Friday, May 16, 2003

Pope Petraeus
Readers might find this article from the Washington Post interesting. It's on Maj. Gen. David H. Petraeus, the U.S. military commander for the Mosul area. I've long grown tired of those who see a catastrophe around every corner in Iraq, but reading how Petraeus thinks he's supposed to deal with the Iraqis is, well, a trifle irritating.

Some tidbits:

Petraeus on Petraeus: "Amazing, isn't it?" Petraeus said later as he waved to the mob from his departing Black Hawk. "It's a combination of being the president and the pope."

Petraeus on dealing with the natives: Petraeus calls his heavy hand, even with allies, the "Big Man concept" and he often follows even his simplest instructions to Iraqis with the phrase "those are my orders." In a culture used to centralized power, he has employed the technique to begin the difficult task of assembling a multi-ethnic army and a functioning city government.

Petraeus on fooling the natives: Two weeks ago, Petraeus invited 250 city leaders to a convention to choose a new interim mayor and council in Mosul, crimping the invitations with his division's notary seal in a country where stamps are signs of power. "They think it's a super-secret Pentagon thing," he said.

Petraeus on who is boss: "I am the occupying power, make no mistake," Petraeus said, arguing that censorship to preserve public order was his "obligation" under the Geneva Conventions. "I am responsible for this place."

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