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26 April 2007


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I was not impressed. Let me rephrase that. Compared to who the Bush Admin usually sends out, I was very impressed. His cheap shots/scare tactics/exaggerations were delivered smoothly and not in an obvious manner, to those who have not followed the Iraq war closely. I have no comment with regard to the questioners other than to say I have utter contempt for the vast, vast, majority of them. They are, the majority, gutless and/or clueless cheerleaders. Though many of the cheerleaders do have a look, and a tone, hinting they are beginning, finally, to sense it is late in the season and 'no, we ain't gonna win the title'.

The general took advantage, as is his right, of the inability of the questioner/listener to request that the general define, precisely define, his terms.

He overestimated (hyped) AQ's role in Iraq for obvious domestic reasons. I will await the transcript before commenting further other than to say the following: I considerer myself a good lawyer. I would love to depose this guy.


It's hard for me to wish him too much luck since I'd rather have my cousin come home ("stop loss"+"surge" = tough luck). That being said, however, I really hope there is some success. I think it's the best chance for a stable Middle East in the years to come. But on the other other hand, what we are looking at is a situation where the best chance of success is awfully slim.

Honestly, regardless of the smaller theater, I think he has a harder row to hoe than Ike did.

TR Stone

Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh told The Associated Press the vote was not helpful.

"We see some negative signs in the decision because it sends wrong signals to some sides that might think of alternatives to the political process," al-Dabbagh said. "Coalition forces gave lots of sacrifices and they should continue their mission, which is building Iraqi security forces to take over."

Yes the Iraqi establishment wishes to see more Ameican sacrifices. Nowhere in this comment ia a view of the political process. We (the Iraqi government) wish for you to do the dirty work and keep sending the checks, while we consolidate sectarian power.

Tim G

And he will be working with the best Arabist Ambassador DOS has to offer. Too bad this is all 4 years too late.


Yeah, he is really, really taking my breath away: Petraeus: Progress In Anbar ‘Breathtaking’

As long as there are people like him, defending the undefensible, the situation on the ground will get worse.

But there are lots of these folks who like the stars coming with it ...

knut royce


Even Rommel couldn't save Germany from itself.


If Gen. Petraeus gets it why does he not convince the American people as well as the Decider and the Congress that he would need more troops, more equipment and several years to create stability and "political reconciliation" in Iraq.

IMO, the American people are willing to support anyone who would be candid with them and provide a realistic and credible plan with well defined objectives and end goals.

I realize he is walking a thin line and may not want to come across as usurping the Decider's role BUT if he understands the issues it would be most helpful to the country that he articulates it. The country needs leadership and if Gen. Petraeus can provide it he should step up.

Tom S

If Petraeus had been in command from the beginning, with 300,000+ troops, with no civilian administration of inexperienced and incomptent Bush loyalists...maybe it would have succeeded.


And I also wish him luck! But, as you know well, it’ll take much more than luck to fish this bus out of the ditch. Undoubtedly he has a better and maybe even sufficient grasp of the complexities of the task he faces, but that is probably not enough as the folks who need that understanding even more than him, namely the Congress, have neither the patience or the constituent latitude to go much further. Unfortunately anyone in the Iraqi mix of whatever stripe he-General Petraeus- identifies as useful in the ongoing nation building effort will be immediately marginalized as a puppet of the Americans.

The more I consider what needs to be done in Iraq, the more convinced I become that a deadline and finite troop withdrawal schedule is the way to go. I base my belief largely on two firmly fixed assumptions: First, a population in a situation such as Iraq largely only moves when they have to. A series of fixed future events created by the outside world generally moved the parties in the Balkans toward some resolution. The absence of any such parallel timeline, I believe, allows the Palestinian issue to languish with neither party moving toward solution. The second and equally important assumption in my calculus is that my conclusion is diametrically opposed to that of Dubya and his Muppet show of advisors. Knowing that George ain’t been right on anything yet, I take great comfort in the correctness and righteousness of my new deduction. As I now hold the complete opposite conclusion he today forwards, I am assured of being spot on correct!

Richard Whitman

JFM-you malign the Muppets, otherwise I agree with you. Please note the complete absence of any talk about "what we do after we win".Even Dubya does not really expect to win.

Clifford Kiracofe

From a foreign policy perspective, my take at the moment is:

1. The decision to launch a "preventive war" against Iraq is the greatest strategic mistake in US history, as General Odom points out.
2. That said, as a Nation, we confront an array of potentially catastrophic consequences in the near, medium and long term because of this decision by the Congress and White House.
3. It is therefore prudent at this time to devise a real plan, rather than sound bites and smoke and mirrors legislation, to get ourselves out of this mess and to minimize the catastrophic damage.

