Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Editorial (The Guardian): Telling it like it isn't

Above: Soldiers with Tactical PsyOp Team 1484 hand out toys and clothes to Iraqi children in Mahmudiyah in June.

The testimony of America's top commander in Iraq before Congress was such an anticipated event - not least because George Bush has relied so heavily on it as a way of having to avoid answering questions himself - that its nature has inevitably changed. When General David Petraeus accepted the command and unveiled his counter-insurgency strategy to Congress in January this year, the quid pro quo was his promise to report back to the same body in September. At the time, much was made of the fact that it was to Congress, and through them the American people, that this honest soldier would report. If it was not working, he would say so.

In the event, Gen Petraeus's famed ability to tell it like it is has been compromised. With limited caveats, he provided a down-the-line defence of the surge, providing a plethora of optimistic statistics supporting the contention, shared by few others outside the Pentagon, that the strategy is working. More significantly, he announced that a marine unit would leave Iraq later this month, followed by the departure of a combat brigade in December and four others early next year. Troop levels would return to pre-surge levels by the middle of next year. It was not Petraeus the professional soldier we were seeing yesterday, but Petraeus the political salesmen, and his pitch - give us more time and the plan for regaining stability will work - is no longer credible.

Read the rest t the Guardian