Friday, June 25, 2010

Petraeus is a master tactician, but his greatest strength is on the political battlefield

It is like pre-Vietnam days, when Americans accepted that what the military said was true

By Patrick Cockburn

"General David Petraeus has a deservedly high reputation but his real abilities are not the ones usually attributed to him. He is, above all, a general with an acute sense of US politics combined with a realisation of the importance of understanding the politics of Iraq and Afghanistan.

His great achievement in Iraq was to persuade Americans that they had won the war when, in fact, they were withdrawing with little achieved. He was able to sell the "surge" as a triumph of military tactics when in reality its most important feature was that Sunni insurgents allied themselves with American forces because they were being slaughtered by the Shia.....

In Iraq, General Petraeus was able to take advantage of local political conditions to claim success for a military strategy that was mostly an illusion. In Afghanistan, the problem is not that the Taliban is so strong but that the government is so weak."

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