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Jun-24-2010 19:50printcomments

Petraeous: The Man Who Paid Enemies and Then Cut Them Off

There is very little reason to believe that a war can be won in Afghanistan. There is no history of these people ever being defeated in the end.

Tim King flying in Gen. David Petraeous' jet from Baghdad to Ballad, Iraq
Salem-News.com's Tim King flying in Gen. David Petraeous' jet from Baghdad to Ballad, Iraq. The general was not aboard; the plane was used to transport journalists on this day. Photo by Justin King.

(SALEM, Ore.) - Army General Stanley McChrystal has been in command of International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, since June 15, 2009.

His post ended fairly abruptly Wednesday, over remarks he made about Vice President Joe Biden in a Rolling Stone article. It went over very badly with the Obama Administration. The President dismissed Gen. McCrystal from his top level assignment.

Obama says his choice to replace Gen. McCrystal, is General David Petraeus. The post is temporarily in the hands of British Lieutenant General Sir Nicholas "Nick" Parker.

People associate the name of Gen. David Petraeus with success in Iraq. That in and of itself, is one of the American society's single biggest mistakes. It is a factual error to refer to "the surge" as some type of positive element in the war, without the stipulation; 'very temporary'.

Don't get me wrong; the Iraq Surge worked while it lasted. People became safer because the U.S. began paying Sunni militia, many of whom had been enemies of the US earlier in the war. It just didn't last long enough, and there were no plans to continue the progress.

Many Iraqi people died as a result.

Tim King reports from Iraq on Sunni militias

The program left massive walls in Baghdad dividing Shi'ite and Sunni neighborhoods. They had never been divided this way; Iraqi citizens had never been forced to declare their religious sect and have it listed on their identification cards. This was the U.S. gift to Iraq so heavily touted by the Bush administration and the American media, but not in such terms.

I was in Iraq when the surge ended. I talked to the men who comprised the 'Sons of Iraq' militias under the Sunni Awakening Councils as they were called. When Bush dissolved the Iraqi Army, he disbanded ranks of men who were career military. Under current rules, none of these veteran soldiers are allowed to serve; they are in their 30's and 40's and too old.

But the Sons of Iraq program gave these men an identity, a paycheck, $305 a man per month, to be on the U.S. team. They were elevated in society as members of the Sunni minority. They manned checkpoints with AK-47's and bright orange vests and they truly went a long way toward keeping the peace. In reality, as former insurgents, they were pretty good at spotting others.

The men who were members of the Sunni militias told me that they can make $200 from the insurgency, for firing a rocket at a U.S. base. (The one where I was staying no less).

Artwork by the amazing Carlos Latuff, friend of Salem-News.com located in Rio de
Janeiro. To see more of his work, visit: Latuff Gallery

The men I talked to told me they were loyal. U.S. soldiers told me they didn't suspect that some of the men were moonlighting for the other side, they knew they were, but it was never clear exactly who. By and large, most American soldiers and Marines that I spoke to in Iraq thought the Sons of Iraq were a good idea.

By paying former enemies to be on the American side, people started surviving in far greater numbers. But it all ended, and I was there to hear the Iraqis plead with the American soldiers to not end the Sons of Iraq 'CLC Checkpoints' as they were known.

If Petraeus does this again; develop a program to buy loyalty to the U.S. without plans to continue the process, whatever it is, then we are facing another huge problem that will only destabilize this region of the world worse than it already is.

At this point, it seems the United States is in a repeat of the Vietnam War, even more than Iraq. There is very little reason to believe that a war can be won in Afghanistan. There is no history of these people ever being defeated in the end. The United States had a chance to set things right after the Afghan Mujahideen defeated the biggest enemy in recent U.S. history; the Soviet Union itself, in 1989, but we Americans were too preoccupied, too unconcerned.

