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Tilting at Windmills

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September 7, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

QUESTIONING PETRAEUS....Gen. David Petraeus's September 2004 op-ed in the Washington Post is getting renewed attention these days, and for obvious reasons. Here's an excerpt:

18 months after entering Iraq, I see tangible progress....there are reasons for optimism....Iraqi security forces are in the fight....Within the next 60 days, six more regular army and six additional Intervention Force battalions will become operational....40 of the 45 existing battalions....are conducting operations on a daily basis....1,100 graduated from the basic policing course and five specialty courses. By early spring, nine academies in Iraq and one in Jordan will be graduating a total of 5,000 police each month.

....Numbers alone cannot convey the full story....there is no shortage of qualified recruits volunteering to join Iraqi security forces....I meet with Iraqi security force leaders every day....I have seen their determination and their desire to assume the full burden of security tasks for Iraq....Momentum has gathered in recent months. With strong Iraqi leaders out front and with continued coalition — and now NATO — support, this trend will continue.

It's perfectly fair to call Petraeus out on this. He was the guy in charge of training the Iraqi army and police back in 2004-05, and this op-ed was happy talk of a spectacular order. For all intents and purposes, none of the stuff he talked about ended up happening. Three years later, the Iraqi army is still barely functional and the Iraqi police forces, by all accounts, are so thoroughly corrupt and sectarian that we'd be better off if they didn't even exist. Since Petraeus was the guy who set up much of their initial training, he deserves to be held to account for what happened.

I should add, though, that there's no reason for this to turn into a feeding frenzy of Petraeus mudslinging. (How's that for a mixed metaphor?) Anybody in charge of any project is going to tend toward over-optimism — I've played that role myself in previous lives — and the fact that Petraeus talked up troop training the past and is obviously trying pretty hard to talk up the surge today doesn't make him a fraud. It just makes him human.

An extremely talented and hard-charging human, by all accounts, but still human — and one who won't melt under the glare of the klieg lights. If we want to get to the truth, Congress should pull no punches when he testifies next week.

Kevin Drum 2:32 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (90)

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Kevin, excellent point. Too bad there is no one in Congress that will do that. It could lose votes to question an unpopular war run by an unpopular president. Is it really any wonder the democrats are seen as weak?

Posted by: avery on September 7, 2007 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK


Why can't we mudsling, Kevin? Cos he's a military officer? Great credentials?

I think he deserves whatever he gets. He has being political about this and he should not mind getting his nose rubbed in this shit. Don't forget the timing and the reason for that 2004 piece.

Posted by: GOD on September 7, 2007 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, but Kevin, if there's one thing we've learned from this war -- perhaps the lesson of the Iraq War -- is that having been spectacularly wrong on critical issues in the past is no bar whatsoever to your continued heralding as an "expert" to whom attention must be paid. Indeed, one might say there's a strong positive correlation between those two conditions.

It's sort of an inverse of that disclaimer that securities issuers always put on a prospectus -- you know, that past success is not a guarantee of future success?

Posted by: Glenn on September 7, 2007 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

For all intents and purposes, none of the stuff he talked about ended up happening.

What nonsense Kevin. I can't go through all of the stuff that has been accomplished, but I'll list a few.

First, the Iraqi army has been slowly but surely getting strong as Petraeus said. This was explained by Iraq expert Frederick Kagan.

http://weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/014/059muaol.asp

"However, the July 2007 administration report stated that the government has deployed battalions from multiple Iraqi Army divisions to provide the required three brigade-equivalent forces to support the Baghdad security plan."
"The administration's July 2007 report states that progress toward this benchmark has been satisfactory, and the overall effect has been satisfactory in that three brigades are operating in Baghdad."

Second as Kagan also points out, the Iraqi Army has done a tremendous job of recruitment by turning former insurgents into terrorist fighters.

"What about the 30,000 former insurgents now fighting terrorists?"
"And, again, the turnabout of these insurgents on the ground is far more important than the passage of legislation through the CoR."

Posted by: Al on September 7, 2007 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

Evidently both Petraeus and Crocker will testify before both Armed Services and Foreign Relations in the Senate, so every major Presidential candidate in Congress will get a shot at them.

We'll see how they use it. The terms of public discussion thus far have been whether Gen. Petraeus does or does not deserve to be regarded as some kind of oracle with respect to Iraq. The critical question is actually whether perpetuating the commitment in Iraq indefinitely is in America's national interest -- entirely irrespective as to local, tactical progress or the lack of it in various parts of Iraq. I would be surprised if tht question gets raised in those terms next week, but I suppose anything is possible.

Posted by: Zathras on September 7, 2007 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

"It just makes him human."

Uhh. it also means his opinion is worth shit when it comes to discussing the current situation.

Posted by: Maynard Handley on September 7, 2007 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

"and one who won't melt under the glare of the klieg lights"

No, he'll filibuster and obfuscate and nitpick over the meaning of words. The Republicans will feed him softballs and suggest that the Democrats are unpatriotic for not supporting Bush. With no written report authored by him it will be impossible to pin him down on anything.

I think we all know how this will go.

Posted by: Jose Padilla on September 7, 2007 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

As the Aussies, part of the Few, the Proud, the Coalition, have been heavily involved in training under Betrayass, it makes sense that he first dropped the 75% reduction to the Australian.

Don't know what he told the Tierra del Fuegan, another Proud Coalition member.

But, his script has been written well in advance.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on September 7, 2007 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

On the contrary, I'd say someone who so much as floats the idea of not presenting a written report to congress is someone who is not acting in good faith.

http://thinkprogress.org/2007/09/07/no-petraeus-report/

There may come a report after back and forth, but the backng and forthing wastes time and effort. Such idiocy as "no written report" shows bad faith.

The guy is a hack, you give him too much credit Kevin.

Posted by: blatherskite on September 7, 2007 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

Hell, if Fredrich Kagan says we're making progress, then By GOD we must be! Huzzah!

Posted by: Glenn on September 7, 2007 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

The surge is working.

Someone says so, so must report both sides.

"We're kicking ass!" -W

And the Dems will never stand up.

So endless war. Endless death. Endless billions.

Posted by: Gore/Edwards 08 on September 7, 2007 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

"Congress should pull no punches when he testifies next week."

Congress will pull no punches when Petraeus testifies. For them to do so would require that they throw some punches in the first place. And Congress will not do that. Ass-kissing will be the order of the day.

Posted by: fostert on September 7, 2007 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

This is just amazing.

Everyone knows what his agenda is, and what he is going to say, and yet, the media pretend that his testimony is being eagerly awaited.

