The Boston Citgo sign, all 3,600 square LED feet of which has served as the backdrop to Red Sox games since 1965, is now officially a "pending landmark."

Spanish Surrealist Salvador Dalí spent much of the 1940s in the U.S., avoiding World War II and its aftermath. He was a well-known fixture on the art scene in Monterey, Calif. — and that's where the largest collection of Dalí's work on the West Coast is now open to the public.

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

The middle of summer is when the surprises in publishing turn up. I'm talking about those quietly commanding books that publishers tend to put out now, because fall and winter are focused on big books by established authors. Which brings us to The Dream Life of Astronauts, by Patrick Ryan, a very funny and touching collection of nine short stories that take place in the 1960s and '70s around Cape Canaveral, Fla.

When the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union last month, the seaside town of Port Talbot in Wales eagerly went along with the move. Brexit was approved by some 57 percent of the town's residents.

Now some of them are wondering if they made the wrong decision.

The June 23 Brexit vote has raised questions about the fate of the troubled Port Talbot Works, Britain's largest surviving steel plant — a huge, steam-belching facility that has long been the town's biggest employer.

Solar Impulse 2 has landed in Cairo, completing the penultimate leg of its attempt to circumnavigate the globe using only the power of the sun.

The trip over the Mediterranean included a breathtaking flyover of the Pyramids. Check it out:

President Obama is challenging Americans to have an honest and open-hearted conversation about race and law enforcement. But even as he sits down at the White House with police and civil rights activists, Obama is mindful of the limits of that approach.

"I've seen how inadequate words can be in bringing about lasting change," the president said Tuesday at a memorial service for five law officers killed last week in Dallas. "I've seen how inadequate my own words have been."

Mice watching Orson Welles movies may help scientists explain human consciousness.

At least that's one premise of the Allen Brain Observatory, which launched Wednesday and lets anyone with an Internet connection study a mouse brain as it responds to visual information.

The FBI says it is giving up on the D.B. Cooper investigation, 45 years after the mysterious hijacker parachuted into the night with $200,000 in a briefcase, becoming an instant folk figure.

"Following one of the longest and most exhaustive investigations in our history," the FBI's Ayn Dietrich-Williams said in a statement, "the FBI redirected resources allocated to the D.B. Cooper case in order to focus on other investigative priorities."

This is the first in a series of essays concerning our collective future. The goal is to bring forth some of the main issues humanity faces today, as we move forward to uncertain times. In an effort to be as thorough as possible, we will consider two kinds of threats: those due to natural disasters and those that are man-made. The idea is to expose some of the dangers and possible mechanisms that have been proposed to deal with these issues. My intention is not to offer a detailed analysis for each threat — but to invite reflection and, hopefully, action.

Pages

'Insurgents' Hoped To Change Military From Within

Jan 24, 2013
Originally published on January 24, 2013 1:30 pm

National security reporter Fred Kaplan was the first to publicly link Paula Broadwell to Gen. David Petraeus in last fall's affair scandal, but that's not the topic of his new book. In fact, it's barely an addendum. Instead, Kaplan focuses in depth on counterinsurgency — a cornerstone of Petraeus' legacy.

The book is called The Insurgents: David Petraeus and the Plot to Change the American Way of War. And that title is a play on words. The insurgents in this case are Americans: colonels and generals educated at West Point, Kaplan tells NPR's Renee Montagne. "I'm talking about a small band of intellectual officers within the Army, who rose within, determined to mount a revolution from inside the Army."

Before Petraeus arrived in Iraq in 2006, the Army had for decades thought of war as involving large, set-piece battles with tanks and planes, against major, well-defined foes.

"Conflicts against insurgents, terrorists, that sort of thing was officially called, in capital letters, Military Operations Other Than War," Kaplan says. "It wasn't even war, and yet, at the same time, people like David Petraeus ... they were going to El Salvador, to Somalia, to Bosnia, to Haiti, these places that sure felt like war to these people. But it wasn't recognized."

These officers, Petraeus and his colleagues, realized that the Army had to change, Kaplan says, but it wasn't going to change by itself. "And so they had to change it from within, and therefore they were the insurgents within the United States Army."

But not much came of this new way of thinking — until the war in Iraq. "Large organizations sometimes change when there's a catastrophe," Kaplan says, "and there was a catastrophe in Iraq. You know, we invaded with kind of a blitzkrieg dash up the desert, and then found ourselves being an occupying power and then facing an insurgency. The entire Joint Chiefs of Staff, they were against even calling it an insurgency, because that would mean you might have to develop counterinsurgency strategies, which would require a lot of troops staying on the ground for a long time, and they were not interested in that at all."

