Petraeus was nicknamed ‘Peaches’ by his classmates at Cornwall Central High School. Petraeus was labeled ‘Colonel Betrayus’ by the soldiers of the ‘Devil Brigade’. Petraeus is called ‘Superman’ by some of his partisans for his overreaching nature. Iraqis call him ‘King David’ for his “intellect, ego and ambition”.
Holbrooke is simply the ‘Balkans Bulldozer’ for his “confrontational approach in bringing the warring leaders of Bosnia to the negotiating table”. Holbrooke is also the only person on the face of the planet to have held the Office of the Assistant Secretary of State for Asia as well as Europe (under Jimmy Carter and then under Bill Clinton, respectively).
General David Howell Petraeus carries a big stick while Ambassador Richard Charles Albert Holbrooke has a large stock of carrots (albeit right behind his hydraulic, razor-sharp blade). Petraeus is Failure-in-Charge, First Imbecile, Furious George’s gift to us while Holbrooke is Barack O’Change Obama’s self-selected present to this blood-soaked theatre of war. Carrots and sticks is what the new ballgame is all about.
Superman is all sticks and Bulldozer is all carrots and that’s double ‘D’ in action; deterrence and diplomacy. Superman has two jobs: One, to manage the upcoming Afghan troop surge. Two, to cut down Pakistan’s leverage over the U.S. (by stitching-up alternative supply routes to NATO troops). Bulldozer must, at the same time, bulldoze Pakistan to submit to America’s will and, second, keep India from distracting Pakistan.
Barack O’Change Obama has won on a platform of change but American foreign policy has never been about personalities; it has always been America’s permanent interests as viewed by America’s permanent institutions (the intelligentsia, the think-tank community, the media, the Pentagon, the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Department of State and Defense).
Superman has to take America from just one combat brigade currently in Afghanistan to a total of four combat brigades before the year is out. Superman’s exit strategy calls for a dialogue from a position of strength causing a split between the Taliban and Al Qaeda. But before that happens, Humvees need oil to roll and so do infantry fighting vehicles, cavalry fighting vehicles, armoured personnel carriers, A-10 Thunderbolts, B-1 strategic bombers and military transport aircraft. Superman has to feed some 60,000 GIs fresh food (A-ration), Tray ration or T-rat, chocolate energy bars and mineral water.
Khyber and Chamman may be the least expensive and the most efficient routes but are neither safe nor secure. The western corridor through the Caspian will be awfully expensive. The northern corridor will be outrageously expensive and Russia has already put up a whole array of concessions. Superman has reportedly stuck deals with two Kazak-owned refineries, the Shymkent and the Atyrau refineries. Superman has also convinced Latvia to transport 100 containers a day through a 2,000-mile rail link to Afghanistan. Superman has also told the U.S. Institute of Peace–with Chabhar in mind–that the U.S. and Iran have “common objectives” in Afghanistan.
Remember, ‘Henry the Kiss’, the German-born, Jewish-American Nobel Peace Prize winner (some even refer to him as ‘Ass Hungry’)? Well, Barack O’Change Obama has secretly brought him back to sit down and covertly negotiate with the Russian Bear that’s just coming out of its 20-year hibernation.
Once Superman has his additional combat brigades in place the real bloodbath will begin. To be certain, Islamabad has other priorities, not a plan in sight to plug the bloody spill over.
Pakistan beware; Superman, Bulldozer, Ass Hungry and Chemical Bill (Ambassador William Wood in Afghanistan) are all eyeballing us. Honourable Superman and Respectable Bulldozer, welcome to the ‘graveyard of empires’. Pakistan, welcome to little carrots and big sticks.
P.S. The idiom, ‘carrot and stick’, was first used in 1948 by The Economist when the magazine meant to imply an attempt in “trying to induce a donkey to move by alternately rewarding it with carrots and punishing it with a stick”. Then there’s ‘carrot on a stick’ whereby a carrot is tied to a long stick and then “dangled in front of a donkey, just out of its reach. As the donkey moves forward to get the carrot, it ends up pulling the cart but the carrot always remains out of reach.”
The writer is the executive director of the Centre for Research and Security Studies (CRSS). Email:firstname.lastname@example.org