Bryan Curtis's excellent review of Woodward's book is disturbing in its portrayal of how out of control David Petraeus is getting:
[Woodward] demonstrates convincingly that the men in uniformthat would be David Petraeus, Stanley McChrystal, and Mike Mullen, along with Bob Gatesdangled very few battle plans in front of Obama, and used bureaucratic jujitsu to make sure he didn’t see others. For example, Obama never had a fully fleshed-out proposal for sending fewer than 30,000 new troops to Afghanistan. And even the final proposal he crafted himself, lowering the military’s demands a tad. As Petraeus says, after being informed of a slight from Pennsylvania Avenue, “They’re fucking with the wrong guy.”
Jason Mazzone goes after the military, for its refusal simply to accept the end of DADT as something the broader public wants and the president has favored:
The President should not need to win “the support” of military personnel. And military officers should not be contradicting the President’s decision that repeal of DADT will not undermine the effectiveness of troops. Civilian control of the military means that the military doesn’t get to weigh in separately on issues of policy.
The canonization of Petraeus has got to stop. He follows in the footsteps of Colin Powell who mastered the art of Beltway schmoozing and press management. But at least Powell won a war where Petraeus has so far lost two (can anyone now believe, as Iraq descends into political chaos and increasing violence, that the surge was simply a face-saver to get most, but not all, of the US troops out, after failing to achieve the original war goals?).
And the Palin meme - that somehow members of the military have some kind of special status in a civilian republic and their political views demand more respect than those of others - is just as repugnant.
We owe servicemembers immense respect and gratitude for their courage and service - but we also owe them - to honor the civilian democracy they serve - no more influence or status in the political arena than anyone else. The idea that the military is given an effective veto over a Congressional and presidential decision is a dangerous precedent. Truman would not have stood for it, and didn't. Neither did Eisenhower.
The left is just as guilty, with the whole, cheap "chicken-hawk" theme, as if a record of military service (or lack of it) is somehow in any way relevant to the merits or misjudgments of a politician's decisions on war and peace.
It is utterly irrelevant. This is a country run by civilians, whose elected offices are as valid regardless of their military experience, and the military's job is to take orders, to offer private and confidential military - not political - advice to their commander-in-chief. Their role after that in public is quite simple: to shut the fuck up.
The way in which Petraeus is leveraging his Iraq experience - an experience which, as every day reveals, ended in total failure except as a temporary face-saver for partial withdrawal - and his media clout to force an elected president into an open-ended commitment in Afghanistan is deeply disturbing. It's long since time we put these commanders and their enablers in their place.
(Photo: Majid Saeedi/Getty.)
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