Sunday, January 07, 2007

One of the Army's premier intellectuals takes on Iraq

Great profile in the Washington Post about Lt. Gen. David H. Petraeus who is headed to take command of US forces in Iraq.

Dr. Petraeus (he earned a doctorate from Princeton University) seems to be a skeptic, like most of us who wear the uniform: he
posed a riddle during the initial march to Baghdad four years ago that now becomes his own conundrum to solve: "Tell me how this ends."

That query, uttered repeatedly to a reporter then embedded in Petraeus's 101st Airborne Division, revealed a flinty skepticism about prospects in Iraq -- and the man now asked to forestall a military debacle.
Clearly he understands the value of the mental creation, knowing what the desired end is.

Long recognized as one of the Army's premier intellectuals, with a PhD from Princeton to complement his West Point education, Petraeus, 54, will inherit one of the toughest assignments handed any senior officer since the Vietnam War. He takes command of 132,000 U.S. troops in a country shattered by insurgency and sectarian bloodletting, with a home front that is divided and disheartened after 3,000 American combat deaths. If his riddle of 2003 remains apt, so does the headline on a Newsweek cover story about Petraeus in July 2004: "Can This Man Save Iraq?"

Skepticism is rife, inside and outside the Army. "Petraeus is being given a losing hand. I say that reluctantly. The war is unmistakably going in the wrong direction," retired Army Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey said in an interview yesterday. "The only good news in all this is that Petraeus is so incredibly intelligent and creative. . . . I'm sure he'll say to himself, 'I'm not going to be the last soldier off the roof of the embassy in the Green Zone.'"
So, if anyone can do it, General Petraeus seems to be the man.

Read the article... and be amazed at his "intensity, cutting intellect, competitiveness," and luck...

Let's hope he can create a workable strategy that provides a solution to our current Iraqi debacle and that he surrounds himself with people who speak truth to power and provide good military counsel...

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