Bush rewards Petraeus with Central Command

President replaces Adm. William Fallon with Gen. David Petraeus, who's more likely to stick to the Bush script.


Steve Benen
April 23, 2008 8:58PM (UTC)

The next time John McCain says he'll let Gen. David Petraeus dictate troop deployments to Afghanistan, it won't be so embarrassing.

Gen. David H. Petraeus, who has commanded United States troops in Iraq for the past year, will be nominated to head the United States Central Command, which oversees military operations across a wide swath of the Middle East, Africa and Asia, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates announced on Wednesday.

Mr. Gates said that he and President Bush and settled on the four-star general for the post because he is best suited to oversee American operations, not just in Iraq but also in Afghanistan and other areas where the United States is engaged in "assymetric" [sic] warfare, a euphemism for battling terrorists and non-uniformed combatants.

Petraeus will replace Adm. William Fallon, who, as the estimable Alex Koppelman explained last month, retired early after frequently being at odds with the Bush White House, most notably on policy toward Iran. Just as important, Fallon also had significant differences with ... David Petraeus.

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Fallon was apparently a strong voice among those in the Pentagon worried about the stress the ongoing war in Iraq is putting on the military, its soldiers and its ability to respond to a fresh crisis.... Fallon had reportedly argued with Petraeus over the issue of how many U.S. troops should remain in Iraq and for how long, citing other threats as a reason to lower troop levels in Iraq and accept an elevated level of risk there.

Following the announcement on Petraeus succeeding Fallon, Bill Kristol crowed, "Bush has done the right thing, overriding opposition from within the Pentagon. He deserves congratulations -- and thanks."

I seem to recall a certain president saying he would rely on the advice of his military commanders. Who was that again? Right, it's the one who's now "overriding opposition from within the Pentagon."

Postscript: Ilan Goldenberg notes some key angles to consider going forward.


Steve Benen

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