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Friday, August 5, 2011

Mixed Results for General Petraeus?

Update: Remote Control Toy Truck Saves Soldiers Lives

I think he's a great general. There are those who claim he "lost" in Afghanistan, but if you pay attention to how his critics are described in certain articles, they're often identified as "critics of counterinsurgency"- so it is not surprising they think he failed. These are folks who are not into nation-building or winning over hearts and minds the Petraeus way. Besides, General P stayed for a whopping one year. Even then, under his command he was able to accomplish quite a lot. From this article:
According to NATO figures, from April to July this year, special operations raids captured 2,941 insurgents and killed 834 compared to 1,350 captured and 1,031 killed the previous year. The decline in deaths squares with Petraeus' rule that it's better to capture than kill. The dead ones can't talk.
Is Afghanistan worth saving? As frustrating as the war is, I think that yes, it is worth saving. The people are. You just can't say these people don't want freedom- they wouldn't be sending their young daughters to school (despite Taliban threats) if they didn't believe in the concept of freedom. The Afghan themselves are suffering terribly, they are dying by the numbers, and only America can help them. No other country can. No other country is a superpower, despite what China and Russia thinks.
I honestly believe the Afghans need to be saved. To those who advocate cut-and-runs, will you simply let these people die at the hands of the Taliban? 80% of civilian deaths are attributed to the Taliban. Imagine how much higher that number will get once America leaves.
As for General P, if he wasn't able to accomplish everything he had wanted to do, keep in mind that he had to deal with Obama. With President Bush, General P had a supportive and trusting Commander-in-Chief. GWB pretty much gave him everything he wanted, and looked how he turned Iraq around! Obama, on the other hand, is cutting off the mission too early and "ending the war responsibly", which is a nice way of saying Retreat! Retreat!. Still, some critics are right, in the sense that Afghanistan seems beyond saving. From Yahoo News:
The decorated general is leaving behind a mess: "By all accounts, Afghanistan is now in a tailspin," says Erin Cunningham at GlobalPost. On the eve of Monday's power-handoff ceremony, insurgents assassinated a top aide to Afghan President Hamid Karzai, and days earlier, Karzai's half brother was also killed. It's clear that Petraeus' strategy of intelligence-driven surgical air strikes and night raids has been "incapable of protecting civilians from rising insurgent attacks."
But I also believe that the US Military is doing a lot of good there, and killing lots of terrorists. I still believe that Afghanistan is the Good War. And who would want to lose a good war?
Petraeus helped turn around the Afghan war: Petraeus "leaves behind a legacy of tactical and spycraft changes that spurred more killings and captures of Afghan militants while reducing insurgent attacks to their lowest level in years," says Kimberly Dozier for the Associated Press. Special operations raids from April to July led to the capture of nearly three times as many insurgents as we nabbed in the same period last year. Petraeus and McChrystal deserve credit for their successes in Afghanistan.