Thursday, April 10, 2008
streets is watching:
My summation of the Petraeus hearings is out at the Washington Independent. Can I preach it like I feel it?
Yet Petraeus defied expectations in one sense. He did not exhibit much deference to his potential Democratic bosses. At times, he appeared downright dismissive of the idea that anti-war forces might have a point. He repeatedly said that dire consequences would follow a precipitous withdrawal, but declined to answer a question from House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman (D- Calif.) how he would mitigate those consequences if ordered to implement a withdrawal.

When asked by Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) -- a decided moderate in both outlook and temperament -- if reasonable people could disagree about the way forward in Iraq, Petraeus replied, "Lots of things in life are arguable." He sounded more like Donald Rumsfeld than the officer who has become a national hero.

More substantively, Petraeus twice refused to say that he would be prepared to either design or execute a plan for withdrawal should a new (read: Democratic) president order one. Aware that what he was saying edged up to the line of insubordination, he added, "Let me state up front that I absolutely support the idea of civilian control of the military. We do not work for ourselves." Yet he did not say either that he would resign on principle if asked to implement a strategy he did not support, or that he would ultimately salute and follow orders.
Brandon at VetVoice reminds us that eighteen Americans have died in Iraq since Sunday.
--Spencer Ackerman