President Petraeus?

by: Matt Stoller

Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 15:00


Steve Clemons voices something I've heard for some time, that there's a draft General David Petraeus movement for the 2012 GOP nomination.  The scenario goes like this.  Democrats take over the White House and Iraq in 2008, try to fix the mess and fail, lose Congress in 2010, and a new breed of 'moderate' Republicans led by Petreaus sweep into power in 2012.

No matter what the outcome of his testimony before Congress in September on the results of the surge or the long-term outcome of the Iraq War.

In fact, Petraeus may actually be helped in any hidden presidential aspirations he may hold if things continue to deteriorate in Iraq and the Dems take the White House in November 2008.

The scenario runs something like this.

Petraeus -- who both Dems and Republicans liked when he was perceived to be a highly competent, underappreciated expert on counter-insurgency and who was punished by Rumsfeld and exiled far from the front line action to do his work in Leavenworth, Kansas -- won't be blamed for the deteriorating mess in Iraq.

Things continue to go badly. Petraeus holds his finger in the dyke preventing total breakdown in Iraq and convulsing violence, but the Dems win the White House in 2008. Let's just say Hillary Clinton wins, but I think the scenario holds for either Edwards or Obama.

Hillary Clinton and two chambers of Congress are now fully responsible for unwinding the Iraq War and managing America's position in the Middle East. No matter how one looks at the problem, there is no silver bullet solution to preserve America's interests where they were. There will be costs. Some Sunni governments in the region could fall. A regional conflagration could begin to heat up. A high-level assassination of a moderate Sunni Arab leader in Jordan, Egypt, or Saudi Arabia could start a raging new regional, if not global, war.

But not even considering the more nasty, sensational scenarios -- Clinton or Obama or Edwards and their Democratic partners in Congress are going to have a terrible mess that will likely deteriorate further before some equilibrium is found.

There will be "plenty" by that time to blame on Hillary and the Dems in the Middle East -- and thus, a new balanced, more pragmatic and judicious voice is needed -- someone who understands how to deploy power and understands the evolving contours of non-state, radicalized, Islamic extremist violence.

That's the rumor out there, and it's been out there for some time.  Petraeus is a Republican, and he's apparently been meeting and planning with the Republican caucus to hold it together this September.  This strikes me as highly unethical, but as long as Harry Reid preemptively capitulates on every Iraq vote, that doesn't matter.

As Glenn Greenwald has noted, the Iraq war debate is lost until Bush leaves office.  This is a pathologically weak Congress, unable to stand up for the simplest and most basic of human rights or Constitutional principles.  And as long as people like Reid continue to expect Republican moderates to be the adults and tell them what to do, we can expect a strong run by David Petraeus in 2012 as he rides in on a white horse talking of ending torture and restoring American influence in the world. 

Whose party is Harry Reid leading in the Senate again?

Matt Stoller :: President Petraeus?

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President Petraeus? | 15 comments
Matt, I'm confused (0.00 / 0)
So, you're saying you DON'T relish the idea of ceding the Democratic platform to moderate Republicans?  Didn't you get the memo that Democrats would rather lose honorably than actually DO something to make the country better?

John McCain opposes the GI Bill.

interesting rumor (0.00 / 0)
I'm glad you passed it on, but it seems hard to take seriously.  This seems like the Condaleeza Rice rumors -- something fun to talk about, but very little likelihood of happening.  As for the new breed of moderate Republicans -- the scenario is reduced to picking some general because it's virtually impossible to think of a 'moderate' Republican who holds elective office and would run for President.

I also don't think there is much call to worry about Iraq in the 2012 scenario.  If we had a reasonable President, we would declare victory in Iraq, hand over power to the Iraqi government which wants us gone anyway, and get out.  The Democratic president is going to want the $100 billion a year for other things.  If down the line the line there is a coup or worsening civil war, no one in America will care very much.  Al Qaeda is not going to take over Iraq. 



New Jersey politics at Blue Jersey.


more on Petraeus (0.00 / 0)
This interview with Bush is interesting:

He otherwise addressed his unpopularity as a tactical issue. For instance, in May he said that this fall it would be up to General Petraeus to convince the public that the Iraq strategy is working.

He may an incompetent in the real world, but he sure knows what he doing when it comes to rolling Democrats.

New Jersey politics at Blue Jersey.


What if the Iraqis chase us out (0.00 / 0)
What is to prevent Sadr from cutting our lines of supply, encircling the green zone and cutting us to pieces? Why does everyone talk about this as if it were entirely a domestic debate?

I am guessing we will be out of Iraq by next spring, just not voluntarily.


