Give the general a chance


en. David H. Petraeus had not even had the chance to present his case to Congress before some otherwise thoughtful folks were moving to undermine his ability to implement his plan for stabilizing Iraq — a thing he’s shown in the past he know how to do.

Nevertheless, he went on to present it, to the Senate Armed Services Committee, today.

I truly believe it would have been worth waiting to hear him before judging his chances.

On past occasions, the trio of John McCain, Lindsey Graham and John Warner has been a bulwark of sanity, courage, and principle in the U.S. Senate. They stood together to move the Bush administration on the treatment of enemy prisoners, for instance.

But now they’re parting ways on Iraq, and I see it the way Sen. Graham does:

    Contact: Wes Hickman or Kevin Bishop
    January 22, 2007
    (202) 224-5972 / (864) 250-1417

    Graham Statement on the
    Iraq Resolution
    WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today made the following statement on the Warner-Collins-Nelson Iraq resolution.
    “Unfortunately this new Iraq resolution, no matter how well-intentioned, has the same effect as the Biden resolution. It declares General Petraeus’s new strategy a failure before it has a chance to be implemented.
    “Any resolution that could be construed by American forces that Congress has lost faith in their ability to be successful in Iraq should be rejected because it rings of defeatism at a time when we should be focused on Victory.
    “Success or failure in Iraq will spread throughout the region creating momentum for moderation or extremism. Petraeus’s new strategy is our best hope for success, acknowledges past mistakes, sets benchmarks for Iraqi leaders, and provides needed reinforcements in all areas: militarily, politically, and economically.
    “I urge my colleagues not to try to micromanage the war, but instead listen to General Petraeus and fully resource his proposal.  We must stand behind him and the brave men and women who will execute this new strategy, as the successful outcome in Iraq is essential to winning the War on Terror."

Of course, one of the virtues of independent, thinking, honest people is that they are free to disagree, rather than being mindlessly bound to ideology or party.

But I’m sorry to see Sen. Warner go the way of the crowd on this one. Men such as Sen. Graham and especially Gen. Petraeus need support on this. The stakes are too high to play resolution games that will weaken the general’s position before he and his new troops even get their boots on the ground.


13 thoughts on “Give the general a chance

  1. Mary Rosh

    This is just sad. Do you not understand why you only have about 6 readers? Does it not occur to you that posts consisting solely of press releases and links to yourself are not going to appeal to persons seeking enlightenment and insight?
    I have to comment on a couple of points:
    “They stood together to move the Bush administration on the treatment of enemy prisoners, for instance.”
    No they didn’t. The Supreme Court failed to be swayed by the Bush administration’s point of view, even when Huckleberry Graham submitted a perjured brief in its support. So in order to try to keep Bush from having to follow the law, Huckleberry et al. passed a law giving Bush the right to determine what acceptable treatment of prisoners amounted to”
    I also have to note Huckleberry Graham’s cowardly use of our soldiers as shields to protect his point of view from criticism. Unlike Graham, I do not believe that our soldiers are such sensitive plants that they will be demoralized by the normal workings of a democratic government.
    And this:
    “Of course, one of the virtues of independent, thinking, honest people is that they are free to disagree, rather than being mindlessly bound to ideology or party.
    But I’m sorry to see Sen. Warner go the way of the crowd on this one.”
    is just incoherent. Graham, like Warthen, IS bound to ideology and to party. That’s why they support the war – that, and the fact that neither of them undertakes any sacrifice in its support. Why do you not give Warner, Collins, and Nelson credit for forming their own judgment and following their own consciences? Especially Warner and Collins, who, unlike you and Huckleberry Graham, ARE declining to be bound by partisanship and ideology.
    Collins, Warner, and Nelson are not “following the crowd”. They have moved in the direction that “the crowd” has moved, for the same reasons that “the crowd” has moved. Collins, Warner, Nelson, and “the crowd” have all formed the same conclusion that so many Americans formed years ago, when no one would listen to us – that the Iraq war is bad for America and the best thing we can do is to get out of it in the least bad way possible.
    Do you really not understand that it is possible for people to disagree with you for conscientious reasons? Do you really not understand that REPUBLICAN SENATORS did not forsake support for the war you advocate because they are slaves to party? That REPUBLICAN SENATORS are not slaves to the Democratic Party, but instead joined with the Democratic Party on this issue because they judge the Democratic Party to have the better arguments?
    Do you really not understand that the reason such an overwhelming proportion of the American public disagrees with you on this issue is not that they are ignorant of the facts, and is not that they haven’t thought about the issue? Do you really not understand that a majority of the American public used to hold the same viewpoint as you, but huge numbers, guided by sober reflection, have forsaken their former viewpoint?
    Do you not realize that the reason the American public disagrees with you is NOT that they are weak, lazy, and defeatist?
    Mightn’t the American people disagree with you because they’re right and you’re wrong?
    WHY have the American people formed a judgment so widely disparate from yours?
    Are they less brave than you?
    How could they be?
    Are they less intelligent than you?
    How could they be?
    Are they less informed than you?
    How could they be?
    Are they less willing to bear the burden of the Iraq war than you?
    How could they be?
    If the American people are intelligent, informed, brave, and self-sacrificing, WHY do they disagree with you? WHY do they disagree with Huckleberry Graham?

