Thursday, September 04, 2008

Is Petraeus a Lame Duck, Too?

Behind-the-scenes scuffling over the General's next appearance before Congress reflects a growing Pentagon rift over deployment of troops in the Middle East as well as resistance to being used for political purposes.

According to the Christian Science Monitor: "Days before the top US commander in Iraq gives his official assessment on troop levels there, a high-level move is afoot to keep Gen. David Petraeus out of the political spotlight. Many senior Pentagon officials want to shift public and lawmaker attention away from Iraq to Afghanistan...

"Members of Congress have requested that Petraeus make another appearance on Capitol Hill, sure to draw the kind of attention that a visit from the high-profile general engenders. The Defense Department has refused that request, ostensibly because of scheduling issues. But as the Pentagon struggles to muster more troops for Afghanistan, officials worry that the general's testimony on Iraq will upstage other needs."

The subtext of this maneuvering is growing Pentagon unease over the Bush Administration's unprecedented politicization of the military and the desire of top brass to dial back during the election campaign.

Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen told reporters last week, "We are an apolitical, neutral organization in this country, and we need to stay out of politics, those of us in uniform. And it is very tempting in this time because of where we are, and we just shouldn't do it."

As John McCain and Republican convention yahoos howl this week about victory in Iraq, under the radar there is movement toward Barack Obama's sanity in calling for troop withdrawal from Iraq to combat terrorists where they live, but military leaders seem to be doing their best not to get caught in that crossfire.

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