Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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September 1, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

GENERAL PETRAEUS'S PR BLITZKRIEG....I've been thinking about the whole David Petraeus issue for the past couple of days, and what I've been thinking about is how badly the liberal blogosphere and the liberal establishment have been outplayed here. While we've spent the last six months snarking about Friedman Units and complaining aimlessly about spineless Democrats, Petraeus has been slowly and methodically carrying out an extremely disciplined military campaign with a very precise goal: gaining support for David Petraeus and the surge.

In retrospect, this is hardly a surprise. Petraeus is a four-star general, by all accounts a brilliant man, and a professional student of counterinsurgency. He's keenly aware of the value of both the media and public opinion, and he did what any counterinsurgency expert would have counseled in his circumstances: he unleashed a hearts-and-minds campaign aimed at opinion makers and politicians. For months the military transports to Baghdad have been stuffed with analysts and congress members, and every one of them has gotten a full court press of carefully planned and scripted presentations, tightly controlled visits to favored units, and assorted dollops of "classified" information designed to flatter his guests and substantiate his rosy assessments without the inconvenience of having to defend them in public.

And it's worked. Even though there's been no discernable political progress, minimal reconstruction progress, and apparently no genuine decrease in violence, he's managed to convince an awful lot of people that the first doesn't matter, the second is far more widespread than it really is, and the third is the opposite of reality. To get a sense of just how long and how carefully Petraeus has been preparing for his August blitz, consider the following three anecdotes. First up is Thursday's widely reported comment from Rep. Jon Porter about his meetings with Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker:

"To a person, they said there would be genocide, gas prices in the U.S. would rise to eight or nine dollars a gallon, al-Qaida would continue its expansion, and Iran would take over that portion of the world if we leave," Porter said Wednesday in a phone interview from Las Vegas.

Next is a Washington Post article providing a glimpse of Petraeus's meticulous and politically savvy planning:

The sheets of paper seemed to be everywhere the lawmakers went in the Green Zone, distributed to Iraqi officials, U.S. officials and uniformed military of no particular rank. So when Rep. James P. Moran Jr. (D-Va.) asked a soldier last weekend just what he was holding, the congressman was taken aback to find out.

In the soldier's hand was a thumbnail biography, distributed before each of the congressmen's meetings in Baghdad, which let meeting participants such as that soldier know where each of the lawmakers stands on the war. [See examples here.]

....Just who assembled them is not clear. E-mails to U.S. Central Command's public affairs office in Baghdad this week went unanswered.

"I had never seen that in the past. That's new," said Porter, who was on his fourth trip to Iraq. "Now I want to see what they're saying about me," he added, when he learned of the contents of his travel companions' rap sheets.

For one, the quotations appeared to be selected to divide the visitors into those who are with the war effort and those who are against.

Finally there was this tidbit offered up by Andrea Mitchell five months ago when the surge was just getting started:

MITCHELL: Petraeus went to the Republican caucus and told them, I will have real progress to you by August....The Republicans were against the surge but they felt it was fait accompli, and that they were willing to give Petraeus until August. He told them there will be real progress by August.

Five months ago Petraeus was guaranteeing to wavering Republicans that they'd see progress in August, precisely the month when the PR campaign was scheduled to go into high gear. Today he's issuing dire warnings about al-Qaeda hegemony and nine-dollar gas if we leave, circulating bio pages that let his staff know whether they're dealing with friend or foe among visiting congress members, and insisting repeatedly that violence is down in classified briefings where he doesn't have to publicly defend his figures.

If these don't sound like the actions of an honest broker to you, they don't to me either. They sound like elements of a campaign with one overriding purpose: to convince politicians and opinion makers that we're making progress in Iraq regardless of whether we are or not. We're only seeing the results of Petraeus's PR blitzkrieg now, but it's obviously been in the works for months and it's been a smashing success. The general has profoundly outplayed the amateurs on their home turf.

Bravo, general. Well played.

UPDATE: I didn't know this when I wrote this post, but Andrea Mitchell partially retracted her comment about Gen. Petraeus a couple of days after she made it. Details here, along with a response from Petraeus's public affairs officer.

Kevin Drum 12:36 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (112)

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Comments
There will be endless trouble as long as we have U.S. troops on the ground, or any foreign troops for that matter. What has every country in the region told the world consistently for many years? Troops on the ground in an Arab/Muslim country will spell big trouble. This is not just a few radical terrorists speaking. It the leadership of every country, and the moderates in every country of the region.

For this reason, it is a mistake to connect the withdrawal of troops to anything. That deployment does not increase our national security, or anybody's security other than, possibly, the people we happen to be currently taking sides with, in this case the Kurds and Shites. It simply means that we have taken responsibility for whoever gets killed, raped, etc.. Like Vietnam, we now have to have the guts to get out.


Posted by: little ole jim from red country on September 1, 2007 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

US Army officers appear to have learned the lessons of Vietnam: never again will failure in the field be so embarrassingly apparent to a casual viewer of the five o'clock news.

Posted by: derek on September 1, 2007 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

Petraeus promises a fig leaf and delivers! Why is this some sort of surprise? The entire Iraqi government could have disbanded and it would have been labeled a success. This was known from the beginning.

Posted by: Rob on September 1, 2007 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, I love these rare moments of lucidity when you suddenly sound off like Noam Chomsky back when he could still stay awake through his own lectures, but it's really goddamn frustrating when you fade out of them again.

Do you think you could pop a modafinil or something? You know... just to stay in the game for a couple days this time. Thanks.

Love, your pal, s9.

Posted by: s9 on September 1, 2007 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

If these don't sound like the actions of an honest broker to you, they don't to me either. They sound like elements of a campaign with one overriding purpose: to convince politicians and opinion makers that we're making progress in Iraq regardless of whether we are or not.

Well, then Petraeus must be working for the Democrats.

For some time now I've thought the GOP's only hope at avoiding a blowout in November of '08 was to have the military at least begin a substantial withdrawal by, say, the spring of '08. Voters could then go to the polls in November, and, even if they mostly held the Republicans responsible for the Iraq debacle, they could nonetheless be legitimately hopeful that the light of the tunnel's end was now shining. Petraeus's PR success makes this scenario much less likely. You can only avoid paying the piper so long, and for the Republicans, the bill is going to come due uncomfortably close to election day. A similar dynamic tends to be observable with economic bad news. Recessions tend to be very unkind to incumbent parties; the Republicans would be better off having one in '07 than '08.

It's looking more and more like the GOP is facing a perfect storm of political misery in 2008.

Posted by: Jasper on September 1, 2007 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

It's a little too soon to judge the success of the Republican PR.

...one overriding purpose: to convince politicians and opinion makers

Short term in DC? Sure. The Republicans will keep their wavering representatives, the blue dogs will line up behind Bush, and the Washington "opinion makers" will sing his praises. So they win the September game in Washington.

But the PR campaign looks like it's failed already outside of Washington. The report has already been exposed as dishonest before it's even been presented, e.g. the graph Kevin did for Juan Cole, or the water and electricity situation, or the Maliki/Allawi political disaster.

DC has never been the home turf of the liberal blogosphere.

Posted by: ferg on September 1, 2007 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

In what way is this different from the military's efforts to control the message during Vietnam? They did the exact same things -- scripted visits for opinion shapers and policy makers; the selected release of only positive information; dire predictions of a communist world if we left. It's all essentially the same. What's changed is our media. Back then, you had people who were willing to go out into the field and do their own fact finding, their own investigating. They reported. What we have now are people who type up military press releases and send them to their papers. The same stuff these people swallow credibly and their editors eagerly wave into print would have been laughed out of existence during Vietnam (the "Five O'clock Follies" anyone?); . There has been better "reporting" on Iraq from people right here in the states than from the "journalists" actually there on the ground. Is Petraeus somehow responsible for that? The problem is we have a lesser breed of journalist, not a better breed of military commander.

