Monday, September 10, 2007

Zero Leadership

From the Congressional testimony of General Petraeus, it is clear that tactically and militarily the surge may have produced some positive effects, but the political objectives have not been achieved. No sane person(except probably Pres. Bush whose sanity can be questioned) in today’s world will give damn to military victories if political objectives have not been met. So it is besides the points whether Petraeus’s smartness and skills have indeed brought some success to American military. Well, give him some more medals and stars on his already crowded chest and shoulders.

Once again Bush Administration has ‘swift boated’ Americans and have painted the picture that ‘surge’ has worked. There are so many questions regarding the selective mechanism used by the General to report this progress. But let us finally agree that, for better or worse, America has no choice but accept his assessment on the face value . The General is not a politician so that one engages in a political debate with him. If he is not doing his job (honestly reporting the status to Congress), he should be removed from the job. Granted, by then damage is done; but what choice do Americans have? None.

So coming back to the question what does this surge success mean to America, it raises some fundamental questions:
- Does America still need to believe that political goals are attainable in Iraq? Both the General and the Ambassador did not sound any promising on this front. There is nothing in their report that any self respecting elected representative can depend to assume that political goals in Iraq may come by in some future.
- So then what does the extending of ‘surge’ achieve?
- In place of the united Iraq, what are the political alternatives; likes of loosely fragmented Iraq or a loose republic? What does the ‘soft partition of Iraq’ mean in terms of America’s military commitments?

What is clear is that neither the General has the honesty in asking America’s political leaders to think beyond non-attainable ‘united Iraq’ (in terms of partition and the military commitments for the same); nor the Congress has guts to visualize this possibility – the possibility which is looking more and more realistic.

There is no honesty in America’s military leadership as well as Congressional leadership to realize that America does not have boots and dollars to sustain the surge for longer period while chasing the chimera of united Iraq. Worst, Congress is going by the pure expediency - if the public is not ‘vocal’ enough in demanding a change of course in the Iraq policy, then why spend the political capital? These Congress members think that there may be a possibility that surge may calm down the violence, so why risk of run against it? But they do not understand that tactical success of surge has nothing to do with the long term political and security goals of America.

So there is Zero Leadership. Six years after 9/11, America is still in dark as far as correcting her course is concerned. Sad, sad day.

Umesh Patil
Cupertino, CA 95014
September 10, 2007.

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