Friday, April 04, 2008

A Worried Pelosi Warns Petraeus

First excerpts from a Politico story, then my comments below the star line.

Politico begins - - -

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) warned Army Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker on Thursday not to "put a shine on recent events” in Iraq when they testify before Congress next week.

“I hope we don’t hear any glorification of what happened in Basra,” said Pelosi, referring to a recent military offensive against Shiite militants in the city led by the Iraqi government and supported by U.S. forces.

Although powerful Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr agreed to a ceasefire after six days of fighting, Pelosi wondered why the U.S. was caught off guard by the offensive and questioned how the ceasefire was achieved, saying the terms were "probably dictated from Iran.”

“We have to know the real ground truths of what is happening there, not put a shine on events because of a resolution that looks less violent when in fact it has been dictated by al-Sadr, who can grant or withhold that call for violence,” Pelosi said.

Petraeus, the top military commander in Iraq, and Crocker, the U.S. ambassador, will make their return to Capitol Hill on April 8 and 9 to deliver their assessment of the situation on the ground in Iraq. ….

The rest of the Politico story's here.

I wonder how Speaker Pelosi will feel if Gen. Petraeus says something like this about “what happened in Basra”:

While the balance of power in the city is now unclear, the judgment by some Western analysts that the cease-fire was a triumph for the Mahdi Army seems premature.

Similar assessments after inconclusive U.S. battles with the Mahdi Army in 2004 proved unfounded, and in this instance Mr. Sadr was obliged to publicly disown "anyone carrying a weapon and targeting government institutions."

What the end of the fighting demonstrated is that Mr. Maliki's government and army are not yet strong enough to decisively impose themselves by force in areas controlled by the Mahdi Army or other militias, at least not without the full support of U.S. ground forces.

The fact that such support remains available to the government no doubt contributed to Mr. Sadr's embrace of a cease-fire. By the same token, American withdrawal could precipitate a far bloodier conflict that, if won by the Mahdi Army, would be a major reversal for U.S. interests in the Middle East.

At best, the battle of Basra will persuade the Shiite parties to fight for control over the city in upcoming provincial elections, rather than in the streets. But the fact that an Iraqi government commonly described as impotent and inert now is willing and able to fight Shiite militias is a step in the right direction.
If Petraeus testifies along those lines, will Pelosi think she’s hearing “glorification of what happened in Basra?”

The statements I just cited are from a Washington Post editorial yesterday, "Battle of Basra."

Questions for Speaker Pelosi: What’s it like to be Speaker of the House of Representatives and worried American and Iraqi government successes in Iraq will be bad for your party?

Do you feel you’re doing all you can to downplay successes in Iraq and precipitate an American withdrawal which, while good for the Democrats' political interests, the Washington Post points out “would be a major reversal for U.S. interests in the Middle East?"

Instead of trying to influence Gen. Petraeus’ testimony and set the stage for spinning anything positive he may say, how about explaining to the American people how the Democratic Party came to be, in the words of Charles Krauthammer, “invested in our defeat in Iraq?”

To the WaPo edit board: Thank you for a fair, informed and balanced editorial. I wish the NYT edit board would learn how to write such editorials.

Hat tips: Instapundit, Mike Williams, Jennifer Rubens.


Anonymous said...

John -

After the fiasco of how the MSM's coverage of the Duke-Lacrosse case, I am inclined to discount anything found there (which is why I no longer read newspapers). In this regard, I think even the Wash.Po. article you cite paints too dark a picture of the Basra battle. See article of 4/4/08 in Weekly Standard-
The Press Botches Basra by Daveed Gartenstein-Ross & Bill Roggio at:

From the article, it sounds more like Sadr got whooped in Southern Iraq. He gave up without getting any of his demands. That sounds pretty impressive, no matter how it happened.

The NYT under Punch Sulzberger appears to have gone the way of the Raleigh N&O. Both it and the N&O have become truth-challenged, and both it and the N&O have now become profit-challenged.

As for Pelosi, I agree fully with you. What she's telling Petraeus is, don't tell me any news that's good for the US but which is bad for the Democrat Party. The MSM hates Bush and has convinced many Americans that this is Bush's war not America's war. Thus, polls today show the Republicans in trouble in House and Senate races when it's the Democrat Party that should be in trouble for wanting the US to lose in Iraq.

(NB More on the dishonesty of the MSM - A couple of days ago John Lott, Jr. had an op-ed piece pointing out the avalanche of news stories in the MSM about how bad the economy is and was even last summer when it was growing robustly. He speculates that the media may have talked the economy into a recession by eroding confidence. Love that MSM. See op-ed at:

Jack in Silver Spring

Anonymous said...


Keep it up. They can't help but read your columns and then rage in silence.

You're starting to crush them.


Rico said...

Everyone's still in a tizzy about our being in Iraq to support the government. Funny, but no one is in a tizzy about our being in Germany since 1945 to support the goverment or Korea since 1950 to support the government or Kosovo or any of several other hotspots around the globe...

JWM said...

To Jack,

As we learn more about the battle, you appear to be right about the WaPo editors painting too dark a picture.

On the other hand, his militia (really killer thugs) didn’t hand over there weapons as part of a mutually agreed upon cessation to the immediate fighting.

I appreciate all your comments.

Thanks for the heads up on Lott.

You're adding a lot to this blog (no pun intended).

To Ken,

I appreciate your words.

Did you see where I spliced you're comments into the post on Moody's downgrade of McClatchy?

To Rico,

I wish more MSM editorial page editors could put as much sense into as few words as you did.

I'd even settle for them going on for thousands of words if they could just "get it right."

Thank you.

And thank you all three.


Rico said...


Thanks for the compliment. Pithy is my middle name, they say. (When they're being nice.)