April 11th, 2008
11:21 AM ET

Gen. Paul Eaton: In Iraq, where is the cavalry?


The Bush administration has chosen to abandon our under-equipped and over-burdened military to fight alone in Iraq.

After successfully alienating potential allies in the prosecution of our war in Iraq, this Administration continues to view our first truly interagency war as a purely military event.  The absence of credible State Department participation in this fight and the absolute failure of the rest of the Executive Branch to participate in this war leaves the entire burden upon the shoulders of our Soldiers and Marines.

To witness press and Congressional preoccupation with the military commander at this week’s hearings and mild interest in State’s man, Ambassador Crocker, one would surmise that they don’t understand, either.

Iraq is not the plains of Germany during the Cold War.  Iraq is an insurgency.

Our commanders need the application of the full power of the United States to bear upon the fight in Iraq.  We need a focused and determined Diplomatic Surge within Iraq - and without.  Every interested player –- and that includes all border countries, Israel and Egypt –- needs a seat at the table.  Interests need to be identified and let the negotiations begin.  Not unlike the Egyptian/Israeli accord or Dayton.  

This is hard diplomatic work, and is apparently beyond our current Secretary of State’s intent or capability.  The recent example of Turkey’s attack into Iraq is the most recent indicator of our failure to work a competent diplomatic program.  A fully engaged diplomatic effort would address internal tensions that bedevil the Al Maliki government and foster competent internal government.

We need to get angry Arab men off the street, gainfully employed.  The rest of the President’s cabinet and their departments are very much needed by our military.  We need a reinvigorated Provincial Reconstruction Team program – new life to an idea that worked very well for the French in Algeria.  In the words of one commander, “I don’t need more combat troops, I need agriculture and water experts.”  Yet Commerce, Transportation, Education, Treasury and the rest of the President’s cabinet have been AWOL in this war.
General Petraeus was polite during the hearings.  He never once complained.  He never asked the President:  “Where is the cavalry?” 

– Maj. General Paul Eaton, U.S. Army (Ret.), former commander of Iraqi Armed Forces and their development command







Filed under: Raw Politics
soundoff (113 Responses)
  1. Tim

    To Walter: You have hit the nail on the head.

    I don't know what is wrong with the people of this country but I am sick of it. We send our troops off to fight and then turn on our government when the fight lasts longer than 2 hours. This essentially forces us into a fight with both hands tied behind our back. But I do have a plan. Since the majority of American people are gutless I propose to bring our troops home and never send them abroad again. Most of the gutless people tend to live in heavily populated cities like New York and Los Angeles. The next time one of those places are bombed, which anyone in their right mind knows they will be after we run from Iraq, we do nothing. They have brought it on themselves at this point.

    Taken as a whole, it seems that the greatest generation has been followed by the worst. They have continually hurt this country starting with Vietnam and now this. Bush would have had this war won by now had it not been for the traitors here at home pressuring for the war to stop after a month. Hopefully my generation will be able to clean up after our selfish parents and their entitlement culture.

    But I know Bush is responsible for everything wrong in the world today.

    April 12, 2008 at 8:33 am |
  2. Bob

    Like most of todays generals, Eaton is a clueless, politically correct robot, promoted for having exactly those traits.. for if he had any gonads at all, he would have left the military during the clinton drawdown years, when all the remaining non-pc officers left! but he enjoyed working on his golf game while attending "war colleges" way too much, and stayed in. Having spent 20 years operational without a staff tour, and done my share in the quagmire known as iraq, i no full well that you will never change the iraqi's, or their attitude towards americans. Hell, we carpet-bombed them during the first gulf war, killing 10's of thousands of them, and there isn't an iraqi today that hasn't lost a family member or relative by american hands!! and yet these these pc types like eaton expect them to greet us with open arms and break bread with us??!!?? there is only one answer and that is to just get the hell out of iraq! these people don't want to be saved, and certainly not by some american war-monger!

    April 12, 2008 at 8:15 am |
  3. Darrin

    I cannot believe the comments on this posts. We take the thoughts of a has-been General who is no longer in touch with what is really happening on the ground anywhere other than his living room as the gospel. Treasonist wimps get on here and speak poorly of our President (administraition) because that is all they can do! Too pathetic to do something about helping anyone but thierselves.

