Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Petraeus and Odierno hearings, if handled right, offer a great chance to expose the Bush regime's military blundering and criminality


CENTCOM's "area of responsibility"--well, it does include Iraq.

On our side of the political spectrum there has been a fair amount of shock and horror at the latest round of military-political appointments from Chimpy the War Prez (check out, for example, Spencer Ackerman's take in the Washington Independent):

* The promotion of Gen. David Petraeus to take over command of CENTCOM, the U.S. Central Command (vacant since March 11, when Adm. William Fallon relinquished the post in the wake of the Esquire article in which he sort of suggested that his civilian bosses are, you know, just maybe kind of nuts), even though he has a strong vested interest in justifying his own dubious performance in Iraq and has no demonstrated knowledge of or interest in the rest of his proposed new jurisdiction, which includes such critical hot spots as Afghanistan, with the Taliban apparently gaining strength in the neglected ongoing war, and the wilds of Pakistan, home to apparently growing numbers of real Islamic terrorists (it's apparently also highly unusual to promote a theater commander to the position overseeing his former command, out of concern for lack of objectivity)

* The elevation of Petraeus's current deputy, Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno, to replace him as commanding general of the "multi-national force" in Iraq, despite widespread feeling that Odierno's military skills are mostly political

Of course, from the realpolitik standpoint these appointments seem so obvious as to be inevitable, given a regime that listens only to military men it trusts--and trusts only military men who say exactly what it wants to hear. Such stoogelike devotion is apparently becoming harder to find in the upper echelons of the U.S. military, however. Still, there's an important opportunity here, or rather two opportunities, in that both positions require Senate confirmation.

Let me stress the obvious at the outset: Neither Petraeus nor Odierno is going to be denied confirmation. However, if their confirmation hearings are planned and executed with real intelligence, they can provide a glorious forum for brutally exposing a whole range of insanities and criminalities in the Bush regime's record of unbroken warmongering--and ideally forcing at least some of the traditional media to transmit some painful exposure of crucial issues like (as our friend Brandon Friedman of VoteVets has put it) "a presidential administration that has overly politicized the highest ranks of the military."

But again, those hearings have to be planned and coordinated with genuine brilliance, to make sure that the right questions are asked in the right way--and re-asked and, perhaps somewhat reformulated, re-asked--and followed up on, and that the significance of the answers, including the inevitable evasions and outright lies, be made clear. We know that the traditional media don't give a damn about the truth, and in matters of "national security" come to the table pre-rolled-over.

Both these sets of hearings offer powerful opportunities to set about setting the public record straight.

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At 12:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the tyrannical Rumsfeld Pentagon, then-MG Petraeus was a division commander practicing counter-insurgency tactics in Mosul when the official party line was that we were not facing an insurgency. In fact, the general's strategic approach to his area of responsibility early in the war made him extremely unpopular in the 5-sided palace. Yet, most analysis, including a critical look at the entire war effort by Bob Woodward, concedes that the early years in Mosul were a model for how Iraq could have been won.
It was not until Rumsfeld was effectively toppled by voters in the fall of 2006 that Gen. Petraeus and his methods got a second, albeit much delayed, consideration from the civilian leadership desperate for a new approach. Fast forward 15 months and we are seeing encouraging signs of progress in all of Iraq. If Petraeus were the yes-man and Bush stooge you claim him to be he would not have gone against the grain in Mosul, especially considering Rumsfeld's notorious handling of dissent.


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