I know I'm going out on a limb here, but it WAS just 5 days after I wrote "General Petraeus, Can You Hear Me Now?" that, well, he seems to have heard me. He said those who are simply fighting to support their families should be given an economic alternative.
I was at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard trying to crash his speech on that day, which I didn't manage to do, but I did tell everybody about the bagpipe band in my article. Then on Feb. 28th I ran my Oped News headliner "Obama-stan: Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss," which also caused a minor stir (44 comments) under the title "Obama Deaf, Dumb, and Blind on Afghanistan" at the pro-Obama website DailyKos.com. The point of the article was the same as always: identify the problem correctly, and it will lead you to the correct solution:
The Taliban insurgency is growing as a result of economic conditions, not ideological ones. Most Afghans hate the Taliban, but they need to feed their families.Lo and behold, ten days later VP Joe Biden says in Brussels:
"70 percent of [the Taliban] are there for the jobs, because they are getting paid."
That's a little better. Afghans don't like to be occupied either, and there is a reason this is called the Graveyard of Empires. But we have managed to turn a short tolerance for a short, relatively benign occupation in which we would extend real help into a full-blown insurgency, thanks to western reconstruction contractors who think of this as a money laundering operation and generals who view it as a war rather than a social problem. The generals seem to want to relive War War II, where you had two sides and two armies. Just because there are people shooting at you doesn't mean you are in a war. The other side is men coming out of their houses where they have lived all their lives, and the idea that you can "weaken" them so you'll have a better hand at the negotiating table is a cartoon. They can't give up or concede the battlefield. They live there.