Is Petraeus Preparing to Betray the Neo-Cons?

The Wall Street Journal had a good news piece today on where things are going with respect to a U.S. withdrawal — at least of combat troops — from Iraq entitled “Consensus May be Nearing on Iraq Pullout: Target Year of 2010 Gains Some Traction Among Principals as U.S. Looks Toward Afghanistan.” I would add that, in addition to Obama, the Bush administration and now even the McCain Campaign, it appears that Gen. David Petraeus, who will take over as CentCom commander some time around Sep 1, is also preparing the ground for a move in that direction, suggesting in a Sunday interview with AP that al-Qaeda may “start to provide some of those resources that would have come to Iraq to Pakistan, possibly Afghanistan.”

“We do think that there is some assessment ongoing [by al-Qaeda] as to the continued viability of [its] fight in Iraq,” he said. “There is some intelligence that has picked this up,” he went on, adding, “It’s not solid gold intelligence.”

In fact, of course, evidence that al-Qaeda and its allies have shifted their focus back to Afghanistan and, more important from a strategic point of view, Pakistan has been accumulating for much of the past year; hence, Mullen’s and Gates’ increasing and increasingly vocal agitation about the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan and the growing influence and infrastructure of al Qaeda and Taliban forces across the border in Pakistan. In the two weeks before Petraeus’ interview, AP, the always-excellent Christian Science Monitor, and the New York Times published articles providing detailed evidence that al-Qaeda made its assessment some months ago and has been acting on it by sending many more fighters to Southwest Asia, including Iraq war veterans. That Petraeus says that he believes al-Qaeda is only now making its assessment suggests the degree to which, as U.S. commander in Iraq, he has been focused exclusively on that theater and has fought tooth and nail against the Pentagon’s desire to accelerate its drawdown in troops there in order to free up more for Afghanistan.

Now, however, as commander-designate of Centcom, southwest Asia is about to become his responsibility, and he most certainly doesn’t want to lose — or be perceived as losing — there any more than he has in Iraq. In that respect, I think he is preparing to join the consensus, a consensus that, significantly, embraces the concept — pushed hard by Obama in recent days — that Afghanistan/Pakistan really does constitute the “central front” in the war on terror. (He may also believe that Obama is going to the next president and that continuing to insist that Iraq is the “central front” might be detrimental to his long-term career goals.) If Petraeus does indeed move into the Southwest Asia camp, it will mark a huge setback for the neo-conservatives — whose Israel-centered agenda has accorded paramount priority to the Middle East and the Gulf — and whatever residual hopes they harbor for a U.S. attack on Iran. Tehran’s capacity to cause trouble in Afghanistan and even Pakistan is considerable, and I think that is one reason why Mullen and Gates have pushed for dialogue and detente.

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Jim Lobe

Jim Lobe served for some 30 years as the Washington DC bureau chief for Inter Press Service and is best known for his coverage of U.S. foreign policy and the influence of the neoconservative movement.



  1. To John M., Pakistanis are not Arabs. Neither are Iranians or Afghanis. The remainder of your tract is also full of errors, or full of opinions of people that have been wrong about the Mideast for most of their careers.

    The one thing we can agree on is that an invasion or ‘major incursion’ into Pakistan by US forces would be a disaster. Of course, using that same logic with respect to Iran seems to be beyond the capability of most of the US elected officials, bureaucrats, and political pundits.

  2. Fortunately (depending on how you look at it), Brzezinski’s wet dream is unlikely to see the light of day. There has been much speculation about what Russia would do in the event of an attack on Iran, but it’s likely they will do nothing. A protracted conflict with Iran would drain what few resources the US has left.

    The vaccuum left by the neocons will not necessarily be filled by the Brzezinski faction, nevertheless, even the most ardent neocons know that an ivasion of Iran is a non starter.

  3. While it is true that Pakistanis are not arabs, they are heavily influennced and financed by Saudi Arabians. Taliban were also just cannon fodders and the show was being run by Saudis and Chechens in Afghanistan. In short, if you follow the money it all leads to Saudi Arabia and they are above the law.

  4. The spread of ABSOLUTE STUPIDITY to new areas is to be expected……..After all……… If you do not at first succeed Try again….. The neocon putsch A.B. will try to try again….IF they can………McCain, Obama, It doesn’t matter…….They plan to metastasize into the Pelosi Reid faction AND allow them to demonstrate their COMMITMENT to American Hegemony ….SURE, it will be easier with the “old warier” …. History is full of surprises though BUT like there are never enough suckers to buy your house for twice what its worth, its hard to see how either McSame or Obama can get very far from the SHADOW of AIPAC…………The GM of the new MILLENNIUM — Whatz good for Israel is good for the U.S. and MANY citizens of DUAL nationalities (loyalties?) are in POWER to SHOW us theez “TRUTHS” NEVER forget …WHO is AMERICA’S No1. WELFARE QUEEN!!?? Do you think she has enough sense to KICK BACK any of the BILLIONs to those U.S. politicians that KEEP this GRAVY TRAIN ROLLING??? NEVER Forget the 911 commission was a whitewash…… Never forget that WARCRIMES were commited. NEVER forget “they” stole BILLIONS. There is much more than meets the EYE or the press is willing to MENTION….. There is the Anthrax Attack swept under the RUG… For the PERPS, this election IS a big DEAL…… It could be THEIR life….. That is being decided…… The ONLY targets of the ANTHRAX attacks? Two democratic Senators who opposed the Patriot act &&&&&&&& the “photo editor” who PUBLISHED drunken bush twins PHOTO…….All the others were postal employees delivering the letters……….. SomeBody knows something, but while these guys are in…….Its being kept QUIET…… Would YOU know HOW to find out the FACTS, TRUTH??

  5. This ‘left’ obsession with Zbig Brzezinski tends to get a bit tedious. The left appears not to have kept up with anything ZB has done in the past 20 years and is more than content to go with its own interpretation of what ZB did earlier. Since the end of the cold war ZB has been a proponent of non-intervention, and since 2002 a vocal critic of the so-called war on terror and especially the war in Iraq. It may be a comment on the state of US politics that he was one of the most sensible advisers in the whole Obama camp since replaced under Israel lobby pressure by real hawks such as Dennis Ross, Madeleine Albright and Susan Rice. The left appears silent on the later. Or perhaps it is because according to its received wisdom the lobby weilds no power, and Israel is merely a hapless instrument in the US imperial project.

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