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September 05, 2008

Petraeus: "Qaeda Undefeated in Iraq"
Posted by Adam Blickstein

Shh. Don't tell anyone who attended the GOP convention this past week, but Iraq still remains a vexing, dangerous, and uncertain place:

Al Qaeda remains a dangerous force in Iraq despite a general decline in violence and U.S. troops must continue to confront the militant group, the outgoing top U.S. general in the country said. General David Petraeus told al Arabiya television he believed recent success in reducing violence had restored the United States' image with Iraqis. Troops initially greeted as liberators but later viewed as occupiers were now again accepted as friends. In the interview recorded on Monday and scheduled for broadcast later on Friday, Petraeus was asked whether al Qaeda had been defeated in Iraq. "You will not find any military leader who will say this ... all we can say is al Qaeda is still dangerous," he said. Petraeus' comments were translated into English from an Arabic transcript of the interview sent to Reuters. "It is certain more of these crimes will be committed, and we must continue working to confront these attacks," he said.

This isn't about defeatist Democrats, as Republicans would otherwise suggest, since it's coming from Gen. Petraeus' own mouth. I think everyone recognizes that the situation in Iraq today is far better than it was a year ago (not because of the monolithic GOP-induced talking point of "surge", as Bob Woodward's new book points out), but Iraq remains in a fundamentally precarious place. Political reconciliation has yet to be achieved, and while the current climate of calm is of course promising, the balance there remains fragile. Most in the foreign policy community realize this, and Gen. Petraeus as well as other military officials in the region acknowledge there is still plenty of work to be done and potential for further destabilization.  Sadly, all you heard this week from Lindsay Graham and other Republicans were hyperbolic accusations of how Democrats won't acknowledge the victory there, and that Barack Obama fails to see the sublime beauty of the surge-based successes. But, descending back into the realm of reality for a second, why won't the Republicans listen to Gen. Petraeus and the other commanders on the ground? Al Qaeda remains a threat, Iraq remains dangerous, and the Iraqi leaders have still yet to take full responsibility for their country. This can only truly be achieved with an eventual American withdrawal and transfer of ownership over Iraq's future to the Iraqi's themselves. And while Gen. Petraeus is suggesting a delay in the draw-down of American forces until next February, after the next President takes over, the flag waving, victory asserting Republicans should listen more carefully to Petraeus before once again declaring mission accomplished.


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I would like to say Obama can't admit he was wrong on the surge. He just absolutely cannot admit that he made a mistake in judgment. Just like Bush.He's also proven to be passive-aggressive (3 a.m. text message; Mayor of Wa-Silly) which could end up backfiring on the USA big-time when he pulls his high school stunts on one of our enemies.These are not traits we want in a leader, folks! Especially not one during these critical times.

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