4 April CaliforniaRepublic.org - A Chat with David Petraeus by Rich Lowry.

There has been a dramatic change in America’s strategy in Iraq. The new priority has become security of the people of Baghdad. America’s fortress mentality is gone and there is a whole new feeling of partnership in the Multi-National Force-Iraq.

While the situation in Iraq remains dire, we have finally adopted a strategy that has a chance of returning sanity to the people of Baghdad. It is still too early to determine if Fardh al-Qanoon (enforcing the law) will work. All the odds are against General David Petraeus, but if anyone can bring peace and stability to Iraq, it is he.

We are involved in a worldwide conflict and the front lines are in Iraq. We are involved in a conflict our military was not prepared to fight in 2003. We are involved in a modern-day counterinsurgent war – a netwar. General Petraeus knows the seriousness of this assault on the free world and he knows how to win against these 21st Century insurgents. Before taking command of the Multi-National Force, he was the Commanding General of the 101st Airborne Division; the commander of the Multi-National Security Transition command where he helped build the new Iraqi Army; and most recently the commanding general at the U.S. Army Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth, where he oversaw the revamping of the Counterinsurgency Field Manual FM3-24.

Last Thursday, I had the privilege of speaking with him on the telephone. We started by talking about the Iraqi people. The General spent several minutes talking of the sheer horror Iraqis have suffered most of their lives. They have lived through the Iran-Iraq war, Desert Storm, a decade of sanctions and the Invasion of 2003. Then, instead of freedom, they have suffered through the chaos of the last several years.

He said, that they have endured “serious, brutal, horrific, barbaric terrorism carried out by Al-Qaeda” only to be followed by senseless sectarian violence. The general went on to say that the, “various sectarian militia, shia militia, got way out of control. [They] hijacked governmental ministries and certain security force elements…particular[ly] in the wake of the violence following the Askari Mosque bombing in late Feb of 2006.” The bombing stoked sectarian violence on both sides. General Petraeus voiced empathy for the people. He said, “They have endured a lot. They are a resilient people; it’s a nation of survivors. It’s a nation of people that in many respects have endured enormous oppression.” The combination of oppression and sectarian violence has taken a toll on the Iraqi society.

Petraeus continued. “With a lot of those that had an option overseas leaving, Iraq has suffered a brain drain of varying proportions. A lot of the Technocrats just couldn’t hang in there.” With the people who administered Iraq on a day-to-day basis no longer sitting behind the desks in government, “You have people governing who, by in large, have had little experience in running large organizations [or] strategic level institutions.”

“There are just an awful lot of challenges.” Petraeus said...
Much more at the link...