No matter how able the General may be, and I also wish him all the best, there are larger factors to be considered.

First and foremost is our National Strategy. Just what is it these days other than a shambles?

We must have realistic, comprehensive, and integrated National Strategy that takes into account the actual international situation, rather than some fantasy "unipolar" world or "globalised" world.

Then we must have a serious diplomatic effort to reach a settlement on the Iraq situation at a minimum. This means a serious diplomatic offensive at the regional level (Syria, Iran, and all the other players), at the major power level (Russia, China, EU, Japan, India), and at the UN level.

But what are the politics of this? The White House has seemingly rejected the ISG report. The Republican Party is dominated by Neocon ideology and the Zionist money ("campaign finance") and Fundamentalist political base. The Democratic Party, as George Soros points out, is unlikely to free itself from the death grip of the Zionist lobby (AIPAC etal). So there are considerable obstacles to a necessary policy change.

And what about the competence necessary to implement a serious foreign policy in the national interest. So far, as events have shown, we do not find this at the White House, in the National Security Council, nor in the office of the Secretary of State. While there are myriad competent professionals throughout our institutions -- State, Intelligence Community, Military, Law Enforcement -- there is little they can do if the political layer is as corrupt and incompetent as it is in today's America.

A tall order to change the current situation and to extract ourselves minimizing strategic damage. I think it is still, perhaps, possible but some radical change is needed in Washington, particularly in the White House with its faux Texan Decider (all hat, faked twang accent, bicycle and no horse) and a stranger than Strangelove Veep.


If Gen. Petraeus had been in charge and outsourced Pakistani and Bangladesh troops were part of the “Coalition of Willing” 4 years ago, he just may have stabilized Iraq. To get Muslim troops a political plan would’ve been in place beforehand. The Sunni Arabs would not been disenfranchised. Iraq would not have turned into a lawless neo-colony.

William S. Lind indicates that the basis for the success in Northern Ireland, one of the few cases where the states armed forces won, was that the problem was treated as a criminal one, troops were strictly controlled and reprisals avoided

It is all blood washed under the bridge. Every action of the Bush II Administration has been to assure that the USA is engulfed in a never ending Holy War that cannot be won.

TR Stone

I just watched the Democratic Presidential debate.

Is the crazy Mike Gavel the only one who can speak the truth to the establishment?


Col. Lang,
Both Eisenhower and Petraeus were/are both teachers and leaders. They were/are also focused on BOTH military history and military leadership. For this situation, this is an excellent mix. His problem is this, "How do you unspill milk?" This is exactly right, you can not do it. The other problem is this, neither the "spilled milk", nor "the floor it was spilled upon" was ours. Therefore, we have a major ongoing responsibility in Iraq.

About your article on "Tribesmen" is right on target. It is a shame, we did not use this document during "Persian Gulf I", it might have stopped this grief earlier.


I apologize for going off topic:

Colonel Lang, I just wanted to draw your attention to what some of your peers were sayting about your Tribesmen paper:


BTW - a good read !

TR Stone

I have a very off the wall concept here, let's elect a crazy person as POTUS, not a stupid one.

I bet every culture has a restiction on dealing with the infirm. In my lifetime we have tried every other strategy.

Let's give this one a chance!

Peter Eggenberger

You applaud Petraeus for seeing that the "galaxy" of insurgent groups are a melange, etc.. That sounds like applauding a 20th century Catholic bishop for recognizing that Galileo was right. I wonder if Petraeus has "advanced views", i.e. the equivalent of endorsing evolution, DNA, geology. I hope so, although I assume he doesn't talk about it in visits to the White House.

Leila A.

While Baghdad burns, look at Nero hard at work.

Or is he more like Caligula?

He's the leader of a country wounded by war and homegrown mayhem. His behavior is grossly disrespectful to the office he holds and the people he supposedly serves.


This is some high level fragging in the Armed Forces Journal by one Lt. Col. Paul Yingling: A failure in generalship

In 2007, Iraq's grave and deteriorating condition offers diminishing hope for an American victory and portends risk of an even wider and more destructive regional war.

These debacles are not attributable to individual failures, but rather to a crisis in an entire institution: America's general officer corps. America's generals have failed to prepare our armed forces for war and advise civilian authorities on the application of force to achieve the aims of policy.

That would include Petraeus ...

More by WaPo:
Army Officer Accuses Generals of 'Intellectual and Moral Failures'

Chris Marlowe

The situation is unsalvagable, ever since the US occupation forces and Al-Qaeda got together to destroy the Iraqi educated classes, and literally opening the Pandora box of religious/political factions and strife in Iraq and the rest of the ME.

