As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Twisting The Knife

Digby noted that A Man Called Petraeus was ramping up his 2012 strategy. It continued today:

WASHINGTON, Sept 23 (Reuters) - The head of the U.S. Central Command, Army General David Petraeus, said on Wednesday that both he and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen had endorsed an assessment by the top commander in Afghanistan that says more troops would be needed.

"Obviously I endorsed, the chairman endorsed... Gen. (Stanley) McChrystal's assessment and description," Petraeus said at a counterinsurgency conference in Washington.

It's a little more complicated than that. Spencer Ackerman was there.

Question time. Trainor reminds everyone not to ask about Afghanistan. Did Petraeus’ strategy review ahead of the Obama administration include a resource request? Twenty counterinsurgents per thousand civilians was the recommendation in the counterinsurgency field manual, Petraeus says. “Concentrate your efforts in the areas where the insurgency is… most threatening the population.” He references Bruce Riedel’s strategy review for the Obama administration on Afghanistan and Pakistan strategy, and shows a slide of insurgent activity focusing on the Afghan south and east to demonstrate where counterinsurgency efforts ought to focus.

Unprompted, Petraeus defends Obama’s review of Afghanistan strategy. “We said we expected some form of assessment that we thought would take place in the fall,” he said, and muses on the Afghan election. There have been “events like election that looks like it may not produce a government with greater legitimacy in the eyes of the people.” He praises Gen. McChrystal’s “superb” counterinsurgency guidance and his “highlight[ing] of the need to change the culture” by such things as obeying Afghan traffic laws. As for the resources McChrystal will request, Petraeus says, “the resource options piece will be in in a few days as well.”

It looks like Petraeus is content to let Obama walk into his own problem here. He asserts an endorsement of the McChrystal strategy, but is solicitous of the President's review process. Of course, with each passing day the Pentagon and the neocons can team up to bang on the "indecisive" President (Mitt Romney's already calling him Hamlet), so Petraeus can just sit on the sidelines, offer a hint of approval for escalation, expect everyone in the media to run with that and slowly constrict the President's options.

Petraeus is a better politician than anyone the Republicans have, at least from where I'm sitting.

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