BAGHDAD — Gen. David H. Petraeus looked out from a Black Hawk helicopter at the vistas of Baghdad rushing by 150 feet below on a recent summer evening, pointing at bustling markets, amusement parks and soccer fields scattered through neighborhoods where miles of concrete barriers stood like sentinels against the threat of suicide bombers.
Pressing the talk button on his headset, the slightly built, 54-year-old general, the top American commander in Iraq, said glimpses of the normal life that have survived the war’s horrors have helped to boost his own flagging spirits, especially on days when signs of battlefront progress are offset by new bombings with mass casualties, the starkest measure of continuing insurgent power across Iraq.
Then, he said ruefully, he wondered whether he “should have taken that civilian job” before accepting what many see as the most unpromising command since that of Gen. Creighton W. Abrams Jr. in Vietnam — who took charge, in 1968, when that war was going badly and American opinion was running strongly in favor of a pullout.
I’ll answer that question, General. Yes, you should have. You shouldn’t have taken this job just to get a promotion. You shouldn’t have lent your credibility (such as it was) to a man like George W. Bush, who, as we can see from his cold, emotionless farewell to KKKarl Rove yesterday, treats people like a gourmet meal that he eliminates as soon as it’s been completely consumed. And most of all, you should have realized that when we withdraw from Iraq – which as soon as George Bush is gone, we will do – your name will be associated with the failure of the “surge”.
Heckuva job, Davey.