Sunday, June 24, 2007

Petraeus' Feet Of Clay

By Cernig

One of the prevalent memes of the pro-war Right is that General David Petraeus is a warrior-scholar, an unimpeachable hero, a man who gets things right - and that accordingly any criticism of his pronouncements or tactics should be treated as contemptable defeatism.

Dick Polman, from the Philly Enquirer, has a post on his own blog which says that simply isn't the case - and that Petreaus' incompetence while in charge of training and equipping Iraqi troops is the original cause for Petreaus' very own surge.
It’s clear that the “progress” he touted back in 2004, with respect to the Iraqi training program, didn’t amount to a hill of beans. If the Iraqi troops had been effectively trained and equipped, chances are that the Bush war team wouldn’t have needed to launch its Surge. In other words (to borrow Bush’s terminology), if the Iraqi troops had indeed been able to stand up, we would be standing down – as opposed to ratcheting up.

...In April 2004, Allawi writes, the U.S. decided to launch a program to train and expand the Iraqi army. The Iraqi Ministry of Defense was designated as the agency that would run the show, line up the weapons contractors, and disburse the money (primarily American money, naturally). Gen. Petraeus was brought in to supervise.

But here’s what was happening while Petraeus was (in Allawi’s words) “waxing lyrical” about the training program in the American press: The money earmarked for weapons procurement was disappearing. Or, as Allawi puts it, “the Ministry of Defense was being systematically looted.”

As a 2005 Iraqi investigation later discovered, the top Ministry of Defense officials – none of whom had any experience in procurement – awarded no-bid contracts to con men who never intended to provide quality equipment. Allawi writes that “in a series of astounding and brazen decisions that broke every contracting and procurement rule, the ministry started to award huge contracts without any bidding and with minimal documentation.”

...You might wonder, “Where was Petraeus while all this was happening?”

Allawi replies that Petraeus basically let it happen: “Petraeus was a firm believer in giving the new Iraqi government as wide a latitude as possible to make its own decisions, without intrusive involvement” from the Americans.

In the end, he writes, “the saga of the grand theft of the Ministry of Defense perfectly illustrated the huge gap between the harsh realities on the ground, and the Panglossian spin that permeated official pronouncements of the government, the U.S. embassy, and the Multinational Force. The optimistic assessments of Gen. Petreaus concerning the equipping and training of Iraqi forces clashed with the huge squandering of the MD’s resources and the abysmal and inappropriate equipment purchases for its rapid deployment forces….(Americans) simply watched, while the MD was being plundered in front of their very noses, hiding behind the excuse that the Iraqis were now responsible for their decisions.”
Petreaus not only failed to prevent any need for a surge in the first place, he was the American on the spot as the greatest theft in history took place. Over $2.3 billion walked out the door on his watch, while he was asleep on duty.

Go read the whole thing.

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