Throwing Petraeus under the Moveon bus
This is precious.
I displayed my prophecy skills adeptly a couple of days ago in predicting General McChrystal’s departure. OK, the whole country did too. What I don’t think too many people did was predict the replacement. Here’s a discussion Obama had with Petraeus in 2007:
He opposed everything Pestraeus was wanting to do. This exchange I think emboldened moveon.org to run this ad:
For easier reading:
GENERAL PETRAEUS OR GENERAL BETRAY US?
Cooking the Books for the White House
General Petraeus is millitary man constantly at warwith the facts. In 2004,just before the election, he said there was “tangible progross In Iraq and Iraqi leaders are stepping forward.” And last week Petraeus,the architect of the escalation of troops In Iraq, sald,”We say we have achieved progress,and we are obvlously going to do everything we can to build on that progress.”
Every independant report on the ground situation in Iraq shows that the surge strategy has failed. Yet the General claims a reduction in violence.That’s because, accordlng to the New York Times, the Pentagon has adopted a bizarre formula for keeping tabs on violence. Forexample, deaths by car bombs don’t count. The Washlngton Post reported that assassinations only count if you’re shot in the back of the head – not the front. According to the Associated Press, there have been more civillian deaths and more American soldier deaths in the past three months than in any other summer we’ve been there. We’ll hear of neighborhoods where violence has decreased. But we won’t hear that those neighborhoods have been ethincally cleansed.
Most importantly, General Petraeus will not admit what everyone knows: Iraq is mired in an unwinnable religious civil war. We may hear of a plan t0 withdraw a few thousand American troops. But we won’t hear what Americans are desperate to hear: a timmetable for the withdrawing all ourtroops. General Petraeus has actually said American troops will need to stay in Iraq as long as ten years.
Today, before Congress and before the American people, General Petraeus is likely to become General Betray Us.
Pretty harsh stuff huh? But it didn’t stop there. Nancy Pelosi took the very bizarre step of supporting the Moveon.org ad on her Speaker’s page. I don’t really trust that it will hang around too long so here it is, original code copied:
September 10th, 2007 by Office of the SpeakerGENERAL PETRAEUS’ TESTIMONY:“As a bottom line up front, the military objectives of the surge are, in large measure, being met.” [Testimony, 9/10/07]
The President’s justification for the surge was that “reducing the violence in Baghdad will help make reconciliation possible.” [White House, 1/10/07] But by all accounts, including that of General Petraeus, the Iraqi government’s political progress is stalled.
General David Petraeus, in letter to troops: “One of the justifications of the surge, after all, was that it would help create the space for Iraqi leaders to tackle the tough questions and agree on key pieces of national reconciliation legislation…It has not worked out as we had hoped.” [Letter to Troops, 9/7/07]
Independent Jones Commission on the Security Forces of Iraq report: “At the end of the day…the future of Iraq and the prospects for establishing a professional, effective, and loyal military and police service, hinges on the ability of the Iraqi people and the government to begin the process of achieving national reconciliation and to ending sectarian violence. For the time being, all progress seems to flow from this most pressing requirement.” [pg. 130]
Congressional Research Service (CRS) Report: The September 6th update of this report entitled “Post-Saddam Iraq Government and Security,” the author describes the government as “collapsing.” [pg. 22]GENERAL PETRAEUS’ TESTIMONY:“Coalition and Iraqi operations have helped reduce ethno-sectarian violence, as well, bringing down the number of ethno-sectarian deaths substantially in Baghdad and across Iraq since the height of the sectarian violence last December. The number of overall civilian deaths has also declined during this period…”
OBJECTIVE ASSESSMENT PART I:
Violence – particularly sectarian violence – is a constant and pervasive threat in Iraq.
