Somewhere behind the Times
paywall, there is a report that General David Petraeus
is preparing to step
down as commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, and that the
search is already on for his replacement. Petraeus took command of the
Afghan war effort last summer following Stanley McChrystal's dismissal
over remarks made in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine.
Pentagon is already denying
the story, but Reuters blogger Myra
says talk of the popular general's departure is not that
far-fetched. Acknowledging Petraeus has emerged as a "towering figure"
in U.S. foreign policy for leading the troop surge in Iraq, MacDonald
suggests Petraeus could succeed Admiral Mike Mullen as Chairman of the
Joint Chiefs of Staff. Such a move, coupled with the pending departure
of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates "could create the space for Obama
to recalibrate Afghan strategy, backing away from the military surge and
focusing more on a political settlement - if he wants to do so. The
Washington Post's Karen
also notes "virtually the entire U.S. civilian and military
leadership in Afghanistan is expected to leave in the coming months,"
including Petraeus and other high-level U.S. leaders.
Pentagon's denials of the Times report leave room for interpretation.
Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell tells Reuters that "General Petraeus is
not quitting," before hastening to add "nor does he plan to stay in
In other words, stay tuned.
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