December 8, 2007

Batiste Switches To Pro-War Stance

General John Batiste has spent the last few years speaking out against the continuing efforts of the US in Iraq. Today, in the Washington Post, the former commander has decided that the surge strategy has succeeded in rescuing the US mission, and that Iraq really is the center of the war on terror. Batiste writes a joint op-ed column with Pete Hegseth announcing that he now supports the Bush administration's pursuit of stability in Iraq (via Worldwide Standard):

First, the United States must be successful in the fight against worldwide Islamic extremism. We have seen this ruthless enemy firsthand, and its global ambitions are undeniable. This struggle, the Long War, will probably take decades to prosecute. Failure is not an option.

Second, whether or not we like it, Iraq is central to that fight. We cannot walk away from our strategic interests in the region. Iraq cannot become a staging ground for Islamic extremism or be dominated by other powers in the region, such as Iran and Syria. A premature or precipitous withdrawal from Iraq, without the requisite stability and security, is likely to cause the violence there -- which has decreased substantially but is still present -- to cascade into an even larger humanitarian crisis.

Third, the counterinsurgency campaign led by Gen. David Petraeus is the correct approach in Iraq. It is showing promise of success and, if continued, will provide the Iraqi government the opportunities it desperately needs to stabilize its country. Ultimately, however, these military gains must be cemented with regional and global diplomacy, political reconciliation, and economic recovery -- tools yet sufficiently utilized. Today's tactical gains in Iraq -- while a necessary pre-condition for political reconciliation -- will crumble without a deliberate and comprehensive strategy.

General Batiste has received a lot of attention over the past two years from the Left. His broadsides against the Bush administration, and especially Donald Rumsfeld, has helped fuel the momentum for retreat. Pete Hegseth has tried to fight that momentum as part of Vets for Freedom, formed to contest spokesmen like Batiste. His change of heart -- and change of affiliation from VoteVets to Vets for Freedom -- leaves the Left with a much smaller fig leaf for their defeatism.

Michael Goldfarb wonders whether the Left will find itself compelled to turn on Batiste. Given that they've put him forth as an expert on the subject, they will either have to do that or acknowledge that Batiste has it right, and they had it wrong since 2003. Which do you suppose they will choose?


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