Of course Petraeus would say what he did

Jason Snead misrepresented both General Petraeus and the response to his presentation and report to Congress last week [“Say no to anti-war,” Sept. 19].

First, while General Petraeus does have a solid reputation and is a sincere man, the only reason he serves as commander is because two other generals were dismissed for disagreeing with the administration’s rosy picture of the war in Iraq. He, being the next choice, has the position only because he does not fundamentally disagree with the president’s position.

Thus, his presentation was not truly independent from the administration, nor was it unbiased. He may fully believe in all the elements of his report, but that does not mean these are the “truth” on the war and the situation in Iraq.

Yes, he has shown some resistance to insiders within the administration and spoke to many harsh realities on the war and the Iraqi government, but he, like everyone in the administration, is ultimately expected to tow the administration’s line. As the president has demonstrated over and over again, anyone who disagrees is dismissed.

Secondly, Snead greatly exaggerates the reaction to the general’s report and testimony, and he supplies no specifics of lampooning or debasing the general. Certainly some people took umbrage with the general’s assessments.

With upwards of one trillion dollars spent, thousands of Americans dead, tens of thousands of Americans wounded, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Afghanis dead, America’s reputation as moral leader shattered, and urgent needs both domestically and internationally that cannot be met due to the war, all Americans should scrutinize any assessment that concludes that we need to remain in the area indefinitely. If people were restrained from criticizing, we would no longer be living in a democratic society.

While I read some sharp comments about General Petraeus’s testimony and am aware of moveon.org’s unfortunate caricature of his name, much of what I read from Democrats and other critics of the war was neutral or even positive to the possibility of withdrawal.

Thus, I’m left wondering if Snead simply took advantage of this situation to write another anti-Democrat diatribe.

David Harnish is a professor of music. Send responses to his column to [email protected]