Since there were two pieces today that just have to be read side by side, today's must read is a twofer.
First up, The Washington Post on Gen. David H. Petraeus' circle of war doctors, a brilliant, independent-minded bunch of PhDs whom he's brought together to steer U.S. strategy in Iraq. "Essentially, the Army is turning the war over to its dissidents," Thomas Ricks writes, "who have criticized the way the service has operated there the past three years, and is letting them try to wage the war their way."
Among the "Petraeus Guys," as they're called, all "military officers with doctorates from top-flight universities and combat experience in Iraq," there's Petraeus (PhD, Princeton), Col. Michael J. Meese (PhD, Princeton), Australian Army. Lt. Col. David Kilcullen (who holds a PhD in anthropology), Col. Peter R. Mansoor (PhD, Ohio State), Col. H.R. McMaster (PhD, Univ. North Carolina), and other advisors, like Lt. Col. Douglas A. Ollivant (PhD in political science) and Ahmed S. Hashim (PhD, MIT).
Their job: "to reverse the effects of four years of conventional mind-set fighting an unconventional war," as an officer puts it to Ricks.
Meanwhile, in Iraq...
A growing number of Iraqis blamed the United States on Sunday for creating conditions that led to the worst single suicide bombing in the war, which devastated a Shiite market in Baghdad the day before. They argued that the Americans had been slow in completing the vaunted new American security plan, making Shiite neighborhoods much more vulnerable to such horrific attacks....
In advance of the plan, which would flood Baghdad with thousands of new American and Iraqi troops, many Mahdi Army checkpoints were dismantled and its leaders were either in hiding or under arrest, which was one of the planâs intended goals to reduce sectarian fighting. But with no immediate influx of new security forces to fill the void, Shiites say, Sunni militants and other anti-Shiite forces have been emboldened to plot the type of attack that obliterated the bustling Sadriya market on Saturday, killing at least 135 people and wounding more than 300 from a suicide driverâs truck bomb....
Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV, the American military spokesman in Iraq, called for patience as the new security plan rolls out. âGive the government and coalition forces a chance to fully implement it,â he said in remarks carried by several news agencies.
His comments, however, came as more than a dozen mortar shells crashed on Adhamiya, a Sunni area of eastern Baghdad, in what appeared to be an act of retaliation by Shiites. At least 15 people were killed and more than 56 wounded, an Interior Ministry official said.
Clashes in western Baghdad between Sunni and Shiite militias left 7 dead and 11 wounded, and the authorities found 35 bodies throughout the city, many showing signs of torture.