The only difference this time... is that it [the "traitor" rhetoric] is being directed at the side that typically wields such accusatory rhetoric, rather than by them.This is absolutely correct. Accusing Democrats not just of cowardice or dereliction of duty but of betrayal, traitorship, and treason has been a central staple of the Right's political rhetoric and energy for seventy five years (since March 4, 1933, specifically).
But ask yourself: who is the real traitor: the person who sees that the country has only bad choices before it, acknowledges this, and is willing to make the painful and difficult decision? Or the person who insists on continuing to squander the blood of young Americans, the fortunes of our treasury, and the ability of the country to act in its own interests in other arenas -- merely to retain a prayer of salvaging his own personal reputation?
I tend to agree with Juan Cole that Petreaus is a good soldier stuck in a terrible position, trying to salvage a disaster. With that said, I think it is not wrong to call his political masters in the White House (and the GOP generally) traitors. They are traitors, that is, if by "traitor" we understand someone who knowingly betrays the interests of his country in order to promote his own interests.
At this point only a knave or a fool would fail to realize that staying on in Iraq is contrary to the national interest. The only reason that Bush and the GOP continue to do so is to retain hope that their political reputation can be salvaged. And that, I believe, can rightly be called treasonous.