Firing Gen. McChrystal and replacing him with Gen. Petraeus raises many questions. For example, some say that when he accepted the post as top commander in Afghanistan, it was made clear to Gen. Petraeus that he’d come away with no great success like he supposedly had in Iraq with the Surge. On the other hand, did Petraeus take the position on the condition that the United States would send more troops to Iraq and switch back to a counterterrorism strategy from counterinsurgency?
But President Obama has stated that our Afghanistan strategy will remain the same. While that may be an attempt to appear strong and present a united front, will the administration, in fact, use this as an opportunity to begin the Great Drawdown? (After all, McChrystal is a ready-made fall guy for the failure of COIN.)
At IPS News Gareth Porter has an answer to those who fear that the error of COIN is about to be compounded with a new Surge (which always struck me as reinforcements rebranded):
Petraeus’s political skills and ability to sell a strategy involving a negotiated settlement offers Obama more flexibility than he has had with McChrystal in command.
Contrary to the generally accepted view that Petraeus mounted a successful counterinsurgency campaign in Iraq, his main accomplishment was to make the first formal accommodation with Sunni insurgents.
Petraeus demonstrated in his command in Iraq a willingness to adjust strategic objectives in light of realities he could not control. He had it made it clear to his staff at the outset that they would make one last effort to show progress, but that he would tell Congress that it was time to withdraw if he found that it was not working.
Do Focal Points readers think the appointment of General Petraeus might portend peace, or another surge?