Recent reports indicate Defense Secretary Robert Gates and General David Petraeus will be out of their positions by the fall season. In short, it means President Obama will have some dirty dancing to do prior to his next Presidential race. America's most touted General will leave a conundrum for his next successor to manage.
It was obvious from the beginning; the "Iraq Surge" as Afghanistan strategy was a gimmick for President Obama's communications team. There was no evidence that fixing Afghanistan's issues would occur within a window of two years. Nonetheless, in Jan 2009, President Obama found himself in a political squabble with military leaders, then outflanked, first by General Stanley McChrystal's 44 PG assessments, and then followed up by General Petraeus' Counter-Insurgency demands.
In effect, President Obama is little more than useless at getting control over his Generals. Awkward enough, the departure of General Petraeus and Secretary Gates means more than a simple changing of command. General Petraeus is is credited not only with "saving Iraq" from its self-implosion, but with single-handedly transforming the US global strategy. In 2011, the renowned American General now finds his reputation at risk.
History should show, at times of war -- when a General is winning -- he does not pass the reins off; he stays to finish the task. Generals want to leave legacies and General David Petraeus is not any different. He wants his legacy as the one who transformed national security for the United States. And others do as well.
A veterans group, Vets For Freedom, is lobbying congress, pushing for Petraeus to get a 5th star, and to be senior military commander of the US.
Why would the General be so willing to give up his prized position in the middle of the longest war in America's history?
What started in 2001 as Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan has turned into Operation Enduring Obligation, and Af-Pak ought to be renamed "Bleeding America Brokistan."
The American troops have done a great job killing the Taliban, but nation-building is not working as Gates and Petraeus imagined and they are trying to save face. Conspiracy theorists like Wayne Madsen assume that Petraeus is being pulled for a GOP presidential run, but Madsen makes a big oversight. Both Gates and Petraeus first want to save their legacies.
Last week, in an interview, an unnamed officer in Afghanistan said, "It's a lie, the alleged success. I have no idea what is successful besides billions of dollars being wasted on the sickest Government I have ever seen."
Mathew Hoh and former CIA agent Bob Baer have made the Afghanistan issues even more public, and the point of Gates and Petraeus departure prove what many have known for the past two years -- Afghanistan is the Graveyard of more than Empires, it's the Graveyard of Military hubris.