Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Paean of Praise to Petraeus, Hero of the Surge

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Paean of Praise to Petraeus, Hero of the Surge

Article excerpt

Byline: ROBERT FOX

THE GAMBLE - GENERAL DAVID PETRAEUS AND THE AMERICAN MILITARY ADVENTURE IN IRAQ, 2006-2008 by Thomas E Ricks (Allen Lane, [pounds sterling]25) ROBERT FOX

ABOUT three years ago it was dawning on US and a few British commanders in Iraq that they were facing the possibility of a serious strategic reverse -- one that would be of far greater impact on the world than the defeat in Vietnam. The Americans were taking casualties by the hundred each month, Shi'ite militias were running whole cities and parts of Baghdad with their death squads, Sunni insurgents and their al Qaeda buddies were using increasingly sophisticated weapons and tactics to murder Americans and Iraqis alike.

Back in Washington, two people, retired General Jack Keane and the strategist Eliot Cohen, managed to get the ear of the President to persuade him that rather than cutting and running he should actually reinforce in Iraq, and change the whole method of operating. This was to be the "surge", which was to bring five more combat brigades and a total of 30,000 extra troops to Iraq. Operational tours were extended from a year to 15 months.

Combat units were told to get out of their bunkers and concrete super-fortress bases and live among the people.

The mission was switched from attacking insurgents, militias and al Qaeda first and last, to protecting Iraqi homes first and fighting "bad guys" second.

The plan was opposed in Washington by Donald Rumsfeld and his supine military command in the capital, and it really got going after the surprisingly feckless, dithering and cranky Rumsfeld -- a bit of a geriatric paper tiger by now-- had been kicked out.

The surge did work, and dramatically reduced the level of violence across central Iraq -- as history now acknowledges.

It is hard to imagine any history narrating the dramatic turn-round better than this new book by Tom Ricks. It follows his account of the chaos and debacle of the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq in 2003, Fiasco, which brought him a Pulitzer prize.

The stars of this new piece of American military mythology are General David Petraeus and his deputy, General Ray Odierno -- who migrates from zero to hero between the two books. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.