What does General Petraeus have to say?

I have grown weary of debating about the War in Iraq. Every time the debate is brought up (which I estimate is once every .035 seconds), the same points are repeated. Democrats have their talking points. Republicans have their own. It basically boils down to whether we should bring the troops home immediately, or keep them there until the Iraqi government can stand on its own.

Personally, I would prefer to listen to the soldiers on the ground in Iraq. What do their commanding officers have to say about the situation? What do the troops have to say? For me, their voice has a hell of a lot more weight than any politician in Washington.

Four-Star General David Petraeus is in charge of the Multination Force in Iraq. He is the commander of ground operations over there. That would probably be a good person to listen to.

Senator Harry Reid agreed. On Monday, Reid was interviewed by Dana Bash with CNN. The interview was in response to Reid’s recent comment that “this war is lost.” Bash asked Reid what he meant by his comment. Here was the exchange:

BASH: The phrase "the war is lost" really touched a nerve. Do you stand by that comment?

REID: General Petraeus has said that only 20 percent of the war can be won militarily. He's the man on the ground there now. He said 80 percent of the war has to be won diplomatically, economically and politically. I agree with General Petraeus. Now, that is clear and I certainly believe that.

BASH: But, sir, General Petraeus has not said the war is lost. I just want to ask you again...

REID: General -- General Petraeus has said the war cannot be won militarily. He said that.

BASH: Is there something to that, an 18- and 19-year-old person in the service in Iraq who is serving, risking their lives, in some cases losing their life, hearing somebody like you back in Washington saying that they're fighting for a lost cause?

REID: General Petraeus has told them that.

BASH: How has he said that?

REID: He said the war can't be won militarily. He said that. I mean he said it. He's the commander on the ground there.

Reid has fully backed Petraeus, and endorced his credentials. “I agree with General Patraeus,” “He is the commander on the ground there.” Petraeus knows what he’s talking about!

But, did Petraeus really say that "the war can't be won militarily?" Of course not. Reid took his statement completely out of context. Petraeus made the statement in question during his first press briefing from Baghdad on March 8, 2007. Here is Petraeus’ FULL comment:

PETRAEUS: We and our Iraqi partners recognize that improving security for the Iraqi people is the first step in rekindling hope. The upward spiral we all want begins with Iraqi and coalition forces working together and locating in the neighborhoods those forces must secure. This concept features Iraqi and coalition soldiers partnering with local police to establish joint security stations, such as the one we began establishing in Sadr City on Monday, as well as combat outposts to ensure continuous presence in local communities.

REPORTER: Could you confirm to us, please, that there is a dialogue between the American officials and the Mahdi Army militias and some armed groups like the Islamic Party in Iraq?

PETRAEUS: In an endeavor like this one, the host nation and those who are assisting it obviously are trying to determine over time who are the irreconcilables and who are the reconcilables.

REPORTER: You said that the host country can determine who are the reconcilable groups. ...So how are these people going to be part of the solution?

PETRAEUS: With respect, again, to the -- you know, the idea of the reconcilables and the irreconcilables, this is something in which the Iraqi government obviously has the lead. It is something that they have sought to -- in some cases, to reach out. And I think, again, that any student of history recognizes that there is no military solution to a problem like that in Iraq, to the insurgency of Iraq. Military action is necessary to help improve security, for all the reasons that I stated in my remarks, but it is not sufficient.

What he is saying is that there are two kinds of people in Iraq right now. The “reconcilables” are those in Iraq who are willing to work with the Iraqi government. Any grievance they may have can be dealt with through peaceful means. The “irreconcilables” are the ones who will stand for nothing less than the death of every American soldier and the complete institution of radical Islamic law. There is no way that these individuals will reach a peaceful agreement with the new Iraqi government.

So, how do you bring the “reconcilables” around to working peacefully with the new government? Petraeus is saying that “a problem like this” is not a military matter. That is a diplomatic or political matter. He is there to “help improve security.” He is there to kill or otherwise defeat the “irreconcilables.”

Harry Reid is either incompetent for not being able to understand the context of Petraeus’ statement. Or, he is intellectually dishonest. Methinks it is the latter.

Reid knows full-well what Petraeus was saying. But, most Americans don’t. It was a perfect political opportunity to twist the words of a military commander to fit his agenda.

So, Reid, during the first part of the interview, was willing to agree with Petraeus and fully endorse Petraeus’ credentials.

However, what happens when Petraeus makes a statement that doesn’t fit Reid’s agenda? Well, naturally, Reid would say that Petraeus is lying.

The funny part is Reid praised Petraeus and called him a liar IN THE SAME INTERVIEW! A mere 30 seconds after Reid boosted up Petraeus and backed his expertise, he claimed that Petraeus was a liar. Here is the rest of the interview:

REID: I mean General Petraeus has said the war cannot be won militarily. Doesn't every soldier going there know that he's said that? I think so.

BASH: He also said that General Petraeus is going to come to the Hill and make it clear to you that there is progress going on in Iraq, that the so-called surge is working. Will you believe him when he says that?

REID: No, I don't believe him, because it's not happening.

When Reid can take the General's comments out of context, Reid acknowledges that the General knows what he is talking about. As soon as the General says the surge is working, Reid claims that he is a liar.

Simply amazing.


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