Juan Cole: Real Petraeus Failure Was Counter-Insurgency in Iraq, Afghanistan (Democracy Now!)

Here is Amy Goodman’s
interview with me, which was broadcast on Democracy Now! This morning.

Via YouTube here

Here is DN’s lead-in:


CIA director David Petraeus has resigned following revelations of an extramarital affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell, a married U.S. Army reservist. "This personal issue that cropped up that ruined his career at the end, I think, is very much a minor thing … compared to his big exploits in Iraq and Afghanistan," says historian Juan Cole, who responds to the surprise departure of the former head of U.S. forces in Afghanistan. Petraeus retired from 37 years in the military to head the CIA last year. Over the weekend, new revelations suggested Broadwell had sent harassing emails to Jill Kelley, a 37-year-old from Florida and a family friend of Petraeus and his wife, Holly. The FBI launched an inquiry after Kelley said she had received vicious emails from the CIA director’s biographer. Its investigation revealed the affair and led agents to believe Broadwell or someone close to her had sought access to his email. On Sunday, Democracy Now! spoke to Cole about the significance of Petraeus’s resignation and about Malala Yousafzai, the 14-year-old Pakistani activist who was shot in the head by a Taliban militant for demanding the right of girls’ education. Cole is professor of history at the University of Michigan, and his most recent book is "Engaging the Muslim World." [includes rush transcript]

The interview took place at the 33rd annual conference of The Coalition for Peace Action in Princeton, NJ, where I headlined with Noam Chomsky and Amy Goodman, and a good time was had by all! Please consider supporting both Democracy Now! and TCPA.

5 Responses

  1. Nice interview. I wonder if, as they consider him as their new university president, Princeton Universy will even care about Petraeus’ role in the plagiarism in the new COIN manual that was exposed a couple of years ago?

  2. What followed the failure of “COIN” was “targeted killing” the effects of which, in this article, had/have the potential of leaving no one left for the United States or the Karzai government to credibly negotiate with …

    Doubtless you have been following, and better understand, the teeter-totter state and history of the various failed/subverted attempts at negotiation … I lost track and found myself uncertain who to believe about any of this, but Scahill’s article stands:

    THE NATION: Killing Reconciliation

    The US strategy seems to be to force the Taliban to the table through a fierce killing campaign. According to the US military, over a ninety-day period this past summer, US and coalition Special Operations Forces killed or captured more than 2,900 “insurgents,” with an estimated dozen killed a day. Between July 4, when Gen. David Petraeus assumed command in Kabul, and early October, according to the military, US and Afghan Special Operations Forces killed more than 300 Taliban commanders and more than 900 foot soldiers in 1,500 raids. “This is precisely the kind of pressure we believe will lead to reconciliation and reintegration” of the Taliban, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said recently.

    In Afghanistan, Taliban commanders are fond of characterizing their fight to expel the United States and its allies with the phrase, “You’ve got the clocks, we’ve got the time.” While US leaders are struggling to define what victory would look like in Afghanistan, the forces they are fighting are not. “We have two goals: freedom or martyrdom,” says Taliban commander Salahuddin. “If we do not win our freedom, then we’ll die honorably for its cause.” The continuing US targeted-killing campaign and renewed airstrikes ordered by General Petraeus seem only to be further weakening the already fragile Karzai government. In plain terms, the United States’ own actions in Afghanistan seem to be delivering the most fatal blows to its counterinsurgency strategy and its goal of winning hearts and minds. “I think that the Americans are already defeated in Afghanistan, they are just not accepting it,” says former Taliban official Zaeef

    Scahill has not updated this report. I do not know how many widows and orphans have been created by the policies that followed the failure of COIN. These are the sorts of policies that result in further impoverishment and bands of unsupervised male children, attaching themselves as “child soldiers” in hopes of being fed — a scenario that Afghanistan has miraculously avoid in its 30 year civil wars as a result of a family/clan social structure that has managed to, largely though hardly entirely, absorbs those widows and orphans into an extended family.

    So little reporting on the quality of life of Afghans, except that after 10 years of highly expensive American occupation, they are apparently still dirt-poor, food-uncertain, too often unvaccinated and largely illiterate, facing another winter.

    So, what have the last two years been about beyond “saving face” for the Obama Administration — shades of Johnson and Vietnam,avoiding ignominious withdrawn on his watch — happy days, he outwaited American patience and second chances.

    It is rumored that the generals want a stay-behind force of 25,000 (with of course the independent contractors required to support them), y’know, for advisors and trainers …

    • Now the wait for our wise apologists here and in all the Really Wise Blogspace and Commentariat, (sorry, Bill, for typing “secretariat” rather than “directorate” in the comment that triggered your last impeachment riposte — keeping track of all Milbabble and Defspeak and Secnoise is not my stock in trade) who tell us they know what is going on “on the ground” over there, and all the reasons why staying the course is the one and only RIGHT thing to do. And of course why Droning on and on and on is also just a Really Smart Tactic in a Really Smart Strategy under Really Smart Doctrines of Forever War.

      All us aging hippies don’t know squat, of course, and any source that does not agree with the Narrative is ipso facto WRONG, as in LEFT, as in SINISTER…

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