5 years ago
General Petraeus doesn’t read this blog, but here at The Captain’s Journal we’re happy with his words on Afghanistan. True enough, he has focused on many things that should help the campaign: holding areas that we have cleared, having more enablers and trainers, and a surge of civilian capacity to match the effort by the military forces. True enough, all of it.
But there is an interesting statement in his speech before the 45th Munich Security Conference which we shouldn’t gloss over.
… we must pursue the enemy relentlessly and tenaciously. True irreconcilables, again, must be killed, captured, or driven out of the area. And we cannot shrink from that any more than we can shrink from being willing to support Afghan reconciliation with those elements that show a willingness to reject the insurgents and help Afghan and ISAF forces.
Exactly the point we made in Counterinsurgency: Focus on the Population or the Enemy, and several hundred other articles prior to that. But what is even more interesting than the comment by Petraeus is Joe Klein’s take on it in the context of Euro-sensibilities.
Richard Holbrooke and David Petraeus–appearing onstage together for the first time–emphasized the difficulty of the Af/Pak situation. Although Petraeus, a human power-point presentation, used phrases like “we must pursue the enemy tenaciously,” which clearly make the peacable Euros uncomfortable.
Indeed, the contrast between the British and German defense ministers said it all. The German, Franz Josef Jung, was archetypically skittish when it came to any mention of kinetics in Afghanistan, except to criticize the scourge of civilian casualties. His assessment of the situation was so ridiculously upbeat that the Afghan President Hamid Karzai praised it.
Joe Biden also used phrases like “pushing the reset button” on the U.S.-Russian relationship, an idea which seemed to suit and sooth the audience.
Our allies in Afghanistan. Welcome to the old Europe – and the old Europe in Washington.