Petraeus will try to sell Afghan war to skeptical Congress

Gen. David Petraeus the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in his working office at the NATO's head quarter in Kabul, Afghanistan on Wednesday, March 9, 2011. The top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan says fighting this summer may be worse than last year but some reduction in American forces is still possible in July. (AP Photo/Musadeq Sadeq)

The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan is facing an impatient and frustrated Congress, balancing his troops’ solid progress in combat with worries about Kabul government corruption, an expected Taliban resurgence this spring and the slow development of Afghan security forces.

Gen. David Petraeus on Tuesday was to deliver his first formal assessment to America at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, returning to Washington for the first time since he took over as battlefield commander nine months ago. And he is expected to tell lawmakers that forces can begin to withdraw this summer as planned.

The Taliban’s momentum “has been arrested in much of the country and reversed in a number of important areas,” Petraeus said in prepared testimony obtained by The Associated Press. He said that success, while fragile, will allow officials to recommend that the U.S. and NATO begin shifting control of several provinces to the Afghan security forces this spring.

He is warning, however, that the substantial military gains there could be jeopardized unless Congress provides adequate funding to the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development to provide economic development, governance and other civilian assistance.

“I am concerned that levels of funding for our State Department and USAID partners will not sufficiently enable them to build on the hard-fought security achievements of our men and women in uniform,” he said.

Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the top Republican on the Armed Services panel, said Petraeus will probably face tough questions about corruption in President Hamid Karzai’s government as well as the ongoing struggle to get Pakistan to take on insurgents along the border.

Petraeus, who met with President Barack Obama on Monday, has made it clear that the U.S., Afghan and allied forces have been able to oust the Taliban from historical strongholds, particularly in the south. And he will probably begin to sketch out how the Afghan forces can slowly begin taking control in more stable locales as U.S. troops shift to still precarious regions.

“The situation on the ground will almost certainly be the most promising part of the story that Gen. Petraeus can tell,” said Karl F. Inderfurth, a former senior State Department diplomat for South Asia. He said other difficult struggles will determine success, including the reconciliation process with more moderate Taliban, establishment of a more capable government and the effort to persuade the Afghan people.

A topic of continued debate will be the militants’ safe havens along the mountainous Pakistan border, and Islamabad’s reluctance to move into insurgent strongholds in North Waziristan — where senior al-Qaida leaders, including Osama bin Laden, are rumored to be hiding.

Members of Congress, meanwhile, will roll out a resolution calling for Obama to withdraw U.S. forces from Afghanistan either in 30 days or no later than Dec. 31, 2011. While the measure has failed in the past and is almost certain to fail again, the debate will underscore Congress’ impatience with the war in the face of increasing budget pressure.

Petraeus carries a lot of weight with lawmakers who give him a good deal of credit for turning around the war in Iraq and beginning the withdrawal of combat forces there.

He was last in the Oval Office in June, when Obama fired Gen. Stanley McChrystal and turned to Petraeus as an emergency replacement. Petraeus left for Kabul immediately and has made a point of staying out of the political spotlight until now.

Copyright © 2011 The Associated Press

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4 Responses to "Petraeus will try to sell Afghan war to skeptical Congress"

  1. griff  March 15, 2011 at 10:03 am

    Oooooh…He’s gonna face tough questions. Oooooh…I’m sure he’s afraid of the big, bad Congress and their tough questions.

    They’ll put on a show, and they’ll give him whatever he wants.

  2. bmclellan  March 15, 2011 at 10:52 am

    Japan is melting before their very eyes with a soon to arrive cloud of toxicity looming on the whole worlds horizon, so lets pour even more resources like so much gasoline onto the blatant stupidity of Bush Jrs. wars.
    Pesky camel jockeys must be made to bend to the will of the all seeing eye.Hack

  3. Carl Nemo  March 15, 2011 at 1:12 pm

    “I am concerned that levels of funding for our State Department and USAID partners will not sufficiently enable them to build on the hard-fought security achievements of our men and women in uniform,” he said.” …extract from article

    Alexander the Great couldn’t conquer these regions, the British and most recently the Russians and now we’re obsessed with the same costly blunder in terms of lives and treasure. The Mongol hordes did so under Genghis Khan, but they used scorched earth tactics burning down villages and stacking the decapitated heads of the vanquished in order to send a message to others across the horizon; ie, submit or die…!

    Why our braindead Congress is even countenancing a continuation is beyond me except their patrons in the MIC and the ‘oil patch’ have given them their marchng orders.

    The only interest we had in Afghanistan was the “Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline” deal we were hammering out with the Taliban in late 90′s. The Taliban wanted Enron and other companies to invest in the country’s infrastructure concerning schools etc. They were told all they’d get is royalties off the pipeline and nothing else and unless they played ball instead of being carpeted with ‘gold’ they’d be carpeted with bombs!? The corporate guys broke off the business negotiations and the Bush regime used 9/11 as an excuse to chase them ‘dad-gummed terrists’ all over the country.

    Seemingly our leadership doesn’t understand the mindset of neolithic cultures such as found in these regions. Villages have been fighting villages for several thousand years. They teeth on warfare and a man’s most important posessions are his gun/s, horse/s, family and the tribe to which they belong. Death means nothing since when they die in the name of ‘Holy Jihad’ they are going instantly to paradise. They don’t have much by our standards, but they have both heart and “grit”. We will never, ever pacify Afghanistan.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trans-Afghanistan_Pipeline

    General Petraeus is blowin’ smoke and our Congress is nothing but a degenerate hand-clapping politburo that will do whatever their shadowy MIC controllers instruct them to do.

    I believe the following dialogue best sums up Petraeus and his military contingent’s chances of achieving ‘victory’…NOT!

    *****

    Mousa: This is Afghanistan… Alexander the Great try to conquer this country… then Genghis Khan, then the British. Now Russia. But Afghan people fight hard, they never be defeated. Ancient enemy make prayer about these people… you wish to hear?

    Rambo: Um-hum.

    Mousa: Very good. It says, ‘May God deliver us from the venom of the Cobra, teeth of the tiger, and the vengeance of the Afghan.’ Understand what this means?

    Rambo: That you guys don’t take any shit?

    Mousa: Yes… something like this. …extracted lines from the move Rambo III starring Sylvester Stallone & co. Sasson Gabai as Mousa

    *****

    What’s interesting is that John Rambo was fighting the Russians in these regions; ie., “The Evil Empire” which seemingly now we’ve become as a nation…no? / : |

    Carl Nemo **==

    • griff  March 15, 2011 at 4:08 pm

      Indeed. We may as well adopt the iron cross, the swastika, the hammer and sickle or the rising sun as our national emblem.

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