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Jul 7

Written by: Diana West
Wednesday, July 07, 2010 9:19 AM 

Ruth King of Ruthfully Yours sent around this Washington Times piece by Rowan Scarborough that notes the apparent irony that "in less than three years, Army Gen. David H. Petraeus has risen from the brunt of ridicule by Democrats to President Obama's most valuable field general."

Rather than indicating heightened powers of perception on the part of Democrats, I would argue that the hosannas Gen. Petraeus is greeted with everywhere now are inspired by an overall numbness to what his "victory" in Iraq actually means, which is not a lot, at least not for the US.

The piece goes on to document this sea change in attitudes and quotes Petraeus' ex-public affairs officer:

Col. Steven Boylan, who was Gen. Petraeus' spokesman in Iraq and now teaches at Fort Leavenworth's Command and General Staff College in Kansas, recalls a tense, politically charged Washington.

"I don't think it would be unfair to say the issues of '07 were very divisive, and there was a lot of controversy and a lot of doubt with the strategy, and that doubt came through as we saw in the September '07 testimony," he said.

I remember Col. Boylan from 2007. Shortly after this column appeared, Boylan contacted me through my syndicate editor, and we ended up talking for about thirty minutes, him in Baghdad at around midnight as I recall, and me in Washington in the afternoon. The main beef at Petraeus HQ was my use of the phrase "hearts and minds" to describe the Petreaus strategy. This complaint was and is quite absurd given the phrase's accuracy in summing up the COIN quest for support of "the people," whether in Iraq or Afghanistan. Indeed, Boylan's suggested substitute was "winning support for the new Iraq." Petraeus' most recent letter to forces in Afghanistan urges them never to forget "that the decisive terrain in Afghanistan is the human terrain."

Boylan also maintained that Petraeus had never used the phrase himself, which I later discovered wasn't exactly true given that Petraeus, as commander of the 101st Airborne (2003), had ordered posters for all of the barracks emblazoned with the question: WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO WIN IRAQI HEARTS AND MINDS TODAY?

Funny they were so sensitive about h & m.

I managed to get in a few questions of my own and discovered not too much comprehension on the old Islam front, so I followed up with an email containing links to five brief articles I thought might bring the brass a little closer to snuff.

No reply.

Whatever. All hail Petraeus.

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