If somehow that happened (0.00 / 0)
Do you really think this administration would pull troops out? I'd expect them to send MORE. Defend the keep as it were.

John McCain opposes the GI Bill.

[ Parent ]
MIght be hard for them... (0.00 / 0)
...to send troops we do not have.

Military defeat is a very real possibility in The MeatGrinder.

Peace, Health and Prosperity for Everyone.


[ Parent ]
By all practical measures sure (0.00 / 0)
But there's still the National Guard of all 50 states, the full military reserve, plus all troops who have cycled home.  I don't think this administration would "lose" before throwing virtually all of that into Baghdad.  The implications of that would obviously be tough to enumerate, but when has this administration ever NOT gotten its way on Iraq?

John McCain opposes the GI Bill.

[ Parent ]
Point taken... (0.00 / 0)
...hate to say it but our 'Democrat LeaderSheep' seem perfectly happy to give Mr. Decider everything he asks for....

And in the case of FISA even more.

Mr. Decider and General 'Betrayus' are still violating the 'Rule of Holes' and I have not changed my opinion that it...

Will. Catch. Up. To. Them.
.

Peace, Health and Prosperity for Everyone.


[ Parent ]
I'm doubtful (0.00 / 0)
The Iraqi resistance is numerous, but it's not that well trained. Sure, it's improved a lot since 2004, but most of it still isn't combat-trained and those who were got their training either in Saddam's army or from coalition forces. In the former case, their training won't be up to US standards and in the latter case it'll mostly be in controlling the populace, not in assaulting heavily defended positions.

Even accounting for the vast amount of missing armour, the resistance is outgunned. Their body armour is ex-US stuff (and probably the worst of that variety), they don't have tanks and most importantly they lack aircraft.

An all-out campaign against US forces could increase casualties significantly, but it couldn't breach the Green Zone. Indeed, it couldn't even hold a position - Hezbollah's pretty much the only group of this kind which has managed to do that, and it had about a decade and a half of training and of building fortifications. Even then they didn't manage that totally.

And this is without considering the splintered nature of the Iraqi resistance (or rather the fact that it's at least three mutually antagonistic resistances, all of which are splintered to a greater or lesser degree).

The US certainly can't control Iraq, but I think it still has enough advantages (particularly in the areas of heavy weaponry and control of the skies) to make any attempt to defeat it in a straight-up fight doomed to failure. It seems to me that though the situation can get worse, the immediate impetus to withdraw is likely to have to come from the politicians, not the actions of enemy commanders.

Forgotten Countries - a foreign policy-focused blog


[ Parent ]
Saddam's army (0.00 / 0)
They fought a long war against Iran, they have plenty of experience dealing with fortified positions. They are well armed, just look at all the "missing" guns and equipment.

As for anti-aircraft, I seem to remember we have unexplained air crashes, including jets, who were flying re-supply missions.


[ Parent ]
Google 'Private Contractor Death Rate in Iraq' (4.00 / 1)
and see what you find.

These are the guys who are guarding the supply lines. It's very, very possible that the road-based supply line from Kuwait can be cut and if it is the massively fortified 'Green Zone' becomes useless.

The only thing preventing the Iraqis from driving us from their country is their own factionalism.

Funny how our forces are exacerbating that.

Or maybe not....

Peace, Health and Prosperity for Everyone.


[ Parent ]
Why? (4.00 / 1)
The 'moderate Republican' thing is the immediate clue as to why this plan will never come close to being carried out, yet it poses an interesting question: Why does America have such a pre-occupation with promoting its generals to political office?

Forgotten Countries - a foreign policy-focused blog

Easy Answer (4.00 / 1)
The Democratic president gives a direct order Petraeus to parachute into into Iran and capture the entire Iranian leadership single handed and armed with nothing but a service 9mm pistol.  If he disobeys, court marshal him.  If he goes and gets captured, well, no deals with any corner of the axis of evil.  Hopefully Iran doesn't feel about torture the way Republicans do.  If Petraeus dies trying, no great loss.  And if he succeeds, then he deserves to be president. 

Well sure (0.00 / 0)
If WWIII starts, then I imagine  a republican general WOULD have a good chance of being elected(or otherwise seizing) office.  Also, if the Great Depression II hits between now and the Iowa caucus, Edwards is a cinch to be President!

A Real Precedent Exists Too (0.00 / 0)
Sure, we also had a President Westmoreland if I recall correctly.  Petraeus needs to win to be elected, because he already starts off with 50+% of the electorate against him.  What chance does he have to win?  Isn't he basically Frosty the Snowman in Mesopotamia?  Nuff said.  The Publicans are passing around the hookah again.

President Petraeus? | 15 comments
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