"A leader," said Napoleon, "is a dealer in hope." While it is too early to do more than hope for a real measure of success in Iraq, that there is reason to hope at all is a testament to the leadership skills of General David Petraeus. The man often referred to as a warrior-scholar has made many rethink the ideajust six months ago, enshrined as conventional Washington wisdomthat the war was already lost.
Of humble origins, David Petraeus, 54, grew up a few miles from West Point, where he graduated an Army lieutenant in 1974. He earned a Ph.D. from Princeton, writing his dissertation on Vietnam's lessons for the Army. Most recently he worked with soldiers, Marines and outside experts to draft a new counterinsurgency field manual, the blueprint of U.S. efforts in Iraq today. Though he has been in command in Iraq for only two months and the "surge" of U.S. forces in Baghdad is not yet complete, the effects of the general's determination and intelligence are already making a difference. Fouad Ajami, director of the Middle East studies program at Johns Hopkins University, says the sense of optimism he finds among Iraqis is "invested in the arrival in Iraq of General David Petraeus." Bright, studious, morally committed, physically brave, willing to carry a "heavy rucksack" without complaint and with clear-eyed resolve, Petraeusalong with the courageous men and women he has the honor to commandis our best reason to hope that we might yet avoid the catastrophe of an American defeat in Iraq.
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