One of the greatest achievments of the GOP has been to devalue reality by conditioning the media to just talk about perceptions.

Posted by: gregor on September 7, 2007 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

With strong Iraqi leaders out front and with continued coalition — and now NATO — support, this trend will continue.

And evidently without those two things, the trends will lead to...where we are today.

Did you know Pretraus was approved for his post by the Senate by a vote of everyone to zero? But between now and then all the sudden he's turned into Betrayass. Hmmm...

Posted by: Swaggering Jingoistic RSM on September 7, 2007 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

I think if we tortured him, we could get him to say about anything. Just kidding. On the other hand, maybe that is what Bush did....

Why give Petraeus' report one more molecule of ink or bit of bandwidth? We know he is going to kick the can down the road, so that some poor Democrat inherits Bush's fiasco in the Middle East. What a sad joke....

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on September 7, 2007 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin: "I should add that there's no reason for this to turn into a feeding frenzy of Petraeus mudslinging. (How's that for a mixed metaphor?) Anybody in charge of any project is going to tend toward over-optimism I've played that role myself in previous lives and the fact that Petraeus is obviously trying pretty hard to make a case for continuing the surge doesn't make him a fraud. It just makes him human."

Yes, it *does* make him a fraud. When somebody repeatedly hands you loads of happy talk, and repeatedly fails to deliver, that somebody is, in fact, a fraud.

If there's one thing which the past few years have taught us, it's that trusting people who have a history of untrustworthyness just leads to more lies.

Posted by: Barry on September 7, 2007 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

Well, lots of Mr Wonderfuls have been highly rated by the evaluators on the bar stool next to them, then, the dating game began and what's that, a wedding band?

Posted by: thethirdPaul on September 7, 2007 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

Hey laid-back So-Cal Surfer Dude!
I fixed your typo:

I should add that there's no reason for this to turn into a feeding frenzy of General Betrayus mudslinging. (How's that for a mixed metaphor for overly moderate minds?)

Now go write something quaint about your cats...
And hey looky: Surfs up!
Catabunga!

Love ya man!
Love ya!

Posted by: ROTFLMLiberalAO on September 7, 2007 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

After reading SJRSM and brian, I can understand why a fellow had a bumper sticker on his car in Portland, the other day.

It read: "I love my country; I just think we should see other people."

Posted by: thethirdPaul on September 7, 2007 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

Anybody in charge of any project is going to tend toward over-optimism — I've played that role myself in previous lives — and the fact that Petraeus is obviously trying pretty hard to make a case for continuing the surge doesn't make him a fraud. It just makes him human.

—Kevin Drum

Oh, bullshit. This isn't a fucking "project" or a fucking "task" we're dealing with here. How many lives have been lost since this clown last told us we were winning? And how many of his MORE DISTINGUISHED colleagues have told us exactly the opposite: that it's futile and we need to get the hell out?

What the fuck is going to have to happen there to get us to the point that we're going to hold these assholes responsible for their lies?

He's "human?" WTF? Hey, so were all the folks who lost (and will lose) their lives and limbs. What about them? They're "extremely talented and hard-charging" too.

Pathetic.

Posted by: Econobuzz on September 7, 2007 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

Say, excuse me for living, but in 2004 Petraeus issued a fraudulent report in the hopes of helping George Bush get re-elected. At the time, what had actually happened was that Petraeus's command had 'lost' over 150,000 modern weapons, in the course of 'training' troops who, when asked to actually serve, took off their uniforms and started shooting at us.

Since that time another 1000 American soldiers have died. And you want us to be 'fair' to Petraeus?

Well, 'fair' is an even-handed assessment, and my even-handed assessment of Petraeus is that he's a lying windbag ready to sacrifice the lives of our troops to his own ambitions. Is that fair enough for you?

Posted by: serial catowner on September 7, 2007 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

Al: "What nonsense Kevin. I can't go through all of the stuff that has been accomplished, but I'll list a few."

"Fanaticism consists of redoubling your efforts when you have forgotten your aim." -- George Santayana

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on September 7, 2007 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

Econobuzz: "What the fuck is going to have to happen there to get us to the point that we're going to hold these assholes responsible for their lies?"

Either an invasion of Iran, followed by a declaration of public emergency and the imposition of martial law -- or the pre-emption of NFL Sunday Night Football for a presidential address.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on September 7, 2007 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

Did you know Pretraus was approved for his post by the Senate by a vote of everyone to zero? But between now and then all the sudden he's turned into Betrayass. Hmmm...

Mike, I first heard that on post at Leavenworth about an hour after he accepted the billet and the fourth Star. I have given references to civilian employers for three E-5 and above medical lab personnel who were due to reenlist this summer, and decided to chuck their careers on consensus that "with [him] in charge, we'll be in that shithole for 10 fucking years."

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on September 7, 2007 at 4:21 PM | PERMALINK

That early article by Petraeus was immediately before the election and was nothing more than a dishonest shill job to assist the Bush Administration get re-elected. Petraeus is engaging in more deceiful and dishonest shilling for the Bush Administration now. The take away is that the man is a FUCKING LIAR.

Posted by: bmaz on September 7, 2007 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

Petraeus is another example of the American institution of the politician/general. Think Douglas McArthur. Think George McClellan. William Westmoreland. Not to mention Colin "Pottery Barn" Powell.

Petraeus, for the sake of that fourth star, will drink whatever koolaid is given him by Bushco. And more good folks will die.

Posted by: Petronius on September 7, 2007 at 5:05 PM | PERMALINK

Al: "I can't go through all of the stuff that has been accomplished..."

Yeah, because you'd get your fuckin' legs and "stuff" blown off in the effort. And we all know you're not going to do that.

Posted by: Kenji on September 7, 2007 at 5:13 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, such moderation, such restraint, why one would think Gen. Petraeus' report will be an open, objective assessment of the surge and where we now stand in Iraq. You're blandishments notwithstanding, what if the good General were, say, Al Gore presenting a report on global warming to Congress? Think the RSM and his counterparts would "moderately" await the report? No sense getting the proles in an uproar, eh? Let's just sit back, wait for the report and study it.

Maybe the Gen.'s report will expand on the "national embarrassment" of the Military Sales system from the Jones report. The one that while GwB was touting the "we'll stand down as they stand up" line of crap, the DoD was an utter failure in delivering for the Iraqis.

By all means, let's be moderate. Don't want you to miss out on the next gig.

Posted by: TJM on September 7, 2007 at 5:18 PM | PERMALINK

and the fact that Petraeus is obviously trying pretty hard to make a case for continuing the surge doesn't make him a fraud.

