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General David Petraeus On Nation Building in Afghanistan

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Newly installed General David Petraeus in Afghanistan emphatically states that victory in that region is possible. He did not come to Afghanistan to preside over a “graceful exit.”

Petraeus has indeed a specific and personal view on nation building; but he doesn’t hesitate to remind us that he is the agent of the American government and the current administration. He recognizes that the Pashtun are tribal. The indigenous people of Afghanistan, the Pashtun, is compromised of about 50 tribes. These tribes are separate and sometimes intolerant of one another, yet in times of aggression against Afghanistan, they traditionally come together to face a common enemy. Petraeus says his approach to victory in Afghanistan is formulated with this view of the Afghan people as a tribal society as an important factor. He stresses that the tactics which placed an American-friendly government in Iraq won’t work, but he wants the Afghan people to have the vote. We staunchly support General Petraeus, yet question whether the tribal population wants the vote, and whether, given voting rights, they would vote. Near the top of Petraeus’ priorities for the Afghan is that the people of Afghanistan have the security brought about by the enforcement of laws.

General Petraeus disdains practices and social concepts outside what he considers “normal.” He sites the example detailed in the recent Time Magazine article which brought to the attention of the world a woman who was punished in Afghanistan by having her ears and nose cut off. We can scarcely conceive of her pain. Also outside the “normal” range, in Petraeus’ thinking, the use of young children to suicide bomb for a cause which they are far too young to understand.

It appears Petraeus would seek to strongly influence the installation of a new government comprised of all segments of  Afghan society, but he would stop short of forcefully installing an American-friendly government. Again, Petraeus sees the issue of bringing security to the people of Afghanistan as a matter of assuring the enforcement of laws.

The General refers to the wealth of minerals; gold, lithium, etc., as a blessing, and he say’s, if meaningful order could be maintained, these assets could be fully utilized.

General Petraeus calls Osama bin Laden an “iconic figure” and considers that the capture of bin Laden would have positive benefits, yet his stand on the matter is somewhat less strong than the position taken by the George W. Bush administration.

Petraeus speaks highly of the Karzai presidency; American diplomats have interplay with Karzai several times daily, but owing to corruption in the Karzai family, Petraeus reveals mixed feelings on the matter of a continuing Karzai administration.

On the issue of Iraq, it is noteworthy that General Petraeus would continue to influence, perhaps intimidate, the newly elected Parliament to guide and to rule in a system patterned on Western thinking. He apparently would rather see the democratized rule, than the traditional government which our war and overthrow replaced. In recent elections the more traditionalist contestants won the Iraqi Parliament by the slimmest of majorities, yet the 50/50 comprised government has been unable to function. Petraeus also praised recent discussion between Afghanistan and Iran.

When asked on NBC’s Sunday morning Meet the Press if he would strive for the American Presidency, General Petraeus laughed, and quoted Civil War General Ulysses S. Grant, who said, ““I am not a politician, never was, I hope never to be.”

General Petraeus continues to be very influential in forming American Policy, and we are fortunate to have this intelligent, wise, and philosophical General in our midst.

 

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About John Lake

John Lake had a long and successful career in legitimate and musical theater. He moved up into work behind the camera at top motion pictures. He has done a smattering of radio, and television John joined the Blogcritics field of writers owing to a passion for the liberal press, himself speaking out about the political front, and liberal issues. Now the retired Mr. Lake has entered the field of motion picture, television, and video game (now a daily gamer!) critique. His writing is always innovative and immensely readable!
  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/alan-kurtz Alan Kurtz

    John, thank you for summarizing Petraeus’s point of view in such a straightforward manner. Only twice do you editorialize: “We staunchly support General Petraeus” and “we are fortunate to have this intelligent, wise, and philosophical General in our midst.” I can’t imagine whom you mean by “we” (have you seen the latest public opinion surveys of the American people’s ever-diminishing support for the war in Afghanistan?), but let’s put that aside for the moment.

    You tell us that Petraeus “has a specific and personal view on nation building; but he doesn’t hesitate to remind us that he is the agent of the American government and the current administration. … He stresses that the tactics which placed an American-friendly government in Iraq won’t work, but he wants the Afghan people to have the vote. … It appears Petraeus would seek to strongly influence the installation of a new government comprised of all segments of Afghan society, but he would stop short of forcefully installing an American-friendly government. … Petraeus continues to be very influential in forming American Policy ….”

