Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Colin Powelling of Petraeus

Why is the commander in charge of the Surge making headlines about the possibility of U.S. military involvement in Iraq for a decade?

Gen. David Petraeus, willingly or not, is getting the Colin Powell treatment, his impeccable reputation being used to legitimize Bush-Cheney follies.

Everything Petraeus said about Iraq Sunday was carefully qualified but the questioning by Fox News toady Chris Wallace kept goading him toward “comparing it to the situation in South Korea where we have had thousands of troops for decades.”

Pushing Petraeus up front is consistent with the Administration’s practice of using generals like Kleenex to wipe their political fingerprints off disastrous policies.

When Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki told Congress before the invasion in 2003 that several hundred thousand troops would be needed to pacify Iraq, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz ridiculed him.

To justify the war, the Administration pushed Gen. Colin Powell, by then Secretary of State, into a UN presentation from which he tried, not altogether successfully, to remove Scooter Libby’s “garbage” supplied by Ahmad Chalabi.

Cheney didn’t even try to hide the fact that he and Bush were using Powell’s credibility to sell the war. Poking him in the chest, the Vice President told Powell, "You've got high poll ratings, you can afford to lose a few points."

Last week, when Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Peter Pace faced Senate opposition for being too compliant, the Bushies dropped him with a thud. Loyalty works only one way with them.

Now it’s Petraeus’ turn. Everything in his past suggests that he is an honest, capable man, which of course is why they are using him to front for the Surge. As a good soldier, he may want to look at what happened to Powell, Shinseki, Pace et al when he makes his crucial report to Congress at the end of summer.

He is sworn to serve the American people, not the parody of a Commander-in-Chief.

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