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Old 07-15-2007   #21
SWJED
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Default Bush Leans On Petraeus as War Dissent Deepens

15 July Washington Post - Bush Leans On Petraeus as War Dissent Deepens by Tom Ricks.

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Almost every time President Bush has defended his new strategy in Iraq this year, he has invoked the name of the top commander, Army Gen. David H. Petraeus.

Speaking in Cleveland on Tuesday, Bush called Petraeus his "main man" -- a "smart, capable man who gives me his candid advice." And on Thursday, as the president sought to stave off a revolt among congressional Republicans, he said he wanted "to wait to see what David has to say. I trust David Petraeus, his judgment."

With opposition to Bush's Iraq strategy escalating on Capitol Hill, the president has sought, at least rhetorically, to transfer some of the burden of an unpopular war to his top general in Baghdad, wielding Petraeus as a shield against a growing number of congressional doubters. In speeches and meetings, the president has implored his critics to wait until September, when Petraeus is scheduled to deliver a much-anticipated assessment of the U.S. mission in Iraq...
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Old 07-15-2007   #22
Merv Benson
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Default Standing logic on its head

Ricks has uncovered an interesting phenomena. People who have already declared that Gen. Petraeus has failed are claiming that the guy who is trying to give him a chance to succeed is setting him up as the fall guy. This appears to be Washington politics at its worst. If you read what the General is saying about time being the things he needs most and you see that Bush may be the only one in government fighting to give him that time it is cynical to suggest he is doing it to give him time to fail rather than succeed.
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Old 07-15-2007   #23
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Ricks has uncovered an interesting phenomena. People who have already declared that Gen. Petraeus has failed are claiming that the guy who is trying to give him a chance to succeed is setting him up as the fall guy. This appears to be Washington politics at its worst. If you read what the General is saying about time being the things he needs most and you see that Bush may be the only one in government fighting to give him that time it is cynical to suggest he is doing it to give him time to fail rather than succeed.
I suspect Tom didn't uncover this phenomenon, but is promoting it. Plus, I didn't read it as saying that Bush is setting Petreaus up to fail, but would be willing to pin failure on him should it occur. I sat next to Feith while he gave a talk at AEI a few years ago where he was already floating the idea that "mistakes were made, but it was the military that made them, not we civilian policymakers." I am very, very concerned for the impact it will have on civil-military relations if the administration (or its allies in the punditocracy) pursue this line.

But here's my problem with the whole thing: we are still seeing the effort as a military one, and I'm absolutely convinced that the military effort is of secondary importance. I think Crocker, not Petreaus, should be the lead guy at this point.
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Old 07-15-2007   #24
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As I have stated elsewhere I've seen nothing from DOS that suggests that they are better prepared to be the lead. There are plenty of Generals who are good diplomats but how many Diplomats are good Generals? Yes, if this conflict is to be won it will be done through civil as well as military action but, by and large, much of that civil action will be done through, with and by the military.

SFC W
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Old 07-15-2007   #25
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As I have stated elsewhere I've seen nothing from DOS that suggests that they are better prepared to be the lead. There are plenty of Generals who are good diplomats but how many Diplomats are good Generals? Yes, if this conflict is to be won it will be done through civil as well as military action but, by and large, much of that civil action will be done through, with and by the military.

SFC W
Since counterinsurgency is won politically and psychologically, if we don't have civilians who can lead a counterinsurgency effort, we'd be better off not doing it rather than miliarizing it. If all you have is a hammer, all the world may LOOK like a nail, but it isn't. How much time to you think Petreaus is spending working with Maliki to try and deal with corruption, a political solution that will placate at least some of the Sunnis without distorting the democratic process, etc?
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Old 07-15-2007   #26
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Since counterinsurgency is won politically and psychologically, if we don't have civilians who can lead a counterinsurgency effort, we'd be better off not doing it rather than miliarizing it. If all you have is a hammer, all the world may LOOK like a nail, but it isn't. How much time to you think Petreaus is spending working with Maliki to try and deal with corruption, a political solution that will placate at least some of the Sunnis without distorting the democratic process, etc?
Couldn't agree more. Counterinsurgency is not our forte and for all the successes in our past, most were fraught with missteps and the wrong person at the wrong time. Wayne (interesting corollary, that), Miles, Crook and Funston were not the first to attempt what they pretty well accomplished. The acquired patience of the populace and the slowness of news travel in those days is gone, thus our ability to engage in a protracted campaign of any sort is not good. Strategic thinking ought to focus on that because it is important.

With respect to Ricks, I suspect you're correct. I also think he's wrong. I think Bush probably established some rapport with Petraeus (though the reverse may not be true) and thus tends to cite him as one he knows and is inclined to trust. I also suspect he and Crocker would draw sparks at fifty paces...

