David Petraeus, 4-star general and Commander of the U.S. forces in Iraq, presented his long-awaited status report on Iraq to a House panel yesterday. Color me amazed.
Amazed that President Bush’s top military officer presented a report that would further the President’s aims? No surprise there, although military men with the clout and experience of Gen. Petraeus have been known to speak their independent minds. And to do so forcefully. I doubt that this decorated general fears to speak on any subject on which he has knowledge.
Amazed at the Democratic response to the report? Nothing unpredictable with that. The partisan lines were cleanly drawn, without deviation, and the Democrats fell firmly on the side opposite "President Bush’s commander." MoveOn.org’s "General Betray Us" ad in the NY Times, printed even before the report became public? Who was surprised by that pretty piece of propaganda?
Was I amazed by the protestors who decreed it their duty to interrupt a significant hearing by their sub-sophomoric antics? How proud their friends and family must be, to have seen them escorted out by police officers. The protestors are no doubt celebrating what they think is their defense of free speech. Would they be surprised to know the rest of us fear for the gene pool? Maybe they don’t know that political dissent is nothing new. They weren’t the first and, God willing, won’t be the last. But they might have been the least consequential to have graced the halls of Congress.
What, then, amazed me about Gen. Petraeus’s report?
The fact the United States continues to air not only our dirty laundry, but our entire lives and plans before the world. Not only did American citizens listen to the report from the Commander of our armed forces in Iraq, but so did our enemies around the globe. It’s not wise to tell even your allies all your secrets and your daily business. What the hell are we doing telling the world? Does the phrase, all enemies, foreign and domestic, ring any bells?
No business owner would demand that his managers present privileged company reports to the public, to be minutely examined by competitors and other interested parties. What have we demanded of our commanders and observers—what have we authorized our Congress to do—in this age of instant communications? Do we give away our nation’s protections only to appease those who tout a right to know?
Yes, I hear it now, the argument that nothing secret was revealed. If you think others will not try to glean the tiniest bits of information from Gen. Petraeus’s words—information that could one day harm the U.S. and her allies—you have no grasp of international policies and intrigue. Eager parties are listening and analyzing. And not all of them hold the best interests of the United States as a primary goal.
Amazed? I say I was. But perhaps not. Perhaps I was just hopeful that we’d wised up. Perhaps I was looking for something unexpected in an otherwise predictable day.
Perhaps the next time.