Petraeus: U.S. Has Occupied Iraq Long Enough That We Have ‘Become Liberators Again’

petraeus811.gif In an interview with the Times Online (UK), U.S. Iraq commander Gen. David Petraeus was asked whether the troop escalation could mitigate the rising sectarian violence in Iraq.

Petraeus argued there was a “golden hour” of “omnipotence” in the early stages of the war where the U.S. was “viewed as a liberator.” He then claimed the U.S. is being perceived as “liberators” once again in Iraq, this time freeing them from the bloody civil war instigated as a result of the U.S. occupation:

Q: Is it not too late to halt the violence?

PETRAEUS: There is a period of omnipotence. There was a period in the beginning when there was a ‘golden hour’. Inevitably, it does not matter how much you were viewed as a liberator, over time you will be seen as an occupier. The interesting dynamic here is that we have been here long enough to become liberators again for certain sectors of the population, those that are affected by extremism.

Prior to the war, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, and other administration officials claimed the U.S. would be welcomed as liberators in Iraq. Petraeus appears to be pandering to those fantasies.

In fact, the great majority of Iraqis do not perceive the U.S. as liberators. A poll taken in September 2006 revealed that seven in 10 Iraqis “want U.S-led forces to commit to withdraw within a year.” Furthermore, six in 10 approved of attacks on U.S. forces.

That was nearly four months before the escalation. Since the escalation officially began in February, violence “has increased in most provinces,” “[s]uicide attacks more than doubled across Iraq,” and civilian casualties rose to “more than 100 a day,” according to a recent Pentagon report. Recently, the Iraqi parliament passed a resolution to try to force an end to the occupation.