Obviously the 'blame it on the military' mantra will be politically popular (and totally party or personality immaterial). It is virtually a given. Party dependent, the MSM will likely join in. If the Army is smart, they'll pre-empt that by honestly admitting their mistakes and sooner rather than later. Far sooner...

We all know the reluctance of the institution to tolerate criticism and its reflexive ability to try to cover things up (almost all of which fail miserably) but the Army needs to do some real quick navel gazing and own up to a lot of dumb mistakes.

We are an attack minded nation and Army, we don't do defense all that well. I think there's a message in that...
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Old 07-15-2007   #27
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This administration has gone out of their way to say that were listening to/relying on their military commanders since way before Petraus to the top job over there (whether the actually do is another story). To me it has been something of a cop out, sooner or later you have to realize where the buck really stops regardless of how much it has been past. The military has made plenty of mistakes with this but there is still only one commander in chief.
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Old 07-15-2007   #28
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This administration has gone out of their way to say that were listening to/relying on their military commanders since way before Petraus to the top job over there (whether the actually do is another story). To me it has been something of a cop out, sooner or later you have to realize where the buck really stops regardless of how much it has been past. The military has made plenty of mistakes with this but there is still only one commander in chief.
with only a rare exception in recent years like Eisenhower have little choice but to listen to their Commanders. Most have no military experience at all and if they have a little it may not be relevant to the task at hand. For instance, Bush and Rumsfeld have a teeny bit but they were Aviators with little knowledge of or appreciation for ground warfare. The man rersponsilbe to advise them militarily was the CJCS -- also an Aviator. They were three aviation centric folks and it has shown.

As long as we insist on the PC rotation of the CJCS and Goldwater-Nichols is not modified the problem will continue.

So this administration had no choice but to listen to the Commanders on the ground because the CJCS had no experience to speak to.

Thus, while your statement that there is only one Commander in Chief is sort of correct -- the Commander in Chief of CentCom, downgraded to Commander by Rumsfeld, was the de facto and de jure CinC concerned with the campaign -- may be a politically satisfying approach for you, it will also obscure the flaws that DoD perpetrated or allowed and if we are not to have any repetitions of such errors, those things need to be discussed.

The question I think is not who was overall responsible, that is obvious. The question is was the advice given by the Commanders on the ground correct so that proper policies could be formulated. My perception is that it was not and while I understand why this was so, I think it needs fixing -- and electing a new Commander in Chief or nailing the hide of this one to the wall will not fix the problem.

The domestic political aspects are for another forum, I think.
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Old 07-15-2007   #29
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While there is nothing wrong with a president listening to his generals it does not relieve him of his responsibilities. Yes the president is lacking in military experience but to be fair who has experience in commanding a counter-insurance in Iraq, or anything comparable? If the president is not getting the kind of advice he needs from the generals in command it his responsibility to educate himself enough on the subject or at least find better generals.

Lincoln’s military experience was limited to say the least but he managed to take charge and find generals that could do what he thought needed to be done. Think of how different things might have turned out if he had just listened to thoughts first generals (you know the generals he had not the generals he wanted)?

Goldwater-Nichols may have its problems but ever president has had to deal with the legal constrains and flaws of their time.
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Old 07-15-2007   #30
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Originally Posted by Stu-6 View Post
While there is nothing wrong with a president listening to his generals it does not relieve him of his responsibilities. Yes the president is lacking in military experience but to be fair who has experience in commanding a counter-insurance in Iraq, or anything comparable? If the president is not getting the kind of advice he needs from the generals in command it his responsibility to educate himself enough on the subject or at least find better generals.

Lincoln’s military experience was limited to say the least but he managed to take charge and find generals that could do what he thought needed to be done. Think of how different things might have turned out if he had just listened to thoughts first generals (you know the generals he had not the generals he wanted)?

Goldwater-Nichols may have its problems but ever president has had to deal with the legal constrains and flaws of their time.
I'm with you. There is "listening" and there is "listening." I think that in the case of Iraq, the administration "listened" to its military commanders, but only in a certain way. It was perfectly clear that the administration was not willing to listen to military advice that in any way challenged the idea that the administration's strategic objectives were unrealistic, or that the costs of attaining them would be significant. Rumsfeld populated the senior leadership with flag officers who would not challenge strategic assumptions.

