I don't get it. The Bush administration last month appointed
Lt. General Raymond Odierno, whose heavy-handed military tactics in Iraq were much criticized, to replace Lt. General Peter Chiarelli, whose opposite approach has won much praise, to be the No. 2 general in Iraq. Now the Bush administration appoints
Lt. Gen. David H. Petraeus, whose counter-insurgency tactics reflect those of Chiarelli, to replace Gen. George W. Casey Jr., as the No. 1 general in Iraq. I'm just an armchair general. But when even I notice the contradictions, you know we don't have a coherent strategy yet in Iraq. ... Maybe the administration should listen a little more to Brent Scowcross,
who Bushies once maligned as a 'realist' and who now says we have to make changes in Iraq that include troop 'redeployment,' though not the Cindy Sheehan type of 'redeployment.' Scowcroft explains:
That does not mean the American presence should be reduced. Indeed, in the immediate future, the opposite may be true, though any increase in troop strength should be directed at accomplishing specific, defined missions. A generalized increase would be unlikely to demonstrably change the situation and, consequently, could result in increased clamor for withdrawal. But the central point is that withdrawing combat forces should not be a policy objective, but rather, the result of changes in our strategy and success in our efforts.
I'm not at all confident this administration is up to the task. After the gruesome execution of Saddam, I'm not confident Iraq is up to the task either. The current debates over troop strength, tactics, strategy, etc. seem so tragically late. ...Update
-- Charles Krauthammer
on Saddam's execution: "For the Iraqi government to have botched both his trial and execution, therefore, and turned monster into victim, is not just a tragedy, but a crime - against the new Iraq that Americans are dying for, and against justice itself."Update II
-- Armchair Gen. Savin Hill thought I was being critical of the Patraeus appointment. I wasn't. I was pointing out the contradiction between the Odierno and Patraeus appointments. I obviously wasn't clear. Sorry. Anyway, here's the rest of Savin Hill's email, which rightly explains why Patraeus is a good choice:
His record in Iraq was examplary. First, in the initial campaign the 101st (which he commanded) showed great flexibility and patience as well documented in Atkinson's book "In the Company of Soldiers". Then, the 101st took control of Mosul until mid 2004. It was quiet and considered well run while the 101st was there. When they left, it went to hell. We need to get the tank generals out of control, and put combined arms guys in -- Casey was a tank guy, and timid to boot. Petraeus kicked ass in the conventional war, ran a pacified city successfully, is the architect of Iraqi army training, and knows combined arms. FYI, since 2005 he's been in charge of the Combined Arms Center in Ft. Leavenworth. He's the right guy.