Posted by: Martin Gale on September 1, 2007 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, you gave Petraeus the benefit of the doubt for far too long and for no discernible reason.

Posted by: scarshapedstar on September 1, 2007 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

What surprises me the most is that you seem almost surprised about this. Have you been paying attention at all for the past 5+ years, Kevin?

Posted by: Bill on September 1, 2007 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

President Petraeus?

Posted by: ogmb on September 1, 2007 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

They sound like elements of a campaign with one overriding purpose: to convince politicians and opinion makers that we're making progress in Iraq regardless of whether we are or not.

Kevin, politicians who have gone to Iraq already believe significant progress in Iraq is being made and have great confidence in General Petraeus. Senator James Inhofe recently returned from Iraq and had this to say about it.

Link

"I have said time and again that I have faith in the generals and soldiers on the ground running the war. A majority of the Senate voted to give General Petraeus until mid-September to implement a successful new surge strategy, and any effort to cut short this timeline and set an arbitrary withdrawal deadline is premature and irresponsible. The last thing we need is 535 Generals in Congress telling our troops how to win this fight."

Posted by: Al on September 1, 2007 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

> "I had never seen that in the past. That's new,"
> said Porter, who was on his fourth trip to Iraq.
> "Now I want to see what they're saying about me,"
> he added, when he learned of the contents of his
> travel companions' rap sheets.

Personally were I a Congressman I would also want to know that involvement the White House had with the contents of those cheat sheets.

Now, has Porter sent a letter to Gates requesting that copies of the cheat sheets including previous versions, edits, and all routings and received input including from the White House if any be provided? I'll bet you $100 he has not.

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on September 1, 2007 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

I think Jasper is dead on. It seems to me this whole PR campaign is rolling out too early. Bush could probably keep the Democrats from forcing an early end to the war in any case, he certainly was successful at hamstringing them last time they tried to limit the occupation. The big problem for the Republicans isn't Sept 2007, it is Nov 2008. If they overpromise now, it should be clear a year later that they did so, and then won't there be a big rebound affect against them? So what's the deal here, what am I missing? Is it that Bush doesn't care a fig what happens to the Republicans in 2008 since he won't be on the ballot? Are they counting on having actual success by Nov 2008? Or maybe just a new big PR campaign? Help me out.

Posted by: Counterfactual on September 1, 2007 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

[Persistent trolling deleted. Again. Are you clueless, or just obstreperous? Or maybe both?]

Posted by: mhr on September 1, 2007 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, Kevin.

You write that there's been no discernable progress. Yet how would you know? You've never been there. H*ll, you've never been out of your room.

Fred Kagan recently spent 8 days there. He didn't just spend in the GReen Zone etiher, but was embedded with the military and so got to see all areas of the country. He says things are improving. so things are impoving. And the public is starting to catch on. Poles are showing support for the surge is increasing.

It is rather dispicable of you to state things as fact when you have no direct obervsation of something. You should at least admit that people like Fred Kagan have better information than you do with your dogma.

Posted by: egbert on September 1, 2007 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

Anti-war advocates need to embrace the goals of the Iraqi insurgents.

Posted by: Brojo on September 1, 2007 at 1:26 PM | PERMALINK

Yes egbert, we all know what a great military expert Fred Kagan is with all that combat and stategic experience. Since things are going so well in Iraq, when do you plan to enlist and see things up close for yourself.

(Or do we now have a fake egbert to go along with fake al?)

Posted by: Jim in Chicago on September 1, 2007 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

"Well played" -- Sure, except for all the dead people and stuff. :-(

Posted by: Jim in Chicago on September 1, 2007 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

I'm supposed to concede how ingeniously genius Petraeus is because he hands out some bio information packets to front-line troops? Please.

Oh wow- he even let his staff know whether the Congressman they were talking to supports/opposes their efforts! What a political genius! The game is up! I can't believe anyone thought of "knowing his audience" before delivering their sale's pitch!

Posted by: P on September 1, 2007 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

mhr,

Having a slight problem with chronological dates? Or perhaps your limited mind performed a Blitzkreig through the history books a touch too fast.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on September 1, 2007 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

On second thought, it looks like Petraeus has failed in the short term. He hasn't even given the 25-percenters usable talking points.

I mean, they're reduced to using Inhofe and whining about the word "blitzkrieg"? That's just sad.

Posted by: ferg on September 1, 2007 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

You mean a General who violates the barrier between politics and the military, who throws away any General's most important political asset, his image as a straight forward professional soldier, tramples over his oath to protect the constitution, and all to bolster a foolish and doomed strategy, has played it well?

Posted by: Boronx on September 1, 2007 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

the general is a three star, iirc

Posted by: jeffreyw on September 1, 2007 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK

Any congress person could have said:

"Sorry, General, I've got my own schedule." and gone off the beaten path in Iraq.

If the General says "I won't guarantee your safety if you deviate from my plans." it's only a bluff.

No way he could let a congressman get killed touring Iraq.

Posted by: Boronx on September 1, 2007 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

Nobody gives a shit about this but it is absolutely real:

Go to Google...enter the words, Anbar province progress

What you get are a raft of links to MILITARY press articles touting progress in Anbar AND a raft of links from those articles to glowing postings in right-wing blogs quoting the same military officers.

What you don't get are any credible reports from mainstream media on whether in fact we have made progress in Anbar (or anywhere else.) The problem...it is too dangerous for reporters to go there....so the reports come from the folks who do go there and have a vested interest in making it look pretty...the military....

The other day on NPR I hear a reporter say, "....and everyone agrees we have made progress in Anbar province."

Says WHO lady??????

This is a GIGANTIC PR SHAM and as it has so many times in the past, the mainstream media is watching it unfold without asking any questions.

Do I recall the NY Times issuing a statement last year with a mea culpa because it had not been more questioning of claims from the administration and the military about why we got into this war?

Well NYT....isn't it time you start asking questions and getting some answers. Unless you do, we're gonna commit ourselves to another couple thousand US military deaths, another hundreds of billions of dollars in expenses....another year of endless warfare, more deterioration of our military strength and of our standing in the world......while our 29% approval rating leader claims we are "making progress".

The only thing this administration has ever done well is PR and spin....everything else is a disaster, but the spin keeps them moving forward.

Posted by: dweb on September 1, 2007 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

"Our immediate goal, he said, "is right here." And Peckem swung his pointer south to the island of Pianosa and tapped it significantly upon a large word that had been lettered on there with black grease pencil. The word was DREEDLE.

Colonel Scheisskopf, squinting, moved very close to the map, and for the first time since he entered the room a light of comprehension shed a dim glow over his stolid face. "I think I understand," he exclaimed. "Yes, I know I understand. Our first job is to capture Dreedle away from the enemy. Right?"

General Peckem laughed benignly. "No, Scheisskopf. Dreedle's on our side, and Dreedle is the enemy."

--Joseph Heller, Catch-22

Same old same old.

Posted by: low-tech cyclist on September 1, 2007 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

General Petraeus is beginning to remind me a lot of General MacArthur..both brilliant egomaniacs who would stop at nothing to prove themselve "right". But Petraeus, like MacArthur before him, may be a bit too clever by half. He may, as others have commented, have succeeded in convincing the credulus republican dead enders that this surge is working, but he has utterly failed to change the reality of events on the ground in any meaningful way. It seems to me that what may save him, from receiving blame and Bush republicans from smashing election defeat is an attack on Iran. This is probably the real purpose of the extra $50B, to finance such an attack. Such an attack could distract the American public again into voting republicans back into power. On the other hand, the long-term consequences would be extremely disasterous for our nation.

