Here’s a War On The Rocks article worth reading:
by David Barno and Nora Bensahel
Here’s a War On The Rocks article worth reading:
by David Barno and Nora Bensahel
This is a really fun Army cookbook, if you ever want to attempt cooking Army recipes from America’s front line troops, throughout American military history. There’s even a recipe for Colonel George Washington’s small beer. The recipes come with ingredient lists for feeding 10 or feeding 100. I really liked that. And as an added bonus, this book is brimming with tidbits of military history and lore.
After mentioning Ulysses S. Grant in my latest blog posts, I decided I should read his autobiography, The Personal Memoirs of U. S. Grant. His autobiography is easily available free online. Amazon has several formats, and in digital format they have a 6-part free version:
The Gutenberg Library has a free online version here.
Bartleby has free version online too – here.
Often many interesting facets to the character and lives of important political figures get buried under the smears used by their political rivals and detractors. Grant is probably more widely known for his reputation as a drunk than as the general who led the Union to victory.
Just a bit of casual googling in the past few days and I learned that besides being a former U.S president and general, Grant was also an accomplished watercolor artist.
Recently, I learned that Karen Pence, wife of vice president, Mike Pence, is also an accomplished watercolor artist and has made promoting art therapy programs to help trauma victims a cause she’ll use her position as second lady to promote. The liberal media has painted her as a far-right, Christian zealot so often that I found it interesting to find out she’s an artist, but even more interesting, she’s a trained pilot:
“Karen comes from a family of pilots. “I was born on an Air Force base,” Karen said on Afternoons With Amos, a radio show. “My dad worked for United Airlines. I kind of grew up around planes. My godfather had his own plane, and when I was a teenager, I got to fly with him and it just kind of got in my blood.”
Although her license is not current, her son Michael has the flying gene. “My son, though, has taken me out because he’s a pilot now, he’s actually an instructor,” she said in the interview.”
The more facets we take the time to see in people, especially people who have been tarred by the media, the easier it is to see them more as sparkling diamonds than as cheap paste jewelry. Most people defy cookie-cutter descriptions. Most are complex, with many experiences and interesting tidbits to share. You can enrich your own life greatly by taking the time to get to know them.
Hope everyone has a nice day and let’s be thankful that yesterday’s missile alarm warning in Hawaii was a false alarm.
The Clinton/Obama/Dems/mainstream media coalition vs. Trump information war drags on and Trump continues to confound his enemies, who still react in dismay that he is still in office.
Both sides remain very committed to continuing the fight. Trump often seems to act on gut instinct, instantaneously reading his enemies’ motives way more clearly than his enemies read him. Trump learned his enemies’ information warfare strategy, but his enemies have no real understanding of how Trump won the election or how to counter his strategy.
Yesterday, I read an editorial piece by Josh Marshall, Thoughts on the Greatness of Ulysses S. Grant, at TPM, which made me think about how Trump is still standing, despite the relentless information war being unleashed against him. The piece is very interesting, so put aside your partisan blinders and read Marshall’s thoughtful views on Grant’s leadership and writing. He offered some insights into Grant’s leadership, that I had never thought about before. Marshall writes about Grant’s transformational military leadership and the ways in which Grant threw the traditional military playbook out the window and experimented with maneuver warfare, but even more interesting than that insight, Marshall explains a theory of military operations, which Grant intuitively utilized to great advantage, even though the theory was not developed until a century later. Marshall writes:
“A century later, a military intellectual and US Air Force Colonel named John Boyd developed a theory of military operations known by the shorthand “OODA loops.” OODA stands for the process of Observe – Orient – Decide – Act, a framework to think about the constant interaction between our observation of our environment and the decisions we make in how to respond to it. Boyd’s insight was that if a combatant can move through this cycle sufficiently faster than an adversary he can get inside his opponent’s ‘OODA loops’. Specifically, if you can move rapidly enough from observation to decision and action, you can change the environment your opponent has observed while they are still deciding how to react to it.That causes a cycle of missteps and confusion leading to defeat. Boyd, a fighter pilot, developed his theory around aviation dogfights. But without the acronyms, game theory and mathematics, it was a similar insight that was allowing Grant to see the impact of mobility in defeating his opponents. Speed is not simply the pace at which actions occur. Sufficient speed changes the nature of those actions or, more specifically, changes the reactions to them and in so doing changes them as well.”
