General David Petraeus, through his own self promotion and a meager field of viable candidates, has been touted by certain Republican interests as a potential candidate for president in 2012. President Obama may feel he scotched that possibly by demoting Petraeus to commander of the Afghan War. “Obama’s War” has become “Petraeus and Obama’s War.” The President must be gloating over what he thinks is a deft political move.
However, he shouldn’t gloat too much. In fact, he may have sowed the seeds of his own destruction. Obama should be parsing Petraeus’ recent media-blitz statements very carefully. The General is raising doubts about the efficacy of a draw down next August, a position the President is politically committed to. The General is also touting modest progress in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
Making the draw down an issue in 2011 is an ideal opportunity for Petraeus to dislodge himself from owning the Afghan War and at the same time to thrust himself into the fray as a Republican Party candidate.