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Monday, October 5, 2009

Hedging Afghan Bets

Today’s New York Times article about David Petraeus makes an indirect but obvious point about perceptions: nobody should doubt that the military is obeying orders when it comes to Afghanistan. If General McChrystal continues to appear publicly at odds with others in the administration, it’s only because his commander-in-chief wants to keep several balls in the air. If not, Obama really would have taken him to Coventry in Copenhagen (although the photos of the two shaking hands really were badly reminiscent of Truman at Guam when General MacArthur thrust out his hand rather than saluted, as he most certainly should have done.) The relative silence and/or equivocations of nearly everybody else on the subject—not only Petraeus but also Clinton, Panetta, Gates… suggest that the president himself is still very much on the fence, or is buying time for something better. He is not the only cynical one in the room.

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