Marshall devotes a good portion of his piece to explaining the importance of writing reflecting clarity of vision and thought. He asserts Grant’s writing reflects an amazing clarity and ability to express himself concisely, which is assuredly more important than style and fancy phrasing in a military leader.
While President Trump is in no way a military genius and it’s a safe bet he has never read either Grant’s autobiography or about Boyd’s OODA loops, Trump has an intuitive genius (yes, I hesitated using that word in relation to Trump) for throwing his political enemies off-balance and for controlling the information battlefield, which the Left learned to dominate and control using the sycophantic, liberal mainstream media to disseminate and saturate the media reporting with talking points, narratives, memes, all designed to manipulate and control public opinion.
For decades the SPIN form of information warfare has allowed the Left to easily and successfully manipulate public opinion and reinforce it, by relentless repetition of the short talking points messaging filled with buzz words, which was then used to manufacture public opinion polling. The polling, which was really the result of what amounted to mass media brainwashing, with the repetitive spin, was sold as the definitive marker on what Americans believe and it was used to marginalize conservatives and political opinions that deviated from the Left’s spin.
Trump’s opponents keep recycling through their tired spin attacks (his taxes, his lying, Russian collusion, his mental instability, the sexual predation allegations), but they keep failing to take him down. Although most of Trump’s attacks are petty, filled with lies, often sound unhinged, and more often than not, are rather sloppily written tweets, what Trump has done is completely break through the Left’s lock on controlling the SPIN cycle.
Observing Trump’s use of Twitter and his public speaking, it’s easy to dismiss Trump as a loudmouth, know nothing, corrupt, lying, reprehensible excuse of a leader. His leadership, especially his penchant for playing even his own team members against each other, is assuredly toxic leadership, but when it comes to using his vastly smaller media platforms to fight the Left’s massively larger and powerful forces, Trump has learned to use his own charismatic showmanship to demolish their carefully constructed spin attacks and completely control the 24/7 news cycle, mostly using just his personal Twitter account and a handful of tweets a day. He doesn’t rely on drafting cumbersome, focus group-tested wording or emailing talking points, then disseminating to thousands of operatives and friendly media Leftists.
Trump does watch a lot of TV news, which the Left is using to discredit Trump, but what they don’t understand is he watches and then, without giving away his next move, he tweets or makes a few public statements, which invariably throw the Left’s carefully orchestrated spin attacks into disarray. Trump has an innate sense for how to manipulate the media, but he has a genius for getting inside his opponents’ OODA loops, leaving them scrambling and stuck recycling through their old spin attacks, while he has completely moved ahead of them and owned their information platforms.
Winning an information war is not about having the best “spin” or vast information platforms that far outmatch your opponents, it’s about understanding people and understanding the things that they care about. Trump understands people and he has a canny knack for manipulating people.
Trump spins faster and more effectively than his enemies and he has demolished the Left’s control of America’s media information platforms… using mostly a free, personal Twitter account. He doesn’t rely on expensive focus groups or fancy data experts; he trusts his own instincts.
Trump has broken through the Left’s information warfare OODA loops.
He broke through and demolished their SPIN cycle.
Whether he can win the information war remains to be seen, but he has the Left off-balance and in a constant state of panic, regrouping and recycling failed talking points messaging.
Until this 2016 Russian collusion hysteria, I believe our government was not as attuned to the Russian information warfare tactics, as they should have been. Over the past couple decades, I believe the Russians have been actively involved in regaining their active measures level as before the collapse of the Soviet Union. The West has now taken notice of the Russian information warfare threat, but in typical American partisan fashion, the mainstream media and Left only want to hype the activities, by framing in terms of “Russian collusion stole the election from Hillary”. Trump and FOX are attempting to discount almost all of the information about the Russian active measures, except to try to cast it as Hillary was colluding with the Russians with the Trump dossier.
Both sides are missing the point. The Russians have been actively fomenting partisan rancor, fueling fears and conspiracy theories within many American political groups and especially trying to incite extreme fringe political factions for many years – not just during the 2016 presidential election.
