Could Gen. Petraeus be awarded a fifth star?

However, noted Waller, “There’s a certain niche to it that would give him an incredible amount of political power, both within the Pentagon and also within U.S. politics. I think if Obama was smart, he would incentivize him to stay in the military as long as possible so that he didn’t have to run against him as a civilian next time around.”

That being said, the fifth star is not a be-all, end-all. One need only look to five-star Gen. Douglas MacArthur, who was relieved of his command by President Harry Truman during the Korean War, as an example of that, noted Crane. MacArthur (and McChrystal more recently) was quickly reminded of who was boss.

“Having four-stars, five-stars, 10-stars doesn’t matter,” Crane said. “The president’s in charge.”