ANALYSIS & EDITOR’S COMMENT: The Petraeus promotion

Petraeus promotion frees Cheney to threaten Iran

The nomination of Gen. David Petraeus to be the new head of the Central Command not only ensures that he will be available to defend the George W. Bush administration’s policies toward Iran and Iraq at least through the end of Bush’s term and possibly even beyond.

It also gives Vice President Dick Cheney greater freedom of action to exploit the option of an air attack against Iran during the administration’s final months. [complete article]

Petraeus’ ascension

Reaffirming his status as his generation’s most respected general officer, David H. Petraeus was nominated today to head U.S. Central Command (Centcom), the command responsible for all U.S. military operations in the Middle East. The move puts the U.S. military’s premier advocate, theorist and practitioner of counterinsurgency operations — once shunned by a Vietnam-stung military — at the helm of the military’s most important regional command.

But many military analysts — even those closely associated with the counterinsurgency theories that Petraeus has long championed — viewed the move as a mixed blessing. [complete article]

Editor’s Comment — Time is running out! There’s only six months left to keeping pushing the argument that Dick Cheney is going to start another war. After that, the only hope for the war-fearmongers is a McCain or Clinton presidency… Pardon the sarcasm.

So why do I question the idea that Petraeus’ promotion lets Cheney off the leash? Firstly, I doubt that Gates had his arm twisted into doing this. Indeed, to the extent that Petraeus was guilty of promoting operations in Iraq at the expense of meeting needs in Afghanistan, this seems to present quite a strong argument in favor of his being moved to CentCom. As commander in Iraq, it wasn’t his job to be an advocate for meeting pressing needs in any other arena. But as head of CentCom, Petraeus will become answerable for both Iraq and Afghanistan. And this time around The White House is hardly likely to go around the CentCom commander and deal directly with the commander in Iraq. By appointing U.S. Army Gen. Raymond Odierno to that position, Gates has ensured that Petraeus retains control in both commands. And Petraeus’ own ambitions surely stretch beyond 2008. He won’t merely want to please this president, but he also knows he’s going to be answerable to the next.

And as William Arkin argued last month, beyond the occasional bellicose piece of rhetoric (and there really hasn’t even been much of that in recent months), there is no practical evidence that the US military is readying itself or capable of starting another war. Blaming Iran for problems in Iraq seems to have less to do with making a case for attacking Iran than it does with resisting pressure to withdraw troops.

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