Who Goes There?
Former Spook examines General Petreus testimony in Congress in an effort to get a glimpse into the commander's mind and intentions. Here are some excerpts from the post, which to my mind suggest a very narrow campaign calculated to create a primarily local result. The question is: will that be enough?
- "Petraeus even got in a little swipe at Ted Kennedy. When the senior Senator from Massachusetts asked why an additional 21,500 troops would make a difference. Petraeus said the important factor is how the troops are used, not their numbers. He reemphasized that the additional forces will be used to protect the civilian population of the Iraqi capital, rather than killing insurgents."
- "he told Senator John McCain that 'indicators" of success or failure would be evident by late summer."
But the enemy also gets a say in the outcome of the campaign. Omar at Pajamas Media offers opinion on the attack on US troops at Kerbalah under a ruse de guerre -- enemy wearing coalition uniforms -- and apparently without the Iraqi security personnel firing a single shot in defense of the Americans. His implication is clear. A group of Shi'ite officials or agents of a Shi'ite power was behind the attacks. Following on reports that explosively forged warheads were being supplied by Iran to the Madhi Army, Iran must figure in the list of the usual suspects for masterminding the attack. Nor is it necessarily the case that America will be challenged only in Iraq. Lebanon is currently the scene of a trial of strength between the Hezbollah and the other sectarian factions. The Pajamas Media roundup on the crisis begins, "Lebanese Premier Saniora Calls for Extraordinary Session of Parliament to Contain Mounting Violence". A lot of media attention has been focused on the "Surge". But the Surge itself can only succeed if it is part of an overall strategy to achieve "victory", if that term has not been wholly proscribed. Parsing numbers and quibbling over appropriations is important, but not as important as deciding what the nation's war aims are.
Petreus let slip the key in his remarks to Ted Kennedy. The crucial factor is not simply the level of American strength, but how it is used. And for it to be used effectively there must be a national consensus on who the enemy is, what goals are to be achieved and whether the body politic is determined to achieve it. Right now political attention is riveted on achieving political milestones which may or may not have any relevance. The troops can only do what Washington tells them. Washington should make up its mind about whether it wants to engage Syria and Iran, and possibly the architects of the Kerbalah attack or frustrate their goals in some way.