Sunday, January 07, 2007

Dave Petraeus

A good piece from WaPo on Dave Petraeus, the new commander in Iraq. At least Bush has picked the smartest guy around, although it might not matter at this point.

The new meme among the right-wing (some right-wing, some have given up completely) has been to lump Rumsfield, outgoing Centcom Commander John Abizaid, and outgoing Iraqi Commander George Casey, and blame them all for the failure in post-war Iraq.

Those are the same right-wingers who called anyone who criticized say Rumsfield years ago, cut and runners, terrorist-lovers, and whatever else. No love lost on those guys. I love right wing hypocrisy. Left-wing hypocrisy is useless just ignorant dribble. But r-w hypocrisy has that f--k u, inhumane quality about it that I secretly get such a kick out of.

Of course Abizaid and Rumsfield are not to be equated. Abizaid saw a Long War and still does--what the rightwing has it seems to me lost sight of by becoming so narrowly focused on Iraq. Abizaid wanted an Afghan-style Conference bringing in all the neighbors not some American unipolar dream of creating a unified stable non-sectarian democracy in a country broken by decades of totalitarian rule, embargoes/sanctions, and multiple wars. Rumsfield didn't care I think about much of anything beyond showing how high-tech our army could be.

Don't expect talking heads, particularly on the right--especially the WeeklyStandard which has a very self-interested motive for blaming Rumsfield for this whole failure--to notice that difference. Just easier to lump them all together and say they are wrong. [Sidenote: At what point does a commentator(s) who is so consistently wrong ever get held accountable for bad calls? e.g. Bill Kristol has been taken on by Time f-in Magazine].

But anyway, back to now full Gen. DP. From the beginning, as the article mentions he realizes that the failure to work on jobs, reconstruction was one of the major failures of the lack of post-war planning. [The other as Amb. Dobbins has shown is the lack of regional concerted action a la Bonn Conference on Afghanistan].

DP will change some of the tactics in the fight, but the dream of an unified Iraqi nonsectarian democracy is just not going to happen. I think it's probably too late even for a genius of Petraeus' level. DP helped write most of the Army's new counterinsurgency model, which is good but does mention anything about open-source, 4/5GW, as I understand it.

As Petraeus notes, from his experience in the Balkans, Iraq is splitting up along ethnic-religious lines. I argue that these tactics of increased troop levels would only matter if it were joined to a major decision to help move populations to safety. Success only came in the Balkans, sadly, after the populations were separated--by flight, murder, and intimidation.

With Syria and Iran left out of the loop, they will play the spoiler in Iraq. The Iraqi government has responded negatively to protests in favor of Saddam Hussein throughout the Sunni Arab world.

And Bush has nominated Adm. Adam Fallon to replace Abizaid, a navy commander for two Asian land wars--remember that line about never start a land war in Asia? How bout two simultaneously?--why a navy commander? Because of possible air strikes in Iran by July of this year. The navy has beefed up in the Persian Gulf.

My dark side tells me Bush wants to continue to just make everybody else's mess everybody else's. The flypaper theory of jihadism writ large. My dark side mind you. My other side tells me he just really doesn't know what he is doing anymore and is just grasping at straws.

Meanwhile in Iran, Ahmadeinjad, as predicted on this website lost in the last elections and is now heading into political oblivion. Just the time to deal with someone. Read this fascinating piece on his new rival, his replacement as Mayor of Tehran, Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf.

Here's the description of Ghalibaf.

As top cop he won yet more fans. In 2003 he did something virtually unheard of: he quelled a student protest without bloodshed by holding talks with student leaders and ordering his men not to use batons or guns in dispersing the crowds. He showed a rare sense of compassion in other ways, as well, OK'ing a needle-exchange program for addicts and setting up a meeting for prostitutes to discuss alternatives to their profession. He was the conservative front runner in 2005 until he reached out to moderates and lost his base. "It was interesting to see Mr. Ghalibaf become more reformist than the reformists themselves," recalls sociologist Hamidreza Jalaeipour. "In the meantime, Ahmadinejad found who were the real hard-liners and gave them a voice." For now, Ghalibaf is making sure Tehran's trash gets picked up—and doing a fine job, too—while he waits for 2009. He's not a man who makes the same mistake twice.

Can u say Iran's Gorbachev?


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