WASHINGTON, Sep 12 (IPS) - In sharp contrast to the lionisation of Gen. David Petraeus by members of the U.S. Congress during his testimony this week, Petraeus's superior, Admiral William Fallon, chief of the Central Command (CENTCOM), derided Petraeus as a sycophant during their first meeting in Baghdad last March, according to Pentagon sources familiar with reports of the meeting.
Fallon told Petraeus that he considered him to be "an ass-kissing little chickenshit" and added, "I hate people like that," the sources say. That remark reportedly came after Petraeus began the meeting by making remarks that Fallon interpreted as trying to ingratiate himself with a superior.
That extraordinarily contentious start of Fallon's mission to Baghdad led to more meetings marked by acute tension between the two commanders. Fallon went on to develop his own alternative to Petraeus's recommendation for continued high levels of U.S. troops in Iraq during the summer.
The enmity between the two commanders became public knowledge when the Washington Post reported Sep. 9 on intense conflict within the administration over Iraq. The story quoted a senior official as saying that referring to "bad relations" between them is "the understatement of the century."
Of course, we can’t be sure if this story is true. But what we do know is, Gen. Petraeus came on board after Gen. Casey and Gen. John Abizaid were fired because they opposed President Bush’s troop surge. I recall joking at the time that the President was going to "listen to the Generals on the ground"--as long as they said what he wanted them to.
So in my opinion it really was a foregone conclusion that Petraeus was going to call the surge a success of one sort or another, and recommend a “stay the course” policy. I mean, that’s why he was hired. Duh.