I believe David Petraeus’ speech at the weekend Munich Conference was by far the most important of the prepared remarks I heard. (There was a lot of fascinating stuff during the Q&A sessions afterward, which is not logged on the conference website, but Petraeus — in some ways more than Joe Biden — walked in with the most interesting, and certainly the most detailed, opening remarks.) What follows is actually less important than, for instance, the fairly detailed itemized list of additional battlefield resources the Obama administration will be seeking from its allies. But it kind of struck me as I listened back to the general’s speech. From the audio file:
We must also strive to be first with the truth. We need to beat the insurgents and extremists to the headlines and to pre-empt rumours. We can only do that by getting accurate information to the chain of command, to our Afghan partners, and to the press as soon as is possible. Integrity is critical to this fight. Thus, when situations are bad we should freely acknowledge that fact and avoid temptations to spin. Rather we should describe the setbacks and failures we suffer and then state what we’ve learned from them and how we’ll adjust to reduce the chances of similar events in the future.