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Rolling Stone: Afghanistan Surge is Really About Gen Petraeus' Presidential Aspirations

3:06 PM, Nov 2, 2009 • By JOHN NOONAN
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Is there a growing revolt of senior military leadership over Afghanistan? Experts say no but Rolling Stone says yes.

In early October, as President Obama huddled with top administration officials in the White House situation room to rethink America's failing strategy in Afghanistan, the Pentagon and top military brass were trying to make the president an offer he couldn't refuse. They wanted the president to escalate the war - go all in by committing 40,000 more troops and another trillion dollars to a Vietnam-like quagmire - or face a full-scale mutiny by his generals.

Well apparently America's military leadership has firmly communicated to the White House that winning this war is important -- a shocking report indeed -- and threatened "mutiny" if Obama fails to do what's necessary. Look, this is a silly story from the kingpin of ridiculous war reporting. The Vietnam example is absurd enough on its face -- the only relevant comparison between Afghanistan and Vietnam is length and, further, the former isn't even a war -- it's an overseas contingency operation, remember?

So Rolling Stone stands President Obama up as the hero figure, nobely combating the warmongering factions of his cabinet in order to stave off another Vietnam. That's about as false as falsehoods get, but par for the course for the rock rag. Unforgivable, however, was this baseless and completely unwarranted jab at General Petraeus:

"I don't understand why the military is putting so much pressure on the White House now over Afghanistan," says a former U.S. ambassador to Pakistan. "Unless it has something to do with the presidential ambitions of a certain Centcom commander."

Everything about Obama's relationship with Petraeus -- the one public figure with favorability akin to The One -- is centered around this jealous, infantile obsession with popularity. So White House allies frequently and deliberately try to craft an image of Petraeus as a polarizing and power-hungry political wolf. Never mind that the general who delivered the Fertile Crescent from al Qaeda managed to steer through a deeply partisan Iraqi Surge debate without once compromising the integrity of the civilian-military relationship (and has frequently emphasized his interest in the quiet life of a military retiree).

Petraeus and McChrystal are smart, strategically competent, and trusted by the public -- and are advocating a warplan that could drive a wedge between the administration and its liberal base. That makes them a political threat, a liability that must be dealt with just the same as the Chamber of Commerce or Fox News: attack their credibility, question their motives, and ultimately erode the public's faith in their message (references to the truculent Douglas MacArthur are already being conjured). That's a tactic that might resonate with a targeted demographic in the short term, but attacking America's military leadership is certain to backfire. One wonders how many enemies Obama can invent before they overwhelm him?

Update: A reader points out that the author of the Rolling Stone piece, Bob Dreyfuss, "used to work for Lyndon LaRouche's Executive Intelligence Review and dedicated his first book,Hostage to Khomeini, to his colleagues at the Lyndon LaRouche organization. It's the same author; I bought the book to confirm and confront Dreyfuss with it; he acknowledged his past but likes to keep it hidden."

Our reader calls it a "big omission," and I agree. Thanks to him for the sharp eye.