Inconvenient News,
       by smintheus

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

  President Petraeus

Have you had the sense deep inside your thumos, right in the very core of your truthiness, that saint General Petraeus' behavior as a Bush administration shill is just a little bit, well, odd? Composing a flagrantly political op-ed for the Washington Post in the dying days of the 2004 campaign? Pressing hard for a "surge" that he'd been highly skeptical of? Ignoring a mental health survey on the effects of prolonged deployments in Iraq, until it was made public half a year later, and then expressing shock, shock at its findings. Lying flat out to Congress about the extent of continued violence in Iraq—and meanwhile suppressing the statistics? Failing even to submit a written report? Calling his behavior "odd" is putting the matter charitably.

The resourceful Patrick Cockburn may have identified the explanation that makes sense of it all finally: Petraeus has his eyes set on the White House.

From tomorrow's Independent:

The US commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, expressed long-term interest in running for the US presidency when he was stationed in Baghdad, according to a senior Iraqi official who knew him at that time.

Sabah Khadim, then a senior adviser at Iraq's Interior Ministry, says General Petraeus discussed with him his ambition when the general was head of training and recruitment of the Iraqi army in 2004-05.

"I asked him if he was planning to run in 2008 and he said, 'No, that would be too soon'," Mr Khadim, who now lives in London, said.

General Petraeus has a reputation in the US Army for being a man of great ambition. If he succeeds in reversing America's apparent failure in Iraq, he would be a natural candidate for the White House in the presidential election in 2012.

If the "surge" is abandoned now as a failure, however, Petraeus' putative political career will go nowhere.

This information comes from a single source, it's worth emphasizing, and one who expresses skepticism about the success of the "surge". But Cockburn is a canny reporter, and I trust that he has confirmed that Khadim did indeed work closely with Gen. Petraeus during the period in question.

It's also worth mentioning this new article by the equally formidable Gareth Porter, who depicts intense hostility between Petraeus and his Commanding Officer, Admiral William Fallon. If Porter's sources are right, Fallon thinks Petraeus is far more interested in making powerful connections and advancing his own career than in doing what is necessary and right by the military.

In sharp contrast to the lionisation of Gen. David Petraeus by members of the U.S. Congress during his testimony this week, Petraeus's superior, Admiral William Fallon, chief of the Central Command (CENTCOM), derided Petraeus as a sycophant during their first meeting in Baghdad last March, according to Pentagon sources familiar with reports of the meeting.

Fallon told Petraeus that he considered him to be "an ass-kissing little chickenshit" and added, "I hate people like that", the sources say. That remark reportedly came after Petraeus began the meeting by making remarks that Fallon interpreted as trying to ingratiate himself with a superior...

The policy context of Fallon's extraordinarily abrasive treatment of his subordinate was Petraeus's agreement in February to serve as front man for the George W. Bush administration's effort to sell its policy of increasing U.S. troop strength in Iraq to Congress.

In a highly unusual political role for an officer who had not yet taken command of a war, Petraeus was installed in the office of Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, in early February just before the Senate debated Bush's troop increase. According to a report in The Washington Post Feb. 7, senators were then approached on the floor and invited to go McConnell's office to hear Petraeus make the case for the surge policy.

Fallon was strongly opposed to Petraeus's role as pitch man for the surge policy in Iraq adopted by Bush in December as putting his own interests ahead of a sound military posture in the Middle East and Southwest Asia -- the area for which Fallon's CENTCOM is responsible.

Those who are familiar with the US Navy will recognize that "chickenshit" is a technical term of abuse that has highly specific applicability.

crossposted from unbossed

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