Friday, April 4, 2008

Petraeus' Grand Delusions

By Tom Engelhardt

"Yes, their defensive zone is the planet and they patrol it regularly. As ever, their planes and drones have been in the skies these last weeks. They struck a village in Somalia, tribal areas in Pakistan, rural areas in Afghanistan, and urban neighborhoods in Iraq. Their troops are training and advising the Iraqi army and police as well as the new Afghan army, while their Special Operations forces are planning to train Pakistan's paramilitary Frontier Corps in that country's wild, mountainous borderlands.

Their Vice President arrived in Baghdad not long before the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki launched its recent (failed) offensive against cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army militia in the southern oil city of Basra. To "discuss" their needs in their President's eternal War on Terror, two of their top diplomats, a deputy secretary of state and an assistant secretary of state for South Asian affairs, arrived in Pakistan – to the helpless outrage of the local press – on the very day newly elected Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani was being given the oath of office. ("I don't think it is a good idea for them to be here on this particular day, right here in Islamabad, meeting with senior politicians in the new government, trying to dictate terms..." was the way Zaffar Abbas, editor of the newspaper Dawn, put it.)......

Whatever General Petraeus says before Congress next week, however sane and pragmatic he sounds, however impressive looking his charts and graphs, it's worth keeping in mind that his testimony cannot help but be delusional, because it stems from delusional premises and it can lead only to further disaster for Americans and Iraqis.

Yes, of course, American planes and drones will continue to cruise the skies of the globe "taking out" enemies (or missing them and taking out citizens elsewhere whom we could care less about); American diplomats and high military officials will continue to travel the planet in packs, indicating, however politely, what politicians, military men, and diplomats elsewhere "must" do; and American military men will continue to train the Iraqi army in the hopes that, in 2018 if not sooner, it will stand up.

And yet, as long as we mistake ourselves for "the natives," as long as we are convinced that our interests are paramount everywhere, and feel that we must be part of the solution to every problem, our problems – and the world's – will only multiply."

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