June 26, 2010 Leave a comment
In a brilliant masterstroke, President Obama replaced Gen. McChrystal with Gen. Petraeus, without opening himself to the criticism of derailing the war effort in Afghanistan. There has been bipartisan, as well as international, praise for this pick.
Another pick Mr. Obama made was similarly lauded. When he picked Mrs. Clinton as the Secretary of State, media pundits opined he was building ‘a team of rivals’, just as Abraham Lincoln did. However, there were some cynics who floated the idea that it was Mr. Obama’s way of sidelining Mrs. Clinton from presidential politics so that she doesn’t mount a challenge to him in 2012.
The cynic in me thinks that it could be the same reason to send Gen. Petraeus over to Afghanistan. It appears that he does harbor political ambitions and his star is rising among many Republicans who seem to be frustrated at the direction their party is taking as they head towards another presidential showdown in the next two years, and the fact that there seems to be no viable name to challenge Mr. Obama in his reelection bid.
Prospective challengers to the President will have to start their campaign sometime in mid 2011 and get in line to battle in their party’s primaries. Latecomers do not stand much chance, as the attempt by Mr. Fred Thompson discovered even though he had an impressive name recognition by playing as a DA in the ubiquitous show, Law & Order.
Mr. Obama has set July 2011 as the date of the drawing down of forces from Afghanistan. However, it does not mean that the war there will come to an end. There will certainly be some withdrawal of forces, a regiment or a brigade or two next July, but we will be in Afghanistan for a long, long time. And so will Gen. Petraeus, at least for another year or two, way past the time he can effectively challenge his current Commander-in-Chief.
I can imagine what a dilemma it would have been for the General when the offer to lead forces in Afghanistan, which, strictly speaking, was a demotion for him since he was heading the Central Command that includes several other countries besides Afghanistan. If he indeed had presidential hopes and had said no, it would have been conveniently ‘leaked’ to the media that the General is putting his political ambitions above his duty to the country. This would have killed his prospects even before they had taken off.
Isn’t this another brilliant masterstroke?
If my thinking is correct, Mr. Obama killed two birds with one stone!