    This is all quite disturbing. Why should Petraeus be “very influential” in forming American policy? He’s a soldier, not the President or Secretary of State. His job is to execute military strategy, not to formulate foreign policy.

    Moreover, his views on nation building conflict with those of his commander-in-chief. On August 1, 2010, the President appeared on CBS-TV’s Sunday Morning to clarify our wartime objectives and reduce expectations. “Nobody thinks that Afghanistan is going to be a model Jeffersonian democracy,” said Barack Obama. “What we’re looking to do is difficult–very difficult–but it’s a fairly modest goal, which is: Don’t allow terrorists to operate from this region. Don’t allow them to create big training camps and to plan attacks against the U.S. homeland with impunity.”

    General Petraeus should stick to his job and leave the making of foreign policy to the civilian officials who’ve been duly elected or appointed to assume that responsibility. Instead of talking about Petraeus running for President, we ought to be demanding that he act more like a general.

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ jeannie danna

    John,

    I just heard, B.I.N.G.O!

    The General refers to the wealth of minerals; gold, lithium, etc., as a blessing, and he say’s, if meaningful order could be maintained, these assets could be fully utilized.

    Why do you think we are there? Certainly, it’s not the women, although they make for a very compeling wedge issue…we’ve been here before.

  • John Lake

    Alan:
    It indeed is an ed-op article so a little opining doesn’t hurt.
    Although Petraeus is a military man, his opinions are valuabe to the President. The President doesn’t make plans from a single viewpoint, he works with the insight of experts.
    Reviewing your comment on a disagreement between Petraeus and Obama, I fail to find one.

  • John Lake

    If we take Petraeus at his word, the Afghan would profit the most from the mineral wealth.

  • John Lake

    Jeannie:
    Comment #4 above was for you, in my haste I left out the address.
    As to “the women”, Petraeus is strongly influenced by concerns for women and children, and motivations he calls, “unnatural”.

  • John Wilson

    Nation building in Afghanistan looks like a loser to me.

  • Ruvy

    I don’t know if this link to Facebook, but if it does, it will give you a map of where the Pashtun live, and why “nation building” in Afghanistan is a joke.

  • Ruvy

    If that link didn’t work, this one might. Either way, it is truly time for Americans to learn history before stupidly committing blood and money anywhere.

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ jeannie danna

    John,

    If, we take Petraeus at his word, the Afghan would profit the most from the mineral wealth.

    The word is, if!

    : o and…the plight of the women and children are again being used to sell us this war, occupation, or what it really is, a treasure hunt!

  • Jordan Richardson

    The Afghans won’t “profit” from the mineral wealth because the Americans will install a leader “friendly” to U.S. corporate interests.

    Hell, the contractors are already there showing off their incompetence putting together the most mundane of projects. And USAID is going right along with it, too.

    Jeannie’s right when she suggests that the “plight of the women and children” serves as the moral carrot to get the American people emotionally involved in the “treasure hunt.” War these days is little more than an opportunity.

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ jeannie danna

    Thanks for this link, Jordan.

    It brought me to this!

    :( Why can’t we stop these bastards?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Because it’s the American way. Actually, it goes back to the renowned tradition of the British Empire of installing agents and outposts as a preamble to full-scale colonization. Or the Spanish-Portuguese tradition of installing missions for the purpose of converting the heathens. Just opining.

    The Spanish, however, did believe in God, though used him as a pretext. The English believed in Manifest Destiny and glory of the Empire. We Americans only believe in making money.

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ jeannie danna

    Roger,

    This is too absolute.

    We Americans only believe in making money.

    Many of us believe other-wise, but when the Supreme Court recognizes the corporation as human beings and huge churches claim greed and wealth is good, then those other voices get drowned out.

    : O HELP!!!

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I’m not writing a dissertation, Jeannie, where every statement I make has to be qualified. I’m only drawing a contrast, painting a picture, creating an image for the mind.

    It’s but a comments section for Chrissake. Get with it!

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ jeannie danna

    Well, your statement didn’t qualify. :( what’s with the snark? me? or is something else bugging you?

    Come on Roger, get with it and spit it out.
    :0 ?

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ jeannie danna

    You might have read that little love-note I received yesterday from your buddy. If this is the case…weigh in on it…

    I’m all ears.

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ jeannie danna

    It’s but a comments section

    I wasn’t the only person that missed it when it was down. :(