View Full Version : From the Jaws of Victory

02-07-2008, 02:37 PM
From the Jaws of Victory (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120235276946049727.html?mod=opinion_main_comment aries)- Nadia Schadlow, Wall Street Journal

The U.S. just dodged a bullet in Iraq.

Recently it was reported that Pentagon leaders were considering Gen. David Petraeus, commander of the Multi-National Force Iraq since February 2007, for a prestigious redeployment to Europe. It is good news for Americans and Iraqis alike that Gen. Petraeus decided to stay in Baghdad through the fall.

What's depressing is that top political and military leaders in Washington asked him to consider the move in the first place. The proposal to shift Gen. Petraeus out of Iraq reflects the unwillingness of the military as a whole to make the larger cultural changes required to succeed in tough counterinsurgency missions...

02-07-2008, 03:28 PM
Dr. Schadlow (another Cornellian - we're everywhere) makes a bit of a disingenuous play with her examples. While technically true, they greatly oversimplify things and don't really do her idea justice.

For example, the World War II reference, of Eisenhower and Marshall, is not a great example of the Army ditching its cultural proclivity for politics and business as usual. Marshall was kept on as Chief of Staff only at FDR's insistence, over the grousing of many within the Army who wanted the post (or some like MacArthur who hated Marshall and being subordinate to him). Likewise, the only reason Eisenhower wasn't replaced at SHAEF before Overlord was because of FDR's personal intervention. Everyone thought the command would (and should) go to Marshall.

That said, I actually do endorse her idea, although that's easy for me to say Stateside, rather than actually having to be there for a doubled 15-month tour. There is the consideration, however, of having units train and prepare under one command and then having them replaced when they arrive in theater - or would you simply keep Gen. Petraeus and Odierno and let the division commanders (who in country become MNF-North, South, etc. regional commanders, right?) stay?

My guess is that the shifts of Petraeus and other officers are rooted in an effort by the services to keep things "business as usual," in terms of keeping the GO rotations going so that all get their time in the sun, which is odd when in many other ways - procurement, doctrine, etc. - they're making every effort to show how extraordinary the situation is.

Obviously, as Dr. Schadlow argues, and my critiques notwithstanding, that is a major mistake.

Finally, I kind of bristle at the suggestion that a Democratic administration might somehow punish Gen. Petraeus (or any other officers or personnel) by not promoting him to additional commands because of their anti-war attitudes. Obviously such an act would be truly disgusting, but I can't imagine it occurring.


02-07-2008, 04:56 PM
WM, I do not think Ms. Shadlow was being disengenuous. She was not trying to be deceitful, she was making a point. You got the point right, perhaps some of her specific historical examples were not as close to the mark as they could have been. But again the point was taken, this is a War. By nature a war is an extraordinary situation and it requires extraordinary sacrifice and consideration. In this case, retaining Gen Petraus beyond the normal peace time rotation of commanding generals. It makes sense, not because there isnt a qualified person in the wings, but because he has the "street" credibility to carry it through. Your comment that it took extraordinary effort by FDR to keep Ike in place is right on & it fits Ms. Shadlow's argument perfectly. Extraordinary efforts are required to deal with War. She could have cited potentially more relevant actions but they may not have resonated so well with the American people. For instance: General Templar in Malaya, or Admiral Nelson, but these just dont mean much to Americans. --T