September 14, 2008
As General Petraeus leaves MNF-Iraq for Centcom, he leaves his boys with this farewell letter.
Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen, and Civilians of
It has been the greatest of privileges to have been your commander for the
past 19 months. During that time,we and our civilian and Iraqi partners have
been engaged in an exceedingly complex, difficult, and important task. And in the
face of numerous challenges, we and our partners have helped bring new hope to a
country that was besieged by extremists and engulfed in sectarian violence.
When I took command of Multi-National Force-Iraq in February 2007, I noted
that the situation in Iraq was hard but not hopeless. You have proven that
assessment to be correct. Indeed, your great work, sacrifice, courage, and skill
have helped to reverse a downward spiral toward civil war and to wrest the
initiative from the enemies of the new Iraq.
Together, Iraqi and Coalition Forces have faced determined, adaptable, and
barbaric enemies. You and our Iraqi partners have taken the fight to them, and
you have taken away their sanctuaries and safe havens. You have helped secure
the Iraqi people and have enabled, and capitalized on, their rejection of
extremism. You have also supported the Iraqi Security Forces as they have grown
in number and capability and as they have increasingly shouldered more of the
responsibility for security in their country.
You have not just secured the Iraqi people, you have served them, as well.
By helping establish local governance, supporting reconstruction efforts,
assisting with revitalization of local businesses, fostering local reconciliation, and conducting a host of other non-kinetic activities, you have contributed significantly to the communities in which you have operated. Indeed, you have been builders and diplomats as well as guardians and warriors.
The progress achieved has been hard-earned. There have been many tough days
along the way, and we have suffered tragic losses. Indeed, nothing in Iraq has
been anything but hard. But you have been more than equal to every task.
Your accomplishments have, in fact, been the stuff of history. Each of you
should be proud of what has been achieved and of the contributions you continue
to make. Although our tasks in Iraq are far from complete and hard work and tough
fights lie ahead, you have helped bring about remarkable improvements.
Your new commander is precisely the right man for the job. General Ray
Odierno played a central role in the progress achieved during the surge. He
brings tremendous skill, experience, and understanding as he returns to Iraq for
a third tour and takes the helm of MNF-I just seven months after relinquishing
command of MultiNational Corps-Iraq. I have total confidence in him, and I will
do all that I can as the commander of Central Command to help him, MNF-I, and our Iraqi partners to achieve the important goals that we all share for the new Iraq.
Thank you for your magnificent work here in the “Land of the Two Rivers.” And thank you for your sacrifices-and for those of your families–during this crucial phase of Operation Iraqi Freedom. I am honored to have soldiered with you
in this critical endeavor.
With great respect and all best wishes
David H. Petraeus
General, United States Army
August 7, 2008
I suppose this sort of thing was inevitable. I mean, you can’t ask someone to be an idealogue or toe the party line, especially as closing time draws nigh.
I also think that she truly believes, as most of us do, that no matter which slick takes office in Jan, we’ll be ok. Someone as familiar with the machine as Condi realizes that new administrations are very much beholden to the man that came before them. Though Obama may try to put his on spin on things should he get elected, his course in the Middle East is fairly well set.
July 26, 2008
Obama, reflecting the mainstream Democratic view, simply wants to get out of Iraq as soon as possible. Two years ago, it was because the war was lost. Now, we are told, it is to save Afghanistan. The reasons change, but the conclusion is always the same. Out of Iraq. Banish the very memory. Leave as small and insignificant a residual force as possible. And no long-term bases.
McCain, like George Bush, envisions the United States seizing the fruits of victory from a bloody and costly war by establishing an extensive strategic relationship that would not only make the new Iraq a strong ally in the war on terror but would also provide the U.S. with the infrastructure and freedom of action to project American power regionally, as do U.S. forces in Germany, Japan and South Korea. …
Any Iraqi leader would prefer a more pliant American negotiator because all countries — we’ve seen this in Germany, Japan and South Korea — want to maximize their own sovereign freedom of action while still retaining American protection.
It is no mystery who would be the more pliant U.S. negotiator. The Democrats have long been protesting the Bush administration’s hard bargaining for strategic assets in postwar Iraq. Maliki knows the Democrats are so sick of this war, so politically and psychologically committed to its liquidation, so intent on doing nothing to vindicate “Bush’s war,” that they simply want out with the least continued American involvement.
Which is why Maliki gave Obama that royal reception, complete with the embrace of his heretofore problematic withdrawal timetable.
I don’t find this analysis surprising at all. Europe has long taken advantage of the security that America provides while making grand gestures to its citizenry that they are, in fact, sovereign. I feel that Maliki will push this further, to broaden appeal with the populace. When push comes to shove, though, and faced with the prospect of being yet another Iranian puppet, I think we all know to whom Maliki will turn.