Petraeus’ Opening Statement
It’s the most prestigious job of Petraeus’ meteoric rise from obscurity. And he’s talking like a man double-parked. Also like a man who knows which side his bread is buttered: he just singled out liberal icon Ted Kennedy for a swift recovery.
Now he’s giving the CIA Factbook/Encyclopedia Britannica description of the region he’ll lead military operations in. Demographics, the economy, etc. Message: I understand this place. The Mideast “can be described as a region of regions… of vast complexity and strategic importance.” Whadda big brain!
Violent extremism will be his biggest priority at Central Command. “Of course, al-Qaeda is the highest priority threat.” But others too: “In addition, Tehran and Damascus support” such groups. So right off the bat, he’s signalling Iran and Syria will be in the Petraeus Crosshairs. Other priorities: nuclear proliferation — more Iran bellicosity — economic opportunity “is a serious security concern as well” (spoken like a true counterinsurgent) and then “narcotics, arms trafficking [and] piracy.” Iran “continues to be a destabilizing force in the region… particularly harmful in Iraq, Lebanon, the Palestinian territories and Afghanistan.” As if on cue, someone pipes up to shout down Petraeus on Iran and Levin throws her out.
Number of security incidents in Iraq are lower than in a long time, he said. Message: I did the impossible in Iraq.