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Apr 06, 2008

General Love

Petraeus Capitol Hill

I was wondering how long it was going to take before Frank Rich returned from "vanquishing Hillary land."  His piece Saturday was spot-on, outlining the invisible disaster formerly known as the Iraq War.  In light of his narrative, I find yesterday's NYT WIR story previewing General Petraeus's testimony to Congress this week as simply mind-blowing.

Having enabled the ethnic cleansing of a country; pacified warring Sunni tribes through flat-out bribery (with no resulting structural change and no end in sight); and then having claimed credit for a (only fractionally successful) so-called surge leveraged on the back of al-Sadr's cease-fire, here was the NYT yesterday effectively promoting the General as a potential vice-presidential or even presidential candidate!  (And not only that, but the article actually cites "loathsome buzz" from liberal bloggers as escalating the wave!)

In an admittedly brilliant accompanying slide show, The Times produces a series of photos of military rock-stars through modern U.S. history captured at their telegenic best.  (The MacArthur shot is priceless, nailing the incestuous relationship between war biz and show biz.)

But it's this Petraeus shot, paired with the article, which concerns me.  Like the other photos, it equates the camera's love with presidential worthiness.  But, what happened to the irony?  On the threshold of a critical appearance before Congress, following the near Shiite meltdown of Babel two weeks ago, it's apparently 2003 all over again.

Setting the table for an accounting, I look at this grand entrance and all I see is fawning.

Tet Happened, and No One Cared (Frank Rich/NYT)
Generally Speaking (NYT Week In Review)
Political Generals (NYT slide show)
The Petraeus Insurgency (BAGnewsNotes)

(Jim Young/Reuters.  Washington. September 2007.


The Civil War yielded five presidents who had military service: Garfield, Grant, Hayes, Harrison and McKinley. The sixth, Andrew Johnson, was made a brevet general of volunteers, and military commander of Tennessee from March 4, 1862 until March 3, 1865, when he became Lincoln's vice-president, then sworn in as president after Lincoln's death. Other generals in the Civil war were also looking for political rewards by their service, and many used the press to "puff" their actions to gain publicity and favor among voters back home.

Interestingly, with the opening on Friday of the new Newseum in DC, the director mentioned on C-Span's tour that the presidential contest between Harding and James M Cox in 1920 is the only such race in which two newspapermen were the nominees.

Two major photographers of the Civil War era, Matthew Brady and Alexander Gardner, had their own impact as well. When Lincoln sat for Brady before the Cooper Union speech, he wore no beard. Later versions rather clumsily added the facial hair in an attempt to update that photo to his current appearance, no doubt to increase sales.

As *the favored commander* of the neoliberal imperial project in Iraq, Peter will again attempt to square the circle with his characteristic charade of charm, charts and a chest full of colorful badges.

How strange that the biggest liar of this whole imperial adventure Ahmed Chalabi got one thing absolutely correct when he said last year, 'The American tragedy in Iraq is that your friends in Iraq are allied with your enemies in the region, and your enemies in Iraq are allied with your friends in the region.'

What isn't widely known about that shot of MacArthur in the Times' slide show, is that it's not candid; MacArthur actually slipped and fell the first time he stepped off the boat in the background. So, he changed his uniform and did it again, but wasn't satisfied with is bearing the second time around. Third time, the charm.

I look at this grand entrance and all I see is fawning.

Sure. This time they'll (he'll) get it right!

Can you say President Peter Petraeus?

Peter Petraeus? What's with the name change? This man's sobriety, modesty and apparent competence have commanded respect, or at least silence, even with the heroine of the Tuzla tarmac. He has not endorsed the war. He has given limited answers and done the job given him well, apparently. Live with it.

thanks Joanna for pointing out my error, as I finish watching eight hours of David testifying at the various committees I was impressed by his ability to provide half truths especially in regards to Iran's involvement in Iraq and the dangerous implications that will result from this form of information management. (or as you say "He has given limited answers") For those who find it difficult to accept the US failure or who desire aggression against Iran, David set the table rather well. Crocker was particular impressive in following up in a more devious and weasil like manner .

There are a number of articles I might recommend but the following is brief and may be helpful in gathering more info about 'the battlefield geometry or 'the political - military calculus'

"As you watch Petraeus and Crocker go through their paces today and tomorrow, don't imagine them alone at that table in front of a Senate committee. There's a ghostly figure beside them, that "hot-headed" "radical cleric," who has made a mockery of their plans for a pacified Iraq."

misspelling your name was not intentional Johanna.

cheers jt

General David Petraeus:
Tue ~ "The flare-up [in Basra] also highlighted the destructive role Iran has played in funding, training, arming and directing the so-called special groups,"
Wed ~ "Iran, Syria and the Lebanese group Hezbollah were responsible for the violence".
He declined to provide any evidence for these claims
Thur ~ "It is safe to say that Basra is going to continue for months,"

Ryan Crocker attempted to support these accusations by referring to the Iraq-Iran war as if Iran had invaded and these latest incidents were part of a pattern. No Senator or Congressman appeared to be aware or interested in the fact that Iraq invaded Iran September 1980 and fought until August 1988 with the robust support of the US.

Thus the stage is set for George Bush to point the finger at Iran, saying today that Tehran has a 'choice' to 'live in peace' or face consequences.

Helping Both Sides Lose The War ~ offers sources and a brief synopsis for the forgetful folk

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