We may have just witnessed "the beginning of the end of the war in Afghanistan," says Thomas E. Ricks in The Washington Post. Gen. David Petraeus, whom President Obama picked to replace Gen. Stanley McChrystal as the U.S. commander there, is, of course, eminently qualified, after the way he turned around the war in Iraq. But "the conditions Petraeus enjoyed in Iraq are far from present in Afghanistan," so he's unlikely to repeat his success this time around. In a year or two, Obama will be able to say he gave Afghanistan his best shot, "even putting his top guy in charge" and reshaping the strategy, but it still didn't work out. "Then he can begin pulling out." An excerpt:
[In Iraq,] Petraeus was aided enormously by Ryan C. Crocker, one of the savviest American diplomats and one of the most experienced in the region, having served in Pakistan, Lebanon and in Iraq decades prior. Early in the war, friction between Ambassador L. Paul Bremer and Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez had crippled the U.S. effort and confused Iraqis. ...
Repelled by such persistent friction, Petraeus and Crocker were determined to coordinate their actions. Word went out to subordinates that neither of them would tolerate infighting between civilian and military officials. ...
In Kabul, alas, Petraeus will find no such useful ally in the American ambassador. Instead, the top U.S. diplomat there is Karl W. Eikenberry, who relentlessly opposed McChrystal's initiatives. ...
McChrystal was dismissed because of the magazine article that laid before the world the sniping and backbiting between U.S. military and civilian officials in the Afghan war. That is not going to end just because Petraeus goes to Kabul, or even because the president has said he doesn't like it.
Read the full article at The Washington Post.
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