The Corner

Petraeus

Petraeus is highly-respected and media-savvy.  However, his record is uncertain.  While it is be important to win the support of the local population, it is also important to differentiate between what the local population wants, and what the squeaky wheels demand.  Empowering extremists is not a good strategy.  By reintegrating Islamists and Baathists into sensitive positions in Mosul, Petraeus bought short-term stability to his area of operation at the expense of long-term security.  He also championed outreach to Syria, at one point bragging to a visiting delegation about the increase of cross-border trade.  Such trust backfired.  That said, his work getting the Iraqi army training program off-the-ground was impressive.

Michael Rubin is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, senior lecturer at the Naval Postgraduate School’s Center for Civil-Military Relations, and a senior editor of the Middle East Quarterly.

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