He’s Just The Best General We Have, So What Does He Know About War?

David Petraeus, the general responsible for turning Iraq around with the surge, is putting out the word that a timeline is a bad idea,

The top U.S. military commander in Iraq isn’t buying the increasingly popular idea of a publicly stated timetable for American troop withdrawal.

Gen. David Petraeus, the Iraq commander, said in an interview with McClatchy that the situation in Iraq is too volatile to “project out, and to then try to plant a flag on, a particular date.”

…Petraeus said any timetable must have “a heck of a lot more granularity than the kind of very short-hand statements that have been put out.”

“We occasionally have commanders who have so many good weeks, (they think) it’s won. We’ve got this thing. Well we don’t. We’ve had so many good weeks. Right now, for example we’ve had two-and-a-half months of levels of violence not since March 2004,” he said from his office at Camp Victory.

“Well that’s encouraging. It’s heartening. It’s very welcome. But let’s keep our powder dry. . . .Let’s not let our guard down.”

This statement of basic, common sense has already produced an outraged reaction over at the Daily Kos where diarist fearisthemindkiller tells Petraeus to SYFPH (Shut your f****** pie-hole),

The republicans would love to exalt the status of General Petraeus for one very simple reason: they have no credibility left on this war, anything they say the opposite is immediately taken by the public as true. While in reality (or at least, according to our Constitution), the President of The United States outranks his Generals, Bush and McCain would want you to believe that Military strategy is to be determined exclusively by the Generals assessment of conditions on the ground.

This is totally bogus. The President is the commander of the Military, and it his job to make assessments of the information given to him by the Generals and it is the job of the Generals to carry out the policy and strategy of the President.

…I do not need to tell you how dangerous and F**ked up it is that we have the top General in Iraq making statements that not only directly contradict the President of that so-call sovereign country, but also seem to play perfectly into a partisan political narrative that also undercuts the whole concept of Chain of Command.

Obama is taking the lead in, again, reframing the issue in a way that could debunk the whole bogus notion of Generals setting military policy. However, the R’s in this country have their latest PR campaign going — “Conditions on the Ground.” They will keep repeating this idea that Conditions on the Ground drive Military strategy. They do not. Our President’s judgement of what is in the best interest of our country and our people drive Military strategy.

First of all, as to who has credibility about the war in Iraq: conservatives almost universally supported the surge while liberals were almost universally opposed to it and said the war was lost. Moreover, conservatives have a vested interest in seeing our country win in Iraq while liberals, unfortunately, have a vested interest in seeing American defeated by Al-Qaeda so they can say, “See, we told you George Bush was wrong!” While both conservatives (We thought the war would be quicker, cheaper, and easier) and liberals (They thought we had already lost and a surge wouldn’t work) have made mistakes, it’s clear that conservatives should have a lot more credibility on the war at this point.

Now, to the central point of our Kossack’s missive: presidents, not generals, do indeed make our military policy. However, Petraeus isn’t making our military policy. What he is doing is,

#1) Pointing out that a military strategy that is being heavily discussed will likely miserably fail if we try to carry it out. This is important for both the candidates and the American people to understand.

#2) Petraeus is serving notice that he’s not going to be the fall guy if Obama gets in, has Petraeus execute a rapid pull out, and the whole country collapses. He is saying out loud and up front: a timeline is terrible military strategy.

What David Petraeus is telling the American people is what will and won’t work. If the Left is determined to implement a strategy that will lead to genocide, the collapse of Iraqi democracy, and a regional disaster, then they should have to live with the consequences of their actions at the voting booth and in the history books. At this point, no one can say that they haven’t been warned about where their policies would lead.

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