Associated Press – The “death toll from sectarian attacks around the country is running nearly double the pace from a year ago.” [AP, 8/25/07]
Washington Post — “Recent estimates by the media, outside groups and some government agencies have called the military’s findings into question. The Associated Press last week counted 1,809 civilian deaths in August, making it the highest monthly total this year…” [Washington Post, 9/6/07]
Independent Jones Commission on the Security Forces of Iraq report: “Iraqi society is being convulsed by sectarianism that if not swiftly and significantly curtailed could contribute to a rapid deterioration of Iraq…” [pg. 34]
National Intelligence Estimate: The “level of overall violence, including attacks on and casualties among civilians remains high” and “Iraq’s sectarian groups remain unreconciled.” [pg. 1]
Government Accountability Office (GAO) Report: “[W]idespread violence across Iraq has seriously compromised the government’s ability to protect human rights. According to the United Nations, attacks against religious and ethnic minorities continued unabated in most areas of Iraq, prompting these communities to seek ways to leave the country. The conflicts reportedly bear the mark of sectarian polarization and “cleansing” in neighborhoods formerly comprised of different religions. According to a non-governmental organization, all of Iraq’s minority communities have suffered violations that include destruction and defacement of religious buildings; mass murder of congregations gathered in and around them; abduction, randsoming, and murder of religious and civic leaders and individuals including children…” [pg. 62]
OBJECTIVE ASSESSMENT PART II:
The U.S. military’s definition of “sectarian” violence is questionable.
According to an analysis of a Defense Intelligence Agency chart detailing violence in Baghdad by the Associated Press, “insurgent attacks against Iraqi civilians, their security forces and U.S. troops remain high” … “there were 897 attacks against Iraqi civilians in January and 808 in July. There were 946 attacks against Iraqi security forces in January and 850 in July.” [Associated Press, 9/9/07]
Comptroller General David Walker, GAO: “Let’s just say that there are several different sources within the administration on violence, and those sources do not agree.” [Washington Post, 9/6/07]
McClatchy News: “U.S. officials say the number of civilian casualties in the Iraqi capital is down 50 percent. But U.S. officials declined to provide specific numbers, and statistics gathered by McClatchy Newspapers don’t support the claim. The number of car bombings in July actually was 5 percent higher than the number recorded last December, according to the McClatchy statistics, and the number of civilians killed in explosions is about the same.” [McClatchy Newspapers, 8/15/07]
The methodology used by the Pentagon to determine what is or is not included as “sectarian” violence is classified; however there are some indications of what is not included in the U.S. military’s violence data set:
o The more than 2,600 people killed by car bombs in Iraq are not counted as casualties of sectarian violence. [Los Angeles Times, 9/4/07]
o Shiite-Shiite and Sunni-Sunni violence: “According to a spokesman for the Baghdad headquarters of the Multi-National Force-Iraq (MNF-I), those attacks are not included in the military’s statistics. ‘Given a lack of capability to accurately track Shiite-on-Shiite and Sunni-on-Sunni violence, except in certain instances…we do not track this data to any significant degree.’” [Washington Post, 9/6/07]
o Violent attacks by Sunni tribesmen allied with the United States against al-Qaeda. [Washington Post, 9/6/07]GENERAL PETRAEUS’ TESTIMONY:“One reason for the decline in incidents is that Coalition and Iraqi forces have dealt significant blows to Al Qaeda-Iraq. Though Al Qaeda and its affiliates in Iraq remain dangerous, we have taken away a number of their sanctuaries and gained the initiative in many areas.”
Congressional Research Service (CRS) Report: “Interestingly in 2007, U.S. commanders have seemed to equate AQ-I with the insurgency, even though most of the daily attacks are carried out by Iraqi Sunni insurgents.” [pg. 31]
Independent Jones Commission on the Security Forces of Iraq report: In the beginning of 2007, “Al Qaeda in Iraq was credited with only 15 percent of the insurgent attacks in Iraq at the beginning of 2007.” [pg. 27]GENERAL PETRAEUS’ TESTIMONY:“I believe that we will be able to reduce our forces to the pre-surge level … by next summer without jeopardizing the security gains we have fought so hard to achieve.”
