THE BLOG
03/19/2009 10:47 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

McCain vs. Petraeus

Gen-david-petraeus-mccain
One of the real benefits of last year's election was that it dispelled the myth that McCain was a reasonable foreign policy centrist and exposed the fact that he was actually a reckless neocon. For instance, on North Korea, it was discovered that McCain was actually more extreme than Bush and opposed the administration's efforts - led by Chris Hill - to negotiate.

Now Hill has been appointed to replace Ryan Crocker - who departed last month - as U.S. ambassador to Iraq. Yet Hill's appointment has been held up by McCain, Lindsay "mini mac" Graham, and Brownback, because... well...Hill didn't want to bomb North Korea - which in McCain's neocon world makes his North Korea legacy "controversial."

It was always clear that McCain knew how to hold a grudge. But what makes this all the more interesting is that by blocking Hill, McCain is pissing off Petraeus - a man who McCain could not stop praising last year. Laura Rozen at the Cable writes:

Sources tell The Cable that Centcom commander Gen. David Petraeus, top Iraq commander Gen. Raymond Odierno, and Defense Secretary Robert Gates are frustrated by the delay in getting a U.S. ambassador confirmed and into place in Iraq, and support Hill's confirmation proceeding swiftly...Since the previous ambassador, Ryan Crocker, left the job Feb. 13, Odierno has complained of doing double duty: serving as the commanding general and the de facto ambassador.

The power vacuum
in Baghdad comes at a critical juncture in Iraq's transition, sources
noted. The U.S. mission is becoming increasingly focused on political
stabilization and economic development over military missions;
Arab-Kurd tensions are rising in the north; struggles for dominance
within and across sectarian groups are heating up in the aftermath of
January's provincial elections; the Baghdad government is facing tough
budget choices due to declining oil prices; and national elections that
will determine whether Iraq can consolidate its democracy are due by
year's end.

..."This is all about retribution," said one Senate Democratic
foreign-policy staffer. Conservatives blame Hill for nudging Bush's
second term North Korea policy towards multi-party talks. "They want to
give Hill a black eye."

Something has to give here... what will it be: McCain's love for Petraeus or his neocon vindictiveness?