Plan B in Afghanistan

| Mon Jul. 19, 2010 2:50 PM EDT

Joe Klein last week:

Amazing how David Petraeus can just crash through impasses and get his way. He's even able to do get Hamid Karzai, who has boggled every other American who has dealt with him, to do something he doesn't want to do — set up a system of local militias in rural Afghanistan....We should have some sense whether Petraeus' resort to the tribes, which worked in Iraq, will have similar success in Afghanistan by the time the Obama policy review commences in December. But you have to be impressed by the general's ability to get his way, without much fuss and quickly.

I wonder if this explains Petraeus's success?

The Obama administration is revising its Afghanistan strategy to embrace the idea of negotiating with senior members of the Taliban through third parties — a policy to which it had previously been lukewarm. Negotiation with the Taliban has long been advocated by Hamid Karzai, the Afghanistan president, and the British and Pakistan governments, but resisted by the US.

Perhaps Petraeus offered Karzai a deal: he supports the local militia idea, the United States supports negotiation with the Taliban. Everybody wins a little something, and if this report is correct, the key to success was likely garden variety diplomacy, not Petraeus's superpowers.