Thursday, January 03, 2008

Petraeus: "Can't Kill Our Way Out"

In a place some Americans may have heard about long, long ago, our man in charge is still trying to figure out how to pacify a country where enemies and allies keep changing all the time and hand their political hot potato back to them.

In an interview with Foreign Policy, Gen. David Petraeus says "the Iraqis have formed 160,000 police, soldiers, border police, and other security force elements during the past year. To be sure, there’s an uneven nature to their quality, to their capability, and to their level of training and equipping, but they’re significant in quantity.

"And quantity does mean quality in counterinsurgency operations, because you’ve got to secure so many infrastructures against the terrorist and insurgent and militia elements...(O)nly when they can handle it we will have this transfer."

Asked about working with former enemies, Petraeus makes a distinction: "Some were what we call fence-sitters; some were oppressed and some probably were shooting at us, but you don’t kill your way out of this kind of thing. You can’t kill or capture everybody in an insurgency. What you have to figure out are the irreconcilables, and ideally you want these numbers as small as possible because they have to be killed, captured, or run off."

When will that be? The General can't say. Meanwhile, the number of confirmed US deaths has passed the 3900 mark. Killing our way out is not a one-way street.

When the Presidential candidates start debating "victory" in Iraq, maybe Petraeus can tell them--and us--exactly what we have won.

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