There’s something a bit absurd about this Washington Post headline: “Bush Listens Closely To His Man in Iraq: In White House Deliberations on War, Gen. Petraeus Has a Privileged Voice.”
This makes it seem as if Bush suddenly arrived in the White House in media res sometime in 2007 and starting trying to figure things out. The surge was already underway, different advisors had different takes, and Bush came to rely on General Petraeus who now has a “privileged voice” in deliberations. But that’s not how it went at all. Bush has, from the beginning, always listened to people who tell him what he wants to hear — starting a war with Iraq is a great idea, continuing a war with Iraq is a great idea. If Petraeus told Bush tomorrow that he should admit failure and open up a regional dialogue on how best to manage an American withdrawal from Iraq, suddenly his privileged position would be gone. The stature of various advice-givers is baked into the cake of the content of their advice and it’s not at all hard to tell what Bush wants people to tell him.
Photo by Staff Sgt. Lorie Jewell, U.S. Army