The American politicians didn't want to help Charlie Wilson after the war ended, they didn't want to dirty their hands with it. The warlords of Afghanistan, friends of the U.S. like Osama bin Laden and Ahmad Shah Massoud, did it for one billion dollars. Americans are in comparison, an extremely overfunded and ineffective force.

As far as Daivd Petraeus goes, I did have a unique opportunity to speak to several men who knew him well; they were U.S. Army aviators who were charged with flying the General around in a Cessna jet known as a 'white bird'. It is worth noting that these crewmen expressed only positive thoughts about the top general. Another journalist, Justin King, and I, had the chance to fly in his aircraft one day. Petraeus wasn't aboard, but it was still an interesting opportunity to gain personal insight about the man. In my heart I don't think he considered the end game with the Iraq Surge. He was given a hopeless situation by a President who started a war because he simply 'wanted to' in the opinion of many, creating a massive false information campaign to propel the opportunity. It is the lack of commitment and the failure to launch a sustainable program that I believe was the first and worst move in this story.

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Tim King is a former U.S. Marine with twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. In addition to his role as a war correspondent, this Los Angeles native serves as Salem-News.com's Executive News Editor. Tim spent the winter of 2006/07 covering the war in Afghanistan, and he was in Iraq over the summer of 2008, reporting from the war while embedded with both the U.S. Army and the Marines.

Tim holds numerous awards for reporting, photography, writing and editing, including the Oregon AP Award for Spot News Photographer of the Year (2004), first place Electronic Media Award in Spot News, Las Vegas, (1998), Oregon AP Cooperation Award (1991); and several others including the 2005 Red Cross Good Neighborhood Award for reporting. Serving the community in very real terms, Salem-News.com is the nation's only truly independent high traffic news Website. You can send Tim an email at this address: newsroom@salem-news.com




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B. Susskind June 24, 2010 8:51 pm (Pacific time)

If you base your conclusions on past history records, why do you not tell the Arabs to put their weaposns down. After all, the history books are FULL of proof that Isral always wins. So if you really side with the Arabs and support their cause, be a good friend and advise them that they are simply wasting their time in trying to defeat Israel!

Editor: We educate the world about how the Arabs  have put their guns down; Israel uses a lull in the fighting for genocidal purposes.  Israel's regard of humanity is totally obscene.  Besides, you guys have had a 40% reduction in sperm counts from bombing the Palestinians with Depleted Uranium rounds, looks like the joke was on you. 40% fewer Israelis will reproduce as a result of your government's warmongering.  Seems you Israelis are your own worst enemies.  Read it and weep pal.  To learn more about this, simply Google 'israeli sperm counts' or click this link to my report: <b>Apr-14-2010:</b> <a href="http://www.salem-news.com/articles/april142010/israeli-sperm.php">Israel's Declining Sperm Quality Tied to Depleted Uranium Exposure - Tim King Salem-News.com</a>   


Alaz June 28, 2010 11:19 am (Pacific time)

The spirit of Ahmad Shah Massoud will never leave Afghanistan. That is the only thing Gen. Petraeus can build on. Our only hopes now rest on Gen. Petraeus. But with a (non)-commander in chief like Obama there is only so much Gen. Petraeus can do. Gen. Petraeus has to work with former Massoud confidentials Abdullah Abdullah, the Qadirs and others, they might know where to turn to.

Pakistan, the Taliban and Hekmatyar know they have to fear Massoud's spirit more than all NATO military force. Pakistan should leave Afghanistan forever, or its failed policy in Afghanistan will become its own graveyard and a DEADLY danger to the whole world. It is far more menancing for Israel than a nuclear armed Iran.

Whatever happens ... to all of those sent from hell (Mr. Gul, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, Mullah Omar, Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, Osama Bin Laden, Abdullah Mehsud, ...), make no mistake about it, the

*LION OF PANJSHIR*
شاه مسعود‎ احمد
*WILL NEVER LEAVE THE MOUNTAINS OF AFGHANISTAN*

Hamid Karzai will end like (former communist Afghan president) Najibullah if he does not return to the right way. The Taliban will have neither friendship nor mercy for him. Pakistan's Hamid Gul said, that he expects over 10 000 "traitors" to be murdered by the Taliban.