    Marine for 17 years my butt, If you were a marine, you would never say the things you said! Liars, and wimps. Hiding behind your computers.

    We are not failing in Iraq. We are in for the long run. It looks like it always does, you want instant gratification, most liberals do. Well, there is no instant grateification in war! You must plan and execute with extreme precision. I think that seeing a change in strategy as poor planning just a lack of good judgement on your own behalf. The plan is working, and changes to the plan must be made in order to do what works, not say, "there was no plan".......... Just ignorant......

    You people need to grow up and take your blinders off. I am a veteran, I have seen the world. I have fought for your freedom. Americans are unaware of what the world is really like, they see the world when it is convienient to them...... Our goverment shields you from the real world, so you can continue your everyday life without fear! The Sheep of America sleep in peace at night because they feel safe! Thank your president, thank your soldiers and veterans! BE grateful not hateful!

    General Eaton, go back to your grapenuts, and cigars with your old Army buddies, and stay out of the war. You are finished, you no longer get the intel, or know what is really happening. You are using your previous rank to spread your opinion in order to feel important again. Sir, let it go.

    April 12, 2008 at 8:13 am |
  4. peter

    Most people in the Green Zone want us to stay. Most people outside the Green Zone want us to get out. The Green Zone is a very small dot on the map of Iraq. Why do we not just do what they want?

    April 12, 2008 at 8:05 am |
  5. From Mass

    While I respect the great sacrifice our brothers/sisters sailors and marines are doing in this war...what happen to you mentioning the Airmen and Sailors that are also making these sacrifices? I am refering to your line at the end of your second paragraph.


    April 12, 2008 at 8:04 am |
  6. Jeremy

    I'm not really sure what the proposed solution is. To get a bunch a bunch of countries together to talk? What will that do? Israel and Palestine have been talking for years. How's that going? How are you actually going to have a great dialog with Iran? Further, what exactly do you even need from the countries? The bottom line is that they have their own problems are only going to look to exploit the situation in Iraq, either by directly taking things from it or installing a non-democratic puppet government at both the local and federal levels. I think people use the word diplomacy without actually knowing what it means or having a plan. Having 5-10 people at a table chatting is not going to solve this problem, no more than just bombing the crap out of Iraq is going to do this either. The best coarse of action is to hold democratic elections in the country and then have America play a back-up role to their actions against insurgents.

    April 12, 2008 at 7:48 am |
  7. tim

    You start a war by lying to Congress, the American people, the UN and the world. It was simply an act of revenge by a petty President. One whose intellectual capacity appears to be just about equal to Homer Simpson's.

    For his handlers, it was an extremely serious attempt control a major segment of the world's oil. Incidently, getting exceedingly wealthy in the process. They have no desire for the Cavalry; no matter what form it might take. The status quo suits them just fine.

    As to defeating terrorism; Al Qaeda has killed approx 4,000 americans since the war was started, 5 years plus.
    However according to CDC stats for 2003 -2005 there were 35,896 shooting deaths, just 3 years! Seems to me you might want to change your thinking about who is more dangerous to americans.

    April 12, 2008 at 7:09 am |
  8. chris

    Anderson, you are a smart man, you were trained by the CIA, you should know why General Petraeus wont ask for more help, he is a Bush man. This war was never about freedom or even oil. This war was set forth to preoccupy the American people (induced spread of terrorism by our state). How else will they scare you into believing terrorism to reduce your freedoms or weaken the dollar by printing to many of them to support this war effort. Come on cooper, be honest about what you see and let the truth reveal itself.

    April 12, 2008 at 6:49 am |
  9. Matt Millican

    I don't know what to think anymore – I'm not a general and neither is anyone else here who commented, so I'll just have to file the general's comments away and watch what happens.