A story in the Texas Tribune yesterday reported:
“Last year, two Russian Facebook pages organized dueling rallies in front of the Islamic Da’wah Center of Houston, according to information released by U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, a North Carolina Republican.”
The Russians, using facebook pages, incited two opposing groups of partisans to protest in front of a mosque in Texas. Since the American government is just now realizing the scope of the Russians online information warfare activities, it will be interesting to see how large the Russians operations are and how long they have been running some of these operations.
Here’s a 65 page preliminary list the House intel released on Russian bot handles on Twitter: https://democrats-intelligence.house.gov/uploadedfiles/exhibit_b.pdf
The Democrats are gleefully talking about the Russian- funded facebook ads meant to disparage Hillary, as ammunition against Trump, but I suspect the Congressional investigations into the Russians info war against America are just scratching the surface. I suspect the Russians ran active measures to agitate BLM, the Tea Party activism, the Jade Helm hysteria, the Sandy Hook conspiracies, the President Obama birther crap and many more. Much of the messaging is recycled. I remember in the past year seeing a map meant to incite a different conspiracy theory being retweeted and it was the same Jade Helm map that had circulated during the Jade Helm hysteria in 2015.
The Chicago Tribune reports:
“The ads released Wednesday cover only a small part of how the Russians targeted Americans on Facebook and other American-owned social media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and Pinterest during the 2016 presidential campaign.
The biggest impact, several independent researchers have said, was through ordinary free posts by Russian-backed Facebook groups. Those posts reached up to 126 million Americans, Facebook said, far more than the 11.4 million who saw the ads.
These Facebook ads, like several others that had emerged in news reports over the past several weeks, had the apparent goal of needling Americans’ cultural sore spots.
The mainstream media is hyping the Russians social media footprint and alluding to the FOX News bizarre Trumpathon propaganda being connected to the Russians, but they are blind to the fact that the Russians infiltrated the American “mainstream” media, Hollywood and American academia over the past 100 years. They don’t have to work hard to spread their messaging in the mainstream media, with so many dupes and fellow travelers at the ready.
The American government is just now getting “woke” to the scope of the Russian information war being clandestinely waged against all of America’s valued institutions and the American people. Even the US military and veterans are being targeted by the Russians using social media:
“Russian trolls and others aligned with the Kremlin are injecting disinformation into streams of online content flowing to American military personnel and veterans on Twitter and Facebook, according to an Oxford University study released Monday.
The researchers found fake or slanted news from Russian-controlled accounts are mixing with a wide range of legitimate content consumed by veterans and active-duty personnel in their Facebook and Twitter news feeds. These groups were found to be reading and sharing articles on conservative political thought, articles on right-wing politics in Europe and writing touting various conspiracy theories.”
Kind of hard to play offense in an information war, when you are years behind in even realizing you’ve been under attack and the enemy has successfully set-up shop spreading disinformation using media front operations that millions of Americans trust.
The grease that keeps the Russian active measures churning is corruption. They feed and exploit the corruption in the countries they target. The Clinton and Trump wholesale public corruption enabled the Russians to exploit our political system. It’s a sure bet the Russians have enough dirt on the Clintons and Trump to play both of them or strategically leak to keep the partisan rancor in America churning. Dealing with the widespread corruption in both political parties is a national security imperative.
Trying to shut down Russian messaging is like trying to patch a dam that has already collapsed. Educating Americans about the Russian disinformation will serve better than hysterically trying to stop all their disinformation. Sure, it’s important to identify the Russian bots and troll farms and shut them down, but “influence operations” work because they are finding messages that Americans are buying into.
Winning the hearts and minds of as many Americans as possible, to becoming good citizens committed to protecting and defending The Constitution, is the offensive strategy we need to defeat the Russian information war. The only way for America to win is to find a way to unite more Americans around American values, American institutions and most of all around The Constitution. Tall order there.
My husband served in the U.S. Army, always an infantryman, from 1975 to 1999. He is a Grenada and Desert Storm veteran. When he decided to retire in 1999, his decision surprised me, because I believed he would serve 30 years, which was the limit for his rank.
