Friday, March 20, 2015

Tough guys talking tough

Washington Post Q and A with former General and CIA Director David Petraeus --

In the midst of the fight [Spring 2008], I received word from a very senior Iraqi official that Qassem Soleimani had given him a message for me. When I met with the senior Iraqi, he conveyed the message: "General Petraeus, you should be aware that I, Qassem Soleimani, control Iran’s policy for Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza, and Afghanistan." The point was clear: He owned the policy and the region, and I should deal with him. When my Iraqi interlocutor asked what I wanted to convey in return, I told him to tell Soleimani that he could "pound sand."

"Pound sand." Where's William Safire (RIP) when you need him? Actually, here he is in the New York Times Sunday Magazine, 31 March 2002 --

When Tony Blair called George W. Bush on the day after Sept. 11 to pledge his support, the British prime minister said he assumed the U.S. was considering an immediate response. According to a report in The Sunday Age of Melbourne, Australia, giving an anonymous Blair adviser as a source, Bush replied, ''We're thinking about that,'' but he did not want to ''pound sand with millions of dollars in weapons'' to make himself feel good.

As Safire explains, it seems that Bush in mind that missile strikes were not going to do it. It would have to be an invasion. That was Afghanistan, but of course the same logic -- he wasn't going to simply pound sand in Iraq either. Six years later, Petraeus was seeing the end result of that logic. And 13 years later, he's on the guest speaker circuit in Kurdistan, while Islamic Revolution Guards Command General Qassem Soleimani is helping kick ISIS out of Iraq. While presumably having avoided having an extra-marital affair with his biographer.

Incidentally, Petraeus has a quite delicate sensibility in some ways --

What are your thoughts when you see Qassem Soleimani, the IRGC leader who funded and armed the militias who blew up U.S. troops and shelled the U.S. Embassy while you were in it, taking battlefield tours like you used to? 

 Yes, "Hajji Qassem," our old friend. I have several thoughts when I see the pictures of him, but most of those thoughts probably aren't suitable for publication in a family newspaper like yours.

Dude -- you had an extra-marital affair with your biographer to whom you gave classified information! But it's only your thoughts about an Iranian general that are not family friendly.

1 comment:

LFC said...

Would Iraqi Kurdistan actually have much of a guest-speaker circuit right now?

Also, I hold no brief at all for Petraeus, but what he presumably meant in the last quoted exchange relates to, as you say, sensibilities. Just as he presumably would not want to describe in graphic language his affair w his biographer for the WaPo. Incidentally the objectionable aspect of the affair, imo, was the possible compromise of security involved. Apart from that, I wouldn't much care if he'd had multiple extramarital affairs. (Or gone to bed with a zebra, a two-toed sloth, his dog, or whatever.)