In a simpler time, there were generals like Curtis “Bomb “Em into the Stone Age” LeMay and the fictional Jack D. Ripper who started a nuclear war in “Dr. Strangelove.”
They did the barking, and politicians calmed them down. Now, in complete role reversal, we have VP Dick “Attack Dog” Cheney and, as the voice of reason, Gen. David Petraeus.
As he goes about pacifying Congress, Gen. Petraeus brings back mixed feelings from Iraq, his own and in some of those who want to end the war.
Arianna Huffington, for one, has no qualms. She notes that he “went to Capitol Hill Wednesday to brief Congress behind closed doors on the progress of the surge. No word on whether he walked across the Potomac to get there.” She labels him a Petraeus ex machina for desperate Republicans.
But it is precisely Petraeus’ doubts and unwillingness to promise “victory” or even “progress” until the Iraqis advance politically that now makes him problematical. By that measurement, we would keep our troops there indefinitely policing Baghdad instead of facing the fact that we are in a no-win situation and bringing them home.
The danger is not that Petraeus will walk on water but that he will keep us treading water until he re-defines his mission to make it less open-ended.