Friday, January 26, 2007


He's the mainstream newsmedia's favorite general. Make no mistake, DD has no idea what David Petraeus is like, only the image of him delivered by reporters and pundits. However, enough already. Can he be asked to leave the room now? When Iraq refuses to bend to our national will once again, will we stop hearing about the man of steel from Princeton? (We stopped hearing about how Don Rumsfeld was a Princeton man and a wrestler fond of the fireman's carry/barrel roll PDQ!)

First off, a collection of Petraeus' "no shit, Sherlock" moments in front of Congress, captured by every media organization, portrayed as pearls of wisdom. My bald and flaking pate bows to them.

"None of this will be rapid . . . In fact, the way ahead will be neither quick nor easy and there undoubtedly will be tough days."

"The way ahead will be very hard. But hard is not hopeless."

"Actions taken in Sadr City will have to be carefully considered ..."

From .pdf files furnished to Congress ...

First, from Dale Carnegie's How to Make Friends and Influence People"lessons learned" on Iraq:

"There is no substitute for flexible, adaptable leaders."

"Intelligence is the key to success."

"A leader's most important task is to set the right tone."

From the "what do you consider to be the most significant mistakes" freshman collegiate essayanswer to Congress:

"First there were a number of assumptions and assessments that did not bear out."

" . . . as noted recently by President Bush, there were a number of situations that did not develop as was envisioned."

"There was an underestimation of the security challenges in Iraq."

DD could go on, but it's just more of the same bathwater. Media coverage cried out for someone, perhaps even Petraeus himself, to just cry out: "For Pete's sake, STFU, we've [or you've] heard it ad nauseum!"

Anyway, nope, none of that. Just more bad intelligence-insulting theatre. David Petraeus, the man with the plan, the general for Iraq. And in case you've forgotten --

The aphorisms of Zig ZiglarDavid Petraeus: "Physical and mental toughness are...essential [to] leadership. It's hard to lead from the front if you are in the rear of the formation."

Or ...

"[David Petraeus'] Screaming Eagles built schools, they cleaned up the water and sewage systems, they won hearts and minds . . . "

"Petraeus puts a strong emphasis on physical fitness. Many of his soldiers dread the invitation to go on a run with him because it takes so much energy to keep up."

"[Petraeus] keeps himself maniacally fit. The speed of his recovery from a gunshot wound received on a rifle range when he was commanding a battalion in the 101st Airborne is legendary."

Here's a question Congress might have asked. "Do you think you can run the Iraqis into submission? Is physical fitness as a measuring stick of who should win something they will bend to?"

The biggest tubload of the dumbly obvious from Petraeus repackaged as something gnomic was assembled by The Washington Post. On the 14th of this month, Rachel Dry posted excerpts from his Ph.D. thesis, on lessons learned from the Vietnam war. Petraeus presented it in 1987. It's here.

Here's a slew of popular books on Vietnam. Note the many well known titles written prior to Petraeus' work. Keep in mind, Ph.D. theses are intended to be pieces of original research.

In 1991, DD bought a book entitled BAD, by Paul Fussell. Fussell has written extensively about war and while BAD was not about battle, it was a supercilious rant on the American condition.

Fussell partially defined BAD in this country as a consequence of bragging. "The United States especially overflows with it because of all countries it is most addicted to self-praise . . . " There were many things to do to cure BADness, wrote Fussell. One of them was to "curb the national impulse to brag."

The image of Petraeus in today's news smacks relentlessly of empty bragging, of praise for something which deserves little, if any.


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