Maxwell's Silver Hammer
"Case by case, we find that conformity is the easy way, and the path to privilege and prestige; dissidence carries personal costs."
I am not impressed by the replacement of Lieutenant General Casey by LTG Patraeus, but this is not by way of a personal attack or denigration of either soldier. I have no personal knowledge of these individuals, but I know them well.
All officers are selected, trained and rewarded for having an aggressive, can-do attitude. All service schools reward stereotypical thinking and institutional knowledge. All soldiers and leaders must be relied upon to serve as a replacement part upon another's death, injury or rotation. Replacement parts must mesh with the basic machinery. Metric parts are not interchangeable with U.S.-manufactured parts. "Pieces are pieces," as the chicken ad says, provided they're from the same breed of animal.
The institution requires conforming behavior and thought. Those that best reflect this value end up with 4 Stars on their collar. Rebels do not thrive in this environment.
Shifting personnel will not alter the strategic environment or the thinking that is relevant to the Iraq scenario. The conductors will be changed, but the band, the music, the baton and instruments will remain the same.
This change is unlikely to generate novel approaches to the current quagmire. But there could be a silver lining to this change of leadership in the State Department..
As the U.S. did in Vietnam with the appointment of General Maxwell Taylor as ambassador, it might be helpful to place a retired military man in a State Department post. Usually I'm opposed to the militarization of civilian functions, but such an appointment may be just the mediator-liason needed, as the disconnect is between State and Defense, not State and Iraq. If I had such authority, I'd appoint James Baker or Colin Powell as the next Ambassador to Iraq. As his Deputy, either retired General Zinni or Schwartzkopf.
This would put the State Department back into the equation, with the horsepower to resist the limited military option of increased violence. It would hold out some hope of a team resolution, as the parts would mesh, and dialog could ensue. State would become a player again. Necessary really, as a military solution is not on this sheet of music.