Uh, yes, it does. If you know that the case you are making is fraudulent, as Petraueus does, and you continue to make it based on false and misleading statistics and claims then you are, by definition, a fraud.

Posted by: Stefan on September 7, 2007 at 5:19 PM | PERMALINK

Any officer above O-3 and any enlisted NCO above E-6 is a politician. Take that to the bank. Or as my husband said, and I promptly coopted: "Generals who aren't politicians...are Captains."

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on September 7, 2007 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin wrote: "Congress should pull no punches when he testifies next week."

The Democrats in Congress won't throw any "punches". They will cower under their desks and meekly, quaveringly, mewlingly, beg the Republicans to consider asking Cheney and Bush if they might, maybe, possibly, some day, one of these days, if they feel like it, maybe consider thinking about bringing home a few troops, unless that's too much to ask, in which case well never mind.

While the overwhelming majority of the American people want the war ended and all the troops withdrawn NOW. The Democrats will feed them some anti-war end-the-occupation rhetoric, but they won't take any real action -- in particular they won't do the one thing they can and should do, which is to end the war by cutting off funding (as Dennis Kucinich and a handful of genuine anti-war Democrats have been calling for).

The Democrats don't answer to the American people who voted them into the majority last fall. They answer to the same masters as the Republicans: America's ultra-rich corporate-feudalist neo-fascist ruling class, in particular the ultra-ultra-rich oligarchs of the military-industrial-petroleum complex. For those people, taking possession of Iraq's oil reserves is a top priority, and they will murder any number of innocent Iraqi civilians and send any number of young working-class Americans to their deaths in Iraq for as long as it takes to achieve it, and the Democrats know better than to stand in the way of it.

And it doesn't matter because in 2008 the Republican campaign will revolve around accusing the Democrats of being "against the troops" no matter what they do.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on September 7, 2007 at 6:03 PM | PERMALINK

You just will be amazed by the vitriol the right wingers are putting out at this blog, after the bin Laden video:

http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalradar/2007/09/new-obl-tape-ir.html?cid=81982377#comment-81982377

Posted by: Neil' on September 7, 2007 at 6:26 PM | PERMALINK

You know, it's possible that Pelosi is playing the waiting game. The democrats know they have a very very high chance of getting either clinton or obama elected into office next year. With the executive branch firmly in their camp, and if they can keep possesion of both houses, then the chances of ending this exercise in futility cleanly are that much more greatly increased. It's possible that they are simply trying not to stampede an imploding party into doing anything extrodinarily drastic or irreversible before they gain the executive branch. It's just a thought, but maybe thats my innate optimism.

Posted by: Talphon on September 7, 2007 at 6:38 PM | PERMALINK

Neil, that link doesn't go to the comment you probably want to highlight (most likely some script disabled for security reasons on my end) -- can you be more specific?

Posted by: anonymous on September 7, 2007 at 6:48 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, anon., it's the whole thing at http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalradar/2007/09/new-obl-tape-ir etc that's the point - not any one comment there. Pass it on.

Posted by: Neil' on September 7, 2007 at 7:04 PM | PERMALINK

Talphon - Yeah, because the oath they take when assuming office isn't to protect the Constitution, it is to cravenly play for the partisan advantage they might have after the next election. That though makes me fucking puke.

Posted by: bmaz on September 7, 2007 at 7:24 PM | PERMALINK

"Iraq expert Frederick Kagan."

STOP! Please stop, I can't stand it anymore! I'm going to die from laughing so hard! HAHAHAAAHAHAHHA...thump!

Posted by: Speed on September 7, 2007 at 8:15 PM | PERMALINK

"What about the 30,000 former insurgents now fighting terrorists?"

Those guys who keep killing our troops in Anbar province didn't get the memo, Al.

Posted by: Madman on September 7, 2007 at 8:19 PM | PERMALINK

Mike, I first heard that on post at Leavenworth about an hour after he accepted the billet and the fourth Star. I have given references to civilian employers for three E-5 and above medical lab personnel who were due to reenlist this summer, and decided to chuck their careers on consensus that "with [him] in charge, we'll be in that shithole for 10 fucking years."
Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.)

Yea, I saw you mention that before. I also know you can match each of them with guys that would follow Petreaus anywhere, he's that kind of leader. I know a couple of guys (Navy) who served in Iraq near the top decision makers during the invasion and the six months following, and they thought the whole thing would have turned out differently if he had been in charge from day one. Very smart guy and courageous guy in a very tough job.

Hey, ask him all of the tough questions. That's why he gets the big bucks. Won't be any worse than getting shot (at).

Posted by: Swaggering Jingoistic RSM Goon on September 7, 2007 at 8:47 PM | PERMALINK

If it were NOT for Bush's intent to lie - and the GOP to just let him do it - where would Dems be right now.

I know why Reid has decided to "give into" Repugs - because Bush's war is a Dem gold mine keept the Repugs kissing Bush ass.

"Stay the course"a has got to be the golden opportunity for Clinton and Hillary's revenge.

Revenge is sweet - is it not?

The GOP MUST kiss Bush ass - all the way to 2008.

I know why Reid is giving into the Repugs - they will ride this war all the way to 2008 - to bad the Warner didn't change his mind a hell of lot sooner.

It just that people die while the Dems play politics.

Posted by: Me_again on September 7, 2007 at 9:04 PM | PERMALINK

you can match each of them with guys that would follow Petreaus anywhere

Sure you can. Every commander has those who love him or her and those who loathe them equally. What struck me was that he was on Leavenworth quite a while, and I never heard that bastardization of his name before that moment. It was the moment that I realized the worm had turned.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on September 7, 2007 at 9:05 PM | PERMALINK

It wasn't just 2004. Petraeus has a four-year history of being wildly optimistic (and wildly incorrect) about matters in Iraq. And he's just as wildly optimistic today, as we've seen in a number of recent interviews, and citing just as questionable statistics.

"But between now and then all the sudden he's turned into Betrayass. Hmmm..."

That was caused by several things, as you well know. Among the biggest:

1. People actually started delving into his background, something that takes time to do. It isn't until you actually see all of his remarks over the past four years that you realize just how dishonest or wrong he has been.

2. Petraeus started opening his mouth and what came out of it was remarkably disconnected from what we can see of the reality in Iraq. The disconnect was simply too large to overlook.

But then you already knew this and just wanted to play silly games.

Posted by: PaulB on September 7, 2007 at 9:07 PM | PERMALINK

I have been pissed off at him since 26 September 2004.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on September 7, 2007 at 9:12 PM | PERMALINK

Home town newspaper--McClatchy--said it well:

Bloody surge: Iraq's latest atrocity puts pressure on Petraeus
Friday, August 17, 2007
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The slaughter of at least 250 members of the Yazidi religious minority in northwest Iraq has sharpened the showdown coming in the United States next month on what should come next in the war.

