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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

"No 'Graceful Exit'": Bob Herbert Impugns David Petraeus

In his New York Times column of today's date, Bob Herbert, cites a conversation between President Obama and General David Petraeus, which is described in Jonathan Alter's book, "The Promise", and then proceeds to impugn 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.

. . . .

That was then. The brass was just blowing smoke, telling the commander in chief whatever it was that he wanted to hear."

Anyone familiar with this blog knows that I have long opposed American ground involvement in Afghanistan, and I agree with Mr. Herbert that this war, as it is currently being fought, is indeed "a giant roadblock in the way of efforts to deal effectively with deteriorating economic and social conditions here in the United States."

On the other hand, any attempt to blame General Petraeus for this fiasco and to portray Obama as some babe in the woods is misplaced. Obama took months before deciding to escalate this war, and his determination, which was influenced by a host of different persons and governmental bodies, did not hinge on any one discussion.

Obama is the Commander in Chief and bears full responsibility for this blunder. If General Petraeus is indeed now attempting "to rally public opinion against the very orders that President Obama insisted . . . could not be countermanded," he should be dismissed for insubordination.

David Petraeus guilty of insubordination? Sorry, I don't buy it. More likely that Obama is sending up a trial balloon by way of Petraeus. (Remember how Obama used Hillary Clinton to attack Netanyahu regarding the Ramat Shlomo housing project.)

C'est tout.

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