Petraeus-Crocker crock continues—on all sides.
Clinton mourned that “the longer we stay in Iraq, the more we divert resources not only from Afghanistan, but other international challenges, as well.”
She’d like to deficit spend elsewhere in the world: pursue a better “mission” or “war.”
So Clinton weighing the opportunity costs vis-à-vis Iraq is a dubious thing at best. I did like that she raised the hidden costs, or rather, the costs the general won’t speak of—the same general who by now must be seen as a partisan who supports the administration’s policy, not merely the mission with which he’s been entrusted. Petraeus has crossed over into the political realm.
Some of the hidden costs: “Among combat troops sent to Iraq for the third or fourth time, more than one in four show signs of anxiety, depression or acute stress…”
A good constitutional point Clinton raised, and to which the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker responded feebly, was this: the government of Iraq intends to vote on whether to provide the legal authority for U.S. troops to continue to conduct operations in Iraq.
Why in bloody blue blazes doesn’t the United States Congress get to vote on that???
Crocker, predictably, consigned decisions to be rightfully made by “We the People” to the “appropriate” realm under the Bush Administration’s constitutional scheme: the executive branch.
Petraeus had Princeton smarts with which to retort. But he too fell flat with a lot of bafflegab about equations, this or the other co-efficient, “battlefield geometry,” and “non-linear” political progress.”
Update 1: SHIITE FROM SHINOLA. It won’t concern the war harpies readying themselves to can-can for McCain, and sock it to those “Ayrabs,” but I thought the more thoughtful among you ought to know that McCain still can’t tell Shiite from Shinola:
McCain: There are numerous threats to security in Iraq and the future of Iraq. Do you still view Al Qaeda in Iraq as a major threat?
Petraeus: It is still a major threat, though it is certainly not as major a threat as it was say 15 months ago.
McCain: Certainly not an obscure sect of the Shiites overall?
Al Qaida is Sunni.
Update 2: Watch the way Petraeus, each time he seems about to make a policy recommendation, skillfully pulls back from this unconstitutional abyss. This is not an affirmative action appointee. It goes without saying that Petraeus is defending a pie-in-the-sky policy much more than a viable military mission. The former is beyond his purview. But, then, constitutional overreach is the name of the game for politicians and their pet generals.
Update 3: I note that Barack Obama “repeated his view that the US invasion was a ‘massive strategic blunder.’” Is that all it was? Was the war not also a massive moral blunder? For how else does one describe the willful attack on a Third World nation, whose military prowess was a fifth of what it was when hobbled during the gulf war, had no navy or air force, and was no threat to American national security?
Well, at least someone—Barack—said something bad about the war.
Correctly Obama also noted that “What we have not seen is the Iraqi government using the space that was created not only by our troops but by the stand down of the militias in places like Basra, to use that to move forward on a political agenda that could actually bring stability.”
Obama was on target again by pointing out that the US “should be talking to Iran as we cannot stabilize the situation without them.”
He also tried to thread the needle, so to speak, by cleverly cajoling the Petraeus-Crocker team into conceding that perhaps the parameters used to gauge the appropriate length of the stay in Iraq are unrealistic. Perhaps Iraq today is as good as it’ll ever get. I agree; a democratic peaceful Iraq would necessitate dissolving the people and electing another, to paraphrase Bertold Brecht.
There is no doubt that Obama has the best grip on the war among the unholy trinity. Maybe his dedicated socialism and closeted Afrocentrism are look-away issues given his good sense on the war. What do you think?
Let’s see whether the Libertarian candidate, Bob Barr, lives up to Ron Paul on foreign policy and the warfare state.
Update 4 (April 9): “THE WAR IS NOT A CAMPAIGN EVENT.” Michael Ware’s word. Ware, as I’ve long held, is the best war-time correspondent. He happens to work for CNN. Here’s a snippet from his take on the “unreality” of the “made-for-television show” we’ve just been watching:
“Look, in terms of the military and diplomatic picture that was painted by General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker, by and large, subject to, you know, certain detail and — and different conclusions, it’s a fairly accurate broad brushstroke.
Are they glossing over a lot of things? Yes. Are they failing to admit certain glaring realities? Of course. But this is the nature of warfare. What struck me, sitting in these — in these hearing rooms today, is, if — A, what surprised me was the lack of probing questions, really, from the members of the panel.
And in terms of the three presidential candidates, as they stand right now, I mean, obviously, today was more about their campaigns than actually about the war itself. Now, I have come almost directly from the war. I mean, some people are living this thing. It is not a campaign event.
So, to hear people and see the way people are actually using this, it really does create discomfort in me. And I don’t know how the ambassador and the general feel. I mean, this is the reality of war. War is an extension of politics by any other means. But it still hits home.”
One of the duties of the “top brass” in the military is to be political. One cannot obtain the rank of General (four star) without being political. General Patraeus is just following the political outline that is set up for him. He can not be a “free thinker” and remain at the top. It the nature of the beast.
