OxBlog

Saturday, September 15, 2007

# Posted 4:58 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

PETRAEUS' DISCREDITED OPTIMISM? I've heard a good amount of talk among the general's critics about an op-ed he wrote for the WaPo on Sept. 24, 2004, during a fiercely competitive race for the White House. For Jon Stewart and others, the op-ed provides considerable evidence that Petraeus is willing to serve as a White House pawn, even to the point of selling naive optimism about Iraq. I disagree.

Certainly, the op-ed has its weaknesses. For example, there isn't a single instance where Petraeus identifies the potential for sectarian forces to take control of the new Iraqi police or military forces. Yet in the fall of 2004, the sectarian dynamic in Iraq was very different from what it has become since the bombing of the Samarra mosque in Feb. 2006. In 2004, Iraqi Shi'ties were still displaying a remarkable degree of constraint in light of Al Qaeda's vicious provocations. Atrocities had certainly been committed by Shi'ites at that point, but death squad and militia activity were quite limited compared to today. Moreover, elections were still to come, so the government was not controlled by Shi'ites.

One sentence in the Petraeus op-ed that might strike many readers as naive is his assertion that:
Iraqi leaders are stepping forward, leading their country and their security forces courageously in the face of an enemy that has shown a willingness to do anything to disrupt the establishment of the new Iraq.
In light of the ethnic partisanship and apparent incompetence of the Maliki government, that statement seems rather improbable in hindsight. Yet Iraqis have volunteered for police and military service in considerable numbers, in spite of the constant danger. Whereas the first years of the occupation were troubled by stories of Iraqi units that broke and ran in the face of the insurgency, the problem now is that too many units stay and fight for sectarian advantage.

Much of the Petraeus op-ed is about details and statistics, which isn't surprising given Petraeus' disposition. He wrote:
The future undoubtedly will be full of difficulties, especially in places such as Fallujah. We must expect setbacks and recognize that not every soldier or policeman we help train will be equal to the challenges ahead.

Nonetheless, there are reasons for optimism. Today approximately 164,000 Iraqi police and soldiers (of which about 100,000 are trained and equipped) and an additional 74,000 facility protection forces are performing a wide variety of security missions. Equipment is being delivered. Training is on track and increasing in capacity. Infrastructure is being repaired. Command and control structures and institutions are being reestablished.

Most important, Iraqi security forces are in the fight -- so much so that they are suffering substantial casualties as they take on more and more of the burdens to achieve security in their country. Since Jan. 1 more than 700 Iraqi security force members have been killed, and hundreds of Iraqis seeking to volunteer for the police and military have been killed as well.
According to page 35 of the latest Iraq Index from Brookings, there are now 194,200 Iraqi police and 165,500 National Guard and military personnel, for a total of 359,700. I'm guessing that facilities protection forces are included in that number, since they are not listed separately.

There is also no question that Iraqis are willing to fight and die on the battlefield. According to the Brookings Index, 7,742 Iraqi security force (ISF) personnel have been killed in action. One might say that that is an indicator of the insurgents' success not ours. Yet for the same reason that we don't consider insurgent fatalities to be an indicator of our success, I don't think that ISF casualties provide a real indication of who's winning. The real issue is how well the ISF fight and whether they pursue and achieve the right objectives. (As a result of sectarian politics, they often don't.)

Also interesting is that only 76 ISF personnel were killed in August, with a similar number projected for September. Those would be the two lowest totals on record since January 2005, when monthly numbers became available. Moreover, only once before (in Jan. 2007) has the total checked in at under 100 KIAs.

All in all, I would say that Petraeus' op-ed wasn't bad. It was nothing like Cheney's infamous "last throes" remark or various other predictions of imminent victory. It provided a considerable amount of relevant information, but may have been slightly more optimistic than seems justified in hindsight. If the general's critics want more attention paid to the op-ed, that's fine, since it won't hurt him.

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(9) opinions -- Add your opinion

Comments:
Only Israel benefits from these endless Middle East wars. Iraq is the beginning. As we commit war-crimes in Baghdad, the US gov't commits treason at home by opening mail, eliminating habeas corpus, using the judiciary to steal private lands, banning books like "America Deceived" from Amazon and Wikipedia, conducting warrantless wiretaps and engaging in illegal wars on behalf of AIPAC's 'money-men'. Soon, another US false-flag operation will occur (sinking of an Aircraft Carrier by Mossad) and the US will invade Iran.. Then we'll invade Syria, then Saudi Arabia, then Lebanon (again) then ....
Final link (before Google Books bends to gov't demands and censors the title):
America Deceived (book)
 
Victory? How dare you! As long as someone is shooting back, no matter how incompetently and no matter how ineffectually, there can be no victory. Isn't that the new, accepted standard? It's nuts, of course, but so is the politicization of this war.
As to person who made first comment, get a job, get a life, get a clue, get psychological help and for god sakes stop drinking the kool-aid.
 
Yet Iraqis have volunteered for police and military service in considerable numbers, in spite of the constant danger. Whereas the first years of the occupation were troubled by stories of Iraqi units that broke and ran in the face of the insurgency,

David, one question for you, any answers for the above statement you mad?

Why Iraqis leave their Army and police force and joined the "Insurgency" Resistance??

In regards to Iraqis, I recall many incidents, news from inside Iraq that Iraqi people demonstrated (this early dayes2004, 2005" asking to joining Iraqi army but they are pushed out one of the incident, in Dewanyiah south there was a lot of youth demonstrated asking to enlisted to Iraqi forces and army but they pushed and fired there were tens injured at that time.

So "the sectarian dynamic in Iraq” is established by Bremer selection with CPA council from that start wider more and more, till the bombing of the Samarra then "the sectarian dynamic" come working under the light.

In regards to death squads, you need to refer to some articles and news about the reality of the creation of those death squads and what mission handed to them and why that structured similar to those death squads in Latin America before?
 
Again, sorry to infiltrate this post, but...

''I respect the opinion that homosexuality is a grave sin from a Biblical perspective.''

Then, David, you also respect a lot of other, ridiculous things.

Can't you just say, instead, that you don't respect that opinion?

Not to get too technical, but essentially you're saying that: you take a stand on a moral issue, except against certain people... because what they believe is rooted biblically, and thereby to be respected.

Can you explain?
 
OK, anon. You'll get your answer, although right now isn't a good time. But if you've been reading OxBlog for a while, you know that my word is good.

In the meantime, why don't you introduce yourself? Is opposing evangelical influence on the gay rights debate a major concern for you, or were you just reacting to what you felt was an especially stupid comment on my part? Are you religous? Gay? Just curious. (Not in that kind of way. ;)
 
Great site, keep it up!

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Say what you want about the old op-ed, but the Democrats never laid a glove on Petraeus, in addition to which he was a winner from the "BetrayUs" overkill before he ever opened his mouth. We finally have a commander who brings confidence and momentum to his troops and allies, not just better tactics. All the previous generals were nonentities by comparison.
 
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