Military leaders have stated recently that U.S. forces are “stretched thin” and the current level of troop commitment to Iraq is unsustainable and is politically unwise. Given the strain on the military, as well as the President’s promise to limit deployments to 15 months with 12 months at home, the Bush Administration really has little choice but to drawdown troops to the pre-surge level.
New York Times: “Senior officials have said that unless the President chooses to break a promise to limit deployments to 15 months and guarantee 12 months at home …, the troop increase must end next spring. ‘The surge, we all know, will end sometime in 2008, in the beginning of 2008, and we will begin probably a withdrawal of forces based on the surge,’ Lt. General Raymond T. Odierno, the No. 2 officer in Iraq, said Friday. … General Odierno said the five additional brigades added this year under the President’s troop increase were likely to be withdrawn on a timeline parallel to their arrival in Iraq. Under this timeline, … the troop increase would end in April with the five brigades leaving Iraq one each month, with American forces returning to the troop levels existing before the next increase by next August, he said.” [New York Times, 8/18/07]
President’s “War Czar” Army Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute noted in August that it was worthwhile to consider reinstating the military draft because of the stress on U.S. forces resulting from multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. [Associated Press, 8/10/07]
Gen. George W. Casey, Jr., Army Chief of Staff: “The demand for our forces exceeds the sustainable supply…Right now we have in place deployment and mobilization policies that allow us to meet the current demands. If the demands don’t go down over time, it will become increasingly difficult for us to provide the trained and ready forces” for other missions. [Associated Press, 8/19/07]
June, July and August 2007 marked the bloodiest summer so far for U.S. troops in Iraq with 264 soldiers killed. [icasualties.org]
“The number of U.S. troops in Iraq has climbed to a record high of 168,000 and is moving toward a peak of 172,000 in the coming weeks – a level that could extend into December, a senior military official said Thursday.” [Associated Press, 9/6/07]
Nearly 1.6 million troops have been deployed to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq – 525,000 have been deployed more than one time. [Department of Defense, 7/31/07]
All 38 of the Army’s available combat units are deployed, have or are just returning or are already scheduled to deploy to Iraq, Afghanistan or elsewhere – leaving the U.S. without any available combat-ready units. [Associated Press, 8/19/07]
GENERAL PETRAEUS’ TESTIMONY:“In Baghdad…the number of ethno-sectarian deaths has come downby some 80 percent since December.”
In addition to 30,000 more troops patrolling downtown Baghdad, the downward trend in Coalition-defined “sectarian” violence in the city may be attributed to a number of elements – including the dramatic demographic shift and deep polarization of the city.
The fight over control of Baghdad has been sectarian since the U.S. invasion of Iraq in March 2003. The first couple of years of the war saw a concentrated push by Sunnis to evict, terrorize and kill Shiite residents of the city – with great success. After the bombing of the al-Askari mosque in February 2006, Shiite militias regained control and have been pushing back ever since. [International Herald Tribune, 12/23/06]
U.S. officials once estimated Baghdad to be 65 percent Sunni – now those estimates have shifted to between 75 percent and 80 percent Shiite. [McClatchy Newspapers, 8/15/07]
Iraq’s ambassador to the United States, Samir Sumaida’ie, acknowledged yesterday that a number of factors, including increased “homogeneity,” had led to a drop in the rate of sectarian killings.” [Boston Globe, 9/8/07]
Said Arikat – spokesman for U.N. in Baghdad: “Despite the surge, despite the efforts being conducted, people are still fleeing…Bodies are still being found. Baghdad is definitely becoming a Shi’ite city. Sunnis are fleeing.” [Boston Globe, 9/8/07]
National Intelligence Estimate: “The polarization of communities is most evident in Baghdad, where the Shia are a clear majority in more than half of all neighborhoods and Sunni areas have become surrounded by predominately Shia districts. Where population displacements have led to significant sectarian separation, conflict levels have diminished to some extent because warring communities find it more difficult to penetrate communal enclaves.” [pg. 3]
McClatchy News: “One bright spot has been the reduction in the number of bodies found on the streets, considered a sign of sectarian violence…But the reason for that decline isn’t clear. Some military officers believe that it may be an indication that ethnic cleansing has been completed in many neighborhoods and that there aren’t as many people to kill.” [McClatchy Newspapers, 8/15/07]
GENERAL PETRAEUS’ TESTIMONY:
“Our assessments underscore…the importance of recognizing that a premature drawdown of our forces would likely have devastating consequences.”
