Obama’s Afghanistan Deadline Under Attack
Either Obama's Defense Secretary and commanding general are conspiring to undermine his July 11 deadline for withdrawal from Afghanistan or that they're carrying out his intent.
General David Petraeus, commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, is making the media rounds to build the case for the war and, seemingly, to undermine his Commander-in-Chief’s July 2011 timeline to begin withdrawal of forces.
Two possibilities obtain here. First, President Obama has been persuaded that his July 2011 deadline sends the wrong strategic message and is using Petraeus as a stalking horse to change the policy, presumably to leverage the general’s reputation. Second, Petraeus is undermining his commander-in-chief, daring the president to relieve a third straight ISAF commander — this one arguably the most prestigious American military figure since World War II.
But, while my strong initial inclination was the latter, it’s now the former.
AAP’s Andrew Gully notes the inconsistencies between Petraeus’ pronouncements over the weekend and what Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has been saying in recent weeks. But those differences are nuanced, indeed. As reported in today’s Los Angeles Times, Gates is engaged in precisely the same round of cheerleading for the war efforts as the ISAF chief.
So, one either has to believe that Obama’s Defense Secretary and commanding general are conspiring to undermine him or that they’re carrying out his intent. I choose to believe the latter.