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The Progressive

Petraeus’s New Offensive: Preparing the Way for Obama to Retract the Withdrawal Pledge

General David Petraeus is in the midst of his Afghanistan offensive.

But it's not against the Taliban; it's against those in Congress, and those of us in the public, who oppose the ongoing-and escalating-Afghan war.

Petraeus is preparing the battlefield for next summer, when President Obama is on record as saying the withdrawal from Afghanistan will commence.

Petraeus announced very publicly over the weekend that he didn't take the job as top general in Afghanistan to preside over "a graceful exit," and he affirmed that he may advise Obama to delay the withdrawal.

Some in the media claim Petraeus is trying to strengthen his position against those in the Administration who want to greatly reduce the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan.

But I'm not buying that.

I believe Petraeus is doing what his commander in chief wants him to do.

Look, if Obama didn't want Petraeus popping up all over the weekend talk shows and sitting down with the New York Times, he would have ordered the general back to Afghanistan.

But for the White House, something was more important than the upcoming assault on Kandahar.

And that's to give Obama room to retreat from his pledge last December.

And even that pledge was hedged like a French garden: "We will execute this transition responsibly, taking into account conditions on the ground," he said at the time.

Watch for those words "conditions on the ground" to come around again next July.

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Matthew Rothschild

Matthew Rothschild

Matthew Rothschild is senior editor of The Progressive magazine.

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