Real Time Thoughts on Meet the Press (August 15, 2010)

Today’s edition of Meet the Press is a special conversation about Afghanistan with General David Petraeus. As Gregory put it: Is nation building possible in the badlands of Afghanistan?

Gen. Petraeus is claiming to be committed to achieving U.S. and ISAF objectives.  It remains to be known what the objectives are.  How many levels of achievable (achieved) goals are there that might be threaded together to fit together as objectives?

We’re making progress, and progress is winning?  It takes a lot of accumulation of progress to make for winning says Petraeus.

His comments suggests taht he is looking at the proposition of victory very analytically. Achieve a set of outcomes that reinforce the prospect of other achievable objectives.  A virtuous cycle.  That’s the way to achieve a commendable victory (of some sort.)

David Gregory has put together a standing objection to the U.S. backing of President Karzai. How can this be?  Only last year, Ambassador Karl Eikenberry held the position that Karzai cannot be trusted.

Gen. Petraeus’s argument to establish security in Afghanistan is to extend teh secure borders of Kabul to the rest of Afghanistan, in the manner of an oil spot.  (Its the mechanism to this that is more important that the oil spot itself. After all the oil spill is only in Kabul.)

Progress is incremental and slow.  Gen. Petraeus is urging the American people that progress will be slow, but will be systematic now that the inputs in Afghanistan are finally right.

Reintegration and resourced rebuilding is the key here.  We don’t want to kill all the bad guys; rather we want to dry out the Taliban by reconciling those fighters are willing to refute the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

Gen. Petraeus has just put out that the conflict here in regional.  This implies that as an explicit part of the policy in defeating the Taliban, Pakistan has to be involved.  Indeed, necessarily so.

Gen. Petraeus has moved up the criticism of the Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks doc dump.  Though at first the documents suggested raw input, over time, and over deeper research into teh documents, Petraeus argues, the names and identities of Afghan partners have been revealed.  The next 15,000 documents about to the released will likely be more damaging.

Gen. Petraeus has come out to say that the military drawn-down cannot begin in July 2011, though a few thousand soldiers might get to go home. July 2011 suggests, Gen. Petraeus wants to suggest, really connotes urgency–that progress, though achievable has to pushed forward in a systematic and sustainable way.

Hamid Karzai is the President of a sovereign country. (This is diplomatic talk for we have to work with the guy, no matter how bad he is.)  David Gregory has pointed that the Taliban are urged onto action because of government corruption and President Karzai’s government is nothing if not corrupt.  So how can this work?)

Gen. Petraeus’s defense of Karzai’s duplicity is extremely shaky.

Lets talk about the insurgency.  Its a mainly Pashtun insurgency; the Taliban are wayward brothers in the language of teh Washington Post’s Rajiv Chandrasekharan, with whom teh people of Afghanistan, Kandahar will eventually be reconciled, if only because the people might be massacred after the U.S. leaves.

This implies that low-ranking Taliban can be reintegrated. (What’s the point of being a brother if you cannot return home?) And this also implies Gen. Petraeus wants to show that some people are sitting on the fence because they have been intimated through brute force.

Petraeus is pointing out that Pakistan has not dealt with North Waziristan, though it has fought the Pakistan Taliban in Swat Valley.  But now the ISAF is coming out and dealing with the facts of the Taliban. Its a syndicate more than a monolithic organization.  Its not obvious that the rank and file know this.  The Taliban leadership is not sharing the frustrations of the soldiers on the ground.  There are many more casualties attributable to teh Taliban, and its not the case that the row-ranking members of the Afghanistan and Pakistani Taliban know that. The U.S argument against the Taliban is to show to the Taliban what their leadership does.

David Gregory has asked Petraeus whether Al Qaeda will come back if the Taliban come back into power in any way, including one assumes under a power-sharing agreement.  Petraeus’ point is that low to mid-level Taliban will come back, but Mullah Omar will likely not swear allegiance to the Constitution of Afghanistan.

If we win in Afghanistan, what do we win.  If we lose what do we lose, asks David Gregory.  Petraeus has said that if we lose we get more violence against those who are now being helped by the ISAF, civil war that will involve other Central Asian countries.  If we win, its possible that Afghanistan might be able to dig itself out of its own grave.  After all it has trillions of dollars of mineral deposits that it can only harness the goods through increased investment in human capital and extractive infrastructure and capacity.

General Petraeus has pointed out that even before the 30 year Civil War in Afghanistan between competing factions, before the Soviet invasion, Afghanistan was still one of the poorest countries in the world.

Iran has interests, lets not forget aligned with U.S. interests here.  They do not like the Taliban and do not wish the Taliban, a set of ultra-rigid Sunni organizations who hate the Shia, resurgent next door to its own borders.  Petraeus seems to suggest that if we can get over our own arguments with Iran, that country could play a constructive role in Afghanistan, though surely that will not get talked up in the U.S press.

Everything said and done, General Petraeus has said out right that he will not run for President.

~ by Faheem Haider on August 15, 2010.

One Response to “Real Time Thoughts on Meet the Press (August 15, 2010)”

  1. […] up comments about General David Petraeus’s interview with David Gregory on Meet the Press. Indeed, I have as well, in my other role as way-ward political artist.  For now, though I’d like comment on […]

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