Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Chuck Norris Diplomacy

Over at the Washington Post, David Ignatius reports that General David Petraeus is "supplementing his primary mission as military commander [in Afghanistan] with the 'warrior-statesman' role he had in Iraq, where he was able to fuse the political and military elements of the campaign."

In other words, Petraeus is mixing coffee talk with special ops, combining military and diplomatic efforts to increase pressure on the Taliban while facilitating dialogue between the terrorist organization and the Afghan government.

According to Ignatius, "With Petraeus in the political-military driver's seat, he can steer a process to push the disparate Taliban groups toward a political settlement. The diplomatic side of this game depends on Petraeus's ability to pound those who resist -- with devastating firepower."

Teddy Roosevelt would certainly approve of this speak-softly-and-beat-your-enemies-with-a-big-stick approach. But does military aggression supplement or undermine diplomatic outreach? No doubt the results depend on the circumstances, and in Afghanistan there's not enough evidence to say one way or the other. Hopefully this "diplomacy with a punch" will ultimately prove to be a successful strategy.

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