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27 Jun, 2007 04:26

Democrats pounce on U.S. top military

The campaign in Iraq has left no one untouched in U.S. domestic politics. The blame game over the unending military operation has recently become sharper.

Senate majority leader Harry Reid has put the skids under the U.S. top brass, when he said: “General Petraeus is not in touch with what is really going on in Iraq;  or he's just trying to make the president feel good.”

The White House's response was prompt and predictable: “In a time of a war, for a leader of a party that says it supports the military, it seems outrageous to be issuing slanders toward the man responsible for military operations in Iraq,” said White House spokesman Tony Snow.

Were Mr. Reid’s comments right, or was he just whistling Dixie? In the blame game over the U.S. campaign in Iraq, he seems to have been barking up the wrong tree. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton aims higher: “The point of our proposal is very simple: to end the president's authority for the war in order to strip him of the legitimacy of going forward with his policy,” she said.

David Petraeus is not expected to respond to ankle-biting. However, his supporters are not going to sit still and watch the character assassination by friendly fire.

For starters, politicians of all stripes love to hate the military. When their messianic mission flops and shot-gun diplomacy misfires, they blame the gunners and jump ship as soon as they smell a rat. More to the point, the Iraqi project was a political mistake from the outset. In the global War on Terror, it was a diversion from the main Afghan campaign, concocted by the Oval Office and imposed on the Pentagon. Now Iraq is giving the U.S. endless drain and pain with no gain in sight.

“There’s going to be tough fighting ahead. Our enemy is going to want to impact the psyche here in the United States. So it is an expectation that this surge is going to result in more contact and, therefore, more casualties,” says General Peter Pace, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The current Operation Arrowhead Ripper could be another failure for U.S. forces in Iraq.

“A fairly large co-coordinated offensive operation with all of these surge forces has only just now been launched. We have been doing what we might call ‘shaping operations’ in a lot of these different areas,” says Gen. Petraeus.

But it takes political guts and unconventional strategy to win the Asymmetrical War of Minds. No doubt, War Tsar General Lute will support his commander Petraeus in his efforts to stop the counterinsurgency in Iraq from spilling all over the region. But it’s up to politicians to make sure that the generals have the right tools at their disposal.