General Odom, a retired three-star, is an all-star in my book. His testimony Wednesday before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was a serious strategic analysis of our shockingly awful quicksand war in Iraq. The former Army Assistant Chief Of Staff for Intelligence spoke truth to power, just in case power was listening.
Rather than analyze his analysis, I can best simply present it to the interested reader. If you wonder why it is that you haven't yet read much by or about such a singularly clearheaded general, you're on the right track to discovering how (and for whom) the mainstream media really works.
As a smattering of quotations will bear out, he had it right when he wrote an Oct. 3, 2005 essay, What's Wrong with Cutting and Running?
"The invasion of Iraq will turn out to be the greatest strategic disaster in US history."
"The wisest course for journalists might be to begin sustained investigation of why leading Democrats have failed so miserably to challenge the US occupation of Iraq."
"The war was never in the US's interests and has not become so. It is such an obvious case to make that I find it difficult to believe many pundits and political leaders have not already made it repeatedly."
This cogent analysis was offered to the New York Times as an op-ed. It would have been one of many that he had written for them. Curiously, they weren't interested in his highly interesting opinions, and didn't even bother to respond to his e-mail. The general probably provided a general explanation when he later described:
"Israeli political circles [intent on] bogging the United States down in a war in Iraq that will surely become a war with the rest of the Arab world."
I leave it to the objective reader to determine whether the explanation above suffices to explain the near absence of US mainstream media coverage of General Odom's equally stimulating remarks from Wednesday. These extracts are from his testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
"Violence has been temporarily reduced but today there is credible evidence that the political situation is far more fragmented. And currently we see violence surge in Baghdad and Basra."
"Prime Minister Maliki has initiated military action and then dragged in US forces to help his own troops destroy his Shiite competitors. This is a political setback, not a political solution. Such is the result of the surge tactic."
"No less disturbing has been the steady violence in the Mosul area, and the tensions in Kirkuk between Kurds, Arabs, and Turkomen. A showdown over control of the oil fields there surely awaits us."
"And the idea that some kind of a federal solution can cut this Gordian knot strikes me as a wild fantasy, wholly out of touch with Kurdish realities."
You get the idea. General Odom can think and write for himself. I offer him a snappy salute.
General David H. Petraeus
General Petraeus, who commands US forces in Iraq, is a Bush Leaguer all the way. The Cheerleader in Chief counts on him to be cheerful as the Army sinks ever deeper into the quicksand war. Admiral "Fox" Fallon, his blunt boss, called him "an ass kissing little chicken shit." Fallon is fallen, alas, removed from CENTCOM command last month because of his frank opposition to an attack on Iran.
West Point ethics professor Colonel Ted Westhusing, who in 2005 was nearing the end of a tour in Iraq as a member of Petraeus' staff, wrote him a letter accusing him of being a corrupt careerist. Within days, the colonel died from a gunshot wound to the head, the most senior military officer to die in Iraq. A shoddy investigation labeled the devout Catholic a suicide, and Petraeus was soon whisked out of Iraq and back to the US where he was given another star and groomed to be Bush's boy in Iraq.
He does have his fans, of course. William Kristol, Neocon publisher of The Weekly Review, named Petraeus his man of the year in January. Senator John McCain labels him one of the greatest generals in American history. Of course, the publisher and the senator are both diehard supporters of the Iraq war, damn the costs. Paying lip service to the Bush League boy wonder as a military genius is the key point in the propaganda war. They need all the help they can get to hustle the American people into four more years (or maybe another century) in the quicksand war. To hear them tell it, Petraeus is the best four-star since Patton, and can walk on water -- or at any rate can tread water in quicksand.
As far as I can tell, Petraeus is more a devil than a divinity, though I suppose it's fair to say that this makes him worthy of the Senate that voted to confirm him by an 81-0 vote. The persistent rumors that he was involved in Colonel Westhusing's death would tend to support the logic that a criminal administration needs a criminal general to conduct a criminal war.
As I pointed out in my November 2007 essay, Mosul Dam: Engineering a Water WMD, last fall General Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker issued a warning that Mosul Dam was in imminent danger of collapsing and killing some 500,000 Iraqis from Mosul to Baghdad. Call me a cynic, but I thought it worth considering that such a disaster would be a very convenient way to drown the east side of the Sunni triangle. A couple of months after the collapsing dam warning, a brand-new terrifying scenario began to take shape: Muslim extremists, sometimes named as Al Qaeda, were going to blow up the dam. It all seemed like an agreed-upon catastrophe searching around for an agreeable cause, particularly when one of the chief sources pushing the story is Daniel Pipes, the Neocon neo-Nazi:
"King David," as the residents of Mosul call Petraeus, may be just the man to manufacture a biblical disaster to drown Eden. That would make a fine finale in The Tragedy of Iraq, or King George's Genocide. No doubt it would lead to rave reviews by Pipes and his ilk gushing "now that was a real surge!" For those who find the prospect of genocidal mass murder remote, kindly refer to the Old Testament, or to the recent declaration of Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman that, in the event of war with Egypt, Israel should blow up Egypt's Aswan Dam. It can't be genocide if it's Jewish, the Neocons argue. Whatever Israel does is an "existential necessity" -- it's all part of a kosherkampf, so to speak.
When Petraeus comes before the Senate Tuesday he will be giving another commanded performance, scripted by the White House as a wartime whitewash. The Senate, mandated by the Constitution to oversee the executive branch, has already been refused access to an unclassified National Intelligence Estimate, even though Bush administration sources are saying that it supports the difficult argument that Iraq is a success. Look for Petraeus to insist that all efforts under his watch should be continued, and to imply that Iran is now the root of the Middle East menace. The British Telegraph just published a sobering article, aptly titled "British fear US commander is beating the drum for Iran strikes"
It's more than ironic that the US mainstream media has kept mum on the nasty possibility of an expanded Middle Eastern war. It should make us wonder how many other things they are keeping from us -- and for whom they're really working.
Captain Eric H. May is a former Army military intelligence and public affairs officer, as well as a former NBC editorial writer. His essays have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The Houston Chronicle and Military Intelligence Magazine. For an archive of his articles and list of upcoming interviews click here.
Special notice: April 5-9 marks the fifth anniversary of the Battle of Baghdad, covered up by the US mainstream media under the contrived story of Private Jessica Lynch. Captain May has written The Ghost Troop Anthem to honor the fallen soldiers and Marines. Musicians are invited to create and submit variations of the anthem. For details, or for more about the Battle of Baghdad Coverup, click here.
See the complete Price of Liberty Archive for Captain May here.
Captain Courageous and the Shockingly Awful Quicksand War by Maj William B. Fox