Monday, August 27, 2007


The General Reports

Counterpunch: The General Reports

In the August 26 edition of the Washington Post, Shailagh Murray reported on Petraeus's current position as recounted by Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-Illinois) after her recent trip to Iraq. It appears that Petraeus may behave more like Westmoreland than I had anticipated:

"But the military presentations left her stunned. Schakowsky said she jotted down Petraeus's words in a small white notebook she had brought along to record her impressions. Her neat, looping handwriting filled page after page, and she flipped through to find the Petraeus section. " 'We will be in Iraq in some way for nine to 10 years,' " Schakowsky read carefully. She had added her own translation: "Keep the train running for a few months, and then stretch it out. Just enough progress to justify more time." "I felt that was a stretch and really part of a PR strategy -- just like the PR strategy that initially led up to the war in the first place," Schakowsky said. Petraeus, she said, "acknowledged that if the policymakers decide that we need to withdraw, that, you know, that's what he would have to do. But he felt that in order to win, we'd have to be there nine or 10 years."

"But it wasn't just Republicans who came away impressed after visiting Iraq. Rep. Brian Baird (D-Wash.) announced that he will no longer support a timetable for withdrawal, warning of a "potentially catastrophic effect" on the region. Schakowsky acknowledged that the military's presentation may have been effective. "If you took the briefings at their face value, without context, without bringing anything to it -- clearly they were trying to present that positive spin, and that's what [other lawmakers] took away from it." Schakowsky said she asked U.S. officials about the consequences of withdrawal, and she conceded that "they painted a very dire picture." She looked again through her notebook for a Petraeus quote. "He said: 'If you don't like the humanitarian crisis, the refugees and the internally displaced people, you can't draw down. If you are concerned about these people, the humanitarian crisis, you should be for our staying here.' "

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