I do believe Iraq will be seem as a monumental blunder. The administration's die hard apologists will blame the military but I'm convinced that the consensus position will be that we acted with flawed strategic assumptions that no military leader could have turned into success.
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Old 07-15-2007   #31
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Default Great ideas. You should try for the job. Of course,

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Originally Posted by Stu-6 View Post
While there is nothing wrong with a president listening to his generals it does not relieve him of his responsibilities. Yes the president is lacking in military experience but to be fair who has experience in commanding a counter-insurance in Iraq, or anything comparable? If the president is not getting the kind of advice he needs from the generals in command it his responsibility to educate himself enough on the subject or at least find better generals.

Lincoln’s military experience was limited to say the least but he managed to take charge and find generals that could do what he thought needed to be done. Think of how different things might have turned out if he had just listened to thoughts first generals (you know the generals he had not the generals he wanted)?

Goldwater-Nichols may have its problems but ever president has had to deal with the legal constrains and flaws of their time.
When you get it you may find out it's not as easy as it looks.

Either to be the Commander in Chief or, given that job, to put the Generals you want where you want them -- Congress has statutorily slammed the door on that option under most circumstances. You might also look at how long it took Lincoln to get the right General in the right place without the laws to preclude him moving them on a whim.

Yes, of course Politicians have to do that. Linclon's solution was to ignore those things that got in his way; far harder to do that nowadays. That sort of begs the fact that Goldwater Nichols has flaws which was my point.

I agree that counter insurance is indeed a a very difficult problem.

Presidents come and go, so do Congresses. The Armed Forces were here before any of the current politicians or you or I were born; even those in Congress that have been there far too long. They'll be here long after we're all gone. You can pursue a political fix to the Prez and Congress and talk about it on a poltical blog somewhere, plenty of them out there.

The issue to me is fixing the flaws in the processes, not who did what to who.
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Old 07-16-2007   #32
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When you get it you may find out it's not as easy as it looks.
.
Just to be fair I never said it was easy. Little about that job is easy but if it is too hard for him I am sure we can find another canidate for the job.
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Old 07-16-2007   #33
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Default Find Sb To Blame

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... I didn't read it as saying that Bush is setting Petreaus up to fail, but would be willing to pin failure on him should it occur.
There is just ONE man ("you know who") responsible for the IRAQ adventure. It is very cheap to try to blame sb else now for the -most probably bad- outcome of it, especially sb who was not envolved in the STRATEGIC decision to go to war. The "you know who" tries to reduce the problem into an OPERATIONAL one, while in fact it is a STRATEGIC one in the first place.

By the way, i like the term "counter-insurance". Is there already a doctrine out for that?

BRUZ
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Old 07-16-2007   #34
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Just to be fair I never said it was easy. Little about that job is easy but if it is too hard for him I am sure we can find another canidate for the job.
Have you not seen the billboards in DC: "The Presidency--So Easy a Caveman Can Do It"?
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Old 07-16-2007   #35
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Originally Posted by SWJED View Post
15 July Washington Post - Bush Leans On Petraeus as War Dissent Deepens by Tom Ricks.
When the General comes to the Hill in September, whats the Congress going to do if he says "send me more troops"?

Erick was right when he said we needed 500,000 troops and I don't think he was thinking about the PMC'S and all there contractors.
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Old 07-19-2007   #36
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Default General Petraeus interviewed by Hugh Hewitt

http://hughhewitt.townhall.com/Trans...4-9e270a9ef0f2

Some interesting stuff here, but it does make me a bit worried to see General Petraeus interviewed by a completely partisan hack like Hugh Hewitt.
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Old 07-28-2007   #37
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Default Iraqi leader tells Bush: Get Gen Petraeus out

Ok, here is where I say ... excuse me? Seems the fight is over MNF arming Sunni militias ... Krauthammer's 20% doctirine at play?

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Iraqi leader tells Bush: Get Gen Petraeus out
By Damien McElroy, Foreign Affairs Correspondent
Last Updated: 2:44am BST 28/07/2007

Stormy relationship: Nouri al-Maliki and Gen David Petraeus


Relations between the top United States general in Iraq and Nouri al-Maliki, the country's prime minister, are so bad that the Iraqi leader made a direct appeal for his removal to President George W Bush.

Although the call was rejected, aides to both men admit that Mr Maliki and Gen David Petraeus engage in frequent stand-up shouting matches, differing particularly over the US general's moves to arm Sunni tribesmen to fight al-Qa'eda.

One Iraqi source said Mr Maliki used a video conference with Mr Bush to call for the general's signature strategy to be scrapped. "He told Bush that if Petraeus continues, he would arm Shia militias," said the official. "Bush told Maliki to calm down."

At another meeting with Gen Petraeus, Mr Maliki said: "I can't deal with you any more. I will ask for someone else to replace you."

advertisementGen Petraeus admitted that the relationship was stormy, saying: "We have not pulled punches with each other."

