11 September 2007

Petraeus - "I don't know, actually ..."


Well, General Petraeus has provided W with the cover he needs. According to this story in The Guardian, our self-proclaimed decider basically plans to adopt the recommendations that Petraeus has spelled out. Of course, the General apparently has no idea whether those recommendations will contribute to our national security or not. That may seem unfair, but consider the following which I lifted from a short report by David Corn over at The Nation:

"During his second day of appearances on Capitol Hill, Petraeus this afternoon appeared before the Senate armed services committee. Fortified with charts and graphs, he presented the same we're-on-the-right-course pitch he delivered to the House armed services and foreign affairs committees (on Monday) and to the Senate foreign relations committee (this morning). During the Q&A round at the armed services committee, Senator John Warner, the Virginia Republican who used to chair the committee and who has called for beginning a disengagement in Iraq, took a few sharp (albeit respectful) jabs at Petraeus, noting that one intelligence report after another has said that political reconciliation in Iraq could be a bridge too far. He then asked Petraeus a pointed question: "Do you feel that [Iraq war] is making America safer"?

Petraeus paused before responding. He then said: "I believe this is indeed the best course of action to achieve our objectives in Iraq."

That was, of course, a non-answer. And Warner wasn't going to let the general dodge the bullet. He repeated the question: "Does the [Iraq war] make America safer?"

Petraeus replied, "I don't know, actually. I have not sat down and sorted in my own mind."

Don't know? Is it possible that the war is not making the United States safer? Petraeus went on to note that he has "taken into account" the war's impact on the U.S. military and that it's his job to recommend to the president the best course for reaching "the objectives of the policy" in Iraq. Yet he did not say that the Iraq war is essential to the national security of the United States. Warner did not press the general any further on this point. The senator's time was up."

You can watch the exchange here. Note that the question, seemingly a real softball, was posed by a military friendly Republican Senator not some pinko college professor like me. One of my anonymous commentors has offered this perceptive proposal in response to one of my earlier posts:

"Here's a crazy idea: how about you admit you don't know
what the fuck you're talking about when it comes to Iraq
and let the men and women who are there on the ground
and know what's going on do their jobs."

Well, the good General seems to have no idea whether the Iraq fiasco is making us safer or not. He is too busy doing his job to have such thoughts. He is busy trying to justify the "mission," the irreparably flawed policy he has been charged with implementing. The fact that that policy itself is completely and utterly indefensible simply is not at issue for him. That is why we should not allow military officers to make policy. It is why the hearings this past couple of days are a farce. What we need is some justification for continuing the BushCo policy in Iraq. Heck, we could use some plausible account of why they started the war in the first place! There are good reasons to insist on civilian control of the military. This exchange is a very, very pointed example of why it is crucial. If the man in charge of matters "on the ground" in Iraq - and he surely is a smart, articulate, dedicated man - cannot make up his mind whether or not the policy he is implementing is contributing to our national security, why should we here at home support that policy? End the War!

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

hear hear.

12 September, 2007 09:30  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, let's withdraw.

Not though, because the military intervention and what it rested on was wrong, but because trying to stabilise and civilise that vile part of the world is costing us too much.

Its like civilisation, 500 years ago. And thats what they want, so they can have it.

05 October, 2007 05:50  

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