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Petraeus's 'Meet the Press' interview: A preview

Gen. David H. Petraeus is appearing Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press" as part of a media blitz that also includes interviews with BBC, CBS, Fox News, and ABC.

Here are some advance excerpts from NBC News, in which Petraeus discusses with host David Gregory the deadline for taking troops out of Afghanistan but adds that the politics of the situation don't drive him.

GREGORY: How stifling is the concept of this deadline and this Washington debate to what you are trying to do here?
PETRAEUS: I don't find it that stifling, I'm not bowed over by, you know, the knowledge that July 2011 is out there. In fact the president has been very clear, Vice President Biden's been very clear as well more recently that this is a date where the process begins, that is conditions-based, and as the conditions permit we transition tasks to our Afghan counterparts and the security forces in various governmental institutions and that enables a quote "responsible" drawdown of our forces.
GREGORY: I just want to clarify this - could you reach that point and say, 'I know that the process is supposed to begin but my assessment as the commander here is that it cannot begin now.'
PETRAEUS: Certainly, yeah, the president and I sat down in the Oval Office and he expressed very clearly that what he wants from me is my best professional military advice, where I understand the mission that's been assigned. We have recommended the strategy and the resources that are required for that strategy and as there are changes in any of that, that obviously I would communicate that to him, recognizing that he has some issues with which he has to deal with that we don't have to worry about it, but that's real life and again that was the process that we worked through last fall.

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GREGORY: Is your job here now as commander to try to slow down that Washington clock?
PETRAEUS: I think our job is again to show those in Washington that there is progress being made and to do that we've got to build on the progress that has been established so far because there is certainly nothing like irreversible momentum.
GREGORY: Are you in lockstep with the president who will still stick to a July 2011 deadline to begin that transition?
PETREAUS: Yeah, absolutely, he has been very clear on this I think, and I think there was greater clarity even after the replacement and so forth. What the president very much wants from me and what we talked about in the Oval Office is the responsibility of a military commander on the ground to provide his best professional military advice, leave the politics to him, certainly I am aware of the context within which I offer that advice, but that just informs the advice, it doesn't drive it. The situation on the ground drives it.

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By Rachel Weiner  |  August 13, 2010; 6:37 PM ET
Categories:  44 The Obama Presidency  
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I, personally, completely trust David Petraeus. His whole history, and his papers, and etc., which I have read and followed for many years, inform me that we, as Americans, can completely trust him.
And, more to the point, any current President can trust him. Keep in mind, this man has lived through more than one Commander in Chief (NONE, of which, has had his experience in war and war's consequences....and, I might add, have few to none of our Congressional leaders who answer to their corporate bosses).
So, when David speaks, I listen. And, I listen carefully.
But, really, how does a man who knows so much, has experienced so much, communicate to the masses who know only what sound-bites give them? It must be very frustrating to him. It must be like some kind of cultural re-entry situation in which he is required to dumb-down what he knows in some kind of an attempt to bring around a whole country of ignorant people who know NOTHING about what is really happening because they just simply don't want to know.
They just won't read. Books, magazines, or anything else.
How frustrating it must be for him to comprehend that he is fighting, and all our soldiers are fighting, for people who just don't give a damn.

Posted by: cms1 | August 13, 2010 7:17 PM | Report abuse

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