In today’s Washington Times, Brookings’ military analyst Michael O’Hanlon pens an op-ed attacking Sen. Harry Reid’s (D-NV) recent remarks about Gen. David Petraeus, calling them “unseemly and unfair.”
Reid last week argued that Petraeus’ early reports from Iraq indicate he is not “in touch with what’s going on in Baghdad.” Petraeus last week claimed life in Iraq is showing “astonishing signs of normalcy,” seemingly ignoring a Pentagon report which found violence in Iraq has remained “relatively unchanged” since the escalation took effect. O’Hanlon’s op-ed appears to posit that “questioning the forthrightness” of Petraeus is unacceptable.
In a statement for ThinkProgress, Center for American Progress senior fellow and former Assistant Secretary of Defense Lawrence Korb responds, noting that O’Hanlon failed to comment on instances where Petraeus has inserted himself into politics:
I was pleased to note that Brookings fellow Michael O’Hanlon agrees that we need an outside group to check on his friend and former Princeton classmate General David Petraeus, a point I argued last month in the Philadelphia Inquirer.
However this glosses over the fact that not only was General Petraeus too optimistic about the training program of Iraq’s forces but that he put this over-optimistic spin in a Washington Post op-ed right before the last presidential election. If Doctor General Petraeus is as smart as O’Hanlon, he had to know that such an op-ed was bound to have an impact on the 2004 elections.
O’Hanlon claims that Sen. Reid “has also shown little interest as majority leader in helping devise a ‘Plan B’ that might replace the admittedly flailing strategy of the president, short of nearly complete and nearly immediate withdrawal.” Reid has led a coalition that passed a timetable for withdrawal in the Senate, and he is the co-sponosor of legislation that would withdraw all U.S. combat troops from Iraq by April 1, 2008. O’Hanlon may not like it, but Reid is certainly involved in “devising a Plan B.”
Atrios notes O’Hanlon’s contribution to a “Plan B” has been to simply inform us that “2007 will be make or break time in Iraq,” all the while attacking anyone who wants to act on that statement.