Congress has been debating a military funding bill for Iraq which includes a timeline for withdrawal of U.S. combat forces. The President is threatening a veto. The public is demonstrating around the country, vociferously advocating for the withdrawal of troops or support of the war effort. Is consensus even possible on such a divisive issue?
After 4 years of warfare that was predicted to be over in months, the US remains embroiled in an active and deadly insurgency in Iraq. The mood in the country is eerily reminiscent of that of Vietnam, with very little consensus. Surge or withdraw; withdraw immediately, to a timeline or stay until a capable Iraqi force is in place. Even with the political posturing, the public rancor, the disheartening news and the daily loss of US and Iraqi lives, I do believe consensus may be possible-oddly enough through a bi-partisan action in congress.
I believe there is one thing that we can agree upon and have faith in. It started with the Senate’s confirmation of General David Petraeus as the commander of the Multi-National Force –Iraq. He was confirmed unanimously to Democratic and Republican declarations that he was the right man for the job.
As a West Point classmate of General Patraeus, I agree. I feel he has demonstrated a unique understanding of the formula and shape for a positive outcome in Iraq. The basis of this acumen may have begun as a cadet when the Vietnam War was concluding. I believe the divisiveness in the country and turmoil in the Army was indelibly imprinted on us all, perhaps especially for Dave. While I can only opine since I never served with him, the pursuit of his advanced degrees at Princeton appears to question abandoning the lessons of Vietnam and forewarns of future insurgencies the US military could confront without a force structure suited to the mission.
Death and destruction abound in Iraq, why believe General Patraeus may make a difference? Being his classmate may skew my opinion, but from published accounts of Dave’s continued involvement, I believe he had led with integrity, intelligence and practicality-a true soldier-statesman. In developing a new counterinsurgency manual and as the new commander in Iraq, I’ve read about decisions that are reasoned and selfless, reflective of someone interested in providing realistic doctrine to assist the soldiers prosecuting the war.
While consensus on Iraq may seem unattainable, I do believe General Petraeus possesses the intelligence, honesty, and humility requisite of any commander facing the challenge in Iraq. In this his third tour, he has experience, understands counterinsurgency and is aware there is limited time for results. I trust General Patraeus will do all he can to bring the troops home and continue to work with the Iraqi leadership to transition the war effort to a more capable Iraqi force. I truly believe the integrity and competence that General Dave Patraeus has already demonstrated can provide consensus. Personally, I believe in Dave.
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