Posted by: Oleary25 on September 1, 2007 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

jefferyw,

er, no - A four star is referred as General - He was confirmed by the Senate, prior to taking over full command in Iraq.

Now, perhaps his Guide Michelin rating for truthfullness has descended to three stars and will soon be in free fall, but, he wears four on his shoulder.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on September 1, 2007 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

Posted by: Counterfactual: "I think Jasper is dead on. It seems to me this whole PR campaign is rolling out too early. Bush could probably keep the Democrats from forcing an early end to the war in any case, he certainly was successful at hamstringing them last time they tried to limit the occupation. The big problem for the Republicans isn't Sept 2007, it is Nov 2008. If they overpromise now, it should be clear a year later that they did so, and then won't there be a big rebound affect against them? So what's the deal here, what am I missing? Is it that Bush doesn't care a fig what happens to the Republicans in 2008 since he won't be on the ballot? Are they counting on having actual success by Nov 2008? Or maybe just a new big PR campaign? Help me out."

Remember that before Petraeus there were other generals, and other 'winning strategies'. For example, during 2005-06 the Path to Victory was training up the Iraqi Army. Bush went around saying 'as they stand up, we'll stand down'. The announced goals were (from memory here) having 50-70K troop in Iraq in 2007. This effort was lead by a Gen. Petraeus, but isn't talked about much now.

Before Petraeus, there were generals like Abizaid and Casey. Abizaid was an Arab-American (!) who spoke Arabic (!!). Casey brought a brain trust of colonels with Ph.D.'s (!!!)

And so it went, and so it goes. I figure that by next summer, the Surge will not be something that Polite Serious People talk about, because it'd be partisan, and hating america.

Posted by: Barry on September 1, 2007 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

Patreus is brilliant in the same way as Nixon was touted as a shrewd politician.

Even if win the rat race you are still a rat.

Even if the good general wins the PR war by lying, he is still a liar.

Posted by: gregor on September 1, 2007 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK
The general has profoundly outplayed the amateurs on their home turf.

Kevin, can you comment on what should have been done to prevent this? It's not that I don't agree with you; it's that every liberal blog I turn to takes issue with the numbers and seems to agree that the surge isn't working, and yet everywhere in the media you see commentators talking about how there's been some "success" from the surge. People like Glenn Greenwald have spent countless hours refuting the claims of people like Pollack and O'Hanlon, and yet there they are sitting on CNN and Fox talking about how there's "finally" progress in Iraq. How were we supposed to stop this? This isn't a rhetorical question; I really want to know.

Posted by: Xanthippas on September 1, 2007 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

Mark my words: this is the beginning of Petraeus's campaign as GOP VP candidate.

Posted by: Mim Song on September 1, 2007 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

President Petraeus? -ogmb

Exactly! If he plays his cards right, and with just modest success, this man could be running for president in 2012.

Which party though? Sounds like he is a republican, but if he turns populist, he might even win the democratic nomination. Stranger things have happened.

Posted by: ppk on September 1, 2007 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

Petraeus is a full General (O-10). Four stars.

Here is the breakdown for flag ranks:

Lt. General (O-9) - three stars

Major General (O-8) - two stars

Brigadier General (O-7) - one star

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on September 1, 2007 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

Great post, Kevin. Well, except for that part where you take the idiotic and gratuitous swipe at the liberal blogosphere for goddsakes.

Posted by: Junius Brutus on September 1, 2007 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

And No Stars is a Ptomaine Hashhouse on the Potomac run by Shrub and his cronies.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on September 1, 2007 at 3:20 PM | PERMALINK
...German army leveled Poland....and much of the USSR before marching into France meathead republican at 1:19 PM
France fell on 25-Jun, 1940; Germany attacked Russia on 22-Jun, 1941. Your ignorance is nicely balanced by your general stupidity.

The American media has a 10-second attention span, and a 20 minute memory.
The talking points have changed often, and they don't even try cover the moving goalposts.
There's no doubt this is designed to hold wavering Republicans and the few Blue Dogs to the agenda, but people aren't buying in: They see the facts unspun in the headlines and obituary pages.

Westmoreland always claimed that victory was assured too, until it wasn't.
When it bites, reality bites hard.

Posted by: Mike on September 1, 2007 at 3:24 PM | PERMALINK

Great one, Al. Now quote Inhofe on whether dinosaurs co-existed with humans.

Posted by: DrBB on September 1, 2007 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

Americans are stupid and can be bought for by a snappy marketing campaign. Campaigns are won or lost by misleading negative ads but voters have been buying it for years so there is no reasons to stop now.

Posted by: bob on September 1, 2007 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK

You're missing the obvious fact that it's a lot easier to sell a PR campaign to people who, because of their entrenched position in the existing pecking order, desperately want to believe it. That's why it's so easy to convince the DC elite, politicians and media, that everything's getting better in Iraq.

Posted by: popomo on September 1, 2007 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

There is a PR campaign going on and it's picked up steam in the last month. It is a campaign to discredit the testimony of Gen. Petraeus and Amb. Crocker, as well as the mandated report by the Administration, PRIOR to submission.

Posted by: majarosh on September 1, 2007 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

It's looking more and more like the GOP is facing a perfect storm of political misery in 2008.

Nah. All the WH needs to do is announce in Oct 2008 that victory has been achieved and that the troops will be coming home in December 2008. After the elections, they only need to pretend that they never said that, and the MSM will go along with it.

The primary thing which can torpedo the GOP's chances in 2008 are pedo and/or gay sex scandals, which is why the GOP moved so quickly to get rid of Craig after seeing Foley torpedo them in 2006. I expect that the GOP will take counter actions against this by manufacturing such scandals against Dems beginning next Spring.

Posted by: Disputo on September 1, 2007 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

I've been thinking about is how badly the liberal blogosphere and the liberal establishment have been outplayed here.

Stupid blogosphere. Why didn't they think of simply catapulting themselves into the real corridors of power in this country instead of just blogging about it? That was their problem obviously.

Jeez, Kevin, now bloggers are partly to blame for the mess we're in in Iraq? Since when is DC the 'home turf' for the liberal blogosphere?

How it is you alternate between articulate insights and abject cluelessness astounds me.

Posted by: Ferruge on September 1, 2007 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, just out of curiosity, do you think that Michaels Yon and Totten have been suckered by Petraeus' Potemkin Village strategy as well?

Posted by: Rand Simberg on September 1, 2007 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

Exactly! If he plays his cards right, and with just modest success, this man could be running for president in 2012.

He could be running in 2008 if he can just keep the message up.

Posted by: ogmb on September 1, 2007 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

1. Generals, by definition, do not look for a way out of war.
2. Generals have much more access to the media, Presidents, Senators and Congressmen than do the netroots (which have none).

The netroots weren't blindsided, they just weren't listened to by the players. Are they ever? No, no matter how many times they are right, they will not be listened to by the inside the beltway players.

Posted by: bajsa on September 1, 2007 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

Just for the record: I wasn't fooled.


-

Posted by: Hank Essay on September 1, 2007 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

This reminds me of the 2000 Election. Democrats didn't make a lot of arguments for Gore because it just seemed obvious why Gore was better than Bush. He was smarter, more qualified, and had better policies on every single issue. It's even more obvious today, but it was obvious then.

Likewise, it doesn't seem fair that we need a PR campaign to end this war. Every single fact and reasonable opinion points to ending this war as soon as possible. Why can't members of Congress do anything just for the good of the country and the world?

