Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Obama Squares Off Against Petraeus

Looks like Obama's making yet more moves to marginalize our military and risk our national security for the sake of political expediency. In an apparent effort to placate the far left loons who want the US out of IRAQ pronto, Obama has indicated he wants a faster pullout of troops than General Petraeus believes is necessary to ensure the ongoing security of the country.

"Pentagon brass chafes at Obama's Iraq pullout plan
By Inter Press Service

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Gareth Porter

WASHINGTON: CENTCOM commander General David Petraeus, supported by Defense Secretary Robert Gates, tried to convince President Barack Obama that he had to back down from his campaign pledge to pullout all US combat troops from Iraq within 18 months at an Oval Office meeting on January 21, sources have said.

But Obama informed Gates, Petraeus and Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen that he wasn't convinced and wanted Gates and the military leaders to come back quickly with a detailed 16-month plan, according to two sources who have talked with participants in the meeting.

Obama's decision to override Petraeus' recommendation has not ended the conflict between the president and senior military officers over troop withdrawal, however. There are indications that Petraeus and his allies in the military and the Pentagon, including General Ray Odierno, now the top commander in Iraq, have already begun to try to pressure Obama to change his withdrawal policy.

A network of senior military officers is also reported to be preparing to support Petraeus and Odierno by mobilizing public opinion against Obama's decision.

Petraeus was visibly unhappy when he left the Oval Office, according to one of the sources. A White House staffer present at the meeting was quoted by the source as saying: "Petraeus made the mistake of thinking he was still dealing with George Bush instead of with Barack Obama."

Petraeus, Gates and Odierno had hoped to sell Obama on a plan that they formulated in the final months of the Bush administration that aimed at getting around a key provision of the US-Iraqi withdrawal agreement by re-categorizing large numbers of combat troops as support troops. That subterfuge was formulated by the United States last November while ostensibly allowing Obama to deliver on his campaign promise.

Gates and Mullen had discussed the relabeling scheme with Obama as part of the Petraeus-Odierno plan for withdrawal they had presented to him in mid-December, according to a December 18 New York Times story.

Obama decided against making any public reference to his order to the military to draft a detailed 16-month combat-troop withdrawal policy, apparently so that he can announce his decision only after consulting with his field commanders and the Pentagon.

The first clear indication of the intention of Petraeus, Odierno and their allies to try to get Obama to amend his decision came on January 29 when the New York Times published an interview with Odierno, ostensibly based on the premise that Obama had indicated that he was "open to alternatives."

The Times reported that Odierno had "developed a plan that would move slower than Mr. Obama's campaign timetable" and had suggested in an interview "it might take the rest of the year to determine exactly when United States forces could be drawn down significantly."

The opening argument by the Petraeus-Odierno faction against Obama's withdrawal policy was revealed the evening of the January 21 meeting when retired army General Jack Keane, one of the authors of the Bush troop-surge policy and a close political ally and mentor of Petraeus, appeared on the "Lehrer News Hour" to comment on Obama's pledge on Iraq combat troop withdrawal.

Keane, who had certainly been briefed by Petraeus on the outcome of the Oval Office meeting, argued that implementing such a withdrawal of combat troops would "increase the risk rather dramatically over the 16 months."

He asserted that it would jeopardize the "stable political situation in Iraq" and called that risk "not acceptable."

The assertion that Obama's withdrawal policy threatens the gains allegedly won by the Bush troop surge and Petraeus' strategy in Iraq will apparently be the theme of the campaign that military opponents are now planning.

Keane, the army vice chief of staff from 1999-03, has ties to a network of active and retired four-star army generals, and since Obama's January 21 order on the 16-month withdrawal plan, some of the retired four-star generals in that network have begun discussing a campaign to blame Obama's troop withdrawal from Iraq for the ultimate collapse of the political "stability" that they expect to follow the US withdrawal, according to a military source familiar with the network's plans.

The source says the network, which includes senior active-duty officers in the Pentagon, will begin making the argument to journalists covering the Pentagon that Obama's withdrawal policy risks an eventual collapse in Iraq. That would raise the political cost to Obama of sticking to his withdrawal policy.

If Obama does not change the policy, according to the source, they hope to have planted the seeds of a future political narrative blaming his withdrawal policy for the "collapse" they expect in an Iraq without US troops.

That line seems likely to appeal to reporters covering the Iraq troop-withdrawal issue. Ever since Obama's inauguration, media coverage of the issue has treated Obama's 16-month withdrawal proposal as a concession to anti-war sentiment which will have to be adjusted to the "realities" as defined by the advice to Obama from Gates, Petraeus and Odierno."

Could there also be political motives here? It is has been suggested that General Petraeus may run for a Senate seat or be a viable Vice Presidential candidate in 2012. If Obama marginalizes him and manages to boot him out of the political arena now, Petreaus' options for a political career will greatly diminish. No doubt that knowledge plays into Obama's plans. So once again, the Big O puts his career ahead of the best interests of the country. Because it's All About Obama, All the Time. We must never forget that.


Chris D. said...

I think that might part of Obama's interest in engaging the Iranians and Syrians so quickly: Reduce the world's perception of them as a threat so troop levels and overall military spending can be pared dramatically. Whether I'm right or not, it's no secret he's eyeing the Pentagon as low hanging fruit for massive cuts to help pay for other things.

Mad Mom said...

Meanwhile Iran is launching satellites which could be used to fire ballistic missiles. He'll realize soon enough (I hope) that the leaders of the rogue nations out there will be crossing their fingers behind their backs as they pretend to engage in serious negotiations. Let's hope he grasps this before he cripples the military. After all, BO, of all people, should understand hypocrisy.

Anonymous said...

I think BO will stick to his plan as much as he can to appease anti-war sentiment, whether the military is withdraw in 16, 19, or 23 months. He hates the fact that he was proven wrong and that the surge actually worked. Petraeus is a proven genius warrior, simple and pure, tough physically and mentally to the core. That is everything BO is not to lead our nation at this time and BO knows it.