Lawrence J. Korb wrote an op-ed back in late May with the tongue- (and logic) twisting lead phrase "Petraeus is not a reliable source for an unbiased assessment."
Well, duh. Everyone has a bias and obviously Petraeus will be partial to the strategy he designed. So what? None of that matters unless Petraeus actually did something to mislead, such as cherry-picking statistics.
So here's another no-brainer. Larry Korb is not a reliable source for an unbiased assessment of Gen. Petraeus*. Korb works for the progressive think-tank "Center for American Progress." Korb showed what type of operator he is with the lead. The portion designed to stick in the mind is "not a reliable source" trusting that the damning phrase would overshadow the vacuous nothing that was Korb's central observation.
Korb tried to hang the thesis on the following shadow of a framework:
"Petraeus published a misleading commentary in the Washington Post"
Korb conveniently neglected to mention any misleading aspect of Petraeus' commentary. His real complaint is that Petraeus wrote as though the war could be won back when both Bush and Kerry were treating it that way--though Korb paints the situation as though Petraeus unquestionably wrote to insert himself into the election.
"Asking Petraeus to assess the situation in September might be asking him - if the evidence pointed in that direction - to say that his whole counterinsurgency strategy was wrong."
Korb is correct on this point, if we forgive the rather sensational hyperbole. Petraeus' counterinsurgency strategy has been tested over time, and it clearly works. A failure in Iraq would not discredit the strategy, particularly since it has been widely admitted (with Petraeus among those doing do) that political moves serve as the ultimate key to success in Iraq.
As noted earlier, this complaint about Petraeus is a big nothing. Congress wanted Petraeus to report. If they didn't think he could be trusted to give a frank assessment of progress in Iraq then they did a foolish thing in confirming him.
"Another complicating fact is that one purpose of the surge was to buy time for Iraqi reconciliation."
No doubt Korb would prefer for the reader to overlook the irrelevance of this "complicating fact" as it pertains to Petraeus' testimony.
Read it over. Korb tries to make two points against Petraeus and throws in an irrelevancy for good measure. The point about Petraeus not being unbiased is obvious and unimportant by itself. Judges are biased, but we still allow them to try cases. By the same token, it was proper to hear Petraeus give his assessment of the surge. Congress was there to ask questions, and nothing stopped them from using other sources of information to challenge Petraeus' claims.
Bottom line, Petraeus came out looking better than people like Rep. Eliot Engel.
One more word on the objectivity of those who self-assess:
Korb told the Forum audience that he favors a timetable for U.S. troop withdrawl sooner rather than later.In other words, success by Petraeus proves Larry Korb wrong. As to reliability of testimony, Korb is hoist by his own petard.
(John F. Kennedy School of Government, Oct. 12, 2006)
A hat tip of sorts to Duane.
*I would not ordinarily use this type of phrase as Korb did; the application here is simply to seize the irony.