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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review May 6, 2010 / 22 Iyar 5770

In Afghanistan, the clock is ticking

By George Will



http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, FLA.— The ticking clock does not disturb the preternatural serenity that Gen. David H. Petraeus maintains regarding Afghanistan. Officially, the U.S. Central Command is located here; actually, it is wherever he is, which is never in one place for very long. He is away about 300 days a year, flying to and around his vast area of responsibility, which extends from Egypt to where his towering reputation is hostage to a timetable — Afghanistan.

He earned his own chapter in American military history by advocating and presiding over the surge that broke the back of the Iraq insurgency. This was an instance of a military intellectual given full opportunity for the unity of theory and practice.

Today, however, only about half of the surge of 30,000 troops for Afghanistan, announced by the president in his speech at West Point five months ago, have arrived. The rest will be there by the end of August. Eleven months after that, the withdrawal the president promised — in the sentence following the one that announced the increase — is supposed to begin.

But Petraeus cautions that the president's words, properly parsed, allow ample time to achieve U.S. objectives. The president said on Dec. 1 that the "transition of our forces out of Afghanistan" must be "responsible," which means "taking into account conditions on the ground" and allowing for improved "Afghan capacity."

Petraeus, who likes fine distinctions, speaks of "thinning out" rather than "handing off" U.S. involvement, which is "what we're still doing in Iraq." This will take time because counterinsurgency in an underdeveloped society is, inescapably, nation-building. Which brings us back to the ticktock of the clock.

Petraeus believes that, "valley by valley and village by village," skillful policy "can break up the Taliban," much as Sunnis were peeled off by the Iraq insurgency. But the recent withdrawal of U.S. forces from the Korengal Valley was evidence of a changing mission: Rather than contest every valley and village, Petraeus wants to concentrate on protecting population centers where more than 70 percent of Afghans live.

That, however, might mean ceding to the Taliban control of as much territory as it held when Osama bin Laden arrived in 1996 to begin plotting the operation that came to fruition five years later. Furthermore, because the Taliban is not a transnational terrorist organization, the reason America has identified defeating or taming the Taliban as a "vital national interest" pertains to territory: Otherwise al-Qaeda could again have space to train and plot under Taliban protection, or indifference.


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Petraeus speaks less about decisively defeating the Taliban militarily than of the "reintegration" of lower-level Taliban adherents into society and "reconciliation" of the higher level. This might seem like a piece of cake if you were, as he was, involved in the darkest days in Iraq. In December 2006, at the height of Iraq's sectarian violence, an average of 53 bodies — often decapitated and lacerated by torture — were found on Baghdad streets every 24 hours. Afghanistan's capital, Kabul, is, he says, tranquil, other than the occasional car bombs, which are not strategically significant.

Petraeus, who has a flair for understatement, says Afghanistan "is a bit of a kaleidoscope of different groups." That complicates counterinsurgency, concerning which he wrote the book — the 472-page U.S. Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual. The three prongs of counterinsurgency — "clear, hold and build" — involve three entangled problems.

First, is an area "cleared" only because the Taliban have cleared out, knowing they can wait out the enemy and then return? The Americans are going home; the Taliban are home. Second, what can be held by a counterinsurgency force focused on an exit strategy? Third, can anything lasting be built when what has been only tenuously cleared is only conditionally held?

The answer to those questions must involve defusing an insurgency by means of a political settlement, after the insurgency has been weakened by the application of violence, and sapping its ardor with new institutions and economic infrastructure. Again, nation-building.

What Petraeus calls "a whole of government approach" does not promise a tidy ending of "take the hill, plant the flag, go home for a victory parade." Turning off an insurgency is "never a light switch, it's more of a rheostat." He recounts a story: An Afghan waits 99 years for vengeance, then regrets his impatience. This parable gives a serrated edge to a familiar Afghan aphorism regarding outsiders — "You have the watches, we have the time." Tick, tick, tick.


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