Kaplan says the plot to change the U.S. military from within really got going then, as the situation in Iraq began to provide some urgency. And he's adamant about describing it as a plot. "The people involved in it, they called themselves 'the cabal' or 'the West Point mafia,' " he says. And it all started with a conference held in Basin Harbor, Vt., by a scholar named Eliot Cohen, who had been to Iraq and seen the situation for himself. "He basically called up everybody who had written an interesting article about counterinsurgency in a military journal — there's about 30 people, and the pivotal thing about this meeting was that a lot of these people didn't know each other, they'd thought that they were out in the wilderness, writing this stuff by themselves, and they saw that, in fact, they formed a community."

At the same time that Cohen was holding his meeting, Petraeus was on his way back from Iraq to become the head of the Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas.

"He realized that the Combined Arms Center was potentially the intellectual center of the Army. They wrote doctrine. And Petraeus knew some of these people who were in the Basin Harbor group, and these people became the co-conspirators, if you will, in writing a new field manual on counterinsurgency," Kaplan says. "And by the time Petraeus went back to Iraq, in early 2007, all the pins were in place for him to apply the strategy that he'd been trying to work into the mainstream of the Army for 25 years."

That strategy, Kaplan continues, grew out of the insight that insurgencies stem from certain kinds of conditions. Successful insurgencies gain popular favor, and not always through fear — they sometimes step into the role of a government that isn't doing its job. "So the point of a counterinsurgency campaign is not just to kill and capture the enemy," he says. "It's also to infiltrate the community, to say, 'We are here to provide you security,' and also to reform the government."

And it's a strategy that can work, "when you can set up a relationship with the local powers, and you have common interests," Kaplan says, as with the surge in Iraq, which Petraeus described as designed to give the various factions some breathing room, some time to get their collective act together. "The problem was, as we now see, Prime Minister [Nouri al-]Maliki had no interest in getting his act together. So in the long run, the surge and all that worked tactically, but in terms of achieving strategic objectives, it didn't work, because what overrode the strategy was the interests of the ruling elites on the ground."

That problem was writ large when the strategies that had worked — at least partially — in Iraq began to be applied in Afghanistan. After Iraq, Kaplan says, Petraeus was viewed as a miracle worker. "And he was a very brilliant strategist and an angler, but he wasn't a miracle worker. A myth had built up around him," one that he himself had cultivated.

"He was sent to Afghanistan with the idea that, well, he worked miracles in Iraq, maybe he can work them in Afghanistan," Kaplan says. "By his own admission, he knew nothing about Afghanistan."

Petraeus was heavily influenced, he adds, by a book on counterinsurgency, written in English by French colonial officer David Galula. "There is a chapter in the book — and Petraeus read this book and reread it many times — a chapter called 'Conditions Favorable to an Insurgency,' and it listed several things where an insurgency would be very effective: a corrupt central government, a largely rural, illiterate population, a neighboring country that can serve as a sanctuary for an insurgency. You add up all these conditions, it's a dead ringer for Afghanistan. This thing was just never going to be susceptible to classic counterinsurgency techniques."

"Petraeus convinced a lot of people that we should give it a try," Kaplan continues. "President Obama gave it a try, for about 18 months, it didn't work, and so he cut back on the strategy, which is what we're seeing now."

So, strangely, many generals who denied that they were still fighting their last war ended up doing exactly that in Afghanistan. "That's the irony," Kaplan says. "They also said things like, 'counterinsurgencies are local wars, you have to adapt to each local condition,' but they just tried to apply the same very abstract principles, and it didn't work. ... History teaches us over and over again that sometimes, when you get intellectuals in positions of power, and especially once they have a triumph or two, the fall — when the fall comes — can be particularly brutal."

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Fred Kaplan was the first to publicly link Paula Broadwell to the Petraeus scandal last fall, but that's not the topic of his new book. In fact, it's barely an addendum. Instead, this national security reporter focuses in depth on counterinsurgency, a cornerstone of General Petraeus' legacy. Fred Kaplan is Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of "The Insurgents: David Petraeus and the Plot to Change the American Way of War."

The title is a play on words. The insurgents in this case are Americans: colonels and generals educated at West Point.

FRED KAPLAN: Right. I'm talking about a small band of intellectual officers within the Army, who rose within, determined to mount a revolution from inside the Army. You know, Before Petraeus went to Iraq in 2006, for a couple of decades, the Army's definition of war was large, set-pieces with tanks, you know, battles against major foes.

Conflicts against insurgents, terrorists, that sort of thing, it was officially called, in capital letters, Military Operations Other Than War. It wasn't even war, and yet, at the same time, people like David Petraeus and other junior officers who were coming up in the '80s and early '90s, they were going to El Salvador, to Somalia, to Bosnia, these places that sure felt like war to these people. But it wasn't recognized.

And so as these people came up through the ranks and they discussed the situation with their fellow officers, they realized that the Army had to change, and it wasn't going to change by itself. And so they had to change it from within, and therefore they were the insurgents within the United States Army.

MONTAGNE: And they weren't able to do much with this new thinking until the Iraq war.

