Petraeus

First, I should mention, that ever since reading “Opus” on Sunday, I can't read the name Petraeus without singing it to myself to the tune of “Maria” in West Side Story (Petraeus, I've just seen a boy named Petaeus…).  With that out of the way, I'll mention that it is amazing to see as a man who was once highly respected by those all across the political spectrum has completely lost his credibility by becoming a hand puppet for the administration.  Anybody who has been actually paying attention to the news for the past weeks know that the evidence is quite convincing that although the surge has led to some tactical military successes (as all the additional troops damn well should) it has done little if anything to change the overall dismal strategic picture in Iraq.  You might as well have had Bush giving the “Petraeus report” yesterday, though, so closely did Petraeus hew to the White House line.  And just in case there was any doubt as to whether Petraeus has any independent credibility, he went on to a special exclusive interview with Fox news, which Glenn Greenwald nicely describes:

The whole production was such transparent propaganda that one doubts
that Pravda would have been shameless enough to present it. Even the
title of the program was creepy. Fox did not even bother to call it an
“interview,” but rather hailed it as a “Briefing for America.”

 The model for the entire hour was not a journalist asking questions of
government leaders, but instead, a direct examination at a trial, where
a friendly lawyer gently leads his own witness to present claims in the
most persuasive manner possible, with the lawyer interrupting only to
clarify the witness' statements and to provide helpful suggestions as
to how the witness can make his case even more effectively.

Amazingly, the first ten minutes or so of the program consisted of
Petraeus unilaterally presenting his case, uninterrupted, as to all the
ways in which we have made Great Progress in Iraq since the Surge
began. Fox News set up a huge flat screen television next to Petraeus,
and already plugged into that screen were all of the U.S. military's
own charts and graphs designed to visually depict Iraq as becoming
better and safer since the Surge began.

Like
a professor lecturing his class, Petraeus held a pointer, and had notes
in front of him indicating the sequence of the screens. When he was
done explaining one happy Good News screen, the next one popped up, and
he proceeded that way — with no challenge whatsoever — to present his
“Briefing for America.” Hume sat by quietly and reverently, opening his
mouth only to add information to make Petraeus' point clearer. The
“interview” was engineered and scripted by the U.S. military, with Hume
playing the role of Master of Ceremonies.

Josh Marshall provides a link to one of the more egregious segments of the “interview.”

And finally, I want to mention how pathetic it is to see all these headlines about how Petraeus has agreed to begin withdrawing at least some troops next Spring when every inteligent person knows that he has no choice in the matter– it is a simple logistical neccessity.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

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