The Jones Commission – comprised of 20 retired military, defense and public safety experts – concluded it would be in the best interest of the country if U.S. and Coalition forces had a smaller “footprint” in the region.
Independent Jones Commission on the Security Forces of Iraq report: “Perceptions and reality are frequently at odds with each other when trying to understand Iraq’s problems and progress. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the impressions drawn from seeing our massive logistics “footprint,” our many installations, and the number of personnel (military and civilian), especially in and around the Baghdad region. The unintended message conveyed is one of “permanence”, an occupying force, as it were. What is needed is the opposite impression, one that is lighter, less massive, and more expeditionary. The decision to occupy Saddam Hussein’s former palace complex with our military headquarters, while expedient in 2003, has most likely given the wrong impression to the Iraqi population.
We recommend that careful consideration of the size of our national footprint in Iraq be reconsidered with regard to its efficiency, necessity, and its cost. Significant reductions, consolidations, and realignments would appear to be possible and prudent.” [p. 128]GENERAL PETRAEUS’ TESTIMONY:“The change in the security situation in Anbar Province has, of course, been particularly dramatic.”
Marines had established ties to local Sunni leaders long before the president announced his “surge” strategy – in fact, the alliance was formed even before General Petraeus took over as commander of forces in Iraq.
o According to the Washington Post, Abdul Sattar Buzaigh al-Rishawi – the Sunni tribal leader who forged alliance with US forces in Anbar – traced his decision to ally with the U.S. and fight al-Qaeda to Sept. 14, 2006. [Washington Post, 9/9/07]
o General Petraeus himself mentioned the change in Anbar Province during his own confirmation hearing in January: “You’ve seen it, I know, in Anbar province, where it has sort of gone back and forth. And right now, there appears to be a trend in the positive direction where sheiks are stepping up, and they do want to be affiliated with and supported by the U.S. Marines and Army forces who are in Anbar province. That was not the case as little as perhaps six months ago, or certainly before that.” [January 23, 2007]
What has happened in Anbar province is not an example of “bottom-up” political reconciliation between Sunni and Shia, as the President has claimed. Nearly all of the 1.3 million people living in Anbar province are Sunni and as a result there has been very little Sunni-Shiite sectarian violence in the province. [New York Times, 7/8/07]GENERAL PETRAEUS’ TESTIMONY:“Despite concerns about sectarian influence, inadequate logistics and supporting institutions, and an insufficient number of qualified commissioned and non-commissioned officers, Iraqi units are engaged around the country.”
Independent Jones Commission on the Security Forces of Iraq report: The Ministry of Interior, the agency in charge of the Iraqi National and Local Police service, is “widely regarded as being dysfunctional and sectarian, and suffers from ineffective leadership…The National Police have proved operationally ineffective and sectarianism in these units may fundamentally undermine their ability to provide security.” [pg. 10]
According to a recent article in the Washington Post, the 5th Battalion, 1st Brigade of the 6th Iraqi Army serving in the Kadhimiyah neighborhood in Baghdad is “so thoroughly infiltrated with Mahdi Army militiamen that U.S. and Iraqi soldiers say it is close to useless.” [Washington Post, 9/4/07]
National Intelligence Estimate: “Militia and insurgent influences continue to undermine the reliability of some ISF [Iraqi Security Forces] units, and political interference in security operations continues to undermine Coalition and ISF efforts.” [pg. 3]Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.
U.S. Sen. Feingold Senate Foreign Relations Committee transcript
Contact: Zach Lowe (202) 224-8657
Remarks of U.S. Senator Russ Feingold
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing
On Iraq: The Crocker-Petraeus Report
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
And thank you both for testifying here today.
