No sooner did I post my wish for the demilitarization of David Petraeus than the Obama administration stepped up to grant it. Even though nobody in the punditocracy is interpreting the general's move to the CIA in the light I presented it a few days ago — they honestly couldn't now, could they? — I'm hoping the groundwork is set for a more efficient withdrawal from Afghanistan than we've been led to expect.
A new military assessment claims that seven — count 'em, seven — provinces now can be taken over "successfully" by the Afghan military. Our military drawdown is scheduled to start this summer, shortly after the US leadership shuffle takes place, and it may be that more provinces will be added to the list by then — no matter what actually is happening on the ground. In addition to the Petraeus transfer, the rest of the shuffle looks promising as well.
Robert Gates did a fine job of de-escalating the craziness of Donald Rumsfeld, and I sincerely wish him a pleasant retirement. I think he probably has the grace to keep his face off the cable news networks and spend his time enjoying golf or gardening or grandchildren or whatever. Leon Panetta should be a fine replacement — politically astute, low key, and not seeking further advancement. He should do quite well deflecting criticism from Congressional hawks as he explains how we actually "won" the longest war in our history.
Scarcely anybody outside top military brass seem to know anything about Lt. General John Allen, and one only can hope it stays that way. He doesn't seem like the kind of guy to revel in press conferences, so he's probably a fine choice to take the lead in Afghanistan. It's time for the civilian leaders to reassert power over the military, and Allen is unlikely to stand in the way.
As for Petraeus, he can have the pleasure of continuing to piss off the ISI by lobbing drone-borne bombs at Haqqani network bases in Pakistan. He and the Haqqanis deserve each other, and Predator strikes are about all the CIA is (moderately) good at these days. As an intelligence gathering agency, they've been pretty useless for the past decade or so. (I wonder what the CIA assessment of Gadaffi's ability to hang on in Libya looked like.)