President Bush's support for Mr Maliki is deeply controversial within the US government because of the Iraqi's ties to Shia militias responsible for some of the worst sectarian violence.

The New York Times claimed yesterday that Saudi Arabia was refusing to work with Mr Maliki and has presented "evidence" that he was an Iranian intelligence agent to US officials. "Bush administration officials are voicing increasing anger at what they say has been Saudi Arabia's counterproductive role in the war," it reported.

Alongside the firm support of Mr Bush, Mr Maliki also enjoys the backing of Ryan Crocker, the US ambassador and his predecessor, Zalmay Khalilzad, now America's representative at the United Nations.

Mr Khalilzad took a swipe at Saudi Arabia in an editorial published earlier this month that was widely seen as an appeal for a larger UN role in stabilising Iraq.

Mr Crocker, who attends Mr Maliki's stormy weekly meetings with Gen Petraeus, said the Iraqi leader was a strong partner of America.

"There is no leader in the world that is under more pressure than Nouri al-Maliki, without question," he said. "Sometimes he reflects that frustration. I don't blame him. I probably would too."
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Old 07-28-2007   #38
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Default Telegraph: SWJ Best Fiction Award Winner of the Week

Telegraph: SWJ Best Fiction Award Winner of the Week

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Damien McElroy, foreign affairs correspondent for the U.K.’s Telegraph, “headlines” today: Iraqi leader tells Bush: Get Gen Petraeus out...

One problem - the events as reported in the Telegraph never happened. This from COL Steve Boylan, MNF-I CG Public Affairs Officer, in an e-mail he sent earlier today to McElroy...
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Old 07-29-2007   #39
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Default Not So Fast ...

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Well if this is all fiction then the Associated Press's sources are piling on.

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Heat Rises Between Iraq PM and Petraeus

STEVEN R. HURST and QASSIM ABDUL-ZAHRA | July 28, 2007 02:05 PM EST

BAGHDAD — A key aide says Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's relations with Gen. David Petraeus are so poor the Iraqi leader may ask Washington to withdraw the overall U.S. commander from his Baghdad post.

Iraq's foreign minister calls the relationship "difficult." Petraeus, who says their ties are "very good," acknowledges expressing his "full range of emotions" at times with al-Maliki. U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker, who meets with both at least weekly, concedes "sometimes there are sporty exchanges."

It seems less a clash of personality than of policy. The Shiite Muslim prime minister has reacted most sharply to the American general's tactic of enlisting Sunni militants, presumably including past killers of Iraqi Shiites, as allies in the fight against al-Qaida here.

An associate said al-Maliki once, in discussion with President Bush, even threatened to counter this by arming Shiite militias.

History shows that the strain of war often turns allies into uneasy partners. The reality of how these allies get along may lie somewhere between the worst and best reports about the relationship, one central to the future of Iraq and perhaps to the larger Middle East.
We shouldn't be so quick to judge everything the press reports as wrong. They use sources ... and the PAO demanding to be a counter-source is not really journalism, but dictation. Allowing a chance to spin a story will make war supporters feel good but doesn't explain what is happening.

Every Supreme Commander in war has political problems with the host nationals ... Eisenhower v. DeGaulle for example. I am surprised this hasn't broken out into open media before with other commanders.

However, the blow-back that could occur from the PAO's statements and the Rightwing bloggers calling these reports lies when high level Iraqi officials are going on the record and confirming them is that the Iraqis are now going to get defensive at being called liars.

We may regret it if we cross the Respect-Honor line ... as it stands this is going to get VERY big and help no one except for the Insurgents, who are laughing at us all.

We all want Petraeus to execute his strategy but we should be very concerned about the impact of stoking a "he said-they said" personal integrity war ... the leaks or statements that may come out may not be in the best interest of Iraq or our warfighters.
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Old 07-29-2007   #40
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Default ###-for-Tat...

... is not a "good thing", I agree. There are times however when a story with "wings" that is indeed fabricated needs to be called-out. I believe now is one of those times. Moreover, I'd hardly categorize the SWJ as a "right-wing" blog. The mere fact you are a blogger there speaks volumes and we don't much toe any "party-line" - kind of call them as we see them.

Not much to fear though - the IO damage was done as soon as the Telegraph's story hit the 'Net. Google it (news and blog searches) - the "left-wing" blogs are in hog-heaven.

Yep, the AP is "piling on"...

On edit: "Calling them like we see them" by definition for the SWJ means each individual blogger and as many here well know, the SWJ regular and guest bloggers are quite a diverse crowd. As for the SWC, you must admit that different points of view, if presented in a professional manner as well as well sourced or based on personal experience, is not only tolerated - but welcomed.

Last edited by SWJED; 07-29-2007 at 01:54 PM.
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