I have to help run a two-day conference at work, which will prevent me from blogging again until Saturday, September 20th. See you then. In the meantime, here’s a letter to the editor I wrote in response to a breathless editorial praising General David Petraeus’ performance in Iraq. Here’s hoping it gets published:
I was disappointed to see the Statesman editorial page take its eye off the ball (Quiet transition of Iraqi command shouts success, Sept. 17). Only by drastically reducing the scope of discussion can one use the word “success” regarding any facet of the U.S.’s Iraq policy. The event you claim “shouts success” provides no model for future action and highlights the increasing belligerence of the Bush administration toward other nations. Wednesday’s editorial indicates ludicrously low standards for foreign policy outcomes after eight years in the wilderness.
Military and international relations expert Andrew Bacevich, himself an Army colonel and West Point graduate, recently said: “In Iraq, President Bush’s vision of regional transformation [died]…No amount of CPR credited to the so-called surge will revive it. Even if tomorrow Iraq were to achieve stability and become a responsible member of the international community, no sensible person could suggest that Operation Iraqi Freedom provides a model to apply elsewhere.”
Petraeus and Odierno rose to their current positions in large part because they share President Bush’s view of the Middle East. Both share the President’s tendency to view our problems in Iraq stemming not from bad decisions and a lack of planning and foresight, but rather from our current boogeyman: Iran. Odierno in command of Iraq under a Petreaus at CENTCOM gives President Bush what he wants: a consistent worldview throughout a command structure that will not challenge his basic — and horrendously counterproductive — assumptions about the region.
Success? Hardly. The removal of dissenting voices from the CENTCOM command structure indicates a Bush Administration unchastened by its repeated, disastrous run-ins with reality, and an active attempt to deepen its own myopia.