As Petraeus’ career and prospects go up in the flames, Michael Cohen of the Guardian notes that his real legacy isn’t his broken marriage vows but the Afghan surge that has failed miserably.
…it’s worth remembering that when asked by President Obama, point blank, if a surge of troops to Afghanistan could turn things around in 18 months, Petraeus responded:
“Sir, I’m confident we can train and hand over to the ANA [Afghan National Army] in that time frame.”
Petraeus was wrong – badly wrong. And more than 1,000 American soldiers, and countless more Afghan civilians, have paid the ultimate price for his over-confidence in the capabilities of US troops. And it wasn’t as if Petraeus was an innocent bystander in these discussions: he was working a behind-the-scenes public relations effort – talking to reporters, appearing on news programs – to force the president’s hand on approving a surge force for Afghanistan and the concurrent COIN strategy.
Of course, ultimately it is on the President, when these policies are approved and do not work, but all that death without any real achievement should have some of it also placed on its advocates and architects door. And this:
The greatest indictment of Petraeus’s record is that, 18 months after announcing the surge, President Obama pulled the plug on a military campaign that had clearly failed to realize the ambitious goals of Petraeus and his merry team of COIN boosters. Today, the Afghanistan war is stalemated with little hope of resolution – either militarily or politically – any time soon. While that burden of failure falls hardest on President Obama, General Petraeus is scarcely blameless. Yet, to date, he has almost completely avoided examination for his conduct of the war in Afghanistan.
All his cultivation of the media — which also led to his downfall — will also ensure there is no examination of his military leadership made widely known to the public. Yet another orphan of a disastrous war.