Bruce Ackerman was fretting the other day about the deployment of General Petraeus and other high-ranking military officers as political weapons by the White House. This, he felt, imperiled the idea of civilian control of the military. The New York Sun, by contrast, want to see Petraeus deliver a speech ending with this bold paragraph:
What I cannot countenance is for you today to commend my skill and bravery in Anbar and Baghdad and then tomorrow to hold votes on how futile this struggle is. So let me make this choice easy for you. I believe we have a good chance to drive Al Qaeda and Iran’s network from Iraq and stand up in due time a functioning democracy in Baghdad. I am prepared, even eager, to command our forces in this battle– but only on one condition: That you signal that you share my goal of victory. If you think I am mistaken and wish to continue your efforts to undermine me, then I cannot command. Absent that signal, I will resign, effective immediately, and take my case to the voters in a run for the presidency on a campaign to finish the work of winning the war and redeeming the sacrifice of so many Iraqis, allies, and our own GIs
Dave Weigel tries to point out that there’s no actual indication that Petraeus is a popular figure — his favorable/unfavorable split is 24/34 — but Dave’s missing the real point here which is that Petraeus is extremely popular among journalists and among think tankers who appear frequently on cable television.
UPDATE: Ooops! When I wrote the title to this post, my intention was to append a brief short story about David Petraeus appearing before congress to denounce the war, denounce Bush, and declare his intention to stage a coup. Then I decided it wasn’t nearly as witty as I’d thought it was and just left the post you read above. But I forgot to change the title, which is now hyperbolic and not really appropriate to the post I wrote.