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29 Jun, 2010 16:16

Gen. Petraeus faces Senate hearings prior to confirmation

The US Senate is holding hearings that are expected to confirm the appointment of General David Petraeus as the new commander of the war in Afghanistan.

The hearing follows last week's dismissal of the last US commanding officer in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal.

Barack Obama earlier stated that Washington's policy in Afghanistan would remain unchanged, with US forces beginning their pullout from the country in one year's time.

[Petraeus] gained a heroic status….when he decided to start paying the insurgents in Iraq, 90,000-100,000 of them, $300 a month to just not shoot at American troops,” Brian Becker, director of the ANSWER Coalition said.

So the Americans could start to leave in a way that looked like something other than an ignominious defeat. By that standard he became a hero. So he is, across the board for both the Democratic and the Republican leadership.”

RT contributor and investigative journalist Wayne Madsen argued that Petraeus will serve as a cover for the Obama administration that is retreating from an earlier commitment to withdraw troops in July 2011.

So, what are our troops actually doing in Afghanistan, are they nation-building are they actually fighting al-Qaida?” asked Madsen.

Madsen said CIA Director Leon Panetta himself has stated that the CIA has not had a new lead on Osama bin Laden for years.

So, what is al-Qaeda? If we’re fighting the Taliban why did Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, meet with a senior Taliban leader?” asked Madsen.

He argued the Petraeus is going to ensure the US remains engaged in Afghanistan and the Obama mission creep policy will become a campaign issue in 2012.

Either he [Obama] is going to get so bogged down in that quagmire of Afghanistan that he’ll wind up like Lyndon Johnson and not run for another term or he will face possible hits from his left flank by one or two challengers in the Democratic Party,” said Madsen.

While serving in Iraq, some referred to Petraeus as “General Betray-us.”

His own troops did not like this guy,” said Madsen.

McChrystal was more like one of the troops, where as Petraeus boasts much less battlefield experience.

He’s basically a think tank general. He’s had more time in academia and think tanks than he’s had on the battlefield and the troops know that,” said Madsen.

Petreus will likely revise the rules of engagement, which may lead to more civilian casualties, possibly an ‘attack now and ask questions later’ type of approach, argued Madsen. This is likely going to further push NATO nations to pull out of the war.

Madsen said that Petraeus is a neo-conservative and has even hinted at running for president as a Republican.

Iraq and Afghanistan cannot be compared

Jake Diliberto of Rethink Afghanistan believes Petraeus will be a better commander in Afghanistan than McChrystal .

He argues however that the counter insurgency strategy to fight militants is not a viable option to fix Afghanistan.

Afghanistan wages serious economic development issues, serious ethnic and religious violence that’s taking place, and not to mention there is all kinds of corrupt governments taking place. So, whoever’s in charge of the situation, it’s still going to be a quagmire for decades to come. I’m skeptical whether General Petraeus is going to be able to do anything,” said Diliberto.

He further argued that Iraq was not a true counter insurgency campaign. The two wars are very different and cannot be compared, as some have attempted to do.

Diliberto argued that talk of changes to the rules of engagement in Afghanistan is nothing more than political double talk.

Unlike many others, Diliberto believes Petraeus will indeed hold to the earlier withdrawal date set by the Obama administration because he has his own presidential hopes for future.