Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The General's Dilemma

A very good read by Steve Coll in The New Yorker.
After his workout, Petraeus donned a dress uniform bearing nine rows of ribbons. Someone called his attention to a full-page advertisement that had been placed in that morning’s Times by MoveOn, the liberal activist group. The ad featured the General’s photograph above the headline “GENERAL PETRAEUS OR GENERAL BETRAY US?” It accused him of “cooking the books” for the Bush White House. The Iraq conflict was “unwinnable,” the advertisement argued; it also claimed that some of Petraeus’s past accounts of progress there had been “at war with the facts.”

When we met recently in Iraq, I asked Petraeus if that ad in the Times had marked the low point of his personal experience in this command. It had not, he said; coping with the deaths of soldiers had been considerably more difficult. He added, however, that he rarely feels stress at all, an assertion supported by his appearance: at the age of fifty-five, he has a lightly lined face and chestnut hair that is barely marked by gray. When he does experience an occasional spike in his blood pressure, he said, it is usually caused by an unexpected event, particularly on the battlefield. By contrast, in Washington, he remarked, referring to the city’s culture of political ambush, “you know what’s coming.”
You should read it all.

No comments: