Col. Austin Bay describes Gen. Petraeus’s September as a “pivotal strategic gambit.” Truly we’re in a strange world where media events matter more than the battlefield.
But then, warfare was never very deadly in first place. It was always about perceptions. Can Petraeus win? Or will he be ignored by those who prefer fantasies?
Despite the sensationalist headlines and hyperbolic fretting, given the decades of terror and the centuries of political fossilization afflicting the Middle East, the trend lines in The War on Terror are astonishingly good.
Trends are the great truths behind pivotal moments, and Petraeus is aware of that. Since 9-11, America has made great strides in addressing at the fundamental level the social pathologies that seed Islamo-fascist terrorism. In short form it is this: The choice between tyrant and terrorist is no choice. Modernity requires a degree of social consensus and economic liberalization. Iraq is thus a radical experiment in modernity in a vital region afflicted by economic failure, tribal factiousness and oil-dollar powered feudalism.
Petraeus’ pivotal moment is the rare opportunity to correct what media analysts call “the dominant narrative.”
That dominant narrative has been defeat. Defeat has been a useful narrative to that large percentage in the political class who are mere politicians, not statesmen.
Read it all. The “Narrative” put forward by the newsmedia is about emotions and misleading vividness. They believe that by showing footage of a car bomb that this explains general trends for an entire nation.
Petraeus may even be spending more time on the report than on the strategy, given the priorities of the Information War.
He must convince Congress that terrorism does not matter. The goal is to defeat the insurgency and weaken the ideological movement of Al-Qaedaism. Car bombs irrelevant in this strategy.
Above all, Petraeus will advice patience. Congressmen are unnerved everytime Petraeus describes Iraq as a 10 year long war (the normal length of insurgencies). They’re even more unnerved that the Military is talking about the “Long War” of 25-50 years – minimum. What really unnerves them? We have no choice in the matter. It’s not our war; we were just dragged into it. Ignoring it won’t make the war stop.