Some of the best news this country could receive is that President Bush nominated General David Petraeus to be the next commander of U.S. Central Command and Lt. General Ray Odierno to replace Petraeus in Baghdad. General Petraeus and Odierno are two of the most impressive men in the United States military today – and Petraeus will one day rank as one of America’s greatest military commanders. What he and Odierno have achieved in Iraq since early 2007 is staggering. They took a nation that was in a death spiral and, working with the greatest military on earth, have given Iraq a chance to survive and hopefully, over time, to flourish. They are overseeing one of the greatest counterinsurgency plans we have ever witnessed, one that is dealing punishing blows to Al Qaeda in Iraq and militia forces backed by Iran.
Arguably George W. Bush’s most impressive decision in his presidency was when, in the face of gale force political winds, he embraced the “surge” – and put David Petraeus in charge of it. Almost everything has been different since then. Iraq remains a traumatized country; the gains we have made are both fragile and reversible. But the gains have nevertheless been stunning – and they would not have happened without the leadership of Petraeus and Odierno. All praise is due to them and to the President who selected them. It’s always encouraging to see human excellence rewarded.