So the reason why I didn’t post at all today is because I was at a talk that Gen. Petraeus gave to the Heritage Foundation. It was basically set up to be a victory lap, and given the audience, you could have imagined any number of subtle remarks designed to bolster the McCain campaign. But it seemed a lot like McCain’s mancrush on Petraeus is unrequited. Petraeus took a number of opportunities that very, very subtly appeared to help out Barack Obama. Here’s my writeup for the Washington Independent:
“Some of the concepts used in Iraq are transplantable [to Afghanistan] while others perhaps are not,” he said. “Every situation is unique.”
Petraeus pointed to efforts by Hamid Karzai’s government to negotiate a deal with the Taliban that would potentially bring some Taliban members back to power, saying that if they are “willing to reconcile,” it would be “a positive step.”
In saying that, Petraeus implicitly allied with U.S. Army Gen. David McKiernan, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan. Last week, McKiernan rejected the idea of replicating the blend of counterinsurgency strategy employed in Iraq. “The word that I don’t use in Afghanistan is the word ’surge,’” McKiernan said, opting against recruiting Pashtun tribal fighters to supplement Afghan security forces against Al Qaeda and the Taliban. “There are countless other differences between Iraq and Afghanistan,” he added.
McCain, however, has argued that the Afghanistan war is ripe for a direct replication of Petraeus’ Iraq strategy of population-centric counterinsurgency. “Sen. Obama calls for more troops,” McCain said in the Sept. 26 debate, “but what he doesn’t understand, it’s got to be a new strategy, the same strategy that he condemned in Iraq. It’s going to have to be employed in Afghanistan.”
And on and on like that. I’m open to the idea that I was reading too much into these remarks. But really, I don’t think so. Either way I figure you’ll tell me in comments.