Petraeus’s Sweet Revenge

We noted here several months ago that Vice President Joseph Biden was claiming Iraq as an Administration success. We argued then that we know that a policy has been a success when everyone claims credit for it. Before Democrats were in agreement that George Bush’s surge policy in Iraq would not work and would increase violence. When the exact opposite happened, the first response was to argue that Iraq would have improved under any circumstances in spite of anything that Bush did. The final end to the cycle is when the original opponents to the policy claim credit for its results.

We have additional evidence this week of the consensus that the surge worked. In light of the intemperate remarks of General Stanley McChrystal with regard to civilian leadership, President Barack Obama appointed General David Petraeus, the architect of the surge strategy in Iraq, to command US efforts in Afghanistan. Certainly, if Petraeus’s signature policy, the surge in Iraq, had been a failure or at best an accidental success, there would have been little reason to place such trust in Patraeus.

The success of Barack’s foreign policy will be in large measure dependent on success in Afghanistan which in turn is dependent on the military and political competence of Patraeus. The irony is that in 2007, when Patraeus appeared before Congress in defense of the surge policy,, ran an ad asking “General Petraeus or General Betray Us?” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, then Senator Clinton, refused to condemn the ad. Then Senator Obama also refused to condemn the ad unless other ads were condemned.

Patraeus proves that competence and success are the sweetest revenge. Given Patraeus’s stature, it seems that he could push Afghanistan policy in any direction he feels appropriate. If he chose to resign rather than implement an Obama policy he does not believe in, any failure in Afghanistan would resound on the Obama Administration.

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