Day By Day

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Peters Loves Petraeus

Ralph Peters is one of the few commentators who is willing to place blame for military ineffectiveness on top military commanders, where it belongs. This has not endeared him to Pentagon bureaucrats who reflexively blame civilian authorities for their own screwups. Peters may be contemptuous of the beltway denizens, but he has tremendous admiration for soldiers who can actually fight.

He notes that al Qaeda shows every evidence of desperation. The recent round of bombings were directed not against Muslims [that has been counter-productive] but against religious minorities. The purpose of earlier bombings was an attempt to create a religious civil war in Iraq. That failed. Now the purpose of the bombings is..., well, let Peters say it himself:

al Qaeda needs to portray Iraq as a continuing failure of U.S. policy. Those dead and maimed Yazidis were just props: The intended audience was Congress.

Al Qaeda has been badly battered. It's lost top leaders and thousands of cadres. Even more painful for the Islamists, they've lost ground among the people of Iraq, including former allies. Iraqis got a good taste of al Qaeda. Now they're spitting it out.

The foreign terrorists slaughtering the innocent recognize that their only remaining hope of pulling off a come-from-way-behind win is to convince your senator and your congressman or -woman that it's politically expedient to hand a default victory to a defeated al Qaeda.

Expect more attempts to generate massive bloodshed in Iraq in the coming weeks. The terrorists are well aware of the exaggerated-by-all-parties importance of Gen. David Petraeus' Sept. 15 progress report to Congress. They'll do all they can to embarrass the general and provide ammunition to the surrender caucus.

And why is al Qaeda in such desperate straits?


How has Petraeus changed the outlook so swiftly? Numerous factors are in play, but two of his personal characteristics have helped keep him from making a single wrong move thus far.

* First, Petraeus is relentless. The result is that, for the first time, our military approach has become relentless, too.

In the past, we followed up military wins by stepping back and hoping that the reduction of Fallujah or the latest shoot-'em-up with Muqtada al-Sadr's thugs would prove decisive. We were wrong every time - all our forbearance achieved was to give our enemies time to recover.

Petraeus changed the rules, and God bless him for it. He may have a high-school-prom smile for the media, but the general's a clinch fighter who ignores the bell - and who isn't above landing a blow when the ref ain't looking. It's exactly the approach we've needed.

* The second quality is his leadership style. Micro-managers lose control in war. While Petraeus is interested in every detail and spends plenty of time on the ground with tactical commanders, he assigns missions, gives the essential guidance - then trusts subordinates to do their jobs.

Previous U.S. commanders worried about the wrong things, and they worried all the time. Petraeus is concerned about the one thing that matters: Winning.

He's that rarer-than-a-unicorn beast, a full general capable of learning. Petraeus hasn't "defended his dissertation" in the face of contrary facts. The politically correct counterinsurgency manual he produced before taking up this assignment delighted the left-of-center think-tank crowd - but they must be very disappointed today. Once in command in Iraq, Petraeus kept the doctrinal bits that worked, but dumped the baloney.

Wow! And how did you like that tongue-bath General? Want some more? OK!

He's doing what it really takes: Fighting. Our troops are killing those who need killing; tens of thousands of terrorists, insurgents and militiamen are in lockup, with more coming in every day. And any member of the NYPD can tell you that taking murderers off the streets works.
Note the NYPD reference, it's important.

Col. Peters' article is symptomatic of something very real and very powerful. There is a growing hunger in this country for a take-charge, no-nonsense, law and order guy like Gen. Petraeus.

Gee, I wonder which candidate might have credentials in that area?

Lemme think..., hmmm..., Oh Yeah!


I don't usually agree with Col. Peters, but this time I think he's on to something.