Friday, June 19, 2009

AfNam 2

"So the battle raged. Krulak immediately jumped Phillips. Phillips was putting his judgment ahead of General Harkins', a senior military official, a man of seasoned judgment who had more people working for him, more information at his disposal, and who knew how to evaluate military reports. He, Krulak, would take General Harkins over Phillips any time (the implication in his voice was that Phillips was very young, thirty-three yeas old, at best a captain, and captains should not challenge generals). With Krulak going after Phillips, Harriman went after Krulak: Harriman said he was not surprised that Krulak was taking Harkins' side — indeed he would be upset if he did not. Harriman said he had known Krulak for several years and had always known him to be wrong, and was sorry to say it, but he considered Krulak a damn fool. When this storm had passed, Phillips finished: he wanted to say that despite what Krulak felt, the war was not being won militarily, and it was going badly. Any anyway, he emphasized, you could not talk about it being won militarily, it was above all a political war.

"With that, with the government as badly split as before, the meeting broke up, but the military estimates had been seriously punctured. In addition, in the turning around of Phillips, a bench mark had been passed. It was a symbol of Lansdale turning as well: the people who had invented Diem [Karzai] were now leading the assault against him. Too, it was a sign that the Good Guys, the Americans who thought there was a right way, a middle way of dealing with Vietnam [Afghanistan] if we had the right programs and did the right things, and who believed that the Vietnamese [Afghans] wanted us there, were beginning to despair. If they failed, and they were failing fast, desperate now to find, eight years later, some last-minute substitute for Diem [Karzai], then there was a chance that American policy in Vietnam [Afghanistan] would be directed by people who felt we ought to be there whether the Vietnamese [Afghans] wanted us or not, whether we helped them more than we hurt them, that the answer lay not in the right people handling the right programs, but simply in superior force."

"The Americans in Vietnam, long frustrated by the ineptitude of their ARVN counterparts, and by the fact that ineptitude guaranteed career advancement, had come up with a slogan to describe the ARVN promotions system: 'Fuck up and move up.' They did not realize that by now the slogan applied to their own Army as well."

David Halberstam
The Best and the Brightest
pg. 279-281