Ambassador, I want to thank you for all the time you’ve given me over the years, especially when we were in Pakistan, and your briefings on that critical country. And, General, on both occasions that I was in Iraq, the time you spent helping me understand these variety of issues. I, too, thank you for your service.
But, Mr. Chairman, it is simply tragic that six years to the day after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, our attention is so focused on what has been the greatest mistake in the fight against Al Qaida, and that’s the Iraq war. Both yesterday at the House hearings and today there has been virtually no reference by either the members of Congress or the witnesses to the broader context outside of Iraq.
I strongly supported the decision to go to war in Afghanistan, which served as a sanctuary for Al Qaida. The war in Iraq has been a terrible diversion from Afghanistan and from what should be a global fight against a global enemy. As this summer’s declassified NIE confirmed, Al Qaida remains the most serious threat to the United States, and key elements of that threat have been regenerated or even enhanced. While our attention and resources have been focused on Iraq, Al Qaida has protected its safe haven in Pakistan and increased cooperation with regional terrorist groups.
So the question we must answer is not whether we are winning or losing in Iraq, but whether Iraq is helping or hurting our efforts to defeat Al Qaida. That is the lesson of 9/11, and it’s a lesson we must remember today, and I would say every single day. And in that vein, this past July President Bush referred to Al Qaida more than 90 times in a single speech about Iraq and has repeatedly called Iraq the central front or the key theater in the war on terror, but this is misleading at best, as is the effort to suggest that Al Qaida is the primary driver of violence in Iraq.
While AQI may give Al Qaida an extended reach, our extreme focus on Iraq I think prevents us from adequately addressing the global nature of Al Qaida and from targeting sufficient resources, whether they’re military, diplomatic, intelligence or financial, to other parts of the world where Al Qaida is operating.
Now, Senator Hagel mentioned some of the other places. He mentioned Iran, he mentioned Syria, he mentioned the Middle East. But what about Africa? Last week, for example, two bombs exploded in Algeria, killing more than 50 people and wounding scores more.
Both explosions were virtually unnoticed here in the United States, as were the ones that exploded in the same region this last April and that were claimed by, as you both know, another Al Qaida affiliate, known as Al Qaida in the Islamic Magreb. So I’d like to ask first, General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker, do you believe that the United States is providing sufficient resources to address the threat posed by Al Qaida in the Islamic Magreb?
CROCKER: Senator, frankly, that takes me a little bit beyond my area of expertise. I don’t focus on the Magreb. I could say a few things based on my two and half years in Pakistan, and of course I went directly from Pakistan to Iraq in March, that is, the presence of Al Qaida in the Pakistan/Afghanistan border area is a major challenge to us.
FEINGOLD: How concerned are you about Al Qaida’s safe haven in Pakistan?
CROCKER: We’re all — we’re all quite concerned.
FEINGOLD: Which is more important to defeating Al Qaida, the situation in Afghanistan or that situation in Iraq, Ambassador?
CROCKER: I’d say just one…
FEINGOLD: That’s surely within your expertise.
CROCKER: Yes, sir.
FEINGOLD: I mean, you were ambassador to one and ambassador to the other.
CROCKER: Yes, sir, which is why I’m addressing this. The challenges in confronting Al Qaida in the Pak-Afghan border area are immense, and they’re complicated. I did not feel, from my perspective as ambassador to Pakistan, that the focus, the resources, the people needed to deal with that situation, weren’t available or weren’t there because of Iraq.
FEINGOLD: What’s more important, though, to fighting Al Qaida, the situation in Pakistan or the situation in Iraq?
CROCKER: Senator, in my view, fighting Al Qaida is what’s important; whatever front they’re on. Fighting Al Qaida in Pakistan is critically important to us, fighting Al Qaida in Iraq is critically important to us.
