To reach the rank of general you have to be part politician, it has always been that way. A good general is always a general first and a politician second. Those who had been generals first have over the last six years have been driven from the service by Donald Rumsfeld and the Bush administration. What we have left are men like General Petraeus. Not only a politician but a political hack. We know what he’s going to say in September because he said it all yesterday on wingnut radio, The Hugh Hewitt Show. On cue from Hugh he recited all the administration/neocon talking points. Glenn Greenwald does a good job of documenting how General Petraeus has been talking the neocon/administration talking points on Iraq from day one and not unlike William Kristol has been proven wrong over and over again. But in the media Petraeus is still sold as the brilliant saviour of Bush’s failed occupation of Iraq.Before General David Petraeus gives his much anticipated report on Iraq in less than two weeks everyone should read his September 26, 2004 op-ed in the Washington Post, Battling for Iraq, to judge his credibility.
BAGHDAD -- Helping organize, train and equip nearly a quarter-million of Iraq's security forces is a daunting task. Doing so in the middle of a tough insurgency increases the challenge enormously, making the mission akin to repairing an aircraft while in flight -- and while being shot at. Now, however, 18 months after entering Iraq, I see tangible progress. Iraqi security elements are being rebuilt from the ground up.Yes, that was three years ago. He was wrong then and Paul Krugman explains that it was a partisan and political commentary in Snow Job in the Desert.
The institutions that oversee them are being reestablished from the top down. And Iraqi leaders are stepping forward, leading their country and their security forces courageously in the face of an enemy that has shown a willingness to do anything to disrupt the establishment of the new Iraq.
In recent months, I have observed thousands of Iraqis in training and then watched as they have conducted numerous operations. Although there have been reverses -- not to mention horrific terrorist attacks -- there has been progress in the effort to enable Iraqis to shoulder more of the load for their own security, something they are keen to do.
I meet with Iraqi security force leaders every day. Though some have given in to acts of intimidation, many are displaying courage and resilience in the face of repeated threats and attacks on them, their families and their comrades. I have seen their determination and their desire to assume the full burden of security tasks for Iraq.
There will be more tough times, frustration and disappointment along the way. It is likely that insurgent attacks will escalate as Iraq's elections approach. Iraq's security forces are, however, developing steadily and they are in the fight. 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 will not be easy, but few worthwhile things are.
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.History has shown us that General Petraeus has no more credibility than George W. Bush, Bill Kristol or Joe Lieberman when it comes to Iraq. If you don't believe them you shouldn't believe the General.
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 of a political, and indeed partisan, animal 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.
Steve Clemons correctly points out that Krugman is incorrect when he compares Petraeus to Collin Powell.
Paul Krugman in his piece, "Snow Job in the Desert" fillets Michael O'Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack for their role in the effort and compares the non-empirical assertions of Colin Powell on WMDs to Petraeus's coming assertions that the surge is working.
A difference I'd suggest to Krugman between Powell and Petraeus is that Powell was lied to by the administration for which he worked and was told that the intel in hand had come from multiple credible sources -- and not just the single, questionable source, later identified as "Curveball." Petraeus, in contrast, is actually a working part of the information collection and marketing operation on the surge.