Jesus Take the Wheel


Have you noticed how most of the fresh hawk/Republican arguments about Iraq boil down to: "Shut up and wait for David Petraeus's report, already"? Take the example of Sen. Linsday Graham (R-S.C.) on Meet the Press.

SEN. GRAHAM: I will not vote for anything until generous—General Petraeus passes on it. No senator, no congressman—no matter how much I respect you—you're not going to be able, in my opinion, to give the advice that General Petraeus can give, and I'm going to wait till he comes back and listen to his advice and not some politician.

RUSSERT: Though Hayden had listed al-Qaeda as the fifth most pressing threat in Iraq, President Bush regularly listed al-Qaeda as first."

SEN. GRAHAM: So did General Petraeus. General Petraeus says the number one enemy of America is al-Qaeda in Iraq, and Lee Hamilton in December said that our chief national security interest, in a sense, is al-Qaeda in Iraq.

On this show in September last year, everyone said Anbar has—is gone. What did Petraeus do? He said, "Give me more troops, and I'm going to get out behind these walls, I'm going to live with the Iraqi army and police forces, and I'm going to try to align myself with people who reject al-Qaeda." And it is working.

What I would like to see happen is to allow Petraeus to keep doing what he's doing,

MR. RUSSERT: Quote, "Iraqi forces can sear—secure their country—can secure their country at any time." He's basically saying, "You can leave and we're just fine."

SEN. GRAHAM: To be honest with you, I think the—General Petraeus will tell us about that scenario.

MR. RUSSERT: Before we go, what happens in September?

SEN. GRAHAM: I think General Petraeus will determine what happens in September,

And finally:

God bless General Petraeus and these troops.

James Fallows has a spot-on post about this, about how Petraeus is the "new Jesus"—the savior that drops in to a failing organization, is expected to solve everyone's problems, is drenched in praise, and then inevitably fails to raise Lazarus.

[Petraeus] is not Jesus, nor is he supernatural in any way. His manual of counter insurgency strategy is a big step forward from the stupid brutalize- and-alienate approach of the early stage of the Iraqi occupation. (The manual is here—a 12 meg PDF download.) But that manual and its underlying strategy—which I heard discussed and thrashed out by Petraeus and his colleagues at Ft. Leavenworth last spring; I think Tom Ricks was there for that conference, and I know that Kristol and Graham weren't—is neither magical nor holy. It is not going to undo what has gone wrong in the last four-plus years. It is not going to make the Maliki government seem legitimate, and it is not even going to shape up the Iraqi security forces.

Whole thing here.