Hot Water for Gen. Odierno

Here’s a reminder that the accomplishments of Gen. David Petraeus are credited to qualities that go beyond military genius.

Iraq’s prime minister slammed America’s top military commander in the country in remarks aired Friday, saying he “risked his position” when he said Iran sought to bribe lawmakers to vote against a U.S.-Iraq security agreement. Gen. Ray Odierno made the comments in an interview published Monday in the Washington Post, though he said he did not have definitive proof of the bribes. “The American commander has risked his position when he spoke in this tone and has regrettably complicated relations,” Nouri al-Maliki told a group of visiting Kuwaiti journalists in an interview shown on Iraq’s state television.

Gen. Petraeus’s humility, restraint, circumspection, and flair for diplomacy are as much a part of the story of Iraq’s turnaround as, say, his “Anaconda strategy.” Not only does Gen. Odierno have enormous shoes to fill, but he must fill them very discreetly.