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The Actual “Person of the Year”

Time magazine ranked General Petraeus fourth runner up for the publication’s 2007 “Person of The Year”. Given the General’s clear insight into media politics, one suspects he was probably surprised to find out he was being considered at all. Given … Read More

By / December 20, 2007

Time magazine ranked General Petraeus fourth runner up for the publication’s 2007 “Person of The Year”. Given the General’s clear insight into media politics, one suspects he was probably surprised to find out he was being considered at all. Given his humble resolve, it’s almost certain he would have found the ridiculous title an embarrassment. After all, Time has bestowed the honor (that they’re quick to insist isn’t an honor) upon both Adolf Hitler (from the January 1939 edition: “He lifted the nation from post-War defeatism. Under the swastika Germany was unified. His was no ordinary dictatorship, but rather one of great energy and magnificent planning.”) And Joseph Stalin (from the January 1940 edition: “Despite the disastrous purges, despite the low opinion that J. Stalin & Co. held of human life, Soviet Russia had definitely gained some measure of respect for its apparent righteousness in foreign affairs.”) Looking over those quotes, I think it’s safe to say that while the title isn’t explicitly an honor, the non-honoree is treated with no small measure of reverence. Which we know General Petraeus has yet to command from the MSM. Given that Russia’s President Vladimir Putin was much more Time-friendly, it’s worth reviewing the accomplishments of a man who does deserve an honor that is, in fact, an honor. By the time David Petraeus took over command of the Iraq War, columnists and politicians had long exhausted the blunder pages of their thesauri. Lawlessness was the order of the day. Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) was years into their campaign of exploiting Sunni-Shia strife. They’d managed to provoke an apparent state of multiple civil wars, the dousing of which seemed obscenely out of the U.S. military’s reach. Petraeus knew that what looked like civil war was, in fact, AQI’s cynically devised plan to foment sectarian bloodshed. Al Qaeda car bombings and mosque bombings were carried out in hopes of retaliation that would, of their own momentum, go on to tear the country apart. Instead of taking sides in a fictitious civil war, he employed a counterinsurgency (COIN) strategy as unprecedented as it was brave. U.S. soldiers would no longer stay barricaded in heavily fortified bases. Instead they operated out of regional outposts in the heart of hot spots, and shared patrol duties with Iraqis. Additionally, forces leaned on AQI hideouts simultaneously so that insurgents couldn’t simply pack up and check in at the next jihad flophouse. These strategic measures, not the simple up-tick in troops, lay at the heart of the surge. Just as the media (and many lawmakers) failed to grasp that, they now fail to see that Iraqi political progress, found lacking when measured from the top-down, is well underway if measured from the bottom-up. Local leaders, both Sunni and Shia, are renouncing the sectarian violence that once gripped their country. Sunni’s are turning against AQI and Shia against Mahdi Army type militiamen in order to bring stability to Iraq. Without General Petraeus, we’d be closing this year with a catastrophic defeat of U.S. forces in the heart of Mesopotamia. Instead we’ve driven civil society’s worst enemy from their most strategically valuable arena. The long-term effect of a loss in Iraq would have meant untold damage: to U.S. military prowess, to American soft power, to the cause of liberation in the Muslim world. A few days ago, Andrew Sullivan, still blind to coalition progress in Iraq, wrote that the U.S. needs a “humble foreign policy” going forward. Indeed, we would have one without Davis Petraeus. Instead, we now have this. Yesterday on the Fox News channel Charles Krauthammer predicted General David Petraeus will someday be elected president of the United States. Hey, it’s not “Person of the Year,” but it doesn’t suck either.

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