Thursday, September 27, 2007

Saint Petraeus

In the forthcoming issue of The American Conservative, Andrew Bacevich delivers a thumpin' to Saint Petraeus. The crowd at should read it and discover that substance is preferable to clever rhymes:
David Petraeus is a political general. Yet in presenting his recent assessment of the Iraq War and in describing the "way forward," Petraeus demonstrated that he is a political general of the worst kind—one who indulges in the politics of accommodation that is Washington’s bread and butter but has thereby deferred a far more urgent political imperative, namely, bringing our military policies into harmony with our political purposes.
Further down, Bacevich elaborates on of the most shameful aspects of Bush's war, and the Saint's role in it:
After the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, to sustained bipartisan applause, President Bush committed the United States to an open-ended global war on terror. Having made that fundamental decision, the president and Congress sent American soldiers off to fight that war while urging the American people to distract themselves with other pursuits. . .

The result, six years later, is a massive and growing gap between the resources required to sustain that global war, in Iraq and elsewhere, and the resources actually available to do so. President Bush, with the Joint Chiefs of Staff serving as enablers, has papered over that gap by sending soldiers back for a third or fourth combat tour and, most recently, by extending the length of those tours. In a country with a population that exceeds 300 million, one-half of one percent of our fellow citizens bear the burden of this global war. . .

The president has made no serious effort to mobilize the wherewithal that his wars in Iraq and Afghanistan require. The Congress, liberal Democrats voting aye, has made itself complicit in this shameful policy by obligingly appropriating whatever sums of money the president has requested, all, of course, in the name of "supporting the troops."

Petraeus has now given this charade a further lease on life. In effect, he is allowing the president and the Congress to continue dodging the main issue, which comes down to this: if the civilian leadership wants to wage a global war on terror and if that war entails pacifying Iraq, then let’s get serious about providing what’s needed to complete the mission—starting with lots more soldiers. Rather than curtailing the ostensibly successful surge, Petraeus should broaden and deepen it. That means sending more troops to Iraq, not bringing them home. And that probably implies doubling or tripling the size of the United States Army on a crash basis.

If the civilian leadership is unwilling to provide what’s needed, then all of the talk about waging a global war on terror—talk heard not only from the president but from most of those jockeying to replace him—amounts to so much hot air. Critics who think the concept of the global war on terror is fundamentally flawed will see this as a positive development. Once we recognize the global war on terror for the fraudulent enterprise that it has become, then we can get serious about designing a strategy to address the threat that we actually face, which is not terrorism but violent Islamic radicalism. The antidote to Islamic radicalism, if there is one, won’t involve invading and occupying places like Iraq.

This defines Petraeus’s failure. Instead of obliging the president and the Congress to confront this fundamental contradiction—are we or are we not at war?—he chose instead to let them off the hook.
. . .

Politically, it qualifies as a brilliant maneuver. The general’s relationships with official Washington remain intact. Yet he has broken faith with the soldiers he commands and the Army to which he has devoted his life. He has failed his country. History will not judge him kindly.


Anonymous said...


My friend unless we started signing up illegal aliens, how could we even double the size of the military? We are lowering standards to get recruits in now.

People are not going to be willing to fight in wars like these that are not important to our security. If we didn't let Muslims in, 9-11 would not have happened and everybody knows it. If we didn't financially and militarily back Israel, the entire middle east would not be pissed at us. The set of variables involved simply dont add up at all, and yet the neo-cons and their press allies are planting stories about Iran being behind the resistance which is ridiculous. An attack is the last think Ahmadinejad wants and everyone knows it.

Our media (namely Fox) is openly lying to the republic on a daily basis for more war. Its untenable, and the republic will get around to asking some of the seriously uncomfy questions (who is benefiting other than Tel Aviv) at some point and ugly debates will ensue at some point. I mean hell, what if we are over there five more years and lose a thousand guys a year, are in Iran, etc. Tell me where those WMD's are again Toto?

Sean Scallon said...

Outstanding article by an oustanding writer

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