Did General David Petraeus today suggest that the war in Iraq may not make the United States safer?
During the Q&A round at the armed services committee, Senator John Warner, the Virginia Republican who used to chair the committee and who has called for beginning a disengagement in Iraq, took a few sharp (albeit respectful) jabs at Petraeus, noting that one intelligence report after another has said that political reconciliation in Iraq could be a bridge too far. He then asked Petraeus a pointed question: "Do you feel that [Iraq war] is making America safer"?
Petraeus paused before responding. He then said: "I believe this is indeed the best course of action to achieve our objectives in Iraq."
That was, of course, a non-answer. And Warner wasn't going to let the general dodge the bullet. He repeated the question: "Does the [Iraq war] make America safer?"
Petraeus replied, "I don't know, actually. I have not sat down and sorted in my own mind."
Don't know? Is it possible that the war is not making the United States safer? Petraeus went on to note that he has "taken into account" the war's impact on the U.S. military and that it's his job to recommend to the president the best course for reaching "the objectives of the policy" in Iraq. Yet he did not say that the Iraq war is essential to the national security of the United States.
Leftyblogs (aka "the usual suspects") havejumpedalloverthisasproofthat Iraq is little more than a purposeless exercise in power projection. Even the commander of the effort, they screech, doesn't know if it will have a positive effect on the safety of America.
In reality, what Petreaus was pointing out is his job isn't to make that determination, but instead to fight the mission he was handed. Regardless, The Nation concludes with this:
That was quite a statement from the fellow who is supposed to save Bush's war. He advocates pursuing Bush's course of action in Iraq but he cannot attest that this effort is crucial for America's safety. Is that being a good soldier?
Of course it was nothing like what The Nation and others have made of it. In fact, conveniently left out of the condemnation of Petraeus (and, of course, Bush) was the general's answer to Sen. Bayh not long after that (and you'll note that at least Sen. Bayh understood why Petraeus had answered the way he had, unlike The Nation, et. al.):
SEN. EVAN BAYH (D-IN): “I thought you had an excellent, very candid response to Senator Warner's question and that was - he asked you - going forward the recommendations that you're making, will that make America safer? And you said that you could not answer that question because that was beyond the purview of your — beyond the scope of your responsibilities.”
PETRAEUS: “Well, I thank you actually, Senator, for an opportunity to address that, frankly. Candidly, I have been so focused on Iraq that drawing all the way out was something that for a moment there was a bit of a surprise.
“But I think that we have very, very clear and very serious national interests in Iraq. Trying to achieve those interests — achieving those interests has very serious implications for our safety and for our security. So I think the answer really, to come back to it is yes. But again, frankly, having focused down and down and down, that was something that really on first glance is something that I would let others - ”
BAYH: “I judge by your response to Senator Graham, that you have given that a little additional thought.”
PETRAEUS: “Immediately afterwards actually.”
BAYH: “That happens to all of us, including those of us on this side of the table.”
But not in the leftosphere. Don't expect to see any "updates" today carrying this part of the Petraeus response saying definitively that "yes" he feels the war in Iraq is making America safer (for whatever that's actually worth in reality - besides cheap political points, that is).
If Bayh would stop being such a toe-the-line Democrat, he’d get more support from me.
The fundamental source of the conflict in Iraq is competition among ethnic and sectarian communities for power and resources. This competition will take place, and its resolution is key to producing long-term stability in the new Iraq. The question is whether the competition takes place more – or less – violently.
I’m suprised this caused so many Democrats apoplexy during the questioning.
The fundamental source of the conflict in Iraq is competition among ethnic and sectarian communities for power and resources.
Isn’t this exactly what occurs every election here in the US? We’re long past using violence as the primary means of solving these problems, but it always comes down to power and resources.
first, it’s somewhat surprising that Gen P was unprepared for that question.
second, what is the mission Gen P was handed? As best I can tell, his mission is to bring the various conflicts in Iraq to a resolution which maximizes US strategic interests, ie, keeping the US safe.
Here’s a very basic question:
Are US strategic interests better served with a weak Sunni populace, resulting in less internal violence and a more strongly pro-Iranian government or a stronger Sunni populace, resulting in more internal violence and a more divided government?
Since we are (a) cooperating with the Sunnis in Anbar, (b) allowing the Shia militias free rein in Basra, and (c) only ineffectively trying to prevent ethnic cleansing in Bagdad, it appears that our own command hasn’t figured out that question either.
The Democrats should pack up and withdraw from Congress.
Didn’t they just set some sort of record for the lowest approval rating ever for Congress in a Gallup poll?
Maybe it was that speech Harry Reid made on the floor of the Senate that went roughly, "We’ve lost the war in Iraq and I want the enemy to come kill as many of our troops as possible to back me up on that."
Of course that’s been their message all along, but winning the majority gave them the opportunity to say it with authority.
But one aggressive reporter, who didn’t identify himself, asked Nancy Pelosi a quite pointed question: Given that it now appears likely that US troop levels will be roughly unchanged since she took power in January, hasn’t the Democratic Congress ’been a failure’? Pelosi was understandably taken aback. But she didn’t have much to counter with.
Of course they are a failure, and they keep moving their goalposts to try and hide that fact...
The Democrats should pack up and withdraw from Congress.
Or perhaps she thinks a surge might be the solution, after all?