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Fixing the First War: As U.S.-Pakistani tensions mount, Petraeus steps in.

Author: Michael P. Hirsh
June 18, 2008


They seem an odd couple: the general who engineered President Bush's surge in Iraq, and the presidential candidate who has promised to undo it. But look again. Gen. David Petraeus's broad new agenda as the likely next commander of Central Command (CENTCOM), which oversees U.S. forces in the entire Middle East and Central Asia, seems to echo some of Barack Obama's views about the critical front in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Though he hasn't even been confirmed yet, NEWSWEEK has learned that the energetic Petraeus is already informally involved in talks with the new Pakistani government, including its ambassador to Washington, Husain Haqqani, about counterinsurgency plans for the tribal regions, where Taliban and Al Qaeda elements still hold sway. And in his discussions with the Pakistanis, Petraeus has indicated he would add up to two additional Coalition brigades to Afghanistan once he takes over CENTCOM, according to a senior diplomatic official in Washington who spoke on condition of anonymity owing to political sensitivities. Interestingly, that's close to what Obama has called for, as well.

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