“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Petraeus Recalibrates his Career - Focus Afghanistan

Politics does make for some strange bedfellows. Maybe politicians just crave strange, but this is an interesting twist. Has General Petraeus done a calculation that Obama will be president?

No one gets beyond one star and stays that way unless he plays and has mastered the ultimate military art of being a politician, camouflaged of course.


Is Petraeus Preparing to Betray the Neo-Cons?

July 25, 2008 -

By: Lobe, Jim Israelenews
The Wall Street Journal had a good news piece today on where things are going with respect to a U.S. withdrawal — at least of combat troops — from Iraq entitled “Consensus May be Nearing on Iraq Pullout: Target Year of 2010 Gains Some Traction Among Principals as U.S. Looks Toward Afghanistan.”

I would add that, in addition to Obama, the Bush administration and now even the McCain Campaign, it appears that Gen. David Petraeus, who will take over as CentCom commander some time around Sep 1, is also preparing the ground for a move in that direction, suggesting in a Sunday interviewwith AP that al-Qaeda may “start to provide some of those resources that would have come to Iraq to Pakistan, possibly Afghanistan.”

“We do think that there is some assessment ongoing [by al-Qaeda] as to the continued viability of [its] fight in Iraq,” he said. “There is some intelligence that has picked this up,” he went on, adding, “It’s not solid gold intelligence.”

In fact, of course, evidence that al-Qaeda and its allies have shifted their focus back to Afghanistan and, more important from a strategic point of view, Pakistan has been accumulating for much of the past year; hence, Mullen’s and Gates’ increasing and increasingly vocal agitation about the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan and the growing influence and infrastructure of al Qaeda and Taliban forces across the border in Pakistan. In the two weeks before Petraeus’ interview, AP, the always-excellent Christian Science Monitor, and the New York Times published articles providing detailed evidence that al-Qaeda made its assessment some months ago and has been acting on it by sending many more fighters to Southwest Asia, including Iraq war veterans.

That Petraeus says that he believes al-Qaeda is only now making its assessment suggests the degree to which, as U.S. commander in Iraq, he has been focused exclusively on that theater and has fought tooth and nail against the Pentagon’s desire to accelerate its drawdown in troops there in order to free up more for Afghanistan.

Now, however, as commander-designate of Centcom, southwest Asia is about to become his responsibility, and he most certainly doesn’t want to lose — or be perceived as losing — there any more than he has in Iraq. In that respect, I think he is preparing to join the consensus, a consensus that, significantly, embraces the concept — pushed hard by Obama in recent days — that Afghanistan/Pakistan really does constitute the “central front” in the war on terror. (He may also believe that Obama is going to the next president and that continuing to insist that Iraq is the “central front” might be detrimental to his long-term career goals.)

If Petraeus does indeed move into the Southwest Asia camp, it will mark a huge setback for the neo-conservatives — whose Israel-centered agenda has accorded paramount priority to the Middle East and the Gulf — and whatever residual hopes they harbor for a U.S. attack on Iran. Tehran’s capacity to cause trouble in Afghanistan and even Pakistan is considerable, and I think that is one reason why Mullen and Gates have pushed for dialogue and detente.


  1. If Obama announces his cabinet picks at the convention, and chooses Petraeus as SecDef, you can stick a fork in McCain. And there's not much can do about it, because Obama's already got his war chest busting at the seams.

  2. People need constant reminding: Afghanistan is a NATO operation. What thin slice doesn't belong to NATO, belongs to JSOC.

    The way to do this given the circumstances would have been to put Petraeus in as SACEUR, and McChrystal in as CENTCOM CMDR, though the choice of Odierno as Petraeus' follow-on was a good one in my opinion. Alas and alack, this is not how it turned out.

    The real problem in attempts to "shift focus" now is that the point of burn-out has been reached in both regions. I'm surprised it didn't come sooner, but I underestimated our ability to go long in that environment. We'll start to see the consequences of that shortly and it'll take a good bit of inventiveness to mitigate.

  3. come on Wall Street
    don't be slow
    this war is a go-go-go
    plenty money to be made
    supplying the army
    the tool of the trade
    one, two, three, four
    what are we fighting for
    don't ask me i don't give a damn
    it's just another scam
    five, six, seven, eight
    open up the pearly gates
    ain't no time to wonder why
    whoopie we all be get'n scammed

  4. And here all along I thought State and CIA were the red-headed stepchildren.

    Live and learn.

    Live and learn.