When he talked to me about his decision to retire, his reasons were a combination of two factors. The first factor was some of our kids were in high school and didn’t want to move again. However, the larger factor was my husband had become very disillusioned with how political the Army had become among Army leadership. A frequent complaint he voiced was that too many officers are politicians more than soldiers these days.
That was 1999. Last summer, as America’s political parties were holding their presidential conventions, the politicization of America’s generals moved on-stage at both the Republican and Democrat conventions, with generals literally on-stage spouting partisan rhetoric.
It alarmed me.
Everything in America now can become a political football, a cause for protest, a “national conversation”.
Words mean things.
Definition of conversation
2a (1) :oral exchange of sentiments, observations, opinions, or ideas
- … we had talk enough but no conversation; there was nothing discussed.
- —Samuel Johnson
(2) :an instance of such exchange :talk
- a quiet conversation
b :an informal discussion of an issue by representatives of governments, institutions, or groups
- conversations among the senators
c :an exchange similar to conversation
- We had a conversation by e-mail.
A conversation requires, not only talking, it requires listening, a willingness to open our hearts and minds to other people’s ideas, viewpoints, experiences and feelings. It requires a degree of mutual respect between people.
In America, where scorched earth information warfare rages, like I wrote in my last blog post, even the most trivial issue can become a national political battle. There are only skirmishes, thrusts and hit and run attacks, where each side attacks, tries to draw as much blood as possible, then retreats to reload for the next ambush.
There assuredly are few real “national conversations” about anything.
I’ve been guilty of putting on partisan blinders too, but I am working to remove them and refocus on looking at people as individuals, rather than pigeonhole them into an us or them tribe. President George W. Bush gave a very powerful speech on that topic this past week:
“We have seen our discourse degraded by casual cruelty. At times, it can seem like the forces pulling us apart are stronger than the forces binding us together. Argument turns too easily into animosity. Disagreement escalates into dehumanization. Too often, we judge other groups by their worst examples while judging ourselves by our best intentions – forgetting the image of God we should see in each other.”
General John Kelly gave a powerful speech too and one comment struck me:
“It stuns me that a member of Congress would have listened in on that conversation. Absolutely stuns me. And I thought at least that was sacred. You know, when I was a kid growing up, a lot of things were sacred in our country. Women were sacred, looked upon with great honor. That’s obviously not the case anymore as we see from recent cases. Life — the dignity of life — is sacred. That’s gone. Religion, that seems to be gone as well.
Gold Star families, I think that left in the convention over the summer. But I just thought — the selfless devotion that brings a man or woman to die on the battlefield, I just thought that that might be sacred.”
A few things need to be clarified about this past week’s scorched earth information skirmish. Some on the Left are using SGT La David Johnson’s death to create a narrative for “Trump’s Benghazi” and to attack General Kelly. On the right, vile Trump mouthpieces, like Sheriff David Clarke, have used this skirmish to sink to the level of attacking Congresswoman Frederica Wilson’s looks:
The Trump spin masters are trying to divert attention away from the Gold Star family controversy and onto a Clinton/Uranium One storyline.
This morning Kurt Schlichter, one of the most dedicated Trump Twitter troopers, tweeted:
Put aside all the gold star stuff and George Bush’s catiness and understand that the Hillary uranium story is the only story.
Schlichter is a retired Army officer. SGT La David Johnson hadn’t even been buried yet. His funeral was this afternoon.
So many, on both sides of this scorched earth information war, are so entrenched at scoring cheap political points and “winning”, that all sense of decency has been lost.
Frederica Wilson might be a rabid partisan hack or she might be a friend of SGT Johnson’s family or she could be both, but her comments don’t have grave national consequences.
President Trump is the Commander-In-Chief. He has a sacred DUTY to all serving in the United States Armed Forces.
How he handles this situation can have lasting impact on the morale and welfare of all of America’s brave men and women serving in uniform.
Trump mouthpieces and friendly pundits are working to do damage control, writing stories about how much President Trump cares about the military and penning pieces quoting other Gold Star families who received calls from President Trump and feel his words were comforting. All that misses the point.
Military families need to have trust in our military chain of command and that starts with the President setting the right example.
President Trump has a duty to reassure the family of SGT La David Johnson that he did not mean to disrespect them and that he honors SGT Johnson’s sacrifice.
