Sunday, July 15, 2007

Searching For Scapegoats

Everyone knows that Bush loves to place the blame for fuckups anywhere except his Oval Office.

The thinking has been that the president is planning to spread the blame for the loss of the Iraq war between the unresponsive Iraqi government, and the obstructionist Democrats.

In the newest development in the blame game, it appears that the pie is large enough to be split as well with the U.S. military commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus.

With opposition to Bush's Iraq strategy escalating on Capitol Hill, the president has sought, at least rhetorically, to transfer some of the burden of an unpopular war to his top general in Baghdad, wielding Petraeus as a shield against a growing number of congressional doubters. In speeches and meetings, the president has implored his critics to wait until September, when Petraeus is scheduled to deliver a much-anticipated assessment of the U.S. mission in Iraq. ...

Some of Petraeus's military comrades worry that the general is being set up by the Bush administration as a scapegoat if conditions in Iraq fail to improve. "The danger is that Petraeus will now be painted as failing to live up to expectations and become the fall guy for the administration," one retired four-star officer said.

Bush has mentioned Petraeus at least 150 times this year in his speeches, interviews and news conferences, often setting him up in opposition to members of Congress.

"It seems to me almost an act of desperation, the administration turning to the one most prominent official who cannot act politically and whose credibility is so far unsullied, someone who is or should be purely driven by the facts of the situation," said Richard Kohn, a specialist in U.S. military history at the University of North Carolina. "What it tells me, given the hemorrhaging of support in Congress, is that we're entering some new phase of the end game."

In his public comments, Bush has not leaned nearly as heavily on the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Ryan C. Crocker, Petraeus's political counterpart in Baghdad. At his news conference Thursday, the president mentioned Petraeus 12 times but Crocker only twice, both times in his prepared statement.

Retired Marine Lt. Gen. Wallace Gregson, a skilled strategist, concluded that the president is sending the message that Iraq is "a purely military problem." The lesson, he said, may be that "the military action and the political objectives are parting company." That is, he explained, the United States may make some progress by fighting insurgents and training Iraqis, but that won't affect the Iraqi leaders' ability to achieve reconciliation.

But there was general agreement that the president's reliance on Petraeus puts the general in a vulnerable position, both with the administration and with Congress. ...

"This is an administration that wants to blame the generals," (Lawrence Korb, a former Pentagon official) said.

It is not unusual for presidents to duck behind generals when wars go bad, Kohn said. Previous examples, he said, include President Harry S. Truman relying on Gen. Omar Bradley and the other members of the Joint Chiefs to counter the impact of his split with Gen. Douglas MacArthur over the Korean War, and President Lyndon B. Johnson bringing Gen. William Westmoreland back to address Congress in 1967 to respond to the growing antiwar movement.

5 Comments:

Blogger Meatball One said...

Brazen, pickin' on Petraeus. Not completely untoward, but g*d d*mn brazen - and that in a scary kinda way, non?

7/15/2007 3:13 PM  
Blogger Effwit said...

M1:

And he has the gall to bad rap others for disrespecting the troops.

Nice.

7/15/2007 5:03 PM  
Blogger Meatball One said...

G*d d*mn.

7/15/2007 7:53 PM  
Blogger Meatball One said...

btw, were u blogging when dry martini'd tonight? (or spiking your green tea?)

7/15/2007 8:09 PM  
Blogger Effwit said...

M1:

LOL.

Nope. Intoxicants are bad for my practice. And there are other -- at least equally valid reasons -- why I avoid same.

7/16/2007 6:54 AM  

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