FEINGOLD: But Ambassador, surely — surely in a war, you have to have priorities. Some are more important than others. I would like to ask the general his response. What about the situation that we find in North Africa and the other regions? You obviously must take this into account in thinking about your role in Iraq.
PETRAEUS: I am not in a position to comment on the resources we have committed to the Maghrib or to other areas. General McCrystal does brief us about once a week on the overall situation, but it is clearly with a focus to how that is affecting Al Qaida in Iraq. For what it’s worth, he, the commander of the joint special operations command, and the CIA director, when I talked to them a couple of months ago, agreed that their belief is that Al Qaida central seize Al Qaida in Iraq as their central front in their global war on terror.
That seems confirmed by the communications that we periodically see between Al Qaida central and Al Qaida-Iraq, although that could be changing as a result of the loss of momentum, to some degree, by Al Qaida-Iraq and it’s something that we need to keep an eye on, clearly.
FEINGOLD: With all due respect, these two critical leaders here in our government, who I have great respect for, are not willing to seriously comment about how this relates to the larger global fight against terrorism — the allocation of resources. This is a classic example of myopia. This is the myopia of Iraq that is affecting our ability to look at this as the global challenge it is. And by the way, General, I’d like to know, when will the level of American troops’s deaths start to seriously decline in Iraq?
PETRAEUS: First of all, if I could just come back to your earlier comment, with respect, Senator, what this is is an example of a commander focused on his area of responsibility area. And that is my mission. It is to accomplish the military tasks that are associated with this policy, not to fight the overall global war.
FEINGOLD: I respect that and I understand, but I guess, in the broader context, here, of our discussions, this is the most critical hearing we’ve had and yet it’s only about Iraq. But go ahead and please answer the question: When can we expect the troop deaths to decline in Iraq?
PETRAEUS: It might be, again, that Admiral Fallon or others would be the ones that, or the chairman, to comment on that. There has been a gradual reduction in deaths in Iraq, since about June, I believe it was. That, unfortunately — in August, we suffered a number of non-combat related deaths due to two helicopter crashes, although the number of combat deaths was lower.
FEINGOLD: General, just let me follow…
PETRAEUS: We need to see what happens in ensuing months.
FEINGOLD: I want the American people to know that in every single month this year, January, February, March, April, May, June, July, and August, a significantly greater number of troops died than in the previous month in 2006 — in every single month. And according to my information, there’s already 32 this month. So, to suggest that there was some decline in the number in June and July, versus other months, does not address the fact that the number of troops’ deaths has greatly increased. And I’m not getting an answer that even begins to suggest when we can tell the American people that the number of troop deaths will decline.
PETRAEUS: Senator, we are on the offensive, and when you go on the offensive, you have tough fighting. That was particularly true, again, during the period immediately after the start of the surge of offenses in mid-June and continued for a while. It appeared to have crested then and was coming down. And, again, we will have to see. We had a tragic loss yesterday, in fact, in some vehicle accidents, that again, you know, are just very, very sad.
Thank you, sir.
FEINGOLD: Thank you, Chairman.
It didn’t matter whether the surge was needed or not, Obama, Feingold, and Pelosi were against the entire thing from the start, and only wanted to get out. Even if that resulted in losing the war and wasting everything the soldiers who had died there for. It didn’t matter.
After running McChrystal out because McChrystal did not feel he was getting the support he needs in Afghanistan, Obama has turned to Petraeus. Now, I started this post by linking to a comment I made about McChrystal a couple of days ago. I hope you read it, it’s not long. The most important part I make is the last sentence:
McChrystal was a fool for accepting the position in the first place knowing how anti-military Obama was.
Petraeus is a fool for accepting the position in the first place knowing how anti-military Obama is. Even moreso than McChrystal ever imagined, Petraeus is going to get heat from Moveon.org, ( read George Soros ), Nancy Pelosi can’t support him, and Russ Feingold can’t either. Rght now they’re all keeping real quiet. That won’t last very long. When Feingold and Pelosi are expected to explain how they can support Obama’s decision, it’s gonna get real ugly, real fast.