That is the right thing to do.
“In the nuclear age, the revised maxim might well be amplified — but not, as might be expected, by inserting the word ‘nuclear’. For if the nuclear power now available were unleashed and not merely maintained as a deterrent, its use would mean ‘chaos’ not ‘war’, since war is organised action, which could not be continued in a state of chaos. The nuclear deterrent, however, does not apply and cannot be applied to the deterrence of subtler forms of aggression. Through its unsuitability for the purpose it tends to stimulate and encourage them. The necessary maxim is now ‘If you wish for peace, understand war — particularly the guerrilla and subversive forms of war.”
page 361, Chapter on Guerrilla Warfare of Strategy, written by B.H. Liddell Hart, Copyright Faber & Faber, Ltd. London, England 1954, 1967
President Trump loves the military…
He wants his followers to know he is a fighter.
His political operatives touted him as the GOP Insurgent.
He won the 2016 scorched earth information war and defeated not only Hillary Clinton, but many in the mainstream media, who were colluding with her to try to destroy Trump with damaging stories. The Russians actively participated in America’s 2016 information war too.
This week is a typical “squirmish” in America’s endless scorched earth information war. These skirmishes consist of the media and Trump engaged in short-lived, emotionally intense battles for control of the 24/7 news cycle. Both sides go “nuclear”, without any concerns about collateral damage or fallout, because after all, this is a war of words and no one is literally dying, right?
This week’s Trump sideshow is a typical Trump diversion. He wasn’t man enough to just admit he hadn’t called the families of these recently fallen soldiers, so he turned the question into an attack on President Obama and other recent presidents. He is the ultimate Mr. Whataboutism. He will never admit to any weakness or mistake.
President Trump lies, as often and as outrageously as necessary, until he provokes his opponents to overreact. His lies are “attacks” – they are his weapons and he uses them ruthlessly. Once his opponents overreact, he will pick apart their statements looking for untruths or bits and pieces he can manipulate to discredit them. He will lob his “alternative facts”, wrap himself in the American flag and borrow the honor of “the generals” to sway his followers to remain loyal.
This week’s “squirmish” is just a slight plot change from Trump’s 2016 vet fundraiser.
Trump’s vet fundraiser, January 28. 2016 was a Trumper tantrum retaliation against FOX News and Megyn Kelly. Trump claimed his fundraiser raised over 6 million dollars and he personally pledged a million dollar donation.
In February 2016, a Weekly Standard reporter contacted the Trump Foundation for information on the fundraiser:
“On Thursday, I contacted the Donald J. Trump Foundation by email with a few questions about how the $6 million had been or was being disbursed. Five minutes later, I received a phone call from Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s presidential campaign manager. Lewandowski said a list of the recipients had been made public and that more recipients were being added all the time. How much had those recipients received? Lewandowski couldn’t, or wouldn’t, say. As a non-profit organization, he said, the Trump Foundation would release all the required details of its disbursements at the end of the fiscal year. To find out before then, he said, I’d have to contact the recipients themselves.
“The list is publicly available,” he said. “You can do your homework and ask the veterans’ organizations.”
Why wouldn’t the Trump Foundation want to publicize how much it had donated? (Especially given the fact that in recent years, Trump’s charity organization had given more money to the Clinton Foundation than to veterans.) And why, when asking about the Foundation’s disbursements, had a representative of the campaign called? With no other options, however, I took Lewandowki’s advice.”
Months later reporters began asking more questions about which vet charities received that money and if Trump had made good on his million dollar pledge. On May 28, 2016,Trump staged a big show where he attacked the media and had his million dollar check for a vet charity:
“As recently as last week, Trump’s campaign manager had insisted that the mogul had already given that money away. But that was false: Trump had not.
In recent days, The Washington Post and other media outlets had pressed Trump and his campaign for details about how much the fundraiser had actually raised and whether Trump had given his portion.
The candidate refused to provide details. On Monday, a Post reporter used Twitter — Trump’s preferred social-media platform — to search publicly for any veterans groups that had received Trump’s money.”
Later Monday evening, Trump called the home of James K. Kallstrom, a former FBI official who is chairman of the Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation. The charity aids families of fallen Marines and federal law enforcement officers.”