Given that Iraqi opponents to a continued U.S. presence were not going to go away, it was expected, as President Bush's "surge" of 30,000 new troops into Iraq proceeded with a focus on Baghdad, that violence elsewhere would rise.

The Yazidis are a largely peaceful religious minority, concentrated in the Kurdish north of Iraq, an area that since 2003 has been less troubled by attacks than the rest of the country. That changed on Tuesday. Four truck bombs hit Yazidi villages, killing at least 250 and wounding hundreds more.

It is likely, but not certain, that the attacks were perpetrated by Sunni militants. The Yazidis recently quarreled with the Sunnis, who killed 23 Yazidi men after Yazidis had stoned to death a woman who had a relationship with a Sunni man. Tuesday's savage attack showed that even the Kurdish area is not secure.

The carnage took place one month before the report due from Gen. David Petraeus, commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan C. Crocker. Both have the reputation of being straight-shooters who do not shade their recommendations according to how the political wind is blowing. There is no question that their reputations will be on the line as the White House, Congress and the American people listen to what they will have to say.

Gen. Petraeus made headlines Wednesday when he said, "We know that the surge has to come to an end; there's no question about that. I think everyone understands that, by about a year or so from now, we've got to be a good bit smaller than we are right now." Then he cautioned against a sudden, massive draw-down of the 160,000 troops.

Experienced military and diplomatic professionals cannot imagine how people with the skills of Gen. Petraeus and Mr. Crocker could conclude that Mr. Bush's "stay the course" slogan makes any sense, given the current situation in Iraq. But for them to tell the truth at this point is to write off their careers, at least with this administration.

Tightrope-walking won't do, with more than 3,600 Americans dead and no one knows how many Iraqis. Our people want the truth. It is time for these two distinguished career professionals to say what they truly believe is best for their country. Responsible leadership in Washington should want nothing less.

Posted by: consider wisely always on September 7, 2007 at 9:13 PM | PERMALINK

Some of Petraeus' comments on the situation in Iraq:

Huge progress is being made in training Iraqi combat troops, and 24 homegrown battalions have now taken control of assigned territory.
there are now more than 170,000 trained and equipped Iraqi police and military personnel, and more than 105 police and army battalions are in the fight
The weight of Iraqi security forces is being felt
I think that we've turned the corner
there has been enormous progress ... recruiting, training, equipping and employing Iraqi security forces. Huge progress
But, in general terms the security situation in Baghdad is improving every day.

These are from 2003, 2004, and 2005. So tell me, RSM, why should I take Petraeus' comments today any more seriously than I take those comments, particularly when he's already been quite recently caught in one unequivocal lie?

Posted by: PaulB on September 7, 2007 at 9:16 PM | PERMALINK

Oh my gosh - I just hear a "conservative" on Bill Moyer's that said what I have been saying for sometime now.

That Bush is NOT a conservative - Bush's wiretapping is what "true conservatives" have been fighting against for YEARS - Big governement and government control - After all, conservatives don't like change - and its why Broder wrote that Bush was lawless --- and that is WHY Broder embaced Warner and McCain standing up against Bush - in what he perceived was a stand against change and torture.

How embarrassment it had to be for Broder - to have been wronge. it was so perverse that Broder claimed the those “un-ordinary" Repugs who, in the end, capitulated completely to Bush – I’m sure that was a blow to poor Broder’s nasty ego.

Bush has NO respect for the US Constitution – I mean, how un-conservative can you be?

If the Repugs "cannot find a way" to destroy the Bush and the Cheney - will then, no one can. If they want to keep their creature Gollem - who are Dems to complain about it?


Posted by: Me_again on September 7, 2007 at 9:27 PM | PERMALINK

"I have been pissed off at him since 26 September 2004."

Not me. I didn't really know anything about him at first. The national news media didn't help, of course. Their reporting had it that he "wrote the book" on counterinsurgency tactics and that he was going to take things in a different direction -- this was the hero who was going to lead us out of our trials and tribulations. Other than that nonsense, I knew very little.

I was reasonably certain that "the surge" was going to fail but if we had to do it, Petraeus seemed to be the right one to lead it. It wasn't until I did a little more digging that I realized just how little there was there.

- He may have written the book but he's not following that book.

- It's not even his "plan;" it's Kagan's and the neocons.

- The "different direction" is still pretty much the same ol', same ol', with the usual "we'll stand down as they stand up" and "take and hold" tactics.

- His earlier pronouncements on Iraq were truly horrifying in their ignorance or mendacity. Sadly, these have gotten almost no airplay.

- His earlier assignments in Iraq were abysmal failures.

- And his every pronouncement on Iraq since he was put in charge has been equally ignorant or dishonest. Remember "There are tens of thousands of kids out tonight playing soccer?" Or his extravagant claims about al Qaeda, just as the Bush administration wants?

The more you look at Petraeus, the more there is to dislike. Unfortunately, none of this seems to be getting any play at all, which means that Petraeus will likely not get challenged much. And if he does get challenged, I'd lay long odds that he'll resort to the usual claim that the questions are an attack on the troops and on their performance.

Posted by: PaulB on September 7, 2007 at 9:28 PM | PERMALINK

Sure you can. Every commander has those who love him or her and those who loathe them equally. What struck me was that he was on Leavenworth quite a while, and I never heard that bastardization of his name before that moment. It was the moment that I realized the worm had turned.
Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.)

No. I've known plenty of commanders that were despised from the top down and plenty that were so sharp even the detractors had grudging respect for them.

I would like to know what specifically it was about him that caused these E-5s to feel that way. I am curious how they interacted with the Commanding General of Leavenworth to develop that opinion.

PaulB, I'd take issue with his "I think that we've turned the corner" quote, but the for rest of it, I think that any message other than "we're losing" would be perceived as a lie by you. I'm just going to wait for his report.

Posted by: Swaggering Jingoistic RSM Goon on September 7, 2007 at 9:38 PM | PERMALINK

Dept of State and Coordinator of Counter Terrorism '89-93 and CIA 85-80--Larry Johnson-- said this:

How many American lives and how many billions of dollars must we expend in Iraq ostensibly to make America safe? We can not afford to be the sole peace keeper in the world. We should not be enabling the Iraqi army and police who continue to swear allegiance to sectarian leaders rather than embracing national interests. This is ultimately a problem the various Iraqi factions must sort out. US troops should not be in the middle of this dispute.

