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Hearts and Minds: Tale of 2 generals in Afghanistan

The following article by Akbar Ahmed was first published on the Washington Post “On Faith” website.

With the rumors of secret meetings between Gen.l Kayani, commander of Pakistan’s armed forces, Gen. Pasha, the head of the Pakistani ISI, Afghan president Hamid Karzi, and prominent Taliban commander Haqqani, it seems that a post-American scenario in Afghanistan is taking shape.

The fact that Haqqani was in the company of the President of Afghanistan is a hint of the shape of things to come as the major players in the region plan for an eventual withdrawal of US forces.

Perhaps the catalyst for these meetings was the dismissal of Gen. Stanley McChrystal. Fortunately for America, he is being replaced by one of the country’s best military men, Gen. David Petraeus.

Despite President Obama’s contention that U.S. policy in Afghanistan remain the same despite the change of commanders, the reality is the differences between the two men will ensure a different approach. Although both field commanders have been successful in establishing a rapport with Afghans, McChrystal tends to rely on his heart, Petraeus falls back on his mind. The former understands and plays on emotion, the latter intellect.

But McChrystal and Petraeus are rare birds. Few Americans see the world as they do. Continue reading