After Bringing Victory to Iraq — Obama Pushes Petraeus Aside in Afghanistan
General David Petraeus brought Victory to Iraq.
In this March 1, 2008 file photo, Gen. David H. Petraeus, commanding general of Multi-National Force – Iraq, talks with a group of Iraqi boys at the Al Zawra Stadium in the Karkh District of west Baghdad. Photo by Sgt. James Hunter, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (AA) Public Affairs. (MNF-Iraq)
It’s clear that Obama and General Petraeus have had their differences.
But, that doesn’t mean the president should ignore his advice.
Gen. David H. Petraeus, the face of the Iraq troop surge and a favorite of former President George W. Bush, spoke up or was called upon by President Obama “several times” during the big Afghanistan strategy session in the Situation Room last week, one participant says, and will be back for two more meetings this week.
But the general’s closest associates say that underneath the surface of good relations, the celebrity commander faces a new reality in Mr. Obama’s White House: He is still at the table, but in a very different seat.
No longer does the man who oversees the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have one of the biggest voices at National Security Council meetings, as he did when Mr. Bush gave him 20 minutes during hourlong weekly sessions to present his views in live video feeds from Baghdad. No longer is the general, with the Capitol Hill contacts and web of e-mail relationships throughout Washington’s journalism establishment, testifying in media explosions before Congress, as he did in September 2007, when he gave 34 interviews in three days.
The change has fueled speculation in Washington about whether General Petraeus might seek the presidency in 2012. His advisers say that it is absurd — but in immediate policy terms, it means there is one less visible advocate for the military in the administration’s debate over whether to send up to 40,000 additional troops to Afghanistan.
General Petraeus’s aides now privately call him “Dave the Dull,” and say he has largely muzzled himself from the fierce public debate about the war to avoid antagonizing the White House, which does not want pressure from military superstars and is wary of the general’s ambitions in particular.
Obama is fooolish for ignoring the general’s advice after his successful leadership in Iraq.
But, of course, this surprises no one.
UPDATE: Who’s worse… Obama or Carter?