Petraeus Saves the Raids

Yesterday, General David Petraeus, the commander of forces in Afghanistan, exercised his powers of persuasion in a meeting with the recently quite critical Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Kabul. The two met for an hour in the wake of an interview in which Karzai called for Washington to stop nighttime special ops raids and scale down other military operations in his country. At the meeting, Petraeus explained the success of the night operations and the degree to which Afghan security forces are involved in the raids to the Afghan president. Karzai told Petraeus that his intention was not to offend NATO but just to make sure everyone knew Afghanistan was committed to taking control of security in 2014. Karzai also said he’d come out in support of NATO actions in Afghanistan during the Lisbon summit this weekend, even promising to give Petraeus a look at his speech ahead of time.

Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton certainly has her hands full. She’s recently taken point on the Middle East peace process after special envoy to the region George Mitchell spent more than a year shuttling back and forth between the Israelis and Palestinians to try to get leaders to the negotiating table. And now the mantle of secretary of state is extending to Congress as well. She looked right at home yesterday, standing behind a podium on the Hill with Senators John Kerry and Richard Lugar by her side. Clinton was there to lobby for the ratification of New START, and she’s likely to be back in the Capitol more than once in the near future as the administration tries to push its policies and Republicans take more control of Congress. About the treaty, Clinton said that she understands “the concerns my former colleagues have” and that “there’s a lot more outreach that needs to be done.”

And of course outside of operations on the Hill, Clinton has her foreign duties to attend to. She will head to Kazakhstan for a December 1–2 meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Also in early December, the secretary of state will travel to Bahrain, though no details are available yet. Clinton is expected to release the State Department’s first Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review soon. The aim of the review is to revamp an outdated organization to deal with issues like civilian operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, which require more funding for, as the name of the report implies, development and diplomacy efforts.

And Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen met with Israeli General Gabi Ashkenazi at the Pentagon to discuss how best to deal with Iran. Israel has been pushing for a military threat against Tehran, but the U.S. administration, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Mullen included, has said that sanctions are having a significant impact on the regime. Though Mullen noted that the military option has not been completely tabled, he has “certainly seen a body of evidence that indicates that the sanctions are taking their toll, much more rapidly than some had anticipated.”