Three Thoughts on Iraq.

Via Mr Sullivan who notes a post at The Daily Bellwether:

Could that pose a problem for President Bush if Petraeus is correct and people start asking: Why were things bungled for so long? Where was the leadership in 2004, 2005, 2006? Why were we told things were going well when they obviously were not? Would the war and dying be over if the White House had recognized sooner the Pentagon and Central Command needed competent leaders?

Query: How long did it take Lincoln take to find General Grant? If “dying” was the priority was Grant the right choice? How did history look at his “bungling for so long” … or do they look at the end result?

Michael Totten, another blogger in Iraq, interviews with troops and some history of how far Anbar has come. What I don’t get is how intelligent people can read something like that and at the same time hold “but experts say” there is no measureable progress. There is no measurable progress if your preconceived notions prejudice the data which you only get via massaging data from here until it fits with political goals.

Finally via Hugh Hewitt, who writes:

There’s a local TV show that I appear on. Practically every time I’m on, the host, a good egg even though a pronounced lefty even by Boston standards, asks me how Republicans are supposed to stand by this war effort and still prevail in 2008. I always respond the same way: They aren’t. In all likelihood, 2008 will be a disaster for Republicans at the ballot box. But we, the rank and file of the Republican party, expect Republicans to risk their comfortable offices in order to see the war in Iraq through to a satisfactory conclusion and to continue the war against the forces of Jihad. Let the political chips fall where they may.

Whenever I repeat this sentiment, the host and the other two guests who are usually also liberal, look at me like I have two heads. They obviously suspect some ploy is afoot. But I mean it. And so do most other Republicans. A party that won’t see this thing through isn’t worth supporting, not in political defeat and even more so not in political victory.

If you read this, and are from the left, do you think the notion that holding to a policy and letting the chips fall were they may is a remark you wouldn’t make? Or would look askance at anyone saying this as if the speaker “has two heads.”

On Petraeus via Wiki:

Upon promotion to lieutenant colonel, Petraeus moved from the office of the Chief of Staff to Fort Campbell, Kentucky, where he commanded the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault)’s 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment from 1991-93. As battalion commander of the Iron Rakkasans, he suffered one of the more dramatic incidents in his career when, in 1991, he was accidentally shot in the chest during a live-fire exercise when a soldier tripped and his rifle discharged. He was taken to Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tennessee, where he was operated on by future Senator Bill Frist. The hospital released him early after he did fifty push ups without resting, just a few days after the accident.

I’ve read he didn’t press charges at the trainee who shot him. Who can wonder if he might not “stand up to the heat” in Washington. If they do, do they base it on notions of what they would do in his place, random general spite/hate, or some actual basis of their estimation or knowledge of General Petraeus’ character. The latter seems unlikely for any person of any sort of discernment. What choices remain, alas, unfortunately do not reflect well on the speaker.

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  1. jpe says:

    It’s not that there’s no progress, it’s that it’s not the kind of progress that augurs well for leaving. Security, by itself, is only a necessary condition; absent signs of political progress, such that we can see leaving, we’re just playing world cop.

  2. Mark says:

    Why do you expect political progress prior to security? COIN and Petraeus seem to think it’s something which comes after. That seems likely too me, especially at the local level.

  3. jpe says:

    Local level? I can see that. But at the national level we’ve seen nothing that gives much hope. It’s an ineffectual government (and structurally so, IMHO; more Italian than British in its parliamentary form) that’s all but openly rooting for sides in the sectarian strife.

    And to tone down the violence, the feds are going to have to show progress. They haven’t, and there’s no indication they will.

  4. Mark says:

    Where (historically) has national political progress preceded local? Just curious. I’m not saying it hasn’t, it’s just that my current notions of political theory inform that the local is key.