Tim King: Alaz, thank you for your comment, the spirit of Ahmad Massoud lives in the halls of Salem-News.com also; I am a huge admirer of this man who held such promise for the people of Afghanistan, the 'Lion of Panjshir'.  I was educated by Afghans about this great man and have spent considerable time studying his life.  I never go a day without considering his successes and sacrifices and his love for the right things in this world.  Here are links to three stories I have written that reference Massoud:

Jun-14-2010: Bob Etheridge, North Carolina and Camera Crew Fraud - Tim King Salem-News.com

Mar-01-2009: Unemployment & Low Pay in Afghanistan & Iraq Bolster Insurgency - Tim King Salem-News.com

Dec-03-2009: Afghanistan and Obama's Point of No Return - Tim King Salem-News.com


Anonymous June 26, 2010 6:49 pm (Pacific time)

Tim King wrote: "You can minimize my three months in war, but I did what most don't do. There is always a way to compare it to military service and underrate it, I don't think that is an accurate assessment." Do you have any idea the number of journalists who have been going to both Iraq and Afghanistan since the initial invasions? I must know at least seven who belong to some of the same fraternal organizations that I do. I have seen so much private and work-related video footage of theirs, professionally edited, that is so well done, and it has been done over time. The differences in Iraq are incredible, but Afghanistan is something else. I love and respect our combat warriors so much, and will support them no matter what, but we need to leave this country, "unless" we are prepared to fight it to win. Obama and those around him are getting our people killed, so we gotta get out asap. It is through my contacts, people I've know for years that have given me the info to make that assessment. I am also a combat vet, 100% service-connected, but I am quite mobile, so I spend quite a bit of time with wounded vets and other disabled vets from other wars, so I've been getting an earful by those who know what's going on from a grunt's perspective. This crap in Afghanistan is worse than Vietnam, and Obama is the reason it's getting worse. The enemy is just kicking back,waiting. They are also here in the states, just kicking back, waiting...


Monty June 26, 2010 8:31 am (Pacific time)

It appears the writer of this article does not know what has happened in both Irag and Afghanistan historically and where they both are today, and how they got there. Reminds me of those who go to a combat zone, they hear some explosions/gunfire, maybe even run across some fatalities and wounded, and from these brief exposures they extrapolate their conclusions which have no basis in reality. Those who go into combat zones and actually live there for long periods of time and continue to visit these areas over time will still be very cautious in providing conclusive opinions, but not the novices, they have an agenda and will never let facts get in the way. Pretty predictable pablum. As they say, if you can't stand the heat in the kitchen, get out! You can always tell who the real professional are in my opinion, based on a very long and well developed experience. I dare say, how many of you have ever been in command of a combat unit in actual combat? Hint: It is a fluid dynamic environment, all your tactics and strategy pivot on those second to second changes only combat leaders understand, whether down to a platoon/company level up to the commander of the entire theatre of operations. It is the armchair people, who after the fact, put in their two cents, and they are always wrong because they have no experience to help guide their uninformed assessments. It's one thing to report objective facts, another to offer an informed opinion. Some can do neither, and that is why the media is losing readers/viewers to those who are the real reporters of the information people need. It really ends up dealing with one's ultimate survival that promulgates the individual to decide who they get their info from. See whose on top and who is fading in the media, pretty easy to see why.

Tim King" You have been writing this crap here for years, but if I had been a military commander in this life, I wouldn't have 22 years of reporting under my belt.  My brain would have been locked into a military mode and all of the thousands and thousands of stories I have followed over the years instead would have been years of narrow perspective 'killing' and training and endlessly being subjected to back stabbing garbage.  Well I haven't ever killed anybody, never had to, and I am very very fortunate.  You can minimize my three months in war, but I did what most don't do.  There is always a way to compare it to military service and underrate it, I don't think that is an accurate assessment.  