I live in a very blue state but a very borderline House district currently in Republican hands. I've told my Democratic Senators that if they don't end the war, I'm not voting in the House race.

Posted by: reino on September 1, 2007 at 5:09 PM | PERMALINK
Today he's issuing dire warnings about al-Qaeda hegemony
This Petraeus fib is what jumps out at me. Petraeus went with this line of propaganda in a little speech that was carried on the nightly news several weeks ago, in perfect concert with Bush administration politicos who had just begun to call every attack in Iraq the work of al Qaeda.

Just think about it. There are no Middle East experts outside of the Bush administration who think that al Qaeda is the issue in Iraq. This is way beneath Petraeus or any serious commentator on Iraq. The overwhelming consensus is that when the U.S Army leaves Iraq, al Qaeda will not be tolerated.

Another thing. All this new Sunni cooperation was so predictable. We are actually giving them guns now. They got tired of the Americans arming the Shia, so now they are getting their share.

Folks, this is a case of street-wise people playing Bush and the Republican party like a grand piano. It’s disgusting. We have no idea who will be shot with these weapons tomorrow, much less two months from now.

Posted by: little ole jim from red country on September 1, 2007 at 5:12 PM | PERMALINK

Huh, Imagine if he expended all that energy in propagandizing VIPs on Iraq instead. Mayhap he could have had less Iraqis and Americans dead.

But no, his priority is NOT to pacify Iraq. It is to keep kicking the can down to the next administration and let them deal with the real problems.

Petraeus is not as smart as you paint him to be. He may be intelligent, but he is not wise, and it will come back to haunt him big time.

Posted by: Dan on September 1, 2007 at 5:25 PM | PERMALINK

Petraeus should be marketing the hell out of the "report" in mid-September. Whatever change in methodology is necessary to show a reduction in casualties, especially victims who are not coalition, has to be employed.
Any large scale Congressional antipathy for the report, especially if it would lead to legislated troop reduction, must be avoided. The "surge" troops are going to be necessary to move south to guard the supply lines.
The British are turning over more of Basra, with the palace next up, and they'll move their 500 troops to the airport. With the Badr Corps and the Mahdi militia duking it out for supremacy in the south, and as the British move out, the risk of Iranian support for al Hakim is much higher. That is something Petraeus doesn't need astride his supply lines.

Posted by: TJM on September 1, 2007 at 5:34 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin---

Are you saying that it is not just coincidence that "Petraeus" rhymes with "Betray us"?

Posted by: dipsop on September 1, 2007 at 5:41 PM | PERMALINK

bajsa wrote:
"1. Generals, by definition, do not look for a way out of war." OTHER THAN WINNING IT
"2. Generals have much more access to the media, Presidents, Senators and Congressmen than do the netroots (which have none)" YEP. THE MEDIA SEEKS THEM OUT AND THEY GIVE BRIEFINGS, THEY REPORT TO AND ADVISE THEIR BOSS AND ELECTED LEGISLATORS SUMMON THEM TO TESTIFY AND GIVE BRIEFINGS.

Do the conditions of #2 apply to the "netroots"?

Posted by: majarosh on September 1, 2007 at 5:46 PM | PERMALINK

Brilliant officers do not become generals unless they are deceitful enough to hide their brilliance and play the officer game. Independent minded officers do not get promoted quickly enough to become general officers. Kiss ass officers become generals.

Posted by: Captain Dan on September 1, 2007 at 6:04 PM | PERMALINK

"Petraeus should be marketing the hell out of the 'report' in mid-September."

Why?

"Whatever change in methodology is necessary to show a reduction in casualties, especially victims who are not coalition, has to be employed."

Even if it's a blatant lie? Ah, got it.

"Any large scale Congressional antipathy for the report, especially if it would lead to legislated troop reduction, must be avoided."

Even if such antipathy is based on reality and the troop reduction is necessary?

"The 'surge' troops are going to be necessary to move south to guard the supply lines."

We don't have enough troops to do that. And they'll be leaving in the next few months, anyway, as the deployments end. Or did you mean to break the army?

"The British are turning over more of Basra"

They can't, actually, since they don't control any of Basra other than their own bases.

"That is something Petraeus doesn't need astride his supply lines."

Since he hasn't got the troops to do anything about, it doesn't look like he's got much of a choice.

Posted by: PaulB on September 1, 2007 at 6:10 PM | PERMALINK

"It is a campaign to discredit the testimony of Gen. Petraeus and Amb. Crocker"

Nah, they're doing a damn good job of that all by themselves without any help from us. We're just pointing out that what they, and other military briefers, are saying is directly contradicted by all of the available verifiable evidence. If they really do have the goods, all they have to do is provide the evidence. Thus far, they have entirely failed to do so.

Posted by: PaulB on September 1, 2007 at 6:18 PM | PERMALINK

Captain Dan:
"Brilliant officers do not become generals unless they are deceitful enough to hide their brilliance and play the officer game. Independent minded officers do not get promoted quickly enough to become general officers. Kiss ass officers become generals."

Sounds like the voice of experience. BTW Cap'n Dan, didn't you retire after 20 years as a Captain?

BRILLIANT!

Posted by: majarosh on September 1, 2007 at 6:51 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks, PaulB, I couldn't have proved my point any better. Keep up the good worki

Posted by: majarosh on September 1, 2007 at 6:57 PM | PERMALINK

What I don't get here is: what the hell is in it for Petraeus? If he's so goddamned smart and such a counterinsurgency expert(which seems to be pretty well established by his record) then surely he realizes that it's not working. And if it won't work now, with a temporary, unsustainable uptick in troop numbers, how the hell is it going to work later? Why would he want to go to huge trouble to put together an extended and large-scale propaganda campaign, just to gain the privilege of persisting indefinitely in a pointless fight that is going nowhere? And politically, what good does currying favor with these 28-percenters do? It's like taking your already-sinking ship and setting it on fire. He doesn't strike me as ideological or crazy.

I guess there is just the pride thing, and the military refusal to give up a fight thing, but still, at some point rationality and reality have to intrude for a guy like this, don't they?

Posted by: J. Dunn on September 1, 2007 at 7:10 PM | PERMALINK

Are you saying that it is not just coincidence that "Petraeus" rhymes with "Betray us"?

I was working in Leavenworth the day the news came down that he took the fourth star and the billet, and E-5 and above medical lab specialists who had been there already announced to the lab in general that they would not be reupping now, "not with *Betray Us* in charge over there. We'll be stuck in that shithole for fifteen years." (They meant it, too - I have given job refs for two of them at civilian facilities so far, and have to return a voice mail to a HR department Tuesday.)

Captain Dan, I have been saying for ages that Generals who aren't politicians are...Captains. Petraeus declared his political allegiance in September 2004. Got a fourth star out of the deal, too. He is every inch aWol's man.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on September 1, 2007 at 7:42 PM | PERMALINK

Saying that liberals have been 'badly outplayed' here is like saying the Belgians were 'badly outplayed' by invading Germans in 1940. This is a doubly silly error considering that Kevin in the next paragraph describes Petraeus as "brilliant", something for which I have seen no evidence at all.

Liberals aren't even allowed on the field where Petraeus plays. The best we can say about some commentators in the press and on tv is that they are very moderate Republicans. Real liberals and leftists in America are in a state of internal exile.

Yes, this is all very irritating. In fact, it may be a grand historical tragedy, in which 50 years of mindless hegemony has left us unable to govern ourselves and doomed to experience a dictatorship as a consequence. Certainly many of the people who formed the Constitution thought that would happen, and they thought it would happen a lot sooner than it has.

