On Tuesday, General David Petraeus will appear before the Senate Armed Services Committee in what is expected to be history’s easiest
confirmation hearing. But just in case the senators feel like
asking a tough question or two before Petraeus hops on the next plane to
Kabul, here are some suggestions:
* General McChrystal all-but-eliminated the use of air strikes in Afghanistan. As the new head of the war effort there, do you plan to keep that policy?
* Depending on the region of the country, the day of the week, and the strength of the local commander’s coffee, the American attitude
towards the Afghan drug trade changes. What should we do with all that
poppy and all that weed? Burn the fields? Plant substitute crops? Live
and let live?
* Afghanistan is a big country. You’ve only got so many troops. Where are they going, and why? To those poppy farms in Helmand province?
Heavily-populated places like Kandahar? The Taliban’s traditional
heartland in the south? Their new trouble-making spots in the north?
* Ambassador Karl Eikenberry not only hates Hamid Karzai’s guts. He doesn’t seem to buy counterinsurgency as a strategy. So Eik has to go,
doesn’t he? Is he even your partner in this, or is it Mark Sedwill, the
NATO senior civilian representative? Bonus question: What is Richard
Holbrooke’s job, again?
* Karzai’s brother is, by many accounts a drug lord, a gangster, a CIA asset, the key to stopping violence in
Kandahar and the reason things are so bad there in the first place.
Which of those is correct, and what’s the U.S. policy towards him?
* U.S. intelligence reportedly starting to target Afghan government corruption, as well as enemy fighters. Is that a good idea, or does it only further undermine Karzai’s authority?
* Which insurgents will you cut deals with, and why?
* McChrystal essentially gave local elders veto power over the Kandahar offensive… er, excuse me, “rising tide.” Is it a good idea to outsource authority over our military moves?
* While McChrystal’s guys did the kinder, gentler thing, Admiral William McRaven’s Task Force 714 of special-operations troops were kicking down doors and blowing
things up. Do you need those guys going pedal-to-the-metal? And will you
have full control over all Special Operations Forces in Afghanistan —
an authority something no commander so far has had?
* Should you have control over all private security contractors, too? Or should we just let the mercs run wild, Blackwater-in-07 style?
* Let’s be real. That July 2011 drawdown date is bullshit, right?
* You’ve touted Afghanistan’s mineral wealth for years. What role, if any, should these resources
play in the counterinsurgency campaign? How do you keep Afghanistan
from becoming “the Nigeria of lithium?”
* Was the faint the other day a way of lulling the insurgents into a false sense of security? And if so, did Chuck Norris teach you that?
* Mike Hastings of Rolling Stone called, and said he wants to do a profile. Your response?