  2. Spencer Gantt

    Good grief! Thank God people have to identify themselves (in some fashion) so you don’t have to read their garbage. Remember, always scroll down to “Posted by:” before reading. Here, too.

  3. Agricola

    Ms. Rsoh proves the point that emotion rules in the vacuum created by the failure to make a clear case for the war. Is the war necessary and just? Yes? Has the Administration made the case to the American people? No. And so we have to read this kind of stuff. Ad hominem attacks are the hallmark of weak arguments.

  4. bud

    Jim Webb cleaned the president’s clock last night. It’s nice to see an intelligent, thoughful response to a state of the union address for a change.
    The plan proposed by the president is not the Petraeus plan. Petraeus wrote the book on counter-terrorism in which he proposed 120,000 troops minimum in order to quell the violence in Baghdad. The president’s proposal only provides 85,000. And of course the shortfall in troops is even more pronounced in other parts of Iraq.
    Sorry Brad, the surge idea is not something hammered out by an intelligent career military man but rather a warmed over version of stay the course. Don’t insult your readers by suggesting otherwise.

  5. Judy

    Graham, McCain, and Warner have stood together in the past. However, in the recent split I beleive it is Mr. Warner who is contradicotry and incoherent. His press release ( regarding his resolution lays out the correct policy goals, but refuses to add troops in order to acchieve those goals. The status quo will not work.
    I do not like adding more troops at this time; it should have been done 3 years ago. However, I believe it is the President who has come to the game late because Graham and McCain have een asking for this for about 3 years. It was the President that was so wedded to ideology that he couldn’t see past it in order to listen to those who wanted to do this right, namely Graham and McCain.
    I also agree that the only way to achieve the policy goals is to “surge” troops because the status quo will not do it and pulling out will not do it.
    If the President were to suggest we send 120,000 troops where would we find them? Even to acchieve the modest surge we are having to extend tours of duty and send the guard and reserve.

  6. Brad Warthen

    bud, I don’t insult my readers. I continue to believe that y’all are smart enough to see the difference between “stay the course” and “fire the SecDef and any generals who were his toadies, and implement a plan from a general who has shown, even to skeptics such as the guy who wrote Fiasco, that he actually knows how to succeed in Iraq.”
    I figure if I point out the facts often enough, y’all will see them. To do otherwise, to give up, would be to insult you.
    Now, regarding Webb and cleaning clocks: Let’s start that clock running now. The best thing he said was that the president has talked about energy independence seven times now, but this is the first time he’s said it to a Democratic Congress. I’m very glad he said that, because it underlines the fact that NOBODY gets away with just lip service from now on. It’s put up or shut up time, and the nation desperately needs for “put up” to win out.
    Neither the president nor the Democrats have any excuse now to do anything other than move full-speed toward energy independence, in profound ways that cast aside ingrained habits and actually as for a little sacrifice and investment on the part of the American people. I’m ready for it; I’ve BEEN ready. Are the politicians finally ready, too?
    That newly-cleaned clock is running…

