Petraeus Splits From Iraq With His Rep Intact

(Please “mouse over” for photo attribution.)

As noted here, Gen. David H. Petraeus has left Iraq to assume his duties stateside as commander at USCENTCOMM in Tampa, Florida, overseeing all Middle East operations.

Based on this prior post, though, I have some questions…

  • Do either Gen. Petraeus or his successor, Gen. Raymond Odierno, have an exit strategy for Iraq prepared for the day when we, at long last, leave the pit of Mesopotamia?
  • Given Petraeus’ quote that “a successful counterinsurgency strategy could take 9-10 years,” about where are we now in that timeframe?
  • Can either Gen. Petraeus or Gen. Odierno provide a status on Mosul, which Petraeus once described as “a textbook case of doing counterinsurgency the right way,” even though the mayor of Mosul defected to the insurgents?
  • Does Gen. Petraeus have a clue as to what happened to the $2.3 billion that we provided to train and expand the Iraqi Army that somehow ended up in foreign bank accounts (Petraeus oversaw the training program)?
  • Is the Pentagon now keeping track of fatalities by car bombs and sectarian assassinations, questions that were raised by That Ad against Petraeus last September (I noted that Defense Secretary Robert Gates would probably be the better person to answer that, but I’d ask Petraeus anyway)?
  • Can we look forward to another glowing Op-Ed on Iraq from Petraeus timed for just before the election similar to the one he wrote in 2004 (here)?
  • And given the preceding question concerning the September 2004 WaPo editorial which reeked of self-promotion and image enhancement, I would ask that you consider the following from the recent profile of Petraeus in The New Yorker by Steve Coll here…

    Indeed, because of the reductions in Iraq’s violence, General Petraeus has been cast in the Presidential campaign’s emerging narrative as a sort of Mesopotamian oracle, one that must be consulted or honored by the two remaining candidates. In July, Senator Barack Obama went to Iraq and saw the General; he was rewarded, courtesy of Petraeus’s energetic press aides, with an iconic photograph, printed in many dozens of newspapers, which showed the Senator aboard a command helicopter, smiling confidently at the General’s side. A few weeks later, Senator John McCain, while speaking at a nationally televised forum hosted by the evangelist Rick Warren, invoked Petraeus as one of the three wisest people he knew; McCain called the General “one of the great military leaders in American history.” Afterward, on the campaign trail, the Republican Senator attacked Obama for not being as staunch an acolyte of Petraeus as McCain has been.

    And, as noted here, Senator McBush and Holy Joe both basically wanted to turn over the Congressional oversight function of the war to Petraeus (though, as I noted here earlier, I was disturbed by Petraeus’ analysis of a wave of suicide bombings in July of last year; he called the wave a “mini Tet,” which to me showed a blatant disregard for the fact that, at the time of Tet, most of this country still supported the Vietnam War, though support for Dubya’s Not-So-Excellent Middle East Adventure basically evaporated long ago).

    Finally, I have to seriously question the timing of Petraeus’ departure; though I do not mean to cast aspersions on Gen. Odierno, I think leaving shortly before the planned “laying down of arms” by the Sunni Awakening councils to the al-Maliki government shows, to some degree, the desire to “beat it out of Dodge” while the getting is good – it would be more logical to have the person whom many regard (rightly or wrongly) as the main reason for the “success” of the “surge” to remain and ensure as smooth a transition as possible (assuming anyone can “ensure” anything in Iraq).

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