Sunday, June 27, 2010

Petraeus cannot win if he sticks with current tactics

A political and military dead end faces US and British forces

By Patrick Cockburn

"General David Petraeus is taking command in Afghanistan to stage-manage a war that the US has decided it cannot win militarily, but from which it cannot withdraw without damaging loss of face.

General Petraeus has so far said surprisingly little about Afghanistan, aside from noting how different it is from Iraq. The similarity between the two conflicts is that in both cases the US needed to compromise with its enemies and take a back seat in conflicts that have raged for 30 years.

The US never had vital interests at stake in Baghdad or Kabul. It tumbled into wars in Afghanistan and Iraq in the wake of 9/11 to restore its status as the world's sole superpower, and because it thought victory would come easily in both countries. To its horror, the US political elite found that it was fighting draining wars that demonstrated American weakness rather than strength. The immense US military machine proved unable to overcome local guerrillas numbering in each case fewer than 30,000....."

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