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Petraeus Follows His Own Book

In my article on the surge I stupidly forgot to include a comment about the uncertainty that Bush would adhere to the letter of David Petraeus' Counterinsurgency plan. Fortunately, the lieutenant general's a tough egg, and he's been given the … Read More

By / January 23, 2007

In my article on the surge I stupidly forgot to include a comment about the uncertainty that Bush would adhere to the letter of David Petraeus' Counterinsurgency plan. Fortunately, the lieutenant general's a tough egg, and he's been given the latitude he needs:

People who have spoken with Petraeus recently said he believes that politicians and journalists have put too much emphasis on the increase in troop numbers and too little on his intention to use them differently. Their top priority will be protecting the Iraqi population, following counterinsurgency doctrine laid out in a new Army manual, which he oversaw, that says "the people are the prize."

Some excellent commenters have indicated that speaking in the future tense, I placed too much faith in likely outcomes and not enough in the chaos theory of warfare. Guilty as charged, though I do think the precedents are there for describing the kind of sine curve of insurgent activity that I did. The above-cited Washington Post piece emphasizes the point that immediately following the surge things will improve before they worsen again. This is a long-term operation, and good for Petraeus for not inflating expectations.

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