He has effectively submitted, and his lecture back to Americans on Quran burning was obviously well-received at the White House. So he is also an instrument of American policy. He is said to be an extraordinarily competitive man, but it’s not clear what he is competing for, now.
The accumulated stressors on Petraeus might have broken him, or he might simply be talking to the new political room he’s in with Obama. Or both.
Andrew McCarthy’s analysis of our mission in Afghanistan is good, in the sense that it is serious, coherent, and consistent, but I don’t think it is right.
All the nation-building blather aside, we are in Afghanistan this long because it is a very nicely remote place in which to kill jihadis. It is a killing field, to which the target demographic is drawn irresistably, so long as it thinks it can kill and defeat the Big American. This was the cynical side of our business there (and for some of the period in Iraq) that the cynical side of George Bush would never speak of.
Afghanistan is not only a good place for the U.S. to kill jihadis, it’s a good place for beleaguered governments in the Muslim world to urge their jihadis to go get themselves killed.
That nation-building blather facade is nicey-nice stuff for the feckless “international community” and good cover for the underlying purpose.
The typical counterinsurgency strategy of winning “hearts and minds” is a way of distinguishing the everyday treacherous Afghan tribesman from the murderous demographic on fire with jihad.