It’s Maj. Gen. John Batiste, formerly commander of the 1ID in Iraq and a Bush critic of longstanding. His complaint is that the president refuses to listen to what his generals are telling him (Petraeus presumably excepted). Let’s see what Batiste’s own advice to Bush was as of six months ago, before the surge was announced:
John Batiste, a retired Army major general who also joined in the call for Mr. Rumsfeld’s resignation, described the Congressional proposals for troop withdrawals as “terribly naïve.”
“There are lots of things that have to happen to set them up for success,” General Batiste, who commanded a division in Iraq, said in an interview, describing the Iraqi government. “Until they happen, it does not matter what we tell Maliki.”
Before considering troop reductions, General Batiste said, the United States needs to take an array of steps, including fresh efforts to alleviate unemployment in Iraq, secure its long and porous borders, enlist more cooperation from tribal sheiks, step up the effort to train Iraq’s security forces, engage Iraq’s neighbors and weaken, or if necessary, crush the militias.
Indeed, General Batiste has recently written that pending the training of an effective Iraqi force, it may be necessary to deploy tens of thousands of additional “coalition troops.” General Batiste said he hoped that Arab and other foreign nations could be encouraged to send troops.
We continue to train Iraqi soldiers and police, we’ve got plenty of new cooperation from the sheikhs in Anbar, we’ve made tentative attempts to engage Iran and will soon be making more (unfortunately), and if Roggio is to be believed, we’ve been softening up Sadr’s power base for the better part of the past year. I don’t know offhand what the status is with securing the borders, but that’s never been America’s strong suit. Maybe Batiste thinks we simply haven’t done enough on those fronts to justify continuing the mission, but that’d be a strange position to hold right now when the surge hasn’t been fully implemented yet. So either he’s changed his mind or else he’s betting on eventual failure and lending his military authority to the left now, to pressure the fencesitters in advance of the de facto September deadline.
Here’s the clip. According to ABC News, it’ll air in districts covered by Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), John Sununu (NH), John Warner (Virginia), and Norm Coleman (Minnesota), and Reps. Mary Bono (Calif.), Phil English (Penn.), Randy Kuhl (NY), Jim Walsh (NY), Jo Ann Emerson (Missouri), Tim Johnson (Illinois), Mike Rogers (Michigan), Fred Upton (Michigan), and Mike Castle (Del.). The end will be tailored specifically to each politician, too, e.g., “Senator Collins, protect America, not George Bush.”
Update: Is this Batiste’s real objection — that he thinks we’re not committed enough? Because that would seem to undermine somewhat this ad’s “bring ’em home now” cri de coeur.
A former commander of the 1st Infantry Division in Iraq said this week it might be time for the United States to discuss bringing back the military draft.
On Monday, retired Maj. Gen. John Batiste told News 10NBC in Rochester, N.Y., that in order to “win the peace” in Iraq, current troop levels there would need to be nearly doubled to 300,000, adding that to make numbers like that possible, a military draft might need to be considered. The draft was last used in the U.S. in 1973.
Update: A tipster sends this priceless exchange from an episode of Newshour last April:
JIM LEHRER: If the leadership of the U.S. government had listened to you and your fellow military leaders, what would be the situation in Iraq today?
MAJ. GEN. JOHN BATISTE: Well, first off, I think we have got to complete the mission in Iraq. We have no option; we need to be successful; we need to set the Iraqi people up for self-reliance…
I think we’re going to be successful. There’s nothing this country can’t do, if we put our mind to it, but we need to do it right. We need to mobilize this country.