Things are getting mighty interesting!
What does the high profile conflict between President Obama and the Pentagon over Afghanistan mean for Petraeus’ potential 2012 bid for the presidency?
Well, the Intrade prediction markets doubled at the news. Does that tell you anything?
Simply put, Obama’s hesitance to provide the needed troops in Afghanistan is big potential trouble for the young, inexperienced president. To make matters worse for Obama, the Pentagon is leaking shocking documents that paint the picture for the media and everyone else.
What’s so interesting about this development is not just that Obama could look weak on foreign affairs, but that the battle could turn personal, if Petraeus is seen to be advocating more troops in Afghanistan.
Let me back up a second, first, to explain my analysis of Obama’s actions.
President Obama is preparing to withdraw from Afghanistan.
Sept. 1 – Mike Allen writes “White House fears liberal war pressure”.
White House officials are increasingly worried liberal, anti-war Democrats will demand a premature end to the Afghanistan war before President Barack Obama can show signs of progress in the eight-year conflict, according to senior administration sources.
Bear in mind, the White House put this issue on the map, by saying it fears the Left on the issue. I’m sure there were liberals in the Democratic party clamoring for the U.S. to get out of Afghanistan, but the White House created the political pressure from liberals in the public sphere by telling Mike Allen, an extremely influential reporter, about its “fears.”
But the Pentagon was of a different mind. No sooner had we heard about White House fears than comes the news: “Pentagon worried about Obama’s commitment to Afghanistan”.
Then, the bombshell! Someone, somewhere, gave Bob Woodward a classified 66-page report laying out the Pentagon case for more troops in Afghanistan. Giving Bob Woodward that report is like the last round of the Texas Hold ‘em World Series — the stakes are huge!
Meanwhile, Obama is giving the cold shoulder. There’s no “pending decision,” he told us.
Before I go any further, you may be asking yourself what this has to do with Petraeus, since McChrystal is the main man in this situation. While it’s true that McChrystal is the Pentagon’s point man on Afghanistan, Petraeus is basically his boss. Just because the skirmish is publicly between McChrystal and Obama at this point doesn’t mean Petraeus doesn’t come in at some point to play a major role. I mean, it’s ain’t his first rodeo, know what I mean?
Ok, so how does it all turn out? I can’t tell you for sure. The public is souring on Afghanistan, but premature evacuation could be politically deadly for Obama, who isn’t exactly looking like Mr. Tough Guy these days in foreign affairs. Americans want a strong leader.
I’ll leave you with this: who leaked Woodward the report? Politico reports,
A D.C. whodunit: Who leaked and why?
Bob Woodward’s Monday-morning exclusive on a 66-page report from Gen. Stanley McChrystal to President Barack Obama about Afghanistan policy was a rite of passage for the new administration: the first major national security leak and a sure sign that the celebrated Washington Post reporter has penetrated yet another administration.
…inside the White House and out, the leak touched off another familiar Washington ritual: speculation about the leaker’s identity and motives.