“Petraeus wanted to know: Why had the Shiite finance minister closed the bank? How quickly could the local manager reopen it? How many guards did the bank need and what was the plan to train them?”

This is not the militarization of U.S. policy. Rather, it is the civilianization of the military, an inevitable consequence of nation-building…

Hence the need for different kinds of persuasion, as in this from Petraeus’ Iraq guidance: “Employ money as a weapon system.” Money can pay local people to build schools and hospitals; money also can buy the “$10 Taliban” — those who become insurgents just to put food on their tables. Petraeus estimates that at most 30 percent of the Taliban are ideologically fervid…

During his recent visit to Afghanistan, the president said: “The United States of America does not quit once it starts on something.” This is not true, nor should it be. Because Petraeus cannot subdue the Taliban militarily in a time frame that American opinion will sustain, Petraeus’ challenge is to persuade enough of the Taliban to abandon the fight before the Democratic Party base persuades the president to abandon it.