9 YEARS LATER…
Since he’s Director of the CIA, we should have expected Leon Panetta to be inscrutable in sizing up the situation in Afghanistan.
EG: “We are making progress.”
“I think the Taliban obviously is engaged in greater violence right now.”
“In some ways, they’re stronger, but in some ways they’re weaker…”
That settles that.
As the Senate Armed Services Committee prepares to vet the nomination of Gen. David Petraeus to be the new commander in Afghanistan, panel member Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) warned that the situation in Afghanistan is so difficult, the U.S. could win militarily and “still have a very ugly victory.”
Basically, it just doesn’t sound good.
DAVID, DAVID HE’S OUR MAN, IF HE CAN’T DO IT… WE’LL GET HIM A NEW TEAM
The Sunday talk Republicans (McCain, Chambliss, Graham) continued to press for changes on the civilian side of the U.S.-Afghanistan team, but Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) seriously upped the ante. She suggests Gen. Petraeus can’t work with say, U.S. Ambassador Karl Eikenberry, then the ambassador “should be changed.” And if Petraeus can’t work with, say, Special Envoy Richard Holbrooke then, “that should change.” Feinstein calls this putting “all of our eggs in the Petraeus basket…”
Feinstein’s suggestion seems wildly out of sync with this week’s theme of the civilian government (that would be President Obama) asserting authority over the military (that would be fired Gen. Stanley McChrystal). McChrystal was fired in essence for going public with a lot of things that shouldn’t have gone public, including his disdain for… Holbrooke and Eikenberry.
Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R) Georgia, on CNN’s “State of the Union”
“I think it's a huge mistake to even put that deadline out there. Because the enemy is watching, and you can rest assured that they are going to be looking to see if we in fact intend to begin pulling out come July 1 of 2011. And if that remains a hard and firm date then you better believe they are going to sit back and allow us to start pulling out then hit us with their full force.”
Sen. Jack Reed (D) Rhode Island, on CNN’s “State of the Union”
“People ask the question well how do we know when win? Well we'll know the same way we know in Iraq. That the burden of the battle is being borne by the local forces not by American and NATO forces. That we'll be able to withdraw our forces.”
Leon Panetta, CIA Director, on ABC’s “This Week”
“The mission that the President's laid out is we have to go after Al Qaeda. We have to disrupt and dismantle them so they never attack the country again. Are we making progress? We are making progress. It's harder, it's slower than I think anyone anticipated.”
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) California, on “Fox News Sunday”
FEINSTEIN: “I have great respect for General Petraeus. I think he really should be a command presence of all of it...”
WALLACE: “Over the civilians?”
FEINSTEIN: Over the team. If the team isn't right, I think Petraeus' views should be taken into consideration and observed by the administration. This is kind of if you will, not a last ditch stand, but it is a major change in the middle of the surge, and I think you put the general in, he should make the call. If he can't work with the ambassador, the ambassador should be changed. If he can't work with Holbrooke, that should change. I mean, I think we put all of our eggs in the Petraeus basket at this stage.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R) South Carolina, on “Fox News Sunday”
“The team they had were not working well, the releasing of the memo from the embassy that the surge wouldn't work because Karzai's so corrupt. This is a chance to start over completely, and the military-civilian relationship is very important. I'll leave that up to the president, but I'm very concerned if nothing changes on the civilian side. Let me just say again, I'm not a general either, but if you're sitting down with a tribal leader and everybody in Afghanistan believes that we're going to begin to leave in July 2011 no matter what, it's going to be hard to win over people on the fence and that's gotta change, or we're gonna lose.”
Sen. John McCain (R) Arizona, on NBC’s “Meet the Press”
“Karzai is doing some of the things he's doing because he's not confident that we're going to stay. The troops on the ground are - are - in some ways confused about what the long-term strategy would be and I guess the best example I can tell you is a high ranking Taliban prisoner said you've got the watches and we've got the time. And that's what is pervading this entire environment. The fact that they think that we're going to leave.”