Thursday, April 10, 2008

General Petraeus Into the Political Breech

Cannon to the right – cannon to the left – cannon to the front. Doctor General Petraeus, our gauleiter in Iraq recently faced deadly political fire from both houses of congress over his inability to deliver victory in the field. Perhaps paraphrasing Tennyson's Charge of the Light Brigade was over romantic gush to characterize his egregious failure in command. There was cartoon on a blog that pictured Saveus Petraeus as Charlie McCarthy and VEEP Cheney as Edgar Bergin pulling his strings – on reflection, this image is more to the mark.

Petraeus has had three bites at the Iraq apple. First, as two-star major general when he commanded the elite 101st Airborne Assault Division during the invasion. Compared to other division commanders in the theater at the time, he came off as enlightened. At least he was reputed to ask questions before he sent an Iraqi into a detention camp. He was then assigned to train Iraqi forces where he badly failed. He was abruptly reassigned to train mid-level US Army officers at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas. He picked up a third star. He received his 4th star when he replaced General Casey as overall military commander in Iraq.

General Casey, helplessly presiding over an exploding insurgency, was unsuccessful in Iraq; but was appointed to the most prestigious billet in the US Army, the Chief of Staff of the Army. This indicated how shallow the talent pool of general officers was on which to draw – the only thing I can figure was that General Casey was rewarded for not surrendering to the insurgents; the fact that he followed orders obediently from twisted political leadership also played no small role. Nobody in the upper levels of the army wanted to replace Casey in Iraq except Petraeus. Commandant at Ft. Leavenworth was normally a career ending billet for a general, so Petraeus took the job offering in Iraq with alacrity – he with the USMC had just completed Army field manual on counterinsurgency; this was used by the neocons with great fanfare to promote him into the assignment – realistically, the Abu Ghraib affair and the destruction of Fallujah undermined most of his counterinsurgency doctrine – the horse had already left the barn.

Petraeus has performed well for the neocons: he promoted the surge and now is doing his best to curtail the drawdown of US troops. More importantly he is part of a drive to develop status of forces and treaties to insure US troop presence in Iraq on permanent basis without congressional approval. This agreement is designed to bind the next administration to the war.

Iraq is a permanent crises for the US and the region. Apart from corporations making millions on the chaos, the Likud Party in Israel is also delighted as it wants the security implicit with US forces stationed in the Middle East – sadly, super neocon, pro Israeli Richard Perle declaration that there is no turning back immediately after the US invasion of Iraq may be prescient. Bomb Bomb McCain who has an Israeli ring in his nose, pulled by Senator Joe lieberman, is there to insure the US does not return to its sanity. As far as bin Laden is concerned, as long as the US stands, dies and pays in Iraq, it is okay with him – this keeps his enemies, the Shiites and the US, killing each other. Everybody wins except the US as it sinks deeper in the GW Bush quagmire.

Generals Petraeus and Westmoreland have three things in common – both are losers and both commanded the 101st Abn Air Assault Division and both are graduates of the United States Military Academy at West Point... Tunes of glory. Colonel Robert E Bartos USA Ret


Anonymous Anonymous said...


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