[This is plain wrong. Why say things without providing documented proof, such as a delineation of the duties of top brass? It is a gross overreach for the military to be justifying anything but the mission.—IM]
I disagree with the comments of Steve above. Petraeus owes duties to the American people, telling the truth, and the troops under his command as much or more than he owes a duty to cover Bush’s tush.
If Petraeus is spreading blather out of ignorance, then he should be scolded for incompetence – although he would not be the only dunce serving Bush. If Petraeus knows better and is spreading this insipid blather, then he is contemptable. The military went through this retrospective in the post-Vietnam War analysis about generals providing political cover for idiotic decisions by the JFK/LBJ/Nixonians and
the conclusion was that it was wrong.
Now history is repeating itself, sadly.
He is a 4 star general with a generous pension and can fall on his sword if need be. Prostitution has its limits.
I didn’t see the hearings (I’m not into porn) but I will offer some mild comments:
Ilana, you can mock the Semi-Good General’s evasion speak all you want but Jorge (AKA, Destroyer of Economies) it titillated by that kind of talk. Our illustrious president thinks the good General is smart.
Petraeus was never known for falling on his sword. He’s the main reason we had the so called “operational Pause” in the middle of the invasion. He was worried that the big bad Republican Guard would sneak up on him and do bad things. This caution (about what was by then nothing more then a mythical force) allowed Saddam to escape along with many others. How can someone whose main claim to fame was rebuilding and training the Iraqi police (which didn’t exactly work too well) get this job? All in all he’s as political as they come in the sense that his promotion, and whatever it takes, is all that matters. He’s shooting for Chief of Staff of the Army now, and that’s another political appointment. Not many become CSA without putting their lips in the appropriate spots. The good General is dancing, dancing, forever dancing. Without seeing the hearings I’ll bet a lot that no one can tell me much about what he’s done, doing, and will do? Trying to understand Petraeus has always been a bit tricky. He loves to dazzle you with BS, particularly when he’s confused.
[Guys, please stick to the word limit. Thanks.–IM]
The trouble with arguments from morality is that they can ALL make sense if divorced from reality. Hence:
1. Neocon: Saddam worse than Hitler. Iraq = Auschwitz. US welcomed as liberators.
2. Leftist Anti-War: Saddam – legitimate ruler. US out to profit with cheap oil.
3. Rightist Anti-War: US is a puppet of Israel’s scheme to dominate Middle East.
4. Objectivists: Arabs are sub-human savages. Kill them and take their oil.
So I am skeptical of purely MORAL arguments. Trillions are being wasted, hundreds of thousands of lives ruined by a STUPID war – immoral, amoral, moral – take your pick.
Of course, if Congressmen REALLY wanted to know about the war, they should talk off the record to some Captains with a few beers at the O club and separately with some Sergeants with a few beers at the NCO club. Petraeus and Crocker are just performing Kabuki theater.
[Your premise that morality is relative is wrong, and certainly not one indulged on this site. Natural laws of justice are immutable and comport with reality and reason absolutely. My analysis of Just War has adhered to natural law and reason. See “Unnatural Lawlessness,” ‘Just War’ for Dummies,”“Rationalize With Lies”,” etc., all here.–IM]
There seem to be a “conspiracy” by Crocker and Petraeus to compliment each other and say nothing that could be interpreted as a conflict. The issue of the limits of a military strategist vs. political policy seems highly relevant. Obama did not seem to have detailed information, using more rhetoric. As a so called constitutional instructor for ten years he missed a golden opportunity to question the constitutionality of the war (like Paul would have done. From this reaction to a question, it is clear he is unclear as to which Bush law issues are constitutional and which not, and for this to be determined by his “specialists” once(if) in office only, needs a lot to be desired:
BTW: Ilana, Ron Paul is not only still in the race, it is also not over/decided yet re. delegates. The primaries/caucuses are like glorified strawpolls, the delegates are decided later more RP supporters/delegates arrive, RP gets legally the most delegates, as happened already. In many states, delegates are also unbound, like OH. MSM does not give the correct picture. check out
Ordinarily, I would agree with you Ilana, however, after spending 8 years in the military and working within the “system” it didn’t take an a low level NCO like me to understand that every promotion, every move was politically motivated especially in the officers ranks. You play the “game” you were promoted, you didn’t you were shown the “door”. All of the top “Brass” in the military are political appointees approved by the congress.
There is no such thing as “free thinkers” in the military. You have to follow orders, otherwise “military cohesion” would be jeopardized.
General Patraeus is not a dunce, but he is political and as such controlled by the politicians who put him in the position he is in.
I apologize for not having any “cold, hard” facts, other than my first hand observations.
[This is not about “free thinkers”; this is about separation of powers.–IM]
Petraeus seems to be conflating “special groups” with pro-Iranian extremists of which Sadr and the Mhadi army are not. It is the Maliki faction that is pro-Iranian while Al Sadr is an Iraqi Nationalist. I can’t believe this is McCain-type ignorance. It is likely a deliberate attempt to blame future violence on Iran when the Iranians actually brokered a Maliki-Sadr cease fire.