Just remember, the Bushies and the Army have "won" every battle, and they're losing the war. That should be your clue that the battles they're fighting are not the important ones.

Posted by: serial catowner on September 1, 2007 at 7:44 PM | PERMALINK

Is it that Bush doesn't care a fig what happens to the Republicans in 2008 since he won't be on the ballot?
Posted by: Counterfactual on September 1, 2007 at 1:14 PM

Bingo. The goal is for the current administration to avoid the stain of *embarrassment* and humiliation from our withdrawal from Iraq-as best it can. I kinda think that Ahmadinejad's recent comments about the "occupier's political powerlessness" in Iraq might have royally pissed him off as well. All the RNC can do is sit and watch the soap opera play out.

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on September 1, 2007 at 7:49 PM | PERMALINK

PaulB, your comments reflect a reality, but not Petraeus', necessarily. I think it's the reality but I was trying to think of it from the general's position. The issue for us citizens is what is the goal of the Petraeus report. Is it to show "progress", however he (they) want to define it in order to prop up Maliki enough to justify drawdowns in the short term, to reduce the troops "because we're winning", i.e. on GwB's terms? Or is it solely to continue in place, suffering the coalition, Iraqi, contractor, you name it, casualties?

As to why Petraeus is marketing his report, what would you do in his stead? Tell the "truth", whatever that means? He has no choice, it's his job and I doubt he thinks he's lying by saying there's progress.
There must be some end game (although with GwB, you can never be sure), that the generals are striving for. It must be reductions in force because it's certainly obvious that continued,even lengthened rotations can't be sustained. Look at the bonus money that has to be paid to keep the current force. Last year it was over $1 billion. Two years ago the budget was $56 million and they were $300 million over.

As to the supply lines, including the contractors, he has troops enough if he has to withdraw under current conditions, but I doubt it's enough with an Iranian assist. That's another of the problems in withdrawing since I suspect a lot of the Iraqis remember their retreat from Kuwait. Think they're looking forward to us going back down the road to Kuwait? Anbar better be secure, maybe some will leave through Jordan. Either way, it'll be ugly without Iraqi government support.

Posted by: TJM on September 1, 2007 at 7:57 PM | PERMALINK

I'm sure Bush told Gen. Petraeus to stall for the Hydrocardon Framework Law - but even a surge - COMPLETELY STUPID as it is and was - Bush and Cheney's closed door oil deal is no closer to being signed. The surge was pointless - I hardly think that makes Petraeus any more brilliant that Gonzales. He is yes-man - bootlike, that is all.

Iran will take over Iraq anyway no matter what Bush does - and there is nothing Bush can do about that - bombing Iran WON'T make Iran comply - such an act will only enrage the entire Mideast and freak the rest of world out, and most likely get Bush and Cheney impeached since the GOP is in a real pickle now anyway. Such an act would make both the GOP as well as Dems (of course) in a hurry to rid the Office of Bush and Cheney.

Iran is telling Iraq NOT to sign the Hydrocarbon Framework Law - and so far Iran has 23 contracts with Iraq - Bush does anything to Iran and Western oil contractors could lose EVERYTHING in the Mideast - war is never perdictable and Big Oil is already pushing hard to lose contracts in Mideast with unfair business deals. Such deals NEVER stop terrorism - it creates terrorism. Obviously Bush doesn't care about terrorist even as he uses terrorist as an excuse for everything.

Posted by: Me_again on September 1, 2007 at 8:06 PM | PERMALINK

"Thanks, PaulB, I couldn't have proved my point any better. Keep up the good worki"

ROFL... Nice of you to ignore the substance of my remarks, dear heart. It confirms my initial opinion of you.

Posted by: PaulB on September 1, 2007 at 8:25 PM | PERMALINK

"PaulB, your comments reflect a reality, but not Petraeus', necessarily."

That's not a particularly helpful comment. Petraeus is not entitled to his own "reality."

"I think it's the reality but I was trying to think of it from the general's position."

An honest general deals with reality, not spin.

"The issue for us citizens is what is the goal of the Petraeus report."

We already know what it is supposed to be. We also aready know what it will be. The two don't match.

"As to why Petraeus is marketing his report, what would you do in his stead? Tell the 'truth,' whatever that means?"

Yes. UCMJ.

"He has no choice"

He has a choice and, to his discredit, he has made it.

"it's his job and I doubt he thinks he's lying by saying there's progress."

He's had four years of "saying there's progress."

"There must be some end game (although with GwB, you can never be sure), that the generals are striving for."

It's not even remotely clear that Bush has ever listened to "the generals," or that the "end game" has ever been anything but "string it out until Bush leaves office."

"As to the supply lines, including the contractors, he has troops enough if he has to withdraw under current conditions"

He doesn't have troops enough to hold Basra and do everything else he needs to do. He can certainly withdraw, but that doesn't seem to be in the cards.

Posted by: PaulB on September 1, 2007 at 8:34 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry, I didn't mean UCMJ. I meant Code of Honor.

Posted by: PaulB on September 1, 2007 at 8:35 PM | PERMALINK

what the hell is in it for Petraeus?

The smell of white phosphorus in the morning.

Posted by: Brojo on September 1, 2007 at 8:57 PM | PERMALINK

Rand Simberg: ...do you think that Michaels Yon and Totten have been suckered by Petraeus' Potemkin Village strategy as well?

That assumes Petraeus has a "Potemkin Village strategy", which I think is untrue. Just because Petraeus is playing the sales and marketing game with the home crowd at this point doesn't mean he believes it. On the contrary, Petraeus shows every indication of understanding the underlying reality. If he can't get from step 1 to step 2, he's failed, and getting from step 1 to step 2 is where he's focused.

Whether Petraeus really believes that Iraq is winnable, in any rational sense given the resources he has and will have available, is another question. I expect that is a question that keeps him awake at night. He's not stupid, and I would be very surprised if he really thinks better than a draw is possible, but there's no way he's going to admit that in public.

As to Yon, Totten, et. al. I don't think they've been suckered; more they're blind to it. As much as the reports of the combat voyeurs may excite, they haven't figured out that success in Iraq has little to do with our combat prowess at this point. NB, conversation in Hanoi, 1975:

Col. Summers, US Army: "You know, you never defeated us on the battlefield."

Col. Tu, NVA: "That may be so, but it is also irrelevant."

Posted by: has407 on September 1, 2007 at 9:10 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

Mitchell later corrrected herself and said that both Dems and Pubs were at the meeting with Petraeus.

http://radamisto.blogspot.com/2007/04/andrea-mitchell-gen-petraeus-gop.html

Posted by: Steve J. on September 1, 2007 at 9:11 PM | PERMALINK

It is nuts to think that the surge was successful
I hear cognitive dissonance, denial and bush-worshipping to think other wise.

Denial: refusal to receive, believe, accept or embrace--the truth--

Deny-- to refuse to accept as true, or real,
or right...
to disown.

Posted by: consider wisely always on September 1, 2007 at 9:29 PM | PERMALINK

consider wisely always: It is nuts to think that the surge was successful...

Allow me to play devil's advocate...

  • The number of Iraqi sectarian killings, on which we are benchmarked, has decreased.
  • The number of Iraqi civilian casualties, on which are are not benchmarked, has increased.
Based on the Congressionally mandated benchmarks (sectarian violence), the surge is a success. You wanted benchmarks? You got it. Don't blame us if they don't represent reality.

Posted by: has407 on September 1, 2007 at 9:50 PM | PERMALINK

PaulB:
"ROFL... Nice of you to ignore the substance of my remarks, dear heart. It confirms my initial opinion of you."