KAPLAN: Right. I mean, large organizations sometimes change when there's a catastrophe, and there was a catastrophe in Iraq. You know, we invaded with kind of a blitzkrieg dash up the desert, and then found ourselves being an occupying power and then facing an insurgency.

The Secretary of Defense, and not just Donald Rumsfeld, but the entire Joint Chiefs of Staff, they were against even calling it an insurgency, because that would mean you might have to develop counterinsurgency strategies, which would require a lot of troops staying on the ground for a long time, and they were not interested in that at all.

It was in this context that this plot to change the American military from within really got underway, because it became a matter of urgency.

MONTAGNE: When you say plot, how do you mean that?

KAPLAN: I mean it was a plot. The people involved in it, they called themselves the cabal or the West Point mafia. It all started with a conference that was held at Basin Harbor, Vermont, by a defense intellectual named Eliot Cohen. He went to Iraq. He saw that it was a disaster, so he basically called up everybody who had written an interesting article about counterinsurgency in a military journal.

There's about 30 people. And the pivotal thing about this meeting was that a lot of these people didn't know each other, they'd thought that they were out in the wilderness, writing this stuff by themselves, and they saw that, in fact, they formed a community. Now, at about the same time, by coincidence, David Petraeus was coming back from Iraq. He was going to head up the Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas.

He realized that the Combined Arms Center was potentially the intellectual center of the Army. They wrote doctrine. And Petraeus knew some of these people who were in the Basin Harbor group, and these people became the co-conspirators, if you will, in writing a new field manual on counterinsurgency. And by the time Petraeus went back to Iraq, in early 2007, all the pins were in place for him to apply the strategy that he'd been trying to work into the mainstream of the Army for 25 years.

MONTAGNE: Give us, in a nutshell, the strategy.

KAPLAN: The strategy stemmed from an insight that insurgencies grow out of some kind of conditions on the ground. To the extent that they're successful, they gain popular favor, and it's not always entirely through fear. It's because the government that isn't doing a good job. So the point of a counterinsurgency campaign is not just to kill and capture the enemy. It's also to infiltrate the community, to say, we are here to provide you security, and also to reform the government.

I mean, and in some places, it works. When you can set up a relationship with the local powers, and you have common interests, then it can work.

MONTAGNE: That would be the surge in Iraq.

KAPLAN: Right. But here's where things went wrong. Petraeus said, right up front, he said, look, what we're doing here is we're creating some breathing space, a zone of security so that the factions in Iraq can get their act together without worrying about getting blown up every five minutes.

The problem was, as we now see, Prime Minister Maliki had no interest in getting his act together. So in the long run, the surge and all that worked tactically, but in terms of achieving strategic objectives, it didn't work, because what overrode the strategy was the interests of the ruling elites on the ground.

MONTAGNE: And that problem was writ large when the counter insurgency, the theories that partly worked or worked at least temporarily in Iraq, were transferred over to Afghanistan.

KAPLAN: Right. You know, after Iraq, Petraeus was viewed as a miracle worker. And he was a very brilliant strategist and an angler, but he wasn't a miracle worker. A myth had built up around him, and he had helped cultivate this myth quite deliberately, as a way of gaining loyalty and favor. A lot of generals do this.

He was sent to Afghanistan with the idea that, well, he worked miracles in Iraq, maybe he can work them in Afghanistan. By his own admission, he knew nothing about Afghanistan. You know, David Petraeus was heavily influenced by this book by a French colonial officer name David Galula, called "Counterinsurgency Warfare." There is a chapter - and Petraeus read this book and reread it many times - a chapter called "Conditions Favorable to an Insurgency." And it listed several things where an insurgency would be very effective: a corrupt central government, a largely rural, illiterate population, a neighboring country that can serve as a sanctuary for an insurgency.

You add up all these conditions, it's a dead ringer for Afghanistan. This thing was just never going to be susceptible to classic counterinsurgency techniques. Petraeus convinced a lot of people that we should give it a try. President Obama gave it a try, for about 18 months, and it didn't work, and so he cut back on the strategy, which is what we're seeing now.

MONTAGNE: So in a weird way, the very generals - and this included many others besides General Petraeus - these generals who would've always said they weren't fighting the last war, at least in this instance, were fighting the last war.

KAPLAN: Yeah, that's the irony. They also said things like, counterinsurgencies are local wars, you have to adapt to each local condition, but they just tried to apply the same very abstract principles, and it didn't work. You know, one thing - history teaches us, over and over, that sometimes, when you get intellectuals in positions of power, and especially once they have a triumph or two, the fall, when the fall comes, can be particularly brutal.

MONTAGNE: Fred Kaplan writes the column "War Stories" in Slate and his new book is "The Insurgence: David Petraeus in the Plot to Change the American Way of War." Thanks very much.

KAPLAN: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.