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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 8/12/10

Petraeus on Afghan War, "We need more time". Well so much for next July's Drawdown of Troops

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This Sunday on "Meet the Press" we're about hear General David Petraeus deliver his latest assessment on the war in Afghanistan and his belief "that the counterinsurgency strategy has not been given enough time to succeed."[1]

Petraeus, who succeeded General Stanley McChrystal last month (after the latter was fired for his candid remarks of disrespect and disdain toward President Obama's civilian advisory team [on the Afghan war] which was revealed in an exclusive story in "Rolling Stone" magazine) as the new American commander in Afghanistan "is expected to amplify the message during a media offensive"[2] beginning Sunday (according to unnamed Administration officials).

As we all by now, the Afghan war has not been going well i.e. American casualties last month were the highest since the war began in 2001, the much publicized "Marja" offensive hasn't produced the expected results and the much larger "Kandahar" offensive has been put off indefinitely, plus the "Wikileaks" expose of Afghan government corruption, the indiscriminate killing of Afghan civilians by our military, as well as the collusion by the Pakistani intelligence service (ISI) with the Taliban we're fighting against reveals the quixotic nature of this war, the quagmire we find ourselves in and the utter futility in continuing it.

So in steps the newest military "Golden Boy" to plead the case for more time to pursue the war and dampen Obama's stated goal of reducing our troop levels in Afghanistan beginning in July 2011.

Those of us who lived through the Viet Nam war era and recoiled upon hearing of Obama's escalation in Afghanistan assessed correctly that next July's drawdown presented a false hope which Petraeus will all but bury with his upcoming media blitz.

To this observer the use of uniformed military spokesmen to "amplify" the administrations message is fundamentally wrong as they are not elected by the people. It brings to mind a statement supposedly made by General George Patton in the waning days of the war against Germany when told that, "In the future general's would have to be politicians," Patton replied, "God help us. I'm glad I'll never be a part of it."

It is a travesty to see our generals trotted out to be used as shills to justify their civilian master's agenda. It is unseemly and a misuse of their role which should be strictly military as well as to provide advice and consent to their civilian Commander in Chief.

And that goes for generals who are retired (who have been used for nefarious purposes). Think of the Bush administration that had ex General Colin Powell present a charade at the U.N. before the onset of the Iraq war. Powell's reputation has since been so sullied by his performance it forever cast him as a propagandist, legitimately destroying any potential for his running for elected office.

Let's not forget the ex Generals masquerading on news shows (like they did with the Iraq war) trumpeting war while in the employ of contractors that benefit from those wars, but not informing their on air employers and certainly not informing the people they spin on the air.

Now we get Petraeus, the latest in a long line of generals trotted out (presumably in full military regalia) as the newest, most recognized, respected military "hero" telling us of the need to give him more time to rectify the war and the insurgency in Afghanistan.

For we are the pawns expected to listen intently and digest the pleas of a general while the elected administration hides behind this figure in uniform and the majority of our elected officials in Congress fawn in his presence.

It is both personally revolting and revealing that we as a people are made to bear witness to this latest political spectacle by one of our Generals.

[1] "U.S. Military to Press for Slower Afghan Drawdown" by Eric Schmitt, Helene Cooper and David E. Sanger, "The New York Times", August 11, 2010

[2] See footnote #1

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