Petraeus testimony compared to Westmoreland's 1967 address to Congress

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Already, the testimony about the status of Iraq that General Petraeus will deliver to Congress beginning Monday has become the most anticipated by an Army officer since April 29, 1967, when, under President Johnson, Gen. William C. Westmoreland traveled from Vietnam to address a joint meeting of Congress at a time of deep public doubts about a faraway war....

“Presidents galore have hidden behind the military and tried to use the military in war or national security situations in which there is controversy or their policies are under assault,” said Richard H. Kohn, a history professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who specializes in civilian-military relations.

“There is never a perfect congruence, but this seems to me to be like Johnson bringing Westmoreland back in ’67 to persuade the Congress and the country of progress in Vietnam.”

Mr. Kohn said that “Westmoreland knew what was going on, and knew the problems — but also believed there was progress.” If General Petraeus “is to keep faith with his profession and his soldiers,” Mr. Kohn added, “he simply has to tell the truth as he sees it and answer the questions that both the president and the Congress pose to him.”

Another comparison offered by some is to the address by Gen. Douglas MacArthur in 1951, although there is a stark difference: MacArthur spoke to Congress after he was removed by President Truman over his handling of the Korean War.

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