What does it matter how strategic Afghanistan is if the war itself is unwinnable?
I posed that question Wednesday to Gen. David Petraeus, head of U.S. Central Command. “To be fair,” he responded, “all of us should be asking that question more, in view of allegations of electoral fraud” in the recent Afghan election. “I don’t think anyone can guarantee that it will work out even if we apply a lot more resources. But it won’t work out if we don’t.”
Petraeus dismisses the idea that a strategy of drones, missiles and U.S. Special Forces would be sufficient in Afghanistan. “We tried counterterrorist approaches in Afghanistan, launching cruise missiles. Some say we are doing okay with that approach in the FATA [Pakistan’s federally administered tribal regions]. But only because we know where to look.” Targeting terrorists is done with on-the-ground intelligence, which “takes enormous infrastructure.” In addition, “the Taliban have sanctuaries in Afghanistan. You can’t take out sanctuaries with Predator strikes. We are not going to carpet-bomb. Distance puts limits on what you can do.”