Iraq is the logical end of the Pax Americana and the American 20th century. There is no victory for the US in this situation; only various bad scenarios are available. And none of the choices are good. Only the postscript is waiting to be written.

Petraeus is not going to be Eisenhower, he will be Jodl.


TR Stone,

Why do you say Gavel is crazy?

Cold War Zoomie

"...Gen. David Petraeus said the war will require "an enormous commitment" by the United States."

Here's what makes no sense to me. We could achieve some positive outcome in this mess if we really, really took the initiative. But there would have to be some sort of sacrifice by all of us.

Someone said earlier that we Americans will rise to the occasion with the right leadership. I believe that to be true. But it won't be painless - we cannot “ensure victory” by shopping every day and slapping a yellow ribbon on the car.

These knuckleheads like to scream that "Freedom isn't Free" every chance they get but never, ever have they proposed any real sacrifice by the American people who are not serving in the military.

An "enormous commitment" would require tons of cash, boatloads of troops and a swarm of diplomatic types to make this work. That means higher taxes and a real recruitment drive for the military and civilian agencies with El Presidente at the lead.

But they won't do this. They refuse to do this. So the "enormous commitment" line is empty rhetoric. The public has turned against this war because the rhetoric is so disconnected from the actions.

John Hammer

Col.- I saw Gen. Petraeus on Charlie Rose last night. He said that-

1.Enough oil has been discovered in Anbar to make Iraq the world's #2 reserve holder.

2.The tribal groups of eastern Anbar have joined the fight against AQ.

Are these to points related? Is this a game changer?

Got A Watch

The AP story referenced by TR Stone above is also cited by Needlenose today:

Quote:" U.S. military commanders say a key goal of the ongoing security offensive is to buy time for Iraq's leaders to reach political benchmarks that can unite its fractured coalition government and persuade insurgents to stop fighting.

. . . Ten weeks into the security plan, even as U.S. lawmakers propose timelines for a U.S. troop withdrawal, there has been little or no progress in achieving three key political benchmarks set by the Bush administration: new laws governing the sharing of Iraq's oil resources and allowing many former members of the banned Baath Party to return to their jobs, and amendments to Iraq's constitution. As divisions widen, a bitter, prolonged legislative struggle is hindering prospects for political reconciliation.

"They are all up in the air," said Ahmed Chalabi, a secular Shiite who is chairman of Iraq's Supreme National Commission for De-Baathification. "They are certainly not going to be produced in any timetable that is acceptable within the context of the current political climate in the United States." Other benchmarks such as provincial elections, a political agreement on dismantling militias and a program for reconciliation announced last July also have not moved forward, Iraqi officials said.

. . . Even if compromises are reached on the three benchmarks, it is unlikely the final legislation will resemble anything close to the Bush administration's blueprint. Maliki's aides are already stressing that they cannot control how the divided 275-member parliament will react to the proposals.

"When the Americans give orders, people will be more against it," [Kurdish pol Mahmoud] Othman said. "That's what the Americans don't understand." "

Needlenose take: "Although the Iraqi government is happy to send out a spokesman to pay lip service to Dubya's desired spin, lip service is all the Bushites are going to get from them -- the Shiite-dominated government doesn't want to share power, or give the U.S. an inside track to its oil, etc. So, much like Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army during the current would-be crackdown, the government is lying low and hoping to wait us out. That's the point of the Chalabi quote dismissing the possibility that any of the laws will meet Dubya's desired timetable."

My conclusion: the Oil Law looks like it won't be passed as written by Dick Cheney. Shiites are not going to compromise with Sunnis, or vice-versa, until they are forced to - after American troops depart. As has been stated , the Iraqi government is willing to fight to the last American soldier, before any willingness to negotiate a real peace will develop.

As I stated before, the March '08 pullout date has taken on a political life of its own, Bush veto notwhithstanding. The Bushians are stuck between defeat and defeat on all sides. Gen. Petraeus task is to resolve this mess, how?

When cornered, rats get desperate - I wouldn't invest in Tehran real estate anytime soon.

Stanley Henning

General Petraeus is sadly in a no win situation. Democracy is clearly a meaningless term in the equation. So we essentially appear to be "surging" to support the Shia who are not even united and are thus not fully cooperating with our efforts, and even if they prevail Iraq will not likely be pro-US, but will likely fall within an Iranian sphere of influence. The Sunni insurgents don't appear to have any desire to talk, so the killing will go on -- so what's the plan - dither about and continue to waste more lives and resources while blindly hoping for a miracle? We've lost it big time!

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