Thursday, August 16, 2007

God bless General Petraeus

Ralph Peters is keeping the score noting that the good General is waging war on two fronts: one rather successfully against AQI (Al Queda in Iraq) the other whose outcome is undetermined in the information war that guides a very unpopular Congress.

As far as the Thieves of Baghdad (also known as Iraq's government) go, the terrorists were right. Iraqi minorities, including Christians, have been classified as fair game by Muslim butchers. Mainstream Iraqis simply look away.

But the second reason for those dramatic bombings was that al Qaeda needs to portray Iraq as a continuing failure of U.S. policy. Those dead and maimed Yazidis were just props: The intended audience was Congress.

Al Qaeda has been badly battered. It's lost top leaders and thousands of cadres. Even more painful for the Islamists, they've lost ground among the people of Iraq, including former allies. Iraqis got a good taste of al Qaeda. Now they're spitting it out.

The foreign terrorists slaughtering the innocent recognize that their only remaining hope of pulling off a come-from-way-behind win is to convince your senator and your congressman or -woman that it's politically expedient to hand a default victory to a defeated al Qaeda.

Expect more attempts to generate massive bloodshed in Iraq in the coming weeks. The terrorists are well aware of the exaggerated-by-all-parties importance of Gen. David Petraeus' Sept. 15 progress report to Congress. They'll do all they can to embarrass the general and provide ammunition to the surrender caucus.

Meanwhile, our military progress has become undeniable. Even Democratic presidential aspirants have started hedging their peace-at-any-price positions. To the horror of al Qaeda and left-wing bloggers alike, cutting and running is starting to look unfashionable.

How has Petraeus changed the outlook so swiftly? Numerous factors are in play, but two of his personal characteristics have helped keep him from making a single wrong move thus far.

* First, Petraeus is relentless. The result is that, for the first time, our military approach has become relentless, too.

In the past, we followed up military wins by stepping back and hoping that the reduction of Fallujah or the latest shoot-'em-up with Muqtada al-Sadr's thugs would prove decisive. We were wrong every time - all our forbearance achieved was to give our enemies time to recover.

Petraeus changed the rules, and God bless him for it. He may have a high-school-prom smile for the media, but the general's a clinch fighter who ignores the bell - and who isn't above landing a blow when the ref ain't looking. It's exactly the approach we've needed.

* The second quality is his leadership style. Micro-managers lose control in war. While Petraeus is interested in every detail and spends plenty of time on the ground with tactical commanders, he assigns missions, gives the essential guidance - then trusts subordinates to do their jobs.

Previous U.S. commanders worried about the wrong things, and they worried all the time. Petraeus is concerned about the one thing that matters: Winning.

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