If US roads and bridges were in great shape. If American schools, particularly in inner cities, were the envy of the world. If every American had access to health care, then I could tolerate wasting $3 billion a week. But asking almost 3 Americans per day to die in Iraq. Not worth another drop of our blood.

Posted by: consider wisely always on September 7, 2007 at 9:41 PM | PERMALINK

"PaulB, I'd take issue with his 'I think that we've turned the corner' quote"

Mike, every one of those quotes was either dishonest or was laughably wrong. The very recent "75% reduction in sectarian violence" quote was both.

" but the for rest of it, I think that any message other than 'we're losing' would be perceived as a lie by you."

ROFL.... Nice ad hominem attack. Thanks for confirming that you cannot muster any rational argument of any kind.

"I'm just going to wait for his report."

Why? We already know what he'll say. He's been saying it in the press for some time now.

Posted by: PaulB on September 7, 2007 at 9:43 PM | PERMALINK

- He may have written the book but he's not following that book.

- The "different direction" is still pretty much the same ol', same ol', with the usual "we'll stand down as they stand up" and "take and hold" tactics.

That is completely, flat-out wrong. Under Petraeus the most obvious change is they've moved from troops kept at fortified enclaves to spreading them out at combat outposts throughout the cities. Huge change. They've emphasized restoring civic services immediately upon taking back towns, and also wrapped info ops into their actions. These are all from the COIN manual. You can read the manual (Have you? It is available on-line) and map parts of it to actions since he's taken over. These changes started before the surge in troop numbers too. The increase in numbers was only a part of it.

You're making stuff up now. At least argue from the facts.

Posted by: Swaggering Jingoistic RSM Goon on September 7, 2007 at 9:43 PM | PERMALINK

85-89

Posted by: consider wisely always on September 7, 2007 at 9:45 PM | PERMALINK

ROFL.... Nice ad hominem attack.

Do you even know what an is?

Person A makes claim X
There is something objectionable about Person A
Therefore claim X is false

Posted by: Swaggering Jingoistic RSM Goon on September 7, 2007 at 9:47 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, and Mike? I'm going to listen to Petraeus and I'm going to see if he actually cites any real data or evidence to back up his claims. Thus far, he has consistently refused to do so, despite being repeatedly asked.

And I'm going to evaluate what he says against the other official reports and against the news stories from Iraq.

And if, as I expect, he provides no real evidence and his claims differ dramatically from the other reports, I'm going to conclude that my impression of him is accurate and that his testimony can be entirely discounted.

And I fully expect you to be right here issuing more ad hominem attacks and completely ducking the substance of what I, and the other here, say.

Posted by: PaulB on September 7, 2007 at 9:48 PM | PERMALINK

And I fully expect you to be right here issuing more ad hominem attacks and completely ducking the substance of what I, and the other here, say.

Calling Petraeus "Betrayass" is an ad hominem, speaking of lazy logic.

Posted by: Swaggering Jingoistic RSM Goon on September 7, 2007 at 9:50 PM | PERMALINK

"Do you even know what an is?"

LOL.... Yes, Mike, I do, which is why I said what I said. I stand by it. It was a classic attack, Mike. Thank you for admitting that you cannot address the substance of anything we write here.

Posted by: PaulB on September 7, 2007 at 9:50 PM | PERMALINK

"Calling Petraeus "Betrayass" is an ad hominem, speaking of lazy logic"

LOL.... Dear heart, since I never used that terminology, forgive me if I laugh at this little attack just as I do your others. You still can't come up with a rational argument, can you, dear?

Posted by: PaulB on September 7, 2007 at 9:52 PM | PERMALINK

I meant to tell you I like the new handle, Mike. Play to your strengths.:)

I can't get past the "perfumed prince" air that has followed him from West Point to today. He advanced from staff position to staff position, acting as a courtier for other four stars. For all the praise that is heaped on his PhD Dissertation (Vietnam and Lessons Learned) it doesn't seem like he is pushing too hard to get it implemented.

For the record, the push-up story tells me all I ever needed to know about him.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on September 7, 2007 at 9:54 PM | PERMALINK

"That is completely, flat-out wrong."

ROFL.... No, dear, it isn't, and it's rather silly of you to pretend otherwise. It's still "take and hold," dear, and still "stand down as they stand up."

"Under Petraeus the most obvious change is they've moved from troops kept at fortified enclaves to spreading them out at combat outposts throughout the cities. Huge change."

That doesn't change the fact that the two principal tactics I cite are still the principal tactics, Mike. Further, that "huge change" has actually been a step backward in many respects, since the soldiers have to spend so much additional time guarding those combat outposts, they have even less time to interact with the neighborhoods than they did before, as they themselves complain.

"They've emphasized restoring civic services immediately upon taking back towns"

ROFL.... My goodness, but you really have drunk the Kool-Aid. Nothing's changed there, Mike. That's always been the hope. Too bad it ain't working.

"You're making stuff up now. At least argue from the facts."

ROFLMAO.... Oh, the irony....

Posted by: PaulB on September 7, 2007 at 9:55 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, and Mike, here's a decent definition of an ad hominem attack from Wikipedia:

An ad hominem argument, also known as argumentum ad hominem (Latin: "argument to the person", "argument against the man") consists of replying to an argument or factual claim by attacking or appealing to the person making the argument or claim, rather than by addressing the substance of the argument or producing evidence against the claim.

What you did was the precise definition of an ad hominem argument.

Posted by: PaulB on September 7, 2007 at 9:58 PM | PERMALINK

From thinkprogressorg.

Filed under: Iraq
Posted by Faiz September 4, 2007 4:46 pm
AO Chief Suggests Administration Is Cooking The Books On Levels Of Sectarian Violence In Iraq
Gen. David Petraeus has claimed that there has been a 75 percent reduction in sectarian violence. In testimony today before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, GAO Comptroller General David Walker said those statistics cannot be independently verified.

The GAO’s statistics, which extend through the end of July, demonstrate that the number of daily attacks against Iraqis remains unchanged. Walker said the Pentagon has refused to provide him with the latest statistics. “We asked for but did not receive the information through the end of August.” he said. “They haven’t given us the data.”

While Walker wasn’t privy to the Pentagon’s information, Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN) said he recently met with Gen. Petraeus and was shown “the data in August.” Coleman said the data is “very clear about a reduction in violence. General Petraeus has those charts,” Coleman explained. Walker responded by hinting that a classified version of the GAO report contains more explanation of the administration’s claims about reductions in sectarian violence. He said:

Without getting into detail, let’s just say there are several different sources within the administration on violence. And those sources do not agree. So I don’t know what Gen. Petraeus is giving you. I don’t know which source he’s using. But part of the problem we had in reaching a conclusion about sectarian violence is there are multiple sources showing different levels of violence with different trends

NSN writes, “The numbers have raised such alarm bells that a member of the Iraq Study Group, former ambassadors and leading academics have written to Congress asking them to look into the validity of U.S. government claims.”

