The Meaning Of Petraeus

At Talk Left, I wrote a piece describing what I believe would be the most effective manner for Democrats to deal with the Petraeus Show coming to a Congress near you this week. I’ll post the text on the flip.

But I wanted to make a point first. To wit, Petraeus and his Surge is nothing but bullshit. I assume we all know this but we have seen and will see a lot of “serious” discussion about it. Let’s be clear, there is no hope for a good ending for the United States in Iraq. It is a Debacle and there is nothing that will change that, short of, perhaps, a reconquering of Iraq, conscription of a million Americans and World War III in the Middle East. Of course such an approach would not only be lunacy, it will never happen (just as war with Iran UNCONNECTED to Iraq will never happen).

So all this “serious” talk is unserious and ridiculous in the extreme. Take for instance, via Yglesias, this discussion by two of the more foolish “serious” people we encounter in these discussions, Packer and Dodge:

Dodge’s grim vision does not make an irrefutable case for staying in Iraq. But it’s a reminder that the illusions and naïve hopes with which America started the war shouldn’t accompany its end. [WTF? We should persist in illusions and naive hopes as a basis for foreign policy? Quintessential idiocy from Packer.]

. . . This doesn’t mean keeping large numbers of troops in Iraq indefinitely; that has become impossible. David Kilcullen argued that next summer, when the surge is scheduled to end, American forces could be reduced to a level-say, eighty thousand-that might allow most of the core interests to be protected. . . . [W]hen the surge ends, there will have to be a strategic turn, away from Americans in the lead. An indefinite war in Iraq “costs us moral authority across the world,” Kilcullen said. The occupation of Iraq remains hugely unpopular with America’s democratic allies and throughout the Arab and Muslim world. “We need that moral authority as ammunition in the fight against Al Qaeda,” he added. “If we’re not down to fifty thousand troops in three to five years, we’ve lost the war on terror.”

(Emphasis supplied.) Can you believe this shit? Can you believe these idiot “serious” people make a claim for the US having moral authority in the war on terror? After torture, Abu Ghraib, Gitmo and the the rest? These are the elites of this country we are told. If you wonder how we came to this end, just think of WHAT THESE PEOPLE SAY NOW!! If we can not defeat these “elites” politically, we are simply fucked as a country.


More from Packer:

Toby Dodge admitted that anyone arguing against immediate withdrawal has to face the “killer question: Why should American troops continue to die when the chances for success are so low?” He offered his answer “with an honest recognition that it doesn’t sound very plausible.” Dodge’s approach would bring the maximum pressure to bear on Iraqi politicians by persuading the region and the world-Iraq’s neighbors, the European Union, the United Nations-to come into the Green Zone, not as tools of American policy but as equal partners in an effort to force a political deal, not unlike the U.N.’s role in creating a government in Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban. This would imply an American confession of failure. Instead of pursuing more ambitious goals for democracy in the region, the U.S. would offer security guarantees to Iran and Syria in exchange for coöperation. “We then turn to the Iraqi government,” Dodge went on, “and say, ‘You’ve got to reform your government, make it more inclusive, less corrupt, more coherent, less sectarian.’ So the Iraqi government is reconstituted within a multilateral framework where the E.U., the U.N., and the U.S. are all singing from the same hymnbook.”

And, even accepting that this has ANY chance of success NOW, pigs will fly before the Bush Administration would even discuss it, so what the fuck are these “serious” people fucking talking about? But let’s pretend, as Yglesias does, that there is any chance of these fabulist proposals even being mooted by the bush Administration. As Yglesias says:

What I don’t understand is why Packer and Dodge don’t draw the obvious conclusion — it’s not a good idea to do something incredibly costly like staying in Iraq for many additional years on the basis of a not very plausible plan that’s unlikely to succeed. . . . A costly, likely to fail strategy, however, isn’t an alternative to failure. Most likely, your likely to fail non-plausible strategy is just going to fail. And if Dodge wouldn’t “bet the house” on his plan succeeding, then what are we supposed to say to the National Guardsman whose family is going to lose its house if he’s injured in Iraq and can’t work anymore? If Dodge won’t “bet the house” on his plan, then why should our troops risk their lives for it? I couldn’t possibly imagine looking someone heading off to war in the eye and giving him this account of why his service is vital and necessary.

(Emphasis supplied.) Consider how ridiculous the Packer and Dodge discussion is. NOW consider how much worse the ACTUAL Petraeus plan is. And finally consider that Democrats, KNOWING ALL THIS, remain willing to “looking someone heading off to war in the eye and giving [them] this account of why his service is vital and necessary.”

You know, I have as low an opinion of politicians as I think anyone could, but what this Democratic Congress is willing to do goes to a level of moral despicability that reaches lows seldom seen. Suppose they are right on the politics, and they are not, does NOTHING ever trump politics? Nothing at all?

Not for them. And in that spirit, I offer this “advice” on how to handle Petraeus this week:

General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker will be testifying before Congress on Monday and Wednesday, providing his self evaluation of his own military strategy in Iraq. It is no doubt tempting for Democratic members of Congress to challenge General Petraeus' self assessment. My view is that this would be a mistake. The line of argument to take is not to question Petraeus' military assessment. The optics of congresspersons battling on military questions with a 4 star General will not work in the short term.

The line of questioning should be to go above Petraeus's head and question the strategy of President Bush. In short the Surge is failing NOT because of Petraeus, but because the strategy that calls for the military TACTICS Petraeus is employing are failing. I suggest citing the conservative columnist George Will:

The recent National Intelligence Estimate said that although the surge is producing real if uneven security improvements, progress toward political reconciliation has been negligible and might be perishable. Hence the surge is a tactical success disconnected from the strategic objective it is supposed to serve.

(Emphasis supplied.) Here's the argument – General Petraeus' tactical military success is doing nothing to make the STRATEGY in Iraq a success. God bless our wonderful troops, but our President has a failed strategy. In other words, praise the troops, but point out that the strategy of the Commander in Chief in Iraq remains a failure. The question the Democratic Congress must present to the country is how many Americans must sacrifice for an Iraqi government that is unwilling or unable to take the steps necessary to save George Bush's face.


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    • Armando on September 10, 2007 at 3:56 am

    I know. But it was bubbling.

    I’ve been so focused on trying to convince on the politics that I had pushed the moral turpitude and cowardice aside.

    • melvin on September 10, 2007 at 4:25 am

    Do not allow the commander guy to hide behind soldiers he has installed to carry out his policy. Those aren’t his medals.

  1. with Congressional Democrats. They still appear to believe, despite all evidence to the contrary, that they are right on the politics.

  2. I don’t care.  If the Dems aren’t listening to us, what difference does it make to be right?

    There’s something wrong here and rhetoric isn’t going to fix it.  You’re not the only one who’s been right about the issues and yet our Dem reps continue to blither and blather and cave in to the conventional wisdom.

    I am very worried about what’s going to happen.  I am filled with all the “right” information, I know damned well Petraeus’ report is bogus and most Americans don’t believe it, either.

    Bottom line is how do we get through to the Dems in power at this time?  If we can’t get through to them then it doesn’t matter what we say to each other.

    Most of America now believes this war is wrong, the surge is wrong.  I don’t think we need more convincing.

    I got no answers.  But I’m tired of being convinced on what I’ve been convinced of for years now.

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