Matt Sanchez has a must-read essay up at RightWingNews. He's embedded in Ramadi.
I don't fault General Petreus because he has a clear political understanding. He knows that if he plays this wrong, the outcome could very well be war defunding by a weak, corrupt Congress. He's heard the words, "Don't think that we won't do it."
To a man leading the most powerful military in the world, it is disconcerting that Petraeus' greatest concern may not be enemy action but public dissatisfaction. As an embedded reporter with the American military, I write these words from Iraq, where I've never met a "pro-war" Marine, soldier; just troops who want to successfully complete their task. There are those who are opposed to this war and those opposed to the idea of war itself—I suspect these are the groups who denounce children playing pretend war in school yards, but when it comes to supporting a true war on a real battlefield, the troops should expect real support.
Unfortunately, I think the result of the Petreus soft-sell might be the opposite of what he intends. Like the Patton quote Sanchez mentions, Americans like winners. There has been scant evidence, due to a biased media, that we're winning. The only voice we look forward to hearing is General Petreus. If the President or any military leader claims any sort of victory, the press immediately dissects and discards the notion. They laughably cry "bias"!
In addition, I know people even now, who just can't let the origins of the Iraq war go. Convinced that Bush manipulated intelligence, they refuse to get behind the effort because it was a made-up conflict. No amount of reasoning works. The war never should have happened. Period. These people continue to refuse to come to the intellectual table now, today, weighing the evidence as it currently stands.
Watching Russert's round-table this Sunday, I marveled at the reporter's consensus: No matter what happens, Iraq is lost. It's a mess. It's irredeemable. The only choice is the least bad choice. It was a disgusting display, really. All smartly dressed, erudite and vapid at the same time. Do they know of any facts on the ground at all? Maybe, but they're just spewing what they believed before the war. It's hopeless.
And while a few educated people read blogs, and lots of people keep personal blogs and diaries, the main news people consume is beamed from NBC, CBS and ABC. Russert throws soft-balls to three biased reporters (the New York Times guy was the only one remotely positive) and those are The Facts. Ameicans, the vast majority uninterested in politics, absorb them like poison.
"The Facts" are nothing of the sort. They are opinions backed with selective evidence. But how is David Petreus supposed to fight against that narrative? Unless he was making a daily news conference, he couldn't.
Perhaps, a few emotional speeches talking about a peaceful Iraq would help. It's the moral thing, after all, to be on the side that promotes freedom, choice and peace. It's the warriors and their supporters that speak and write in these terms.
Losing means, chaos, crime, and murder. It is hardly the moral choice.