Judge Napolitano’s Round Table and the Continued Delusions of David Petraeus

Judge Napolitano’s Round Table and the Continued Delusions of David Petraeus

Judge Napolitano hosted Scott Ritter, Ray McGovern and me on this week’s round table. We discussed the death of Prigozhin and other intel and military matters relevant to Ukraine. We also touch on the latest buffoonery from retired General David Petraeus.

Regarding the recent oped in the Washington Post by retired General David Petraeus and uber neo-con Fred Kagan and brother-in-law of Victoria Nuland. (The article is behind a pay wall.) The delusional thinking presented in this piece removes any lingering doubts, in my opinion, about David’s incompetence as a military tactician and strategist. They write:

The rapid Ukrainian breakthrough and advance that many hoped for has not occurred. Media coverage has grown gloomier in recent weeks on the back of fragmentary journalistic accounts from the front and reported intelligence assessments from Western analysts. The news has not been great. The fight against Russia has proved to be bloody and slow — a very hard slog.

But observers would be wise to temper their pessimism. War does not proceed in a linear fashion. Defenders can hold for a long time and then suddenly break, allowing an attacker to make rapid gains before the defense solidifies further to the rear. The Ukrainians aim to generate exactly this effect — and there is reason to think they can. Ukraine’s offensive push is far from over. In fact, it is still in the early stages — just 10 weeks into what is likely to last at least four more months.

Penetrating a modern defense in depth such as the Russians established in southern Ukraine is a tall order for any military. The U.S. military has done it twice in modern memory, both times against Iraq. In 1991, after pummeling the Iraqi forces for 39 days from the air, a U.S.-led coalition of 650,000 troops penetrated and outflanked Iraqi defenses, crushing the Iraqi military in 100 hours. In 2003, a smaller U.S.-led force destroyed a badly degraded Iraqi military within a few weeks.

This article is the military version of the film, Dumb and Dumber. “So you’re telling me there’s a chance.”

Let me remind you of the spectacularly wrong prediction Petraeus made in early June as the Ukrainian counter offensive kicked off:

I  think that the offensive is going to be much  more successful than many of the more pessimistic  analysts have been offering. I think that the  Ukrainians are very much ready for this. They’ll  be very distinctive because they will be using  employing Western tanks, western infantry,  fighting vehicles, western wheeled armored  vehicles and so forth.

In large measure, for the  first time in this war, certainly in this number,  I think the Russians will prove to be more brittle  than the expectation is. Keep in mind, these units have been in combat for over a year. Many of them,  they have not been pulled off line to reconstitute  by being having forces replaced, equipment  replaced and repaired, and then doing training before they go back. They just get individual  replacements to fill the gap. They’re not well trained, they’re not well equipped, they’re not  well led.

And I think that these Ukrainian forces, which are well trained, are well equipped. We are  going to break through. And then you might see a real dynamism to the battlefield that could give  real opportunities to the Ukrainians to exploit.

The problem with Petraeus is that he fails to grasp that the wars in Ir in 1991 and 2003 bear no relevance to what is taking place on the ground in Ukraine. People like Petraeus reveal an appalling ignorance of Russia’s military capabilities. It is one thing for Joe Blow in Dubuque, Iowa — who has never served in the military — to believe that Russian troops are poorly trained and poorly led. We are talking about the former head of the CIA. I guess he was too busy banging his mistress to take a moment or two to get a decent briefing on the Russian military. Even more stunning is his acknowledgment in his op-ed with Kagan that the success the U.S. achieved in Iraq on the initial invasion in 2003 depended on U.S. air supremacy and that Ukraine has no such advantage. He does not appear to comprehend the implications of this admission. Instead, like Jim Carrey in Dumb and Dumber, Petraeus insists “there is still a chance.” Petraeus was wrong in early June and he is wrong now. And the Ukrainians are paying a heavy bill in terms of blood and treasure because they listened to Western military planners just like Petraeus.

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Author: Larry Johnson