Filed under: Iraq
Posted by Faiz September 4, 2007 4:46 pm


Posted by: consider wisely always on September 7, 2007 at 10:04 PM | PERMALINK

Everyone knows what Petraeus and the Bush administration are doing with that "75% reduction" claim -- they're simply defining "sectarian violence" in such a way as to remove a significant portion of the attacks and the deaths. This is the one statement of Petraeus' that I can confidently claim to be dishonest, rather than just wishful thinking or incorrect. It's a lie and it's deliberate. And it's this statement, above all, that confirms my opinion of Petraeus and the upcoming White House report.

Posted by: PaulB on September 7, 2007 at 10:08 PM | PERMALINK

By the metric they are trying to use, the massive bombing against the Yazidis, which killed 500 people, would not meet the criteria of sectarian violence.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on September 7, 2007 at 10:27 PM | PERMALINK

Yup, neither would any of the car bomb attacks anywhere else. And neither would the Shi'ite on Shi'ite violence in the South.

And, of course, the ongoing ethnic cleansing of Baghdad, which undoubtedly is the real cause of any reduction in "sectarian violence," would be seen as a roaring "success" using these criteria.

And these kinds of facts are why dear little Mikey has to resort to pathetic ad hominem attacks.

Posted by: PaulB on September 7, 2007 at 10:40 PM | PERMALINK

John Cole has some good things to say about the politicization of the military and its reporting.

Posted by: PaulB on September 7, 2007 at 10:48 PM | PERMALINK

September 03, 2007
Paul Krugman: Snow Job in the Desert
Paul Krugman wonders if the media has learned anything from its past mistakes:

Snow Job in the Desert, by Paul Krugman, Commentary, NY Times: In February 2003, Secretary of State Colin Powell, addressing the United Nations Security Council, claimed to have proof that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. ... [M]any people in the political and media establishments swooned: they admired Mr. Powell, and because he said it, they believed it.

Mr. Powell’s masters got the war they wanted, and it soon became apparent that none of his assertions had been true.

Until recently I assumed that ... a repeat of the snow job that sold the war impossible. But I was wrong. The administration, ... relying on Gen. David Petraeus to play ... Colin Powell..., has had remarkable success creating the perception that the “surge” is succeeding, even though there’s not a shred of verifiable evidence to suggest that it is.

Thus Kenneth Pollack..., author of “The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq” ... and ... Michael O’Hanlon, another longtime war booster, returned from a Pentagon-guided tour of Iraq and declared that the surge was working. They received enormous media coverage; most ... accepted their ludicrous self-description as critics of the war who have been convinced by new evidence.

A third participant..., Anthony Cordesman ... reported that ... he saw little change in the Iraq situation... But neither his dissent nor a courageous rebuttal of Mr. O’Hanlon and Mr. Pollack by seven soldiers actually serving in Iraq ... received much media attention.

Meanwhile, many news organizations have come out with misleading reports suggesting a sharp drop in U.S. casualties. The reality is that ... every month of 2007 has seen more U.S. military fatalities than the same month in 2006.

What about civilian casualties? The Pentagon says they’re down, but it has ..[not] explained how they’re calculated. According to a draft report from the Government Accountability Office, which was leaked..., U.S. government agencies “differ” on whether sectarian violence has been reduced. And independent attempts ... to estimate civilian deaths ... have not found any significant decline...

Above all, we should remember that the whole point of the surge was to create space for political progress in Iraq. And neither that leaked G.A.O. report nor the recent National Intelligence Estimate found any political progress worth mentioning...

But, say the usual suspects, General Petraeus is a fine, upstanding officer who wouldn’t participate in a campaign of deception — apparently forgetting that they said the same thing about Mr. Powell.

First of all, General Petraeus is now identified with the surge; if it fails, he fails. He has every incentive to find a way to keep it going, in the hope that somehow he can pull off something he can call success.

And General Petraeus’s history also suggests that he is much more ... political ... than his press would have you believe. In particular, six weeks before the 2004 presidential election, General Petraeus published an op-ed article in The Washington Post in which he claimed — wrongly, of course — that there had been “tangible progress” in Iraq, and that “momentum has gathered in recent months.”

Is it normal for serving military officers to publish articles just before an election that clearly help an incumbent’s campaign? I don’t think so.

So here we go again. It appears that many influential people in this country have learned nothing from the last five years. And those who cannot learn from history are, indeed, doomed to repeat it.


Posted by: consider wisely always on September 7, 2007 at 11:02 PM | PERMALINK

SJRSM,

I coined that term "Betrayass" - Someone had used Betrayus as the definite term, and I changed the last letters.

In his quest for a possible 5th Star as our American Caesar in Iraq, he has betrayed the personnel serving under his command. He has become a go along, get along Yes Man, as Richard Meyers. How many more will die needlessly, because of his personal ambition? He is an Ass.

Politican-Soldier - Yeah, and MacArthur and Westmoreland were first in their respective classes at West Point - Mac, who did attempt to reduce deaths by island hopping, but led thousands into a death trap and Westmoreland, who used inflated body counts, while thousands died - And these, were the "Best and Brightest" - So, Petraeus is highly intelligent - And that has saved how many lives?

Posted by: thethirdPaul on September 7, 2007 at 11:18 PM | PERMALINK

When Shrub returns from that OPEC meeting with the Austrians, he'll further brief his boy Petra.

That is, if he doesn't walk off the stage, first.

Posted by: stupid git on September 7, 2007 at 11:25 PM | PERMALINK

The writer is Sterling professor of law
and political science at Yale and author of Before the Next Attack
"He Risks of Playing Politics with the Military"
By Bruce Ackerman

Published: September 5 2007 03:00 | Last updated: September 5 2007 03:00

President George W. Bush's campaign to stay the course in Iraq is taking a new and constitutionally dangerous turn. When Senator John Warner recently called for a troop withdrawal by Christmas, the White House did not mount its usual counterattack. It allowed a surprising champion to take its place. Major General Rick Lynch, a field commander in Iraq, summoned reporters to condemn Mr Warner's proposal as "a giant step backwards".

It was Maj Gen Lynch who was making the giant step into forbidden territory. He had no business engaging in a public debate with a US senator. His remarks represent an assault on the principle of civilian control - the most blatant so far during the Iraq war.