Anonymous June 25, 2010 6:18 pm (Pacific time)

Poor article, has no cedibility and is in direct conflict with those who have actual experience. Uninformed opinions are like illegal aliens...they become nonsensical and dangerous.

Tim King: Pretty terse reaction for a guy never grew the courage to so much as use his name.  People know who I am, they know where I have been.  You are a little germ, it is the seed of hate that fuels your disgusting form.  You have used the name 'Ben' before.  Try growing a pair, what do you say?  I know, what isn't possible, simply isn't.


Anonymous June 25, 2010 7:20 am (Pacific time)

The is a story based on agenda not reality. The situation in Iraq prior to the congressional and United Nations call for a regime change (look at multiple historical votes in favor of invasion going back to Clinton regime) and what it is today is literally night and day. People are voting, including women (over 50% of population) more individual freedom is on the rise and literally millions are free of Saddam's rein of terror, including the Kurds who had thousands die by WMD poison gas. Someday we will find out in the public domain how Syria has been storing the massive inventory of Sadam's wmd's. Unfortunately many people with very little knowledge of what's going on in both Iraq and Afghanistan offer opinions based on "feelings," not empirical and professional assessments by qualified individuals who have years of on scene experience. It is ironic that General Petraeus who was literally mocked by the far left, like the radicals at moveon.org and even Obama (see congressional record), is now running things. Nothing trumps incompetence like experience. Now if we can get some competence in the Gulf of Mexico, but that is not going to happen, until we see a change in leadership. Big difference getting elected based on rhetoric and promises, and then knowing how to govern.

Tim King: Sorry but that is a weak rating, I just wrote things you don't want to hear.  It isn't about left and right, it is about life and death and right and wrong.  You explain this side of the argument to your maker some day, at least I did what I could to expose the truth.  You go spend four weeks in Iraq and come back and tell me your thoughts then.


Rob Taylor June 24, 2010 9:00 pm (Pacific time)

Outstanding article Tim! How refreshing to see someone tell it like it is. Aw shoot...where's Chesty Puller when we need him? I can almost imagine seeing him standing in an afghan poppy field repeating his famous quote from the Chosin Reservoir...We've been looking for the enemy for quite awhile now and we've finally found him. We're surrounded. That simplifies things. LOL! Damn, they just don't make'em like Chesty anymore. Too bad.

Tim King: Thanks very much Rob, we are on the same page here.  I only regret that I haven't yet profiled this historic Marine officer for our readers.  We have gotten to a couple, I will post links below.  Semper fi Rob!

 Apr-15-2009: One of History's Toughest Marines, Smedley Butler, was Anti-War (VIDEO) - Tim King Salem-News.com

May-12-2010: 'Manila John' Basilone, USMC - Robert O'Dowd Salem-News.com

May-22-2010: Ode to a Murdered Marine - Robert O'Dowd Salem-News.com

Jan-05-2010: Marine Drill Instructor Remembered - Robert J. O'Dowd Salem-News.com

Mar-07-2010: 'Pappy Boyington Field' Documentary Film Examines Historic Marine Aviator - Salem-News.com

U.S. Army

Jun-17-2010: PTSD & Alcoholism in a Real American WWII War HeroArthur 'Dutch' Schultz, 82nd Airborne 505 PIR - Carol Schultz-Vento for Salem-News.com

Feb-06-2010: Band of Brothers: Story of Darrel 'Shifty' Powers - Robert O'Dowd Salem-News.com

U.S. Airmen

Sep-22-2006: Book Review: Eugene Bullard - Black Expatriate in Jazz-Age Paris - Book Review by Tim King Salem-News.com

Aug-06-2008: Book Review: Terror of the Autumn Skies Examines Life of WWI Pilot Frank Luke (VIDEO) - Video Book Review by Tim King Salem-News.com

 

 

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