A report out of Washington today says that General David Petraeus and Defense Secretary Robert Gates are not happy with President Obama’s decision to pull American troops out of Iraq in 16 months. Photos and video below.

Petraeus 2008 WIKIportrait 1

General David Petraeus




First I want to say that I am not familiar with this publication, but it is being widely quoted and lot of high profile names are being tossed into the brew.

Petraeus and Gates first attempted to change Obama’s mind. That didn’t work. Obama asked military leaders to report back to him quickly with a detailed 16-month withdrawal plan.

That request has not put an end to the matter and a standoff is in the works.

There are indications that Petraeus and his allies in the military and the Pentagon, including General Ray Odierno, now the top commander in Iraq, have already begun to try to pressure Obama to change his withdrawal policy.

An Obama staffer offered some inside insight:

Petraeus was visibly unhappy when he left the Oval Office, according to one of the sources. A White House staffer present at the meeting was quoted by the source as saying, “Petraeus made the mistake of thinking he was still dealing with George Bush instead of with Barack Obama.”

It appears that the opening salvo was fired on January 21st when retired Army General Jack Keane, a “close political ally and mentor of Petraeus,” was interviewed on the Lehrer News Hour. Keane argued that moving ahead with Obama’s withdrawal plan would destabilize “the political situation in Iraq,” and he called that risk “not acceptable.”

Next, General Odinero was interviewed on January 29th by the New York Times. He said that the period between this past weekend’s elections and the national elections to be held about a year from now would be critical in determining the future of Iraq. He stated that forces would be reduced this year but he urged caution as the U.S. shifts the mission from a focus on counterinsurgency to one focused on “stability operations.”

Eventually, he said, only about one-third of the current 140,000 troops now in Iraq will be needed, but when that will happen has yet to be decided. “That’s the decision we have to make is when that happens; when do we go to that level,? he said.

According to this report, General Keane, the Army Vice-Chief of Staff from 1999 to 2003 is part of a network of “active and retired four-star Army generals” beginning a public discussion of the possible risky outcome of Obama’s troop withdrawal.

The source says the network, which includes senior active duty officers in the Pentagon, will begin making the argument to journalists covering the Pentagon that Obama’s withdrawal policy risks an eventual collapse in Iraq. That would raise the political cost to Obama of sticking to his withdrawal policy.

If Obama does not change the policy, according to the source, they hope to have planted the seeds of a future political narrative blaming his [Obama] withdrawal policy for the “collapse” they expect in an Iraq without U.S. troops.

Now, if this quote is correct, that’s quite a statement: these Generals “expect” a “collapse” with American troops leaving Iraq in 16 months!

Apparently, General Keane has been a force to reckon with, and has been involved in everything from the number of troops in Iraq to Petraeus becoming the new CENTCOM commander.

Keane had operated on the assumption that a Democratic president would probably not take the political risk of rejecting Petraeus’s recommendation on the pace of troop withdrawal…

The author of this piece, Gareth Porter, says that Petraeus was “shocked” at Obama’s rejection of the General’s plans for a slower withdrawal, and says Petraeus “miscalculated” Obama’s resolve to carry through on his campaign promise.

Odierno WIKI 2008 1 Jack Keane Wiki 1

Photos: L – General Odierno, R – General Keane




Obama Meets with General Petraeus (Raw Video)