Tuesday, Jul 17, 2007, 1:47 am
Bush Said to Be Setting Up Petraeus as Scapegoat for Policy Failures
Tom Ricks for WaPo reports:
Almost every time President Bush has defended his new strategy in Iraq this year, he has invoked the name of the top commander, Army Gen. David H. Petraeus.
Speaking in Cleveland on Tuesday, Bush called Petraeus his "main man" -- a "smart, capable man who gives me his candid advice." And on Thursday, as the president sought to stave off a revolt among congressional Republicans, he said he wanted "to wait to see what David has to say. I trust David Petraeus, his judgment."
Some of Petraeus's military comrades worry that the general is being set up by the Bush administration as a scapegoat if conditions in Iraq fail to improve. "The danger is that Petraeus will now be painted as failing to live up to expectations and become the fall guy for the administration," one retired four-star officer said.
Bush has mentioned Petraeus at least 150 times this year in his speeches, interviews and news conferences, often setting him up in opposition to members of Congress.
"It seems to me almost an act of desperation, the administration turning to the one most prominent official who cannot act politically and whose credibility is so far unsullied, someone who is or should be purely driven by the facts of the situation," said Richard Kohn, a specialist in U.S. military history at the University of North Carolina. "What it tells me, given the hemorrhaging of support in Congress, is that we're entering some new phase of the end game."
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