Diary

David Petraeus Is A Very Smart Man

An example of his intelligence can be found here:

The top U.S. military commander in Iraq isn’t buying the increasingly popular idea of a publicly stated timetable for American troop withdrawal.

Gen. David Petraeus, the Iraq commander, said in an interview with McClatchy that the situation in Iraq is too volatile to “project out, and to then try to plant a flag on, a particular date.”

With violence at its lowest levels of the war, politicians in both the United States and Iraq are getting behind the idea of a departure timetable. Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama was first, suggesting he would have combat troops home within 16 months of Inauguration Day. The idea got a big boost during his overseas trip, when Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki indicated support for that general timeline.

During a Friday interview on CNN’s “The Situation Room,” Republican candidate John McCain, who had opposed setting a timeline, appeared to shift ground. McCain said that 16 months “is a pretty good timetable” but must be based on conditions on the ground.

Meanwhile, the Bush administration has embraced “time horizons” as it negotiates with the Iraqi government a status of forces agreement over the future role of U.S. troops. Petraeus said any timetable must have “a heck of a lot more granularity than the kind of very short-hand statements that have been put out.”

“We occasionally have commanders who have so many good weeks, (they think) it’s won. We’ve got this thing. Well we don’t. We’ve had so many good weeks. Right now, for example we’ve had two-and-a-half months of levels of violence not since March 2004,” he said from his office at Camp Victory.

“Well that’s encouraging. It’s heartening. It’s very welcome. But let’s keep our powder dry. . . .Let’s not let our guard down.”

Being farsighted enough to resist faddish intellectual trends is certainly a sign of intelligence and Petraeus proves anew why he can be trusted with leading American military efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan in his new role as CENTCOM commander. But as good as his advice is, it will only be effective if it is implemented by his civilian superiors.

Thus far, those superiors are implementing his advice. Should John McCain be elected President, they will continue to do so.

Should Barack Obama be elected President . . . well, you know the rest. And between Petraeus’s judgment and Obama’s, I know where I put my trust.