The Petraeus Dodge

Most of today's Krauthammer article is just the sort of deceptions you'd expect from him -- attributing things that happened in regions where there was no surge to the surge, etc., etc. -- but it's noteworthy for making this line of thinking explicit:

It is understandable that Sens. Lugar, Voinovich, Domenici, Snowe and Warner may no longer trust President Bush's judgment when he tells them to wait until Petraeus reports in September. What is not understandable is the vote of no confidence they are passing on Petraeus.

After that, the column is just full of "Petraeus," "Petraeus," "Petraeus." You would have no idea that along with General Petraeus there's a CENTCOM commander, a Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, a Secretary of Defense, a President of the United States, a Vice President of the United States, etc. Apparently, now, the entire evaluation of the war is supposed to be grounded on the reputation of one upper-mid level official. It's a very strange rhetorical move. I'm not sure, for example, where the idea that Petraeus is a magician who can make the impossible work came from.

This is the same Petraeus who ran the training of Iraqi security forces from June 2004 to September 2005 and nothing came of it. I have no reason to think he did a "bad job" of organizing the training, but good training as such wasn't capable of accomplishing anything, anymore than doing a good job of commanding the 160,000 American troops in Iraq is going to accomplish anything at this point. It's not a reflection on the personal competence of any individual soldier or officer -- or even on any giant group of soldiers and officers -- to understand that some things can't be done.