Obama and Petraeus

Rob at Arabic Media Shack makes a good point:

If we made a list of the top 10 American global securitychallenges, probably 9 would be directly or indirectly related to theMiddle East. Therefore, wouldn’t it be logical to pick someone who isa specialist on the region? Someone who could go to a conference ofMiddle Eastern scholars and hold their own discussing regional,history, politics, and culture and not purely strategy from a narrowperspective of American interests? None of the last four NSA’s(Rice,Hadley, Berger, orLake) were experts on the Middle East. Has policy been especially stellar during this period (1993-2008)?

I’d argue that the NSA will have some pushing back to do outside of conferences of Middle East scholars in order to make sure the White House drives American Middle East policy, because his policy differences with Gen. David Petraeus over Iraq troop withdrawals are a matter of public record.

While the two men seem to agree that more American troops are needed in Afghanistan (and — hush, hush — in Pakistan) that leaves some room for divergent opinions about how much is enough, and Petraeus has already gotten a head start on the Obama transition team in terms of his vision moving forward.:

There are current and future plans that will be executed in the future.It’s quite a coherent and well-thought through plan. Although incertain cases there are additional resources required.

Petraeus is a master at managing the press to frame his narrative convincingly (unlike former CENTCOM commander Adm. William Fallon), and I’ve got a hunch he’d make mince meat out of an NSA who doesn’t know the Middle East like the back of his or her hand.

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