Friday, September 14, 2007

I Love A Man In A Uniform

General David Howard Petraeus

By now everyone who spends any time at all on the Internet knows that the right-wing blogosphere is screaming that labeled General David Petraeus a "traitor" in a recent New York Times advert.

In fact, they did no such thing, as can be seen by reading the ad itself, here (pdf). Bear in mind that is no fan of military men, while, we - and I include my many military veteran readers - are either ambivalent or else downright supportive of a dude in a sharp-looking uniform such as the general, or even (God help us) that lying punk Lt Col Oliver North.

Meanwhile, reports are popping up - rather belatedly, one might righteously think - that the good general might not be the right guy for the job in Iraq after all; in fact, he's being painted by some as a "sycophant" and, um, an "ass-licker," and a "chickensh*t." These reports are somewhat shaky, however, being suspiciously vague as to their sources.

Well, far be it from me to refer to a commissioned officer with a bad word, but as a veteran, I can recall more than one instance of a higher rank being referred to derogatorily. (But really, is there any other way for a righteous grunt to refer to a superior officer, at least in private?) In any case, I think it's more than fair to say that Petraeus is no General Grant; more of a McClellan, if you will.

Which is to say, to hell with the uniform, the PhD, the book on counterinsurgency warfare; the fact is Petraeus isn't doing shit in Iraq. The state of our occupation of Iraq sucks, big time. Every independent study of the Iraq situation strongly disagrees with the general. See here, here, and here.

Before I go, a little dose of (un)common sense might be in order:

“Having admitted, however, that the odds of a military success in Iraq are almost impossibly long, Chaos Hawks nonetheless insist that the U.S. military needs to stay in Iraq for the foreseeable future. Why? Because if we leave the entire Middle East will become a bloodbath. Sunni and Shiite will engage in mutual genocide, oil fields will go up in flames, fundamentalist parties will take over, and al-Qaeda will have a safe haven bigger than the entire continent of Europe.

“Needless to say, this is nonsense. Israel has fought war after war in the Middle East. Result: no regional conflagration. Iran and Iraq fought one of the bloodiest wars of the second half the 20th century. Result: no regional conflagration. The Soviets fought in Afghanistan and then withdrew. No regional conflagration. The U.S. fought the Gulf War and then left. No regional conflagration. Algeria fought an internal civil war for a decade. No regional conflagration.

“So where does this bogeyman come from? Hard to say. Probably a deep-seated unwillingness to confront the fact that the United States can’t really influence a course of events we originally set in motion. But Iraq is already fighting a civil war, and that civil war will continue whether we stay or go. If we go it will likely become more intense, but also shorter lived. The eventual result, however, will almost certainly be the same: a de facto independent Kurdistan in the north and a Shiite theocracy in the south. The rest of the Middle East will, as usual, watch events unfold without doing much of anything about them, and will accept the inevitable results. The U.S., for its part, will remain in the north to protect Kurdistan, in the east in Afghanistan, in the west in the Mediterranean, and in the south in its bases in the Gulf. We’ll hardly be absent from the region.

“I think it’s worthwhile for proponents of withdrawal to be honest about the likely aftermath of pulling out: an intensified civil war that will take the lives of tens of thousands and end in the installation, at least in the short-term, of an Iran-friendly theocracy. This is obviously not a happy outcome, but neither is it the catastrophe the Chaos Hawks peddle. The alternative is to babysit the civil war with American troops, spilling blood and treasure along the way, without truly affecting the course of events in any substantial measure."

Have a nice day. (And keep your powder dry.)