You lying sack o' shit. I did not ignore the "substance" of your remarks. (Well, there you go again with the substance abuse) I payed close attention to your remarks, as well as you clipping my remarks to eliminate the operative word "PRIOR." I even capitalized in my original posting so it couldn't be ignored. Pay attention this time you shithead. I'm going to dissect every friggin' sentence you wrote and the "substance" you claim I ignored.

"It is a campaign to discredit the testimony of Gen. Petraeus and Amb. Crocker"///Clipped///

Nah, they're doing a damn good job of that all by themselves without any help from us.///How can they discredit a report that they haven't even given yet, you sanctimonious pig?/// We're just pointing out that what they, and other military briefers, are saying is directly contradicted by all of the available verifiable evidence.///What are they saying? What's the contradiction? And where is the evidence, you pointy-eared cretin?/// If they really do have the goods, all they have to do is provide the evidence.///Wait for it, jerk. And when it comes, you and your ilk will discredit it without even examining it./// Thus far, they have entirely failed to do so.///Well, excuuuuse me! I didn't know they were operating on PaulB's schedule. It must be tough on you having to be ubiquitous, keeping tabs on everyone, making sure they comply to your wishes, you dipsomaniac.///
The UNCLIPPED version:
"It is a campaign to discredit the testimony of Gen. Petraeus and Amb. Crocker, as well as the mandated report by the Administration, PRIOR to submission."

And if you think for one second I give a flying Funfkirchen what your opinion of me is , you're worse off than I thought, you pismire.

"There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance--that principle is contempt prior to investigation."--HERBERT SPENCER

Posted by: majarosh on September 1, 2007 at 9:53 PM | PERMALINK

To Has407?

A new assessment by the Government Accountability Office reportedly says that Iraq has failed to meet almost all of the political and military goals layed out Congress.

The GAO issued its own report on military and political progress in Iraq, two weeks before Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker are due to issue their report, and its grades are mostly negative.

Posted by: consider wisely always on September 1, 2007 at 10:10 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know why anybody is trying to figure out the motivations of Petraeus. His Commander-In-Chief told him to lie like Hell, and, probably after asking how low, he is lying like Hell.

Posted by: reino on September 1, 2007 at 10:13 PM | PERMALINK

"You lying sack o' shit."

LOL... I like you, too, dear.

"I did not ignore the "substance" of your remarks."

Yes, dear, you did, which is why we know to not take you seriously. Anyone who just wants to play silly games and issue mindless ad hominem attacks is suited only for our amusement.

"I payed close attention to your remarks,"

No, you didn't, dear, or you would have dealt with the substance.

"as well as you clipping my remarks to eliminate the operative word 'PRIOR.'"

Dear heart, Petraeus is lying now and that's what he's getting called on. The fact that he's running a blatantly dishonest PR campaign now is what leads us to the conclusion that the upcoming report (written by the White House, by the way, not by Petraeus) will be more of the same.

"I even capitalized in my original posting so it couldn't be ignored."

LOL... Dear heart, since it was entirely irrelevant to any point we've made, I'm afraid your CAPITALIZATION of it was just silly.

"Pay attention this time you shithead."

Oh, I am, dear. I'm giving your every utterance precisely the attention and respect they deserve.

"I'm going to dissect every friggin' sentence you wrote and the 'substance' you claim I ignored."

Whatever floats your boat, dear.

"How can they discredit a report that they haven't even given yet, you sanctimonious pig?"

ROFL.... Reading comprehension isn't your strong suit, is it, dear? That was in response to your silly little post about the credibility of those two gentlemen -- credibility which they are themselves destroying with their utterances now. We don't need to discredit them, dear heart; they are discrediting themselves. Is any of this sinking in, dear?

"What are they saying? What's the contradiction? And where is the evidence, you pointy-eared cretin?"

ROFLMAO... Dear heart, you haven't visited this blog much, have you? It's all on the front page of this blog in Kevin's last few posts. Your complete lack of awareness is not my fault, nor do I care to address it.

"Wait for it, jerk. And when it comes, you and your ilk will discredit it without even examining it."

ROFL.... Dear heart, if they had the evidence to back up their current assertions, they'd have provided it.

"Well, excuuuuse me! I didn't know they were operating on PaulB's schedule. It must be tough on you having to be ubiquitous, keeping tabs on everyone, making sure they comply to your wishes, you dipsomaniac."

ROFL.... Dear heart, they set the schedule by making these silly, dishonest pronouncements of theirs.

"And if you think for one second I give a flying Funfkirchen what your opinion of me is , you're worse off than I thought, you pismire."

ROFLMAO... Dear heart, you can keep pretending that you're fooling everyone if that makes you feel better.

Posted by: PaulB on September 1, 2007 at 10:16 PM | PERMALINK

"What we are hearing is a pretty consistent message of failure on the political front in Iraq." Senator Richard J Durbin of Illinois, a Democrat, who visited Iraq in AUGUST

"Our force is stretched and out of balance," General Casey said on Thursday...the day before he was to meet with Bush. "The tempo of our deployments are not sustainable; our equipment usage is five times the normal rate and continuously operating in harsh environments."

The National Intelligence Assessment, issued last week, and the General Accounting Office study offer a grim assessment of the Iraqi national police--this tempers Bush's claims

Posted by: consider wisely always on September 1, 2007 at 10:19 PM | PERMALINK

Didn't you get the email from Fox Snooze?

Fox News info:

"The administration said it agreed that Iraq had not reached the objectives."

"I think we have said they have not met the benchmarks," (Dana) Perino said. "I don't see how it would be news for them to come out today and say they have not met benchmarks. We have said that."

Posted by: consider wisely and good night, those denying reality on September 1, 2007 at 10:35 PM | PERMALINK

majarosh: And when it comes, you and your ilk will discredit it without even examining it.

It's not as if the numbers for the last 6-12 months are a deep dark secret--excepting some opaque DoD numbers related to "sectarian violence"--on which the DoD's claims of success rest--and the criteria for which have never been made public. Unless and until the DoD provides the transperancy necessary for independent objective analysis, they have by their own actions neutered their conculsions, and their numbers deserve to be ridiculed and tossed in the trash.

Yet you suggest we ignore what has been happening for the last three months--overt politiking by Patreaus and the DoD supported by very suspect statements and statistics--and wait for the final report because we might "discredit it without even examining it"? We're suppose to do this out of a sense of fairness to Patreaus and the DoD, when they have shown no resiprocity?

Please. Fair is fair. If Patreaus and the DoD wants to play that game, fine. Let the games begin. At this point in time, Patreaus and the DoD, and their pronouncements and statistics deserve every bit of scorn and skepticism heaped on them.

Posted by: has407 on September 1, 2007 at 10:50 PM | PERMALINK

This was almost funny.

Posted by: Snooper on September 1, 2007 at 11:00 PM | PERMALINK

[Name calling deleted. And I am warning you that you are trying my patience. --Mod]


This is my original post:
"There is a PR campaign going on and it's picked up steam in the last month. It is a campaign to discredit the testimony of Gen. Petraeus and Amb. Crocker, as well as the mandated report by the Administration, PRIOR to submission."

The leftists worst nightmare:
1. The reinforcement works.
2. The Iraqi government makes discernable
progress in reconciliation.
3. The IF begins taking over for US forces.
4. The Iraqi people decide it is better for them
to live together than to die seperately.

It's a sad situation when something that would be good for our country, good for Iraq and her people, and good for freedom loving people around the globe would be feared by some Americans.

Posted by: majarosh on September 1, 2007 at 11:35 PM | PERMALINK

Majarosh: you left out the pony.

