Who Do You Trust and Why?

General Petraeus delivered his commentary on the outcome of the surge yesterday. Today there really seems to be no change in the perspective of the two camps. My thoughts as I watched him was what does this all have to do with American security? I didn’t believe a word he said was meant to do anything but bolster a pre-surge position of "staying the course." I didn’t believe that a pullout would have been recommended no matter what the circumstances were. I felt that the continuance of the surge was pre-determined back when it was agreed to report in September the assessment of it’s progress. That was reinforced when the president months ago said that September was not going to be enough time. It was also peculiar that a marketing campaign was started to promote the acceptance weeks before the report came out.

So in the spirit of my own inner reflection, I ask why am I so bitterly close minded to a General of the US military. Why don’t I believe him? The answer came before the day was through. By the end of the day I herd about this interview with another famous general that sat in front of congress and the UN and gave a speech making a case for war. He cited facts that he knew were wrong and misleading. That was Colin Powell.
In an interview with Colin Powell published by GQ this month, General Powell says,

What is the greatest threat facing us now? People will say it’s terrorism. But are there any terrorists in the world who can change the American way of life or our political system? No. Can they knock down a building? Yes. Can they kill somebody? Yes. But can they change us? No. Only we can change ourselves. So what is the great threat we are facing?

I would approach this differently, in almost Marshall-like terms. What are the great opportunities out there—ones that we can take advantage of? It should not be just about creating alliances to deal with a guy in a cave in Pakistan. It should be about how do we create institutions that keep the world moving down a path of wealth creation, of increasing respect for human rights, creating democratic institutions, and increasing the efficiency and power of market economies? This is perhaps the most effective way to go after terrorists.

It sure would have been nice if he had uttered these beliefs back in 2002 instead of being a political lap dog. So why do I look at this latest General with the certainty (or lack there of) of a Senator Larry Craig decision? Why do I question the truth and intent of General Petraeus’ facts, charts, and figures? George Tenent was the Ex CIA Director who was quoted as saying that Saddam having WMD was a "slam dunk case." Richard Clarke was the terrorism czar for two decades preceding the G.W. Bush administration. He served both republican and democratic administrations and was even commissioned for the beginning of the current band of thugs. He now has back peddled on his statement saying he was pressured to make definitive statements. There are so many lesser known insiders that have turned on the policies of misguided retaliation. For the most part anybody who hasn’t become an outspoken critic has retired out of the situation. The latest has been Rumsfeld, Rove, and of course Libby.

When general Petraeus gave his report he cited that the speech was his own and his interpretation of the figures. He claims his assessment was not influenced by anybody else. He didn’t say where he got his facts and if political officials influenced them. Your honest opinions are only as valid as the source of your information. Nothing General Petraeus pointed out in the report had to do with the success of the 18 benchmarks. These benchmarks were the linchpin of the compromise that passed the budget for the surge. They were contrived to judge true progress towards Iraqis self-sufficiency. All he offered was that in the "heat of the summer", they have found less activity. More weapons are being found, and sectarian violence as it is narrowing described by his seniors has been reduced. He gave hard numbers without the relative controls.

It is easy to say there are less people dying in insurgent attacks, that is because there is less people. There are 4 million less Iraqis in Iraq due to fleeing refugees. There are at the very least 80,000 less Iraqis due to violence alone. These are documented deaths, combine that with the undocumented or people dying to sickness and disparaging circumstances caused by a lack of infrastructure and estimates sore into the hundreds of thousands. Add to that, people are getting more cautious and educated about living in a hostile environment, and you see it is natural to see a decline. Each day brings greater separation between groups. This is certainly not a sign of a country in the process of unification. Boy if you kill them all or force them all out of Iraq, the place will be safer then any other in the Middle East.

I find a better judge and a more believable source of information the ABC survey which show that Iraqis themselves feel less secure, more segregated, and want the US troops to leave then they did in the past. That report can be found here. There is a sidebar-detailed description on how the survey was conducted. If the Iraqis people, don’t want you there, the US citizens don’t want you there, and the world nations don’t want you there your chances for success are some how less then 0%.

One sign that the general might not be on the level is the company he is lacking. There is nobody who started out un-supportive of the idea that has come around to say, "you know what I was wrong invading Iraq was a great Idea." Nobody has been prosecuted and convicted for lying about pre-war intelligence to make the case against war. At best you might find people who think we should clean up the mess.

It is 6 years today after 9/11. Still the country is structurally no more safe. Name one thing that has happened to secure the countries soft targets. People have been found to have guns on planes since then. I could go on with all the logistical holes in our security like many before me. Maybe some other day. Hardly worth your dwindling attention span. Iraq has served to draw money and resources away from the improvement demanded by those attacks. First, there is nothing in his report that talks about and exit strategy. Second, there were gains on goals discussed, but no definition on what it meant to we. They say "we have to win", but nobody can define what "winning" means. If it means removing all of the hatred and insanity from the Middle East, well good luck with that one. Thirdly, and most importantly, he mad no connection to how having won in Iraq, is going to make us safer from an attack here at home?

If a person want validity, respect, and sincerity that person has to answer with competence, not just confidence. When posed with a question, you can not dance around it until you mold it into the question you want. That is if you want more validity a South Carolina Teen USA contestant.

"Foot in mouth and head up ass So whatcha talkin' about?Difficult to dance 'round this one'til you pull it out, boy!" - Tool, The Pot


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