Nobody remarked on the breach. But this only makes it more troubling and should serve as prologue for the next large event in civilian-military relations: the president's effort to manipulate General David Petraeus's report to Congress.

Once again, nobody is noticing the threat to civilian control. Mr Bush has pushed Gen Petraeus into the foreground to shore up his badly damaged credibility. But in doing so, he has made himself a hostage. He needs the general more than the general needs him. Despite the president's grandiose pretensions as commander-in-chief, the future of the Iraq war is up to Gen Petraeus.

The general's impact on Congress will be equally profound. If he brings in a negative report, Republicans will abandon the sinking ship in droves; if he accentuates the positive, it is the Democrats who will be spinning.

In fact, if not in name, it will be an army general who is calling the shots - not the duly elected representatives of the American people.

Wars are tough on constitutions, but losing wars is particularly tough on the American separation of powers. Especially when Congress and the presidency are in different hands, the constitutional dynamics invite both sides to politicise the military. With the war going badly, it is tempting to push the generals on to centre stage and escape responsibility for the tragic outcomes that lie ahead. But as Iraq follows on from Vietnam, this dynamic may generate a politicised military that is embittered by its repeated defeats in the field.

From this perspective, the US owes a great debt to Harry Truman. It would have been politically convenient for the president to defer to General Douglas Mac-Arthur's advice and invade China in the Korean war. But Truman fired MacArthur instead, opening the way for General Dwight Eisenhower to win the next election. While the Democratic party was a big loser, the principle of civilian control remained intact.

Mr Bush is no Truman. He has used Gen Petraeus as a pawn in a game to defer congressional judgment from the spring to the autumn. Now he is transforming him into a mythic figure, scheduling his report to Congress for September 11. As the nation pauses to remember that terrible day in 2001, the president wants his general to appear on television as the steely-eyed hero of the hour, leading the country to ultimate victory in "the war on terror".

This puts Gen Petraeus in a difficult constitutional position. Paradoxically, it is now up to a military man to defend the principle of civilian control. Gen Petraeus should make his priorities clear by immediately disciplining Gen Lynch for his thoughtless breach of constitutional principle. When his moment of truth comes, he should make every effort to avoid being a shill for either the Republicans or the Democrats - emphasising that the important questions are political, not military. He should restrict himself to an impartial statement of the facts and refuse to judge the success of the surge.

Easier said than done. We all know that facts do not speak for themselves and that Gen Petraeus will be making countless value judgments even if he re- frains from explicitly assessing the success or failure of his mission. This is why the president should not have pum- ped up this moment in the first place.

But he has, and it will not be any better if Gen Petraeus and the joint chiefs of staff blind themselves to the constitutional precedent that they are establishing. They should not allow themselves to be left holding the bag for the tough choices involved in extricating the country from its blunders in Iraq. They should stringently limit themselves to an impartial statement of the facts and insist that it is up to the president and Congress to come up with the least-bad exit strategy.

Posted by: consider wisely always on September 7, 2007 at 11:38 PM | PERMALINK

Meanwhile, in two Sunni provinces where President Bush claims "we are kicking ass," seven more American soldiers died today. One of the provinces was Anbar, you know, the one where the "surge" is working.

Posted by: morekilled on September 7, 2007 at 11:59 PM | PERMALINK

consider wisely always: They should stringently limit themselves to an impartial statement of the facts and insist that it is up to the president and Congress to come up with the least-bad exit strategy.

Unfortunately, I think that's water under the bridge. Bush and the rest of the civilian leadership (*cough*) long ago lost the ability to rally public support for the war.

Patreaus had to understand that rallying public support was a critical part of his duties when he accepted the position, and he has been getting more aggressive carrying out that duty over the past several months.

He is far beyond the point where he can be, or can be considered, simply a warrior who dispenses impartial facts.

Posted by: has407 on September 8, 2007 at 1:04 AM | PERMALINK

I apologize for not reading the previous posts. I usually would take the time. Got to go.

Patreaus missed it on the incoming, is missing it now. The idea that he is the Holy Answer is all wrong. Rhe confusion about what the Sunis are doing for us and what Petreus claims to be doing for us is contradictory.

People need to get real and critical.

Goodnight to this guy.

Posted by: notthere on September 8, 2007 at 1:24 AM | PERMALINK

I have questions about $110 million that went missing, and I would also ask about the insurgency strengthening under his nose in Mosul. Yeah, I am willing to give a fair hearing - or I would, if I could trust anyone to ask the right questions.

I love the irony of the chickenhawks impugning my patriotism because I ask hard questions - without considering where I came from, that I know to ask those questions.

(Just yesterday I was informed by a commenter on my site that I Hate America, and I am an argument in favor of abortion, and my existence gives him a reason to buy guns. Because I am glad the Fourth Amendment got a stay of execution.)

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on September 8, 2007 at 2:17 AM | PERMALINK

Blue Girl:

Fascists always threaten violence in support of their "beliefs". That's because they cannot win arguments based on logic. Don't let it bother you or slow you down - most right-wingers are abject cowards.

TCD

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on September 8, 2007 at 6:36 AM | PERMALINK

By now everyone knows the gist of the Patreaus' testimony and Bush's position on the surge and war.

Honestly, if they don't want to give a GENUINE withdrawal plan, then Americans deserve to know and debate their long term (5 to 10 years) strategic plan (with benchmarks) to achieve "success".

ITS TIME TO RE-DEFINE THE ISSUE!

Posted by: JerseyMissouri on September 8, 2007 at 9:32 AM | PERMALINK

Blue Girl,

Missed that comment by a coward - But, loved your rant regarding Petraeus and his bringing Gilbert and Sullivan to DC - Kabuki, indeed, singing, "three little maids from school are we" to an awed Reid and Pelosi.

Ah, the thunderstorms of yore, thanks BG.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on September 8, 2007 at 9:34 AM | PERMALINK

"I have questions about $110 million that went missing"

Not to mention the tens of thousands of weapons that went missing.

"People need to get real and critical."

Yup. Someone should write about the desperate need for a "hero" and how that has played out here in the U.S. over the past several years. Anyone remember our Iraq war "czar?"

Posted by: PaulB on September 8, 2007 at 10:01 AM | PERMALINK

"anyone remember our Iraq war 'Czar?'"

Believe Shrub posted him to Yeckaterinburg in Russia after his draft remarks - Wonder if they still have the lovely pictures of Nicholas II and his adorable family on the walls of his new dacha?

Posted by: thethirdPaul on September 8, 2007 at 10:36 AM | PERMALINK

(Just yesterday I was informed by a commenter on my site that I Hate America, and I am an argument in favor of abortion, and my existence gives him a reason to buy guns. Because I am glad the Fourth Amendment got a stay of execution.)
Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.)

Sounds like he went to the GregorHeavy school of blog commenting.

On a side note, I've come to the conclusion that the best political commenting often goes on at sites that have nothing explicitly to do with politics. I also hang out at a boat building and a strength training forum, both of which have free speech subforums ("The bilge" at the boatbuilding forum. The participants come from all sides, they already have a measure of respect for each other, and there is no "home team" or litmus test of correct thinking to separate locals from "trolls".

You can thank the moderator/thought cop here for the "Swaggering Jingoistic Goon". Has a nice ring to it.

Hey, Penn State is going to crush Notre Dame in about 8 hours. I'll start drinking in 3.

Posted by: Swaggering Jingoistic RSM Goon on September 8, 2007 at 11:27 AM | PERMALINK

Well damn. I thought you came up with it all by yourself.

I watch football every four years - World Cup, you know. :)

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on September 8, 2007 at 11:43 AM | PERMALINK

Oh, that is what it is called at Arrowhead these days?

Well, they can't pass, can't catch, can't block, can't tackle - might as well, just kick the can, so to speak.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on September 8, 2007 at 11:49 AM | PERMALINK

But, can the snarls of the toothless Wolverines silence the quacks of the Ducks? As Phil Knight leads the charge of the underpaid sewing workers of the third world. Swoosh and Quack

Posted by: stupid git on September 8, 2007 at 11:56 AM | PERMALINK

"and there is no 'home team' or litmus test of correct thinking to separate locals from 'trolls'."

LOL.... Nor is there here. Still can't refrain from issuing ad hominem attacks, can you? And you still cannot deal with any of the facts presented above.

"You can thank the moderator/thought cop here for the 'Swaggering Jingoistic Goon'. Has a nice ring to it."

If the shoe fits....

On a related note, Ezra Klein raises an excellent question: do you think the Iraqis care if the violence around them is "sectarian" or not?

Posted by: PaulB on September 8, 2007 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

Keep in mind that the surge is a time-dependent phenomenon, with the boundary condition that it goes to zero in about a year. All this talk about the surge "working" or not is so much hot air without political reconciliation.

Posted by: bob h on September 8, 2007 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, absolutely, bob. The reason that we're discussing the security benchmarks is that it speaks directly to the credibility of Petraeus. The fact that he is so blatantly lying about at least one key aspect of the situation in Iraq and that he has been so manifestly wrong so many times over the past three years puts into question everything he is going to be saying next week, which was pretty much the point of Kevin's original post.

Posted by: PaulB on September 8, 2007 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

Here’s a suggestion for Democrats when they question Petraeus, a couple of questions that are extremely relavent:

Why do you keep saying that al-Qaeda is the source of most attacks against Americans in Iraq? Give specific examples that you will stand behind.
Why do you keep saying that al-Qaeda is our biggest enemy in Iraq? Name some military generals besides yourself who agree. Name some experts outside the Bush administration who agree.

The reason these questions should be asked is that Petraeus and the Bush administration are beating the American public over the head with al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI). But it is a fact that there is widespread consensus amoung Iraqi and Middle-East experts that AQI is a very small part of the problem in Iraq. The consensus is that AQI will be even less of a factor but for the American occupation.

How long are we going to put up with this ridiculous Iraq-al-Qaeda conflation? The fictional conflation that helped get us there in the first place and has helped keep up there?

Petraeus will look awfully foolish trying to give credible examples of AQI in Iraq. He should be hammered on something that he himself has made a big deal about.

Posted by: little ole jim from red country on September 8, 2007 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

It's perfectly fair to call Petraeus out on this. He was the guy in charge of training the Iraqi army and police back in 2004-05...For all intents and purposes, none of the stuff he talked about ended up happening.

*Bangs on table in agreement*

Posted by: Ya Know...... on September 8, 2007 at 7:51 PM | PERMALINK

The problem with Iraq experts who dont go to Iraq..
Iraq Experts who Don't Go to Iraq and the Problem of Boosterism. A lot of people like Robert Kagan's reports on Iraq because he says ...
www.fumento.com/weblog/archives/2007/03/experts_who_don.html

Kagan has been as wrong as Rummy. Shock and Awe, six months, parades of Roses!

Posted by: Ya Know...... on September 8, 2007 at 7:54 PM | PERMALINK

...Here’s a suggestion for Democrats when they question Petraeus, a couple of questions that are extremely relavent...
Posted by: little ole jim from red country on September 8, 2007 at 1:47 PM

What about the "duffel-bags of cash"? It seems like the questions that are closest to the heart of the matter are simultaneously the most embarrassing AND the LEAST likely to get asked-because we just don't want to embarrass them now do we (moderate Democrats).

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on September 8, 2007 at 9:50 PM | PERMALINK

It wasn't just 2004. Petraeus has a four-year history of being wildly optimistic (and wildly incorrect) about matters in Iraq. And he's just as wildly optimistic today, as we've seen in a number of recent interviews, and citing just as questionable statistics.
LOL.... Nor is there here. Still can't refrain from issuing ad hominem attacks, can you? And you still cannot deal with any of the facts presented above.
Posted by: PaulB

Dear heart Paulie-B. If you truly want to know what an ad hominem attack is study the writings of GregorHeavy. It's all it has in its quiver.

As for dealing with the facts presented above, I offer as Exhibit A your own response to me upthread.

RSM: "But between now and then all the sudden he's turned into Betrayass. Hmmm..."

That was caused by several things, as you well know (Ed: uh, no I don't] Among the biggest:

1. People actually started delving into his background, something that takes time to do. It isn't until you actually see all of his remarks over the past four years that you realize just how dishonest or wrong he has been.

Those remarks over the last four years that were made prior to 2007 were all in the public record PRIOR to his confirmation hearings. You know, the ones where he was confirmed by a ratio of everybody to zero. And it is the JOB of the Senators to probe these things prior to the hearings, i.e., to take the time. And past history of contentious confirmation hearings of eveyone from Supreme Court Justices to SecDefs suggests they normally do their job, or are at least capable of it.

So your argument of temperary incompetence rings hollow.

Everything he has said between confirmation and now certainly is a target for hard questioning. But you're whining about his 4 year record makes me think of various lines,"Speak now or forever hold your peace", "Shutting the door after the horse left the barn", etc.

Posted by: Swaggering Jingoistic RSM Goon on September 9, 2007 at 11:11 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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