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Defending Petraeus

Thursday, Sept. 13, 2007 8:08 AM


It's a sad day when so many liberals think the MoveOn.org ad which asked if General Petraeus might become 'General Betray Us' was clever and witty and really stuck it to the Bush crowd.

The excuses are piled high with a thick frosting of sugary hypocrisy.

"MoveOn.org is not the problem."
"The reich wingers on the radio do this all the time!"
"I don't see the Republicans speaking out about the Swift Boat ads!"

... and so on.

The depth of their arguments is equally shallow. Rational debate has become the Fallacy Game. It's easier to yell, "Strawman! Strawman! I don't have to answer!" then to actually defend your views and their implications. (And the newest one, 'concern troll,' was thrown in my face when I questioned whether or not our patriotism was deserving of civil discourse.)

I have to admit, it made me pretty angry. And I spent some time asking myself whether or not that anger was because some anonymous prick on the web dared question my eloquent observations.

Perhaps so. But that's the sign of maturity, isn't it? To be able to consider that one's views are wrong, or that there's an emotional commitment rather than a reasoned one?

Nonetheless, I maintain that MoveOn.org did entirely the wrong thing by questioning General Petraeus' integrity and honor. It matters not that Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and others of the conservative crowd offer derisive comments. It is nothing but hypocrisy to hurl one of the most grave insults possible at a decorated, ranking officer in the United States Army, then say 'it's not the problem.' Claiming 'they did it first' has never stood as justification for returning insult or injury.

Petraeus is guilty of war crimes, one poster insisted, yet offered nothing but the steadfastness of his belief that Petraeus had lied, betrayed the Constitution, and followed illegal orders. When I explained that - in the absence of proof (you know, that little formality for claims like 'Saddam has WMDs!'), General Petraeus is bound to follow the legitimate orders of the legitimate command authority, the same gentleman (and I use the term loosely) denied he had any share of the burden of proof, and that I was using the Nuremberg Defense ('only following orders').

It comes down to a simple test - the action which is ordered must explicitly break the law (said relationship being determined by that soldier's superiors or a military court). Conducting anti-insurgent operations doesn't meet that test. Nor does conducting dog-and-pony shows to impress visiting officials and press. Nor does a belief that 'the surge is working.'

Any soldier deciding to disobey an order on the grounds that he believes it is illegal is basically rolling the dice. Again, it doesn't matter what he believes - what determines things is what his superiors believe. (Which is why we don't have soldiers bailing out en masse despite inadequate equipment and multiple deployments.)

Oh, but the war is illegal because "... the Constitution says only Congress can declare war, not Bush!" I was told.

True, Article 1, Section 8 of the United States Constitution grants Congress the power to declare war. Simple, eh? But Section 10 adds a small twist - no State may enter into a state of war, '... unless actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay.' (To which extent the White House got the media to do its work for them, by taking 'grave and growing' and turning it into 'imminent.')

Furthermore, Senate Joint Resolution 23 (more familiar as the Authorization for Use of Military Force) grants the President the authority to:

'... use all neccessary and appropriate force against
those nations, organizations, or persons he
determines planned, authorized, committed, or
aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on
September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations
or persons ..."

As President Bush holds that S.J. Res 23 recognizes his authority under the Constitution to take action to deter and prevent acts of terrorism against the United States, and that it also observes the constitutionality of the War Powers Resolution, the bar is quite a bit higher.

Congress, despite all the bickering about Iraq, has neither declared through resolution that the war in Iraq is illegal, nor rescinded the AUMF. Nor have they acted to decertify President Bush as the national command authority through impeachment.

This whinging about 'illegal orders' and 'war crimes,' supported by nothing but liberal zeal, won't stand for a second in court, civil, criminal, or military. It must be clearly established that the orders governing operations in Iraq violates the law in some aspect, and, furthermore, that the soldier or officer following that order acted out of malice and deliberate intent while aware of the nature of those orders.

So I respectfully submit that General David Petraeus is not the problem. The responsibility for our little adventure in Iraq remains with President George W. Bush, who, until Congress deems him unfit to continue in his office, retains all authority of that office.

I go on to note that, in the absence of MoveOn's juvenile stunt, Congress' time would be directly addressing the content of General Petraeus' report, and not be tied up in defending or refuting Rep. John Boehner's resolution calling for the Democrats to denounce the MoveOn.org ad, nor would the opening remarks of several Congressional members had focused on the besmirching of Petraeus' reputation and honor.

The defense rests.



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