Who’s In Charge Here?

Bob Herbert points out that a year ago, General Petraeus told Obama he would be ready to pull out of Afghanistan in a year:

According to Mr. Alter, the president said to General Petraeus:

“David, tell me now. I want you to be honest with me. You can do this in eighteen months?”

Mr. Petraeus replied: “Sir, I’m confident we can train and hand over to the A.N.A. [Afghan National Army] in that time frame.”

The president went on: “If you can’t do the things you say you can in eighteen months, then no one is going to suggest we stay, right?”

“Yes, sir, in agreement,” said General Petraeus.

Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was also at the meeting, and he added his own crisp, “Yes, sir.”

That was then. The brass was just blowing smoke, telling the commander in chief whatever it was that he wanted to hear. Over the past several days, at meetings with one news media outlet after another, General Petraeus has been singing a decidedly different song. The lead headline in The Times on Monday said: “General Opposes a Rapid Pullout in Afghanistan.”

Having taken over command of U.S. forces in Afghanistan after the ouster of Gen. Stanley McChrystal, Mr. Petraeus is now saying he did not take that job in order to preside over a “graceful exit.” His goal now appears to be to rally public opinion against the very orders that President Obama insisted, as he told Joe Biden, could not be countermanded.

Who’s in charge here?

[…] We are never going to build a stable, flourishing society in Afghanistan. What we desperately need is a campaign of nation-building to counteract the growing instability and deterioration in the United States.

5 thoughts on “Who’s In Charge Here?

  1. So Petraeus has the president over a barrel. Obama can’t fire him, or even send him a strongly-worded letter, lest it accidentally get leaked to the Washington Post. I assumed the main reason Obama chose Petraeus was to get him off the 2012 campaign trail (as I mentioned earlier, Petraeus was scheduled to speak at my town’s Chamber of Commerce the week McChrystal went down), but now Petraeus can run the war as he chooses and still step down just in the nick of time for the Iowa caucus.

  2. “What we desperately need is a campaign of nation-building to counteract the growing instability and deterioration in the United States.”

    This dawned on me when I saw all those disaster correspondents from the BBC and CNN International reporting from Louisiana in the aftermath of Katrina. Matthew Chance reporting on a refugee crisis inside the United States? That is a visceral wake up call.

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