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June 15, 2007

Posted by Bill

I've been pretty sick of political wrangling for some time now, lost even more patience for it when I went to Iraq, and do not subscribe to the belief that military commanders are immune to criticism. That all said, this statement is astounding:

Sen. Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) charged that Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, who took command in Iraq four months ago, "isn't in touch with what's going on in Baghdad."

Harry Reid considers himself more "in touch with what's going on in Baghdad" than Petraeus? Beyond the mindblowing, bizarro hubris of such an assertion, this comment is made sinister or incompetent by the fact that Reid misrepresents the meaning of Petraeus's comments:

Reid seemed most provoked by an article in yesterday's edition of USA Today, which quoted the general as saying that he sees "astonishing signs of normalcy" in the Iraqi capital. "I'm talking about professional soccer leagues with real grass field stadiums, several amusement parks -- big ones, markets that are very vibrant," Petraeus told the newspaper.

Why does Reid find these comments false?

The general's comments came on the same day that the Pentagon released to Congress a quarterly report on security in Iraq. It said that the three-month-old U.S. counteroffensive in Baghdad has not curtailed overall violence in the country but has instead shifted it from inside the Iraqi capital to places around it.

"I was a little disappointed, to say the least, today reading the USA Today newspaper, where he's saying things are going fine," Reid told reporters at a Capitol Hill news conference.

A. Petraeus was talking about Baghdad proper, which has indeed earned a bit of a breather as much insurgent activity has shifted to areas immediately surrounding the capital.

B. Petraeus was "astonish[ed at] signs of normalcy" because of the conditionally noted violence surrounding (in both time and now close geography) said normalcy.

C. Petraeus hasn't sugarcoated (much) his carefully equivocal reports, making it a point to set realistic expectations and place the focus on the Iraqi political process.

Compounding Senator Reid's latest attack is the fact that he's declared the Surge a failure ... days before the deployment of troops to support the strategy (much less the strategy itself) was completed.

Whether his aggressive stance winds up validated by unwritten events or not, his timing is objectively incorrect. On intellectual, political and nakedly cynical grounds, Senator Reid is a disgrace.

UPDATE: These photos underscore the point.

(Via HA)

UPDATE: Original text slightly edited (stylistic tweaks).

Posted by Bill at June 15, 2007 10:03 AM | TrackBack (0)



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