would appeal the decision.
Several companies that ferry people and supplies and provide other services to offshore drilling rigs had asked U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman in New Orleans to overturn the moratorium.
Steven Newman, Transocean Ltd. president and CEO, is seen during a break at the World National Oil Companies Congress in London on Tuesday.(Lefteris Pitarakis/Associated Press)
U.S. President Barack Obama's administration has halted the approval of any new permits for deepwater drilling and suspended drilling at 33 exploratory wells in the Gulf.
But Feldman said in his ruling that the Interior Department failed to provide adequate reasoning for the moratorium, and accused it of appearing to assume that because one rig failed, all companies and rigs doing deepwater drilling pose an imminent danger.