General David Petraeus’ record for proficiency is outmatched only by his record of versatility. He has been thrown into roles that ranged from analyst to base commander to assistant to combat leader with much official preparation, and shown himself to be extraordinary in each. Now he faces his greatest challenge yet – succeeding at a task which none of his superiors, Congress or the Administration, seem willing to win at any cost.
His appearance in Washington to speak before Congress coincided with the gesture of hamstringing by that esteemed body. Now a timeline for troop withdrawal – which amounts to telling the enemy when they’ll be allowed to claim victory, should they so choose – has been thrown in along with the protracted refusal to fund Petraeus’ forces. Meanwhile, Bush has made some concerted but fatalistic overtures towards talking with the state poised to be the future inheritor of Iraq, Iran. But this diplomacy, which had been recommended from the beginning and has been a critical problem since nuclear programs and the Lebanon conflict flared up two years ago, may be too little, too late. Already Arab states that have been traditional supporters – read: recipients of billions in business and unqualified financial aid – such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt have looked at Bush’s track record of dismissive negligence to diplomacy and thrown their hands up.
This is the situation Petraeus is in – one in which his higher ups seem dead set on a course to bring him down. But with a combination of rock-ribbed will and inspiring innovation, he has presented nothing but progress in reply.
His reports have been fair and objective – not afraid to address the impact of the big number bodycounts that insurgents have been driving for in response to the surge restricting their actions, nor afraid to shed light on the Iraqi government’s hindering divisions, while still demonstrating a way to overcome these problems and achieve his mission. And his actions have shown determination – in the case of improved Baghdad security – and a focused brilliance.
One aspect of that is that Petraeus has gone after the terrorists on their own playing field – the collective consciousness. He’s opened up a way for the world at large to see exciting victories for our side, just as the insurgents have for theirs, via the ‘net. He didn’t need big funding, or a bill of approval to drag its pork-inflated bulk under the pen of the Democratic Congress; he uses, as he always has, whatever he has at hand and he gets it all done better than expected.
I strongly encourage any interested in getting the proper level perspective on the war to view this site:
Even if you accept it as the propaganda that it is – the counterweight to the insurgent horror stories and US media’s sensationalist hand-wringing – and so dismiss its potential to turn opinion on the war around where it counts, it is still a site to see. Like Leonidas at Thermopylae and Churchill after the Battle of France, it is that rare testimony that life can not just endure, but flourish, in times of deepest darkness: the best of men in the worst of times.