  7. bud

    Brad, I think we will see some significant movement on the energy front. Most of the Bush proposals sound like what many Democrats have been saying for years. The increased CAFE standards, research into alternative fuels, etc. are all ideas whose time has finally arrived. If a sound energy policy with many of the president’s proposals is not implemented within 6 months you can call me a monkey’s uncle.

  8. bud

    As for Iraq. The right has portrayed this as the moral equivalent of WW II. The left views it as another Vietnam. Perhaps the best analogy would be Korea. The Korean conflict started with a bang (shock and awe) then settled into a stalemate for over 2 years. The difference is the current president just won’t acknowledge the obvious, the Iraq war is, and always will be, a bloody stalemate.
    By contrast, Eisenhower acknowledged the situation in Korea was unwinable and sought a diplomatic solution. Thanks to Ike’s wisdom tens of thousands of lives were spared. Yes, we have N. Korea to deal with, but we’ve done so, peacefully, for over half a century.

  9. Ready to Hurl

    Brad, you really ought to pay closer attention.
    Dear Leader fired all the generals who disagreed with the surge strategy– you know the strategy devised by a neo-con military historian who specializes in Napoleon.
    Rummy was the sacrificial lamb to convince the yahoos that Bush is actually changing the failed strategy.
    Poor Petraeus. As Sen. Clinton said, he wrote the anti-insurgent handbook but this tactic isn’t in the book. Petraeus reminds me of the British officer who, knowing the cause is hopeless, smartly salutes and leads the charge of the Light Brigade.
    Brad and Huckleberry Graham are saying, “Now if we can just change course and miss the iceberg…” after the Titanic has rammed the berg.

  10. Mary Rosh

    Bud, look how Warthen continues to insult the readers even as he denies insulting them. He casts the issue in terms of whether or not his readers are “smart enough” to agree with his persepective. He seems to have no concept that an intelligent examination of the issues could lead someone to a viewpoint different from his own.
    It’s just bizarre. John Warner disagrees with him, Jim Webb disagrees with him, Walter Jones disagrees with him, Atrios disagrees with him, Digby disagrees with him, you disagree with him, I disagree with him. He has no notion that any of us could have been led to our conclusion by a thoughtful examination of the facts and that our conclusions might be right and his wrong.
    He seems to have this exalted concept that the editorial board of one of the worst newspapers that ever existed in the history of mankind (and, for all I know, one of the worst newspapers produced by any sentient race anywhere in the universe since the beginning of time) is some sort of crucible from which only truth emerges. He thinks endlessly about these issues, it seems, and dicusses them with his (none-too-brilliant) colleagues, and it appears that he believes this is some sort of alchemical process that produces infallible insights.
    Does he not understand that this thinking and talking is something that everyone does? That other people are concerned with these issues and think about them gravely and soberly? That a great majority of these people have reached a conclusion different from his, and that it is not necessarily a failure of intelligence or understanding that has led them to their conclusions?

  11. bud

    This is the standard bait and switch approach from the neo-cons. Bush has adopted this horrible “surge” plan based on some half-backed conservative think tank idea. They then use as a front-man a decorated military man to push the idea (remember Colin Powell). But the plan is not Petraeus. Petraeus ideas are spelled out in great detail in his counter-terrorism manual and it’s not the same as the Bush plan. In the end Petraeus will serve as the fall guy for yet another failed neo-con disaster. And if we allow it the Bush team will come up with yet another plan and another fall-guy.

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