03 February 2011

King David Doubles Down on a Failed Strategy

Anyone who thinks we should remain in Afghanistan because we are making progress and that the Afghans want us to stay should read this important report (excerpt below) by David Hastings in Rolling Stone.  

My earlier discussion of the flaws in President Obama's second strategic review, which approaches this subject from a different but complimentary angle, can be found here.

Petraeus has a new plan to finish the war: Double down on a failed strategy
David Hastings, Rolling Stone, 02/02/11


.... "Thanks to such internal maneuvering, the strategic review did little to clarify the timetable for withdrawal. The final report, in fact, says almost nothing. We are making progress, but that progress is fragile and reversible. We have broken the momentum of the Taliban, but there will still be heavy fighting next year. The troops will start coming home soon, but they won't start coming home soon. We aren't "nation-building," the president says, though we'll stay in Afghanistan past 2014 to build its nation. It was, in the end, a nonreview review, which suited Petraeus just fine, giving him more time to shape the outcome not just in Kabul, but in Washington. As the general had spelled out in his doctoral dissertation, winning the hearts and minds of Congress is what matters most. Or as one U.S. military official puts it, "If anyone can spin their way out of this war, it's Petraeus."

During his time in Iraq, Petraeus earned the nickname King David, for the imperious manner in which he ruled over the ancient city of Mosul. In Afghanistan, a more apt honorific might be the Godfather. To get America out of the war, Petraeus has turned to the network of warlords, drug runners and thieves known as the Afghan government, which the general himself has denounced as a "criminal syndicate." Within weeks of assuming command, Petraeus pushed through an ambitious program to create hundreds of local militias — essentially a neighborhood watch armed with AK-47s. Under Petraeus, the faltering operation has been expanded from 18 districts to more than 60, with plans to ramp it up from 10,000 men to 30,000." ... click here to view entire article.