Petraeus' Appointment Reinforces Ongoing Militarization Of CIA
Observers see President Obama's appointment of Petraeus, who now leads the U.S. military effort in Afghanistan, to head the intelligency agency as an indication of just how much things have changed in recent years.
The Washington Post reports: "Petraeus’s nomination comes at a time when the CIA functions, more than ever in its history, as an extension of the nation’s lethal military force.
CIA teams operate alongside U.S. special operations forces in conflict zones from Afghanistan to Yemen. The agency has also built up a substantial paramilitary capability of its own. But perhaps most significantly, the agency is in the midst of what amounts to a sustained bombing campaign over Pakistan using unmanned Predator and Reaper drones."
"In the four decades since he entered West Point, Petraeus, 58, has thrived in the singular world of the American military. At the civilian intelligence agency, the four-star general will find a far less deferential culture, a traditional resentment of the Pentagon and a history of making trouble for directors who do not pay sufficient respect to local folkways.
'One thing he’ll find is C.I.A. doesn’t do the hierarchy thing very well at all,' said Michael V. Hayden, C.I.A. director from 2006 to 2009. 'That’ll be a bit of an adjustment.'"
After commanding U.S. operations in Iraq, the Middle East and South Asia and finally Afghanistan, Petraeus knows all about many of the CIA's top concerns. But his background and his ambition may work against him:
"For Petraeus, Pakistan is likely to be a particularly nettlesome trouble spot. A series of recent ruptures — including the arrest of a CIA contractor in Pakistan — have undermined cooperation against al-Qaeda and prompted threats by Pakistan to place new limits on drone strikes.
Petraeus has been a frequent visitor in Islamabad with key players, including Army Chief Ashfaq Kayani and intelligence director Ahmed Shuja Pasha. But he has engendered the resentment of Pakistani officials because of his demands that they do more against the Afghan Taliban. Many of them believe he is too transparently ambitious — a criticism that he has at times faced among his peers in the United States."
Analyst Michael Rubin believes he is simply the wrong man for the job:
"What does [his] history bode for Petraeus? If his worrisome penchant for accommodating ideological enemies is any guide, trouble. The general is right to divide our enemies into reconcilable and irreconcilable. But our enemies are a lot less reconcilable than Petraeus would like to believe."
The Guardian, however, heralded him in an editorial:
"David Petraeus, the son of a Dutch sea captain who emigrated to the US after the second world war, has no need to produce his birth certificate to prove that he was born in the USA. Unlike his president, the general is already the closest thing to an all-American hero. The Republican nomination in 2016 could be his for the taking and, to this end, a stint heading the CIA – widely trailed yesterday – would do his political ambitions no harm. Articulate, charming and driven – the 58-year-old can still outrun his marine escorts around Hyde Park – this philosopher king is adept at marketing his own brand."
But for those who believe that the militarization of the CIA is the wrong path for America, Petraeus is the wrong choice indeed.