28 April 2008

An Open Letter to Senator Barack Obama

Dear Senator Obama,

I was disappointed to read on April 27, that you plan to vote to confirm General David Petraeus to lead Central Command. Although widely heralded with "success" for the surge in Iraq , a closer examination of his efforts in Iraq (note: the reduction in violence is not likely due to his leadership) reveals Petraeus' record to be an abject failure that is simply covered over by political gamesmanship.

Petraeus made his move into the political realm in September, 2004 with the publication of an Op-Ed in the Washington Post. This Op-Ed was clearly meant to influence public opinion in favor of President Bush for the upcoming election. The column by Petraeus primarily focused on the "success" he had in training Iraqi troops to take over their own defense. However, despite the rosy numbers spouted by Petraeus in the column, then, as now, Iraqi troops remain completely incapable of defending their country, as demonstrated by the failed al Maliki offensives in Basra and Sadr City last month.

Yet, despite the failure as commander of the Multinational Security Transition Command to develop a battle-ready, independent Iraqi army, Petraeus was promoted to command all forces in Iraq, quite possibly as a reward for his political support of President Bush. In fact, there was one report that after his first meeting with his then commanding officer, Admiral William Fallon, Fallon referred to Petraeus as an "ass-kissing little chickenshit". This same report makes it clear that Admiral Fallon opposed the concept of the surge from the beginnng and that Petraeus was appointed to his role as commander in Iraq to serve as the public face of the Bush surge policy.

It is particularly galling that Petraeus should be chosen to head CentCom because Fallon widely was seen as the last hope for preventing a US attack on Iran. Fallon was widely quoted as having said such an attack would not occur "on my watch". With Fallon now out of the way, appointment of Petraeus to his post would appear to pave the way for such an attack. Given that Tony Snow revealed recently that 80% of President Bush's advisers were against the surge, (note: the link to the Tony Snow quote no longer seems to function, but the quote was repeated on a number of other blogs before the Desert Sun took the article down) yet Bush appointed Petraeus to command troops in Iraq so that he could be the public voice of the surge, why should we believe that Petraeus' role as head of CentCom will be for any other purpose than to advocate for invasion of Iran?

Our military is facing a crisis through the loss of the best and brightest among potential senior officers:
In 2005, internal Army memos started to warn of the "disproportionate loss of high-potential, high-performance junior leaders." West Point graduates are leaving at their highest rates since the 1970s (except for a few years in the early 1990s when the Army's goal was to reduce its size). Of the nearly 1,000 cadets from the class of 2002, 58 percent are no longer on active duty.
Very high on the list of reasons for leaving was "dissatisfaction with the way the Army leadership is managing the war, and the part that played in their decision to leave." Confirmation of General Petraeus as head of CentCom only will exacerbate this situation.

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