Posted by: DrBB on September 1, 2007 at 11:44 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin writes: "Even though there's been no discernable political progress, minimal reconstruction progress, and apparently no genuine decrease in violence, he's managed to convince an awful lot of people that the first doesn't matter, the second is far more widespread than it really is, and the third is the opposite of reality."

Well said, mate. That's as eloquently succinct as I've seen it put anywhere by anyone. It's increasingly clear that Petraeus has shrewdly applied his vast counter-insurgency expertise to precisely the restive populations that matter most: war-sceptical American legislators & media.

Posted by: DanJoaquinOz on September 1, 2007 at 11:44 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks Doc, I knew I was forgetting something.


Kevin writes: "Even though there's been no discernable political progress, minimal reconstruction progress, and apparently no genuine decrease in violence, he's managed to convince an awful lot of people that the first doesn't matter, the second is far more widespread than it really is, and the third is the opposite of reality."

Yes, very well said. Fortunately also untrue.

Posted by: majarosh on September 2, 2007 at 12:25 AM | PERMALINK

"To a person, they said there would be ..., gas prices in the U.S. would rise to eight or nine dollars a gallon, ..."

Which would the best thing to happen to this country.

Added bonus: W's popularity ratings are inversely proportional to gas prices.
Add a Iranian hostage crisis, and W will make Jimmy Carter look like a rock star ....

Posted by: Bones on September 2, 2007 at 1:07 AM | PERMALINK

The head of the British army during the Iraq invasion has said US post-war policy was "intellectually bankrupt".

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/6973618.stm

The Ministry of Defence has played down criticism of US post-war policy in Iraq by the former head of the British army.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/6974284.stm

The "strategy" was never there.

For one, I have no surprise

There should always have been a State Dept. and civilian lead post victory.

Posted by: notthere on September 2, 2007 at 1:09 AM | PERMALINK

Majarosh -

It's also really sad that the leftist liberal members of our society realized their greatest re-election dreams when Republicans and Liebermans gutted the Constitution with Jose Padilla, justified torture with Abu Graib, emptied the treasury and sold America to the Chinese...

yes, majarosh, ponies are like kryptonite to the those mean awful leftists who find nothing but opportunities when the smart guys like you fall right into their plans and really screw things up.

Posted by: kennyp on September 2, 2007 at 1:29 AM | PERMALINK

The leftists worst nightmare:

Another Iraqi killed by an American.

Posted by: Brojo on September 2, 2007 at 3:27 AM | PERMALINK

The leftists' worst nightmare: A bunch of Nixon-era cretins deciding to have a Vietnam do-over in the Middle East.

Posted by: DrBB on September 2, 2007 at 7:39 AM | PERMALINK

Reality check questions:

1) Don't about a fifth of our forces HAVE to come back in the middle of next year?

2) Isn't it true that we don't have the forces to replace 'em?

3) Isn't it likely that there will be a new Iraqi coalition within a year?

4) Am I the ONLY one who's connected the dots?

Posted by: theAmericanist on September 2, 2007 at 9:09 AM | PERMALINK

In the soldier's hand was a thumbnail biography, distributed before each of the congressmen's meetings in Baghdad, which let meeting participants such as that soldier know where each of the lawmakers stands on the war.
___________________________

The military has always had a robust apparatus for learning the positions and attitudes of our politicians. Each command has a legislative liaison office whose primary job is to answer inquiries from members of Congress. As part of this function, they routinely share information about Representatives, Senators, and even Congressional staffers, the better to prepare for their visits or answer their questions. Public Affairs people do the same thing with the Press. Such information is not hard to find and specific program experts are often asked such questions as, "What's his interest?" and "What's her position?" on either hot or obscure topics.

This research is useful to all concerned - it aids the command in preparing for visits and prevents wasting time on issues unrelated to the intent of the visit or inquiry. It also warns leadership about what issues are sensitive or need additional attention. It's actually part of the function of oversight. Frequently, the mere fact that somebody is asking the question results in a reexamination of an issue or program.

This passing out info cards on visiting congresscritters is new, though. I wonder if it is driven by USCENTCOM policy or if it was an idea of somebody down the chain. Either way, it's not very surprising. Since all warfare is an extension of politics, countering what's viewed as incorrect or wrong opinions is a standard tenet of warfighting. If politicians are prone to use the off-the-cuff comments of a frustrated buck sergeant or tired PFC to make sweeping statements about an entire war, it was only a matter of time before somebody decided to let folks below the field grade level know who they are talking to. Soldiers usually assume a visiting VIP is just interested in their welfare and supports the mission. Of course, this isn't necessarily so.

I suspect the "scorecards" will disappear, though they'll be replaced by some less visible way of getting out the word. Because, despite how stupid some people seem to think the military is, the word always gets out:

"An it's Tommy this and Tommy that, an' anything you please;
But Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool - you bet that Tommy sees!"

Posted by: trashhauler on September 2, 2007 at 9:14 AM | PERMALINK

I need to amplify my previous post about Kevin's idiotic and gratuitous swipe at the "liberal blogosphere". This claim is so ridiculous it's absurd. The liberal blogosphere is perhaps the ONLY political institution that DIDN'T get played.

None of my favorite lefty bloggers were fooled for a second by Petraeus, and it is the lefty bloggers, ironically including Drum, who have documented the lies and distortion in real time. The lefty blogosphere didn't get played at all. The problem, obviously, is that the lefty blogosphere has almost no power, other than the power of the keyboard.

If the media whores refuse to mend their bootlicking ways and if the "liberal establishment," i.e. Democratic Congress, doesn't mind going down in history as a bunch of frightened little pussies who care more about their careers than their country, what is the lefty blogosphere supposed to do about it? Write another hard-hitting expose? They did that a thousands times already.

What's your problem, Kevin?

Posted by: Junius Brutus on September 2, 2007 at 10:34 AM | PERMALINK

I echo Junius Brutus's sentiment. Makes me wonder what segment of his reader base Kevin is trying to appeal to. I find myself coming to this website less and less. Although Kevin is capable at times of writing really fine posts, they are becoming few and far between.

Posted by: coffeequeen on September 2, 2007 at 11:06 AM | PERMALINK
But Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool - you bet that Tommy sees!
Yes, everybody sees things and everybody see them a little differently, sometimes a lot differently. There are a lot of Tommys in Iraq and they are all counting on Petraeus to do a good job. Some of the Tommys agree with George W. Bush and some of them see Iraq via the same light as, say, Blue Girl.

It’s very interesting to me to observe what people choose to emphasize about a particular issue. I have no problem with Petraeus “selling” his report or using good public relation techniques, but I have a problem if his report contains premises that cannot be supported, e.g., al-Qaeda hegemony.

When I saw Petraeus on T.V. repeating over and over the myth that Iraq is all about al Qaeda, I was reminded of General Westmoreland. Westmoreland perpetuated myths about Vietnam and had a hard time telling the boss what the boss did not want to hear. Was Westmoreland right about Vietnam? No. Is Petraeus right when the tries to sell the proposition that Iraq is all about al Qaeda? No.

The al Qaeda emphasis tells me that a very smart man has probably decided that he thinks he understands the overall situation better than the majority of Americans who are against the occupation, thus it’s ok for him to stretch the truth. He’s the Daddy and the Daddy has to take care of his family even if he has to lie for the time being.

The Bushies decided it was ok to lie about aluminum tubes. Ok to lie about Niger. Ok to lie about the real evidence of Iraqi nuclear capability. Because they knew what was best, regardless of those particular truths.

So, when Petraeus takes the Bush line that Iraq is all about al Qaeda, I say, “whoa, time-out, let’s talk. What and where is your evidence?”

Posted by: little ole jim from red country on September 2, 2007 at 11:17 AM | PERMALINK

The government tells us that 70% of the US intelligence budget goes to contractors. Those guys know what the government wants to hear. They will not disappoint. General Betray-us also knows what the government wants to hear. This is not new- we had the same thing in Vietnam. Manipulated intelligence, generals distorting the truth. However, we had an aggressive Congress and a Press resistant to Pentagon propaganda. Now we have a supine Congress, a lazy media, except for McClatchy, and a rendezvous with destiny.

Just as Hayek said that Centralized state communism was bound to fail in an industrialized economy because the government couldn't set valid prices, A government of the people by the unitary executive, guided by corporations and overseen by sheep and The New Torque Times, is bound to lead to a second US Civil War. Send letters to Nancy P. Lousy and pray.

Posted by: ergastoplasm on September 2, 2007 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

Well, then, Democrats need to get off their ass, do some cramming and have a counterattack ready.

Of course, that will actually happen about, oh, 2043 or so.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on September 2, 2007 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

So how is this orchestrated in such a broad manner? I understand Bushco trying to spin the media, but how do all, or most reporters (of large news orgs) fall prey or become complicit?

Do they just follow marching orders given to them from the their corporate masters a la R Ailes and Fox? Are they ethically bankrupt in regards to the true function of journalism and only out to achieve star status? From what I know journalism schools still instill the basic tenets of journalism that have existed since the origin of the constitution. Are more junior reporters cowed by the 'serious' people above them?

I'm starting to think this a concerted effort from the top down both in the government and corporate spheres. A loose association formed around somewhat common goals or have I been watching too many Adam Curtis documentaries?
--
PS I actually highly recommend watching 'The Power of Nightmares' followed by 'The Century of the Self' and finish off with 'The Trap - What Happened to our Dream of Freedom' all by Adam Curtis. Now you may not agree with it all, but it's an interesting perspective.

https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Adam_Curtis

Posted by: A.Political on September 2, 2007 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

I recommend we all take a break and watch Blazing Saddles, airing tonight at 6pm eastern on CMT, Country Music Television.

Happy Labor Day weekend

Posted by: majarosh on September 2, 2007 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

Upthread, people asked what is in this for Gen. Petraeus. It seems to me that the man who wrote the book on fighting countinsurgencies and the army he heads, is getting valuable feedback on the success of his strategy. The US military is becoming the world's expert on fighting insurgencies. This is actually a good thing for the US, to have an army trained in the kind of warfare that it is likely to fight.

So what Petraeus wants--I speculate--is what Bush wants, six more months (and more.) Right now, he can't demonstrate progress, but surely, surely, with six more months....

This isn't a PR blitzkreig by Petraeus, it is more of a foregone conclusion. Did anyone think that the "Surge"--really more of a change in strategy than an increase in boots--would fail? Things are pretty much as dismal as ever, but when Bush got his funding for the surge, he also got his "get out of jail free" card. He and his military commanders can just keep saying, we just need is more time.

And I am not so unhopeful about the progressive blogosphere: Because of their work, I think people will be looking at the numbers more cynically, but I also think Congress will fund the next six months. The Iraq war is going to drift along for a while yet because no one in power wants to pull the plug. It is sort of the Terry Shiavo of wars. But the day will come when it will be clear what the US has to do.

Posted by: PTate in FR on September 2, 2007 at 5:39 PM | PERMALINK

How dare they let the troops know how the visiting politicians stand on the issues.

The idea of not losing in Iraq gets the left wingers all flustered and angry. May be because Hillary having to do another flip flop on the war just may be too Kerryish.

Posted by: MJ on September 2, 2007 at 5:43 PM | PERMALINK

So he's going to get elected as VP in 2012? Is that after we win this war as a result of this propaganda push? So all he needs is a little propaganda and our nation hails him as a hero? Wouldn't the war need to actually be won? It ain't happening with the strategy we have now. Right now it's just "kick the can on down the road"...

Posted by: wasab on September 2, 2007 at 6:11 PM | PERMALINK

I knew this would happen when Bush brought up Vietnam. Just like in Nam, Gen. Westmoreland lied to Pres. Johnson about the progress (or lackthereof) that we were making. He said that we had the "enemy on the run" and that we were winning when in reality we were not. Petraeus is going to pull a Westmoreland and I have not heard anyone in the MSM bring up that aspect of Vietnam since Bush was so "brave" to finally bring it up himself.(most people in the reality based community have been comparing the two for the past few years. i.e. can you say Quagmire?) Does he think that the people don't know that we had another General who lied to the President and the people about another failed war?

Posted by: fubar on September 2, 2007 at 8:11 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, c'mon guys, keep your hopes up! Maybe when Petraeus gives his report, the Democrats can all get up and run out of the room with their hands over their ears like Hildy Solis! That'll show the American people how serious you are.

Posted by: richard mcenroe on September 2, 2007 at 8:59 PM | PERMALINK

Petraeus upcoming report on the progress of the surge reminds me of Colin Powells presentation to the UN about Saddam's WMDs. They both have (or in the case of Powell had) a reputation for being trustworthy which is especailly valuable to Bush in spreading his propaganda and lies.

Posted by: j horse on September 3, 2007 at 12:33 AM | PERMALINK

All you need to know about Petraeus: He published an op-ed 6 weeks before the 2004 election saying how well our strategy in Iraq was working THEN.

Well if it was working so well then, why do we need a new strategy now and why should we believe him 3 years later when he says this one is working?

Posted by: Jim in Chicago on September 3, 2007 at 1:34 AM | PERMALINK

What is this about the liberal blogsphere? They repeatedly cried "b.s." Are they supposed be able to counteract the top general PLUS a desire to grasp on to some good news to provide a fig leaf toward some sort of exit strategy?

Likewise, just how good was the job? Greg Sargeant over at Talking Points notes several of the "positive" Dem. remarks were spun from much more negative ones. An independent auditor report, one not really challenged by the State Dept, spoke about lack of progress.

The MSM has started to talk about the "White House" report, instead of the "P. Report." O'Hanlon etc. had a lot of negative feedback. And, I have seen bad news discussed both in Iraq and Afghanistan, the latter sending a general bad news vibe.

With help of some who enable (press included) and wanting to be convinced, the guy managed to build the fig leaf desired. On this he seems to have done a pretty good job, considering. But, overall, I question just how good really. The pushback has already started, and as one suggested, perhaps they peaked too soon.

The comment about the liberal blogsphere, h/t Matt Bai perhaps, did seem like a cheap shot. Self-referential? Sorry, it sorta comes off that way.

Posted by: Joe on September 3, 2007 at 11:13 AM | PERMALINK

I think we should deluge the MSM, and start writing letters to the Editor pointing out the fact that Petraeus has a history of lying and playing politics.

Six weeks before the 2004 election, Petraeus wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post in which he lied and said that there had been tangible progress in Iraq, and that momentum has gathered in recent months.

Posted by: Kuni on September 3, 2007 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

How do you lump the liberal blogosphere in this? All your examples are from the MSM. The liberal blogosphere has consistently called BS. It might help if the MSM listened and followed suit.

Posted by: Batocchio on September 4, 2007 at 8:19 PM | PERMALINK

Patraeus is a hack and he didn't play anyone. Everyone with even a modicum of common sense has been predicting he'd say exactly what he's going to say for the past six months. Seriously, did anyone expect him to come out and say, "this was my idea and boy did it stink!"?

The American People don't give a crap about what he says and they rightly don't trust him. He's preaching to the choir of dead-enders and weak democrats. And useless "journalists."

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