What's the buzz on ... Gen. David Petraeus' report on the Iraq war?

Each week, CNN.com takes a look at trends in the blogosphere by tracking one topic across gender and generation with the help of analysis tools from Umbria Inc. This week focuses on the so-called troop surge in Iraq and Gen. David Petraeus' congressional testimony on the Iraq war. Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, and Ryan Crocker, U.S. ambassador to Iraq, told Congress last week that progress had been made on the ground in Iraq since President Bush in January ordered 30,000 additional troops to pacify Baghdad and surrounding provinces. In a televised address to the nation later, Bush said he would reduce the number of U.S. combat brigades from 20 to 15 -- roughly 21,500 troops -- by July. Democrats have criticized Bush's drawdown plan.

Overall opinion (September 5-11)


So what does this mean?
Most of the examined bloggers, 73 percent overall, spoke negatively about the "surge" and Petraeus' testimony. Overall discussion about the surge appears to have gotten more negative compared with an analysis in May (read about bloggers' prior take on the surge). Among bloggers described as liberals, 96 percent expressed negative opinions on the troop surge. Conservatives, on the other hand, were 82 percent positive. Conservatives said more time is needed before the surge can be judged and that most of its set goals have been met. Liberal bloggers didn't give Petraeus a chance to explain himself, they said. On the liberal side, some bloggers wrote that Petraeus is distorting the facts for the White House. A portion said they fear more troops will die as a result of a surge they deem futile. Bloggers from both sides expressed negative views of a MoveOn.org ad in The New York Times that was titled "General Petraeus or General Betray Us?"

In their own words
historymike on historymike
Petraeus provided members of Congress with a series of slides on progress in Iraq, and he claimed that the troop surge has led to reduced violence in Baghdad and Anbar provinces.

Unfortunately, even by Petraeus's own figures, the most significant decreases in sectarian violence and civilian deaths occurred in December 2006 and January 2007. New troops from the US surge did not begin arriving until February 2007, and the only way Petraeus can claim credit for these decreases is if he wants us to believe that the mere threat of new troops scared insurgents out of Anbar and Baghdad.

Cassandra on Villainous Company
What MoveOn.org has done is to criminalize disagreement with their analysis of the facts. They have done what Democrats have complained bitterly about (on little or no evidence): they have questioned the patriotism of a good man who has risked his life in the service of this country for several decades, simply for doing his job. They have done what they accused the Pentagon of doing: shooting the messenger because they don't like the message.

If they really believe General Petraeus is carrying water for the administration, they should attack the President directly. The problem is that they don't really believe that. They attack Petraeus because it is the message itself they fear.

JD in a comment thread on Wake up America
The General isn't being discredited, his report is. The report has been received at the White House and put through Bush spin machine before presentation to Congress and the American people. An honest appraisal of the Iraq situation can be had from the legions of conservative republicans who have placed patriotism before party and told "W" what he doesn't want to hear.

Anonymous in a comment thread on DownWithTyranny!
Does Petreus believe what he says? Who knows. But guess what ... extreme counters just make yourselves look wacky (like the 9/11 conspiracy theorists).

The problem with the much touted "fixed date pull out solution" that Anti-Bushies profess to is this: if you say "we are out of here on 5/31/2008" then the opposition to freedom over there (freedom being whatever the Iraqi people want) pays the price. Al Qaeda and whomever else know "we just need to last this much longer, then we can claim victory."

HOW DOES THIS WORK?
CNN works with Umbria, a company that collects and analyzes millions of online opinions and review postings every day.

More about Umbria's analysis

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