Petreus giving his testimony was on CNN last night..

Instapundit has his testimony here

My summary: Not all sweetness and light, but a hard slog, getting there slowly. Sounds about right.

But seeing Petreus testify reminded me that straight talkers who have quiet authority and integrity tend to play well on television, but politicians who talk too much don’t. The Democratic shennanigans might play well with their left wing base, who vote in the primaries, but might not play quite as well in the less politicized middle.

There’s something about a man in a uniform that makes calling him a liar go against the grain of a lot of people.

Congress wants instant success, and would give in rather than fight. But Petreus quiet optimism and commands of the facts suggests he is the realist in this case.

As for me, I see Iraq as Luzon, not Viet Nam.

We have had seventy years of communist insurgents in the Philippines. You want instant “peace”? A lot of leftists in the 1970’s were insisting that Marcos was evil, and that only the good NPA and communists had an alternative. If they had their way, my family would all be dead, thank you, while the left would have congratulated themselves on their innate goodness.

Then came Cory and the People Power revolution, saving the Philippines from the massacres of VietNam and Cambodia.

Yes, the wars here are still going on, but they are at the level of the Mafia, or the Crips and the Bloods. We can live with them. And if the government is a corrupt oligarchy, hey whatever. Twenty percent of the contract goes to bribes, but at least it works. The NPA, in contrast, can only blow up power stations and cellphone towers.

That’s why Obama’s call to talk to Iran is like “Through the looking glass”

Obama wants to negotiate with Iran…so far so good…but he wants to do it from a position of weakness, where Iran doesn’t have to worry about the Marines next door.

What’s he going to say? “pretty please with sugar on it, don’t bomb Tel Aviv, or I’ll get very very angry and send you an angry letter telling you how angry we are“?

Nah, Iran won’t nuke Israel. There is just enough of a democracy in Iran for them to realize that they’d be nuked back, and their people might not like it.

Speaking of Israel, the Jerusalem Post has two interesting articles that give context to the discussions in Congress.

Both discuss that mysterious airstrike against Syria that no one wants to talk about, not even Syria…

This one says a report coming out will say that that a mysterious airstrike by someone against Syria destroyed Saddam’s WMD.

And Carolyn Glick says the US Congress is demanding to know more about the airstrike, but may find out more than they bargained for about the North Korean-Syria-Iranian connection.

Axis of evil indeed…so how would a President Obama respond to an Iran with nukes?

This isn’t a theoretical question.

Al Jezeerah reports Iran just got a couple more thousand centrifuges to separate nuclear fuel.

Now, ironically, Iran could use nuclear reactors for power. But when they have a loud mouth president who constantly taunts the west with  threat of nukes it does sort of make some people worry.

It worries the Saudis, who might just use a couple spare billions to buy some bombs just in case. And it also worries the small and thriving Gulf states, run by business savvy Sunni princes but with large Shiite populations (and large foreign worker populations).

If the US leaves, and Iran’s proxies in Iraq win, these Gulf states could pragmatically choose to join Iran’s sphere of influence rather than that of the west. That would let Iran control much of the Gulf’s oil.

With US troops staying for the long haul, it allows these smaller states enough peace to build an alternative modern Arab/Islamic civilization in the area, and spread general prosperity.

These states, where many Filipinos live and work, are the “invisible man” in the US press, maybe because both the right and the left don’t want to see intelligent, devout, and prosperous Arab Muslims able to succeed in the modern world.

Of course, Iran is not the monolith that the 30 second headlines seem to suggest. Al Jezeerah also notes that Iran not only has condemned government attacks against the Sadr militias, but Iran has condemned those mortar attacks on Baghdad’s green zone. Al Jezeerah also report that Iran’s proxy, Sadr, has decided to postpone his “one million man march” in protest of the government’s actions because he fears someone might get hurt.

Hmm…sounds like Sadr is in trouble, and Iran knows it.

Iranian dissadent Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, one of highest authorities in Shia Islam and one of the founding fathers of the Islamic Republic of Iran is openly criticizing the government for losing international trust, and for not helping their co religionists in Iraq.

He criticized the Iranian government’s “lavish” aid to political groups in other Middle Eastern countries and elsewhere when Iranians were suffing from the cold (background: during the bad winter, natural gas was cut to the north because of non payment of bills).

Iran’s nuclear rhetoric is giving them headaches, since sanctions work against the civilian economy. Even with a limited democracy, it may not be in Iran’s favor to let their religious militias to keep causing trouble next door.

The dirty little secret is that Iran and other states that see the US as an enemy won’t go to far because Bush is just scary enough to invade the place, and who wants to take a chance?

One doubts that a “sweetness and light” President Obama would cause them much hesitation.

For all the simplistic rhetoric being spun around the Petreus hearings, one needs to remember that there is more to this than winning an election.

Austin Bay points out that a complicated chart of how the war is being waged is being ignored by Congress, but that the strategy has weakened Alqaeda and is starting to weaken the Iranian backed Sadr militias.

Petraeus’ Anaconda chart demonstrates that the “political route of attack” can be as lethal as a kinetic (combat) operation — perhaps more so if the goal is bringing the marginalized and antagonized into a democratic political process. In fact, in Iraq the political context is now the dominant context…

In the case of Basra and east Baghdad, at some point the Iraqi Army had to confront the Shia gangs. No, the fight wasn’t perfect, but war is not the realm of perfect. … The Iraqi Army and Iraqi government planned and executed the operation themselves. Failure? Don’t think so. This is progress. As time passes, it is increasingly clear the Iraqi Army did a far better job than the Shia gangsters.

Yet an American public watching the Democratic party place all it’s bets on defeat in Iraq (and pretending that this will stop Iran) is ludicris.

As a Hillary supporter, I know that she would be strong enough to make hard decisions. She needs to win an aggressive left who vote in the primaries? Hello peace. But she lies, like her husband, and everyone knows it. She may say one thing, but will end up doing the right thing for the wrong reasons (Even Bill bombed Serbia after all).

Without a strong Hillary in the seat, there is a danger that the phrase “Reagan Democrats” will soon become “McCain Democrats”.

It’s a long time until the election, and charm can only get you so far.

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Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. Her website is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket 

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