Trump was the one who politicized his vet fundraiser, in fact, the entire fundraiser was a political stunt. Just like in previous “skirmishes” Trump goes nuclear with his war of words, but the media and Left go nuclear too.
On Monday, a reporter asked President Trump why he hadn’t commented on the recent deaths of American soldiers in Niger.
President Trump hadn’t called the families of those fallen soldiers, but instead of saying that, he attacked President Obama and other presidents:
“If you look at President Obama and other presidents, most of them didn’t make calls — a lot of them didn’t make calls — I like to make calls when it’s appropriate,” Trump said at a news conference in the Rose Garden when asked about why he had not addressed the recent deaths of American troops in Niger.
The media and former Obama officials immediately countered Trump’s assertion and General Dempsey, who has tried to remain apolitical, also countered Trump’s assertion.
President Trump then inserted General Kelly and “generals” into the controversy, telling reporters to ask them if President Obama had called the families of fallen soldiers. General Kelly’s son was killed in action.
At this point, the “facts” seem to indicate that President Obama did not call General Kelly when his son was killed in action. However, at an event honoring Gold Star families, the Kellys sat at the table with First Lady, Michelle Obama, six months after the death of Kelly’s son.
President Trump then called the families of the recently fallen soldiers. A Democratic congresswoman, who is a Trump hater heard the call. She claims President Trump disrespected the grieving family. There are also reports of a previous Gold Star family, whom Trump had called in June and promised them that he would personally send a check of $25,000 to them. He never sent the check, until yesterday, after the media started asking about it.
This week’s squirmish follows the same script as his million dollar vet fundraiser boast.
The battle lines are now drawn and it is President Trump who politicized the deaths of fallen soldiers. He is the one who refused to answer a simple question honestly on Monday. He had not called the families of those 4 fallen soldiers, who died on October 4th, but rather than admit that, he lashed out about President Obama and other presidents not calling grieving Gold Star families. He is also the one who interjected General Kelly into this issue and now he and the White House are borrowing on General Kelly’s honor to try and do damage control.
That is the truth.
The media and Left, smelling blood, went nuclear, digging up “facts” to not only counter Trump, but to try and turn this issue into an “impeachable offense” and destroy him.
The truth is President Trump uses the military as stage props, beginning with his “squirmish” with FOX News over Megyn Kelly’s “unfair” debate question in August of 2015, which he whined about for 8 long months. That question was not “unfair”. It was a question about how Trump treats women. Trump and his media friends waged an all out attack on Megyn Kelly and Trump called Roger Ailes, trying to get Kelly removed as debate moderator.
He was trying to use his influence to damage the career of a news analyst.
Ailes refused to remove Megyn Kelly, so Trump boycotted that debate and orchestrated a “vet fundraiser” to try and draw viewers away from watching that GOP primary debate. He was USING the U.S. military as stage props to make himself look patriotic.
It looks like President Trump used information, that General Kelly confided in him, as a nuclear blast against President Obama, to score some cheap points in this latest squirmish. He betrayed the trust of one of his generals. It appears that President Obama had not called General Kelly when Kelly’s son died and I hope that President Obama can be a bigger man than President Trump and call General Kelly . Apologize for the oversight, because it does appear that General Kelly was hurt by not receiving a call from his commander-in-chief.
In a few days this latest controversy will be eclipsed by another info war “skirmish”. In fact, the Trump operatives are already launching another nuclear info war attack to discredit Robert Mueller. President Trump was tweeting this morning, lashing out at the FBI, accusing them of colluding with the Russians. Another diversionary tactic, but he is always “winning” the 24/7 news cycle with these nuclear blasts. He totally eclipses everything, even the sun…
The collateral damage from scorched earth information warfare isn’t dead bodies, it’s America’s heart and soul. The very fibers of our national character get stretched and torn a little more with each, almost daily, “squirmish” and the indiscriminate flame-throwing leaves America a toxic nuclear wasteland of angry, seething people, who hate and distrust each other.
President Trump possesses a unique gift for dividing people and playing people against each other. He is now using “the generals” in his vicious scorched earth information war.
Scorched earth information warfare’s only outcome can be the destruction of America’s national character.
There are no winners.