Belmont Club » Last Chance Saloon
The "step down" from CENTCOM to AFPAK is less of an issue than some have made it. Douglas MacArthur was Chief of Staff of the US Army before he was sent to command in the Philippines. He handled that problem with theatricality. He put on a hat with more gold than a French Admiral's and convinced everyone that the job was a promotion because Douglas MacArthur was doing it. Eisenhower later said that he studied dramatics under MacArthur for three years in the P.I. Real military leaders can create the impression that they bring their own parade and hear their own theme music. In the Times Doris Goodwin discusses how Lincoln handled McClellan.
Obama has made himself look smaller by caring what subordinate officers said over a beer in the presence of a reporter. John Kerry of all people got this right and suggested calm. Lincoln was told that Grant was a drunk and he suggested getting whatever the general had and sending a case to his other generals. If anyone had run to FDR with a story like this about one of his Theater Commanders the response would have been laughter. Roosevelt was no softy though, he refused to let Lindbergh serve during the war.
There seems to be a pattern where Obama seems to endorse a nearly centrist position, on offshore drilling or military operations or border security. Then some event is seized upon to invalidate the agreement. The radical agenda that had been incrementally advanced as part of a bipartisan deal is then pushed forward unilaterally. In the case of the border and immigration the pattern is known and Senator Kyle made clear that he was demanding the delivery of border security first. Obama who thought that he could get agreement on a package deal including Amnesty, with the border security efforts likely to be reneged on, is furious at having his bluff called.
Will Petraeus fall into Obama's trap or will he force through the measures needed to protect the troops the supply lines and the nation? If he can do that and then leave after a year then David Petraeus may prove to be Obama's 2nd worst nightmare. As it is the Republicans look set to pick up 45-50 House seats and 7-9 Senate seats. If Obama refuses and Petraeus quits in 90 days then he becomes Obama's worst nightmare and the Democrats may face a loss of over 60 seats in the House and a dozen Senate seats. To be clear I do not know what the General's politics are and I am not hoping that he rides in on a white horse.