Robert Kaplan has spent more time with the American military in more places than any other civilian journalist at work today. I will devote next Thursday’s entire show to an interview with him about his superb new book, Hog Pilots, Blue Water Grunts: The American Military in the Air, at Sea, and on the Ground because he understands what the war involves and how the military is fighting it in scores of places around the globe in addition to Afghanistan and Iraq.
Kaplan has a new article on the surge here, and it includes this obvious statement of fact:
The idea that General Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker are front men for the administration is ludicrous. Until he took the job as overall ground commander in Iraq, Petraeus was a favorite of liberal journalists: the Princeton man who enjoyed the company of the media and intellectuals, so much so that he was vaguely distrusted by other general officers who envied the good ink he received. As for Crocker, he is a hard-core Arabist, a professional species that I once wrote a book about: He is the least likely creature on earth to buy into neoconservative ideas about the Middle East. Neither of these men are identified with the decision to go to war. If I had to bet, I’d say that Crocker especially would have been against it, like his other Arabist colleagues. Thus, these men have no personal stake in proving the president right. They and their staffs are much more likely to provide a balanced analysis of the reality in Iraq than senators and congressmen looking over their shoulders at opinion polls and future elections. As Petraeus said, “I wrote this testimony myself,” meaning, the White House had nothing to do with it. Watching them brief Congress Monday, I came away convinced that they made a better impression on the public than anyone else in the room.