Petraeus nominated for military command

Dylan Boyle

The nomination of U.S. Army General David Petraeus to chief of Central Command has prompted significant debate since the announcement by Defense Secretary Robert Gates last Wednesday.

If confirmed, Petraeus will replace Admiral William Fallon as commander of U.S. military operations in the Middle East.

Two ISU professors and one student veteran were gave their reactions to the nomination.

James McCormick, professor and chairman of political science, said the nomination was not unexpected because Petraeus will likely support the Bush administration’s strategy in Iraq, unlike Fallon – who resigned after reports that he had disagreements with the president’s intentions in the region.

“President Bush definitely thinks it is [a good nomination],” McCormick said. “Basically, by having him there, he’s going to continue the present policy, and by appointing General [Raymond] Odierno as Petraeus’ successor, there is going to be continuity in the policy.”

Charles Dobbs, professor and chairman of history, advised considering the multiple issues prominent in the Middle East. Since invading Iraq, Dobbs said, Petraeus has seen the most success in command because he has an understanding of the social background of the region coupled with his military experience.

McCormick agreed, citing Petraeus’ Ph.D. in international affairs.

“In terms of the military part of what’s going on, I think General Petraeus is the best person yet to understand what the issues are,” Dobbs said. “But it’s not just a military conflict.”

Dobbs said people also need to consider the differences in social values and beliefs in the region, because the social conflicts are just as strong as the military conflicts.

“I think Petraeus is, without a doubt, the best pick,” Dobbs said. “I believe he brings a greater understanding of Middle Eastern culture than other generals or commanders do.”

Dobbs said Petraeus has made strides in relieving social tensions by doing small things like putting troops out on the streets to show Iraqis that U.S. forces are there to help, not hurt.

Sgt. Ryan Bratvold, junior in pre-journalism and mass communication and public relations officer for ISU Student Veterans for America, said Petraeus was easily the best candidate for the job and that his nomination should be have a positive impact on the war on terror.

“With the success they have had with the troop surge, he’s obviously going to be the best pick,” said Bratvold. “They don’t just nominate anyone for that position.”

Although some pundits have warned that a Petraeus confirmation might mean war in Iran, McCormick and Dobbs both disagreed.

“He’s too savvy of a general to get too far ahead of what the political machinery will allow,” McCormick said.

Dobbs said Petraeus would not seek war in Iran because it simply would not be logical.

“A third war in Iran would not be possible because the military simply does not have the resources right now,” Dobbs said. “We would need at least a year after getting out of Iraq to retool.”