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Questions that beg asking

POSTED: October 11, 2007 5:03 a.m.
Republicans were outraged over the full-page ad that the left-wing wackos at MoveOn.org bought in The New York Times that begins by asking the question “General Petraeus or General Betray Us?” and ends, unsurprisingly, with the conclusion that “General Petraeus is likely to become General Betray Us.”
MoveOn is a major source of funds for Democrats which explains why most Democrats have failed to straightforwardly call the ad what it is: A despicable wartime accusation of treason against a loyal American soldier leading his men in battle.
The attack on Petraeus’ honor is so appalling that it distracts from vital questions about the way the war in Iraq is being conducted.
I don’t mean by the military. It’s the civilian leadership that has brought us into this catastrophe with no easy way out. And it is up to that civilian leadership, not the military, to fix it.
Petraeus told Congress that most of the military objectives are being met, but according to his own doctrine, that is not nearly enough.
In December, Petraeus and Marine Lt. Gen. James F. Amos co-authored the first counterinsurgency manual the U.S. armed forces had produced in a generation. They wrote:
“Military efforts are necessary and important to counterinsurgency (COIN) efforts, but they are only effective when integrated into a comprehensive strategy employing all instruments of national power ... Political, social and economic programs are usually more valuable than conventional military operations in addressing the root causes of conflict and undermining an insurgency.”
Apply the concept to Iraq, and what went wrong becomes clear. Bush and his advisers believed U.S. military power was so overwhelmingly superior that it alone would have little trouble overthrowing Saddam Hussein and then stabilizing the country.
This is why, in the run-up to invasion, the international community was regarded as nothing more than a pesky fly to be swatted away. It’s why the right wing insisted that Abu Ghraib was little more than a fraternity prank gone overboard, instead of a public-relations disaster that grievously harmed America’s moral standing.
It is why the military is expected to win a war that even the top commander acknowledges only can be won by “all instruments of national power.”
Where are they, those other instruments of national power? Where is the all-out diplomatic effort to at least try to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, and douse some anti-American fires? What pressure is being brought to bear on Iraqis to stop killing each other? Is Condoleezza Rice still secretary of state? Is anybody in charge?
It might be that things are so far gone, even the most comprehensive of strategies might not be enough to prevent Iraq from descending even deeper into civil war, with young Americans stuck in the middle, dying. Why can’t somebody in charge figure out how to wield national power in ways other than militarily?
Answers to that question must be demanded; contemptible accusations from the left need not make decent, moderate Americans shy away from asking them.

Hernandez is a syndicated columnist and writer-in-residence at New Jersey Institute of Technology.
 

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