Petraeus News

[Petraeus in ’12 stock just went up}.

Major huge news out today, General Petraeus is tapped to become new CentCom Commander (the old Fallon position).  I thought he would be headed for NATO but given that Afghanistan falls within Central Command, this is just as important, maybe more so.

A couple of issues going forward.

From Cernig:

And so Bush will replace a straight-talking commander who reportedly said no-one would attack iran on his watch with someone Admiral Fallon supposedly disliked intensely, someone who has been willing to accuse Iran of all kinds of meddling in Iraq on the basis of little or no evidence which stands up to public scrutiny.

I hope Congress quizzes Petraus deeply now on his mindset regarding Iran – in particular about the Iraqi government’s Maliki/Hakim’axis and its close ties with Iran. Maybe someone could remind him that when the US military first arrested diplomats it accused of being Qods Force plotting arms sales and attacks on coalition forces, the arrests took place at Hakim’s compound and those arrested had meetings scheduled with national security advisor al-Rubei and President Talibani later that day.

From Ilan Goldberg:

Second, the confirmation hearings should give Democrats an opportunity to finally get Petraeus to answer some central questions.  Is the mission in Iraq hurting Afghanistan and Pakistan?  What is the central front in the fight against Al Qaeda?  What about our overstretched forces?  Is Iraq making America safer?  Petraeus was able to dodge (Somewhat legitimately) on a number of these questions in the past by arguing that this wasn’t his job.  Well, now it is.  So he really needs to answer.

Third, there was speculation that Petraeus was going to move off to SACEUR right around January.  This guarantees that if there is a Democratic administration, Petraeus may end up playing a central role in helping design an exit strategy.  Of course, in testimony last month he brought into question whether he’d actually be willing to do that.  Which is huge, and must be asked again during the hearings.

From Mark Thompson Time:

Democrats are unlikely to mount a campaign to block Petraeus’ promotion. Yet Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the next CENTCOM commander must come with new plans for Iraq “if directed to by a new President.” Petraeus hedged last month when asked what he would say if a new President were to order a withdrawal plan within 60 days of taking office. He verbally juggled risks and objectives before conceding, “We take orders and we follow them.”

The impact of promoting Petraeus, however, may be even greater in the national security establishment than on Capitol Hill. It’s a wake-up call to old-school Army officers and their vanishing dreams of massive tank battles and artillery skirmishes, some of whom privately call Petraeus “King David” for his high self-regard and chumminess with reporters. Gates has made clear that wants commanders able to carry out the messy, irregular kind of combat championed by Petraeus that the Defense Secretary envisages the U.S. fighting for years to come. The promotion reinforces the message he delivered to young Air Force and Army officers on Monday, when he criticized their leaders for devoting too much time and effort to future potential wars, and not enough to the real wars now under way.

On the second point that means de-emphasizing large scale wars (sorry anti-Chinese and Russian neo-cons).  It fits with Sec. Gates seemingly at the time random smackdown of the Air Force the other day. Seen in this light, his words make perfect sense.

Petraeus is identified not just with Iraq but with counter-insurgency (COIN).

The problem with COIN however when not linked to a model of community resilience is Futile.

As others have noted one key to the appointment is to implement the long-term Bush strategy in Iraq, which Gates supports, of building permanent bases and help shift the election towards McCain or at worst pin in any Democrat.

When Petraeus comes for his confirmation hearings–let the games begin.  Hagel and Biden should be interesting questioners of the General to put it mildly.  But the key question is–If authorized to establish a plan for withdrawal will you do so?  What do you really think about Iran?  Is Iraq hurting Afghanistan?

If he hedges on any of those vote no.

Since the current president has abdicated civilian rule of our strategy, some civilians (the Senators) better take it back.


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