Opinion Brief

Is General Petraeus about to step down?

A London newspaper reports that America's top commander in Afghanistan may make a swift exit. The Pentagon denies the report... more or less

The Pentagon is rejecting a report from the British media that star American Gen. David Petraeus is on his way out as the head of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan. But there's a little wiggle room. "I can assure you General Petraeus is not quitting," said Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell, adding, "nor does he plan to stay in Afghanistan forever." Petraeus is one of the key voices pushing for extending the U.S. "surge" in Afghanistan. But could he actually withdraw early — and what would his next step be? (Watch a Russia Today report about the Petraeus rumor)

It could happen: It's not just the London papers who say Petraeus' departure may come soon, says Myra MacDonald in Reuters. "Buried" in a Washington Post story on Obama's new envoy to Pakistan is the assertion that Petraeus is among several top U.S. officials in Afghanistan who are "expected to leave in the coming months.""Petraeus, personalities, and policy"

Petraeus isn't going anywhere: "Don't think for a moment that Gen. David Petraeus is stepping down," says Spencer Ackerman in Wired. If the "fusillade of denials" from the Pentagon and Petraeus' own spokesman isn't enough proof that "he's locked in on doing his current job," consider that "Petraeus is big on withdrawing only as conditions on the ground merit." And Afghanistan has a long way to go before his work is done."Petraeus' peeps promise: He's staying in Afghanistan"

If Petraeus leaves, where would he go? The Pentagon's "non-denial denial" transparently "leaves the way open for [Petraeus] to leave the job by the end of the year," says Mark Mardell in BBC News. And that "would be big." In stature if not rank, Petraeus is "America's top soldier," and "the only way is up" for his career. Where to? Defense secretary? Book deal? Vice president? President?"What does the future hold for Petraeus?"

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