    April 12, 2008 at 6:40 am |
  10. Patrick

    This is what the American public does not get from Washington and the "main line" press- a disclosure of the lack of effort on the diplomatic side to get an effective Iraq government "up and running". "Operation Iraqi Freedom" has not succeeded because this administration did not have the will and/or capability to ensure a functioning society (i.e. not only government but also the intrastructure) after we disposed Saddam. One of those responsible for this failure is Condaleeza Rice – and people are touting her as a potential Vice Presidential candidate? As Charley Brown would say "..Auugh!".

    April 12, 2008 at 6:37 am |
  11. Joe T

    People call for or say, "peace, peace," where there is no peace. I know that we Americans and indeed people throughout the world are frustrated about the situation and bloodshed in Iraq, but we have to remember that it is human nature not to work together for the good of all people and to fight among ourselves. Look at ourselves.

    How likely do you think we could get the responders to this blog to work together on any small task, agree on the procedures to implement it, and manage to take a voluntary collection to finance it without falling short? How quickly could we make it happen?

    Now expand that perception to a more difficult challenge that includes reconciling peoples with centuries or millenia of mutual hatred and bloodshed with grudges or desires for vengenance that are as fresh as yesterday.

    That is Iraq and any of a number of other conflicts throughout the world today, my fellow Americans and citizen of the World.

    Should we have gone into Iraq? Well, we were already over there containing Saddam Hussein's Iraq after his previous invasion and armed robbery of his neighbor Kuwait in 1991. We were attacked at 911 by other parties causing tremendous casualties in 2001, and our President and many American citizens agreed with pre-emptive action to limit the effectiveness and opportunities for future attacks by our avowed enemies. Some enemies took notice, like Libya.

    Undoubtedly, Bush and more so Rumfield were arrogant by the decisions and means through which they executed Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. We did not have enough combat troops. We lacked sufficient civil affairs troops and resources to bring relatively quick stability to both areas. I agree that Bush made the right decision, but his methods and communication have been flawed. Diplomacy is often overstated as I alluded at the beginning.

    We shall have to discuss this more later because I have probably exceeded my post limit. Until next time . . .

    April 12, 2008 at 6:11 am |
  12. TATST15

    Sir, I am here, experiencing the hopelessness that comes from 15 hour days in the hot sun. Eating dry, KBR meals, and showering in the Cadillac’s with my flip-flops fully affixed. This Administration missed directed its fire entirely – seeking the low-hanging fruit, an easy notch in the belt. While countries like Iran, sit on the sideline and continue to erode our resources, human and financial by infusing their resources, human and financial into areas like AF and IZ where we are bogged and going nowhere fast. Sadly, no one wants to admit it. Long term, Saudi Arabia is the hinge point in the Middle East – around it all else centers. Will it be the counter-weight to a growing Iranian hegemony of the area? With our super-sized defense package, maybe. How long before we have a nuclear Arabian peninsula… how would Pakistan react, then India – and what about the Central Asian states, where security is lax and the borders porous? And ultimately what about the GC states? The Middle East is not our lane, never was. We entered with an exceptionally poor understanding of the culture, thinking this was an easy win… 5 years later and a debt that will outlive myself and children’s children… we were wrong. It’s simply beyond our capability and we need to leave.

    April 12, 2008 at 5:55 am |
  13. Tdw

    USA destroyed Iraq and it is the only basic truth. The whole country looks like one big slum and a pile of ruins, 80 % unemployment, malnutried children, huge poverty everywhere, bitter, desperate people without perspectives for better life, It is just present Iraq ruled by proUSA collaborators who as the only persons in Iraq draw private profits from US invasion ( profits to their pockets ) and collaboration with US officials.
    Yes, it is just as naziGermany invasion during II world war- the same time of plundering illegal invasion, the occupying wars with huge number of massacre, illegal camps and war crimes Many countries looked like present Iraq – insurgency, pile of ruins. This history was repeated second time. The role of Germany nazis played USA officials, members of congress and US troops: massacres, war crimes, illegal camps ( 65000 people is jailed by USA and government of Iraqi collaborators )Can you imagine that nazis could stabilize Europe during II world war. They made it and it looked it just as situation in present Iraq. It is time for USA to stop to continue further war crimes and destabilization of Iraq and to leave Iraq at last.

    April 12, 2008 at 5:45 am |
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