Question: What advice would you give General Petraeus as he assumes leadership of the Afghanistan War?
Jere Van Dyk: I think that General Petraeus should be very straight with the American public and the Afghan public as to exactly why the United States and its allies are in Afghanistan and what it hopes to accomplish. Are we there to eradicate Al Qaeda? Are we there to gain access to minerals, as many Afghans feel? Are we there to contain China, or to gain access to oil and natural gas fields, or to surround Iran, as many Afghans feel? I think he should speak very clearly to why we are there. And is it to destroy Al Qaeda or is it to leave Afghanistan... Or is it to degrade the Taliban and leave Afghanistan in the hands of Pakistan? Because you are never going to get the Afghans on your side, and his whole insurgency is based upon his belief that we have to win the hearts and minds of the Afghans because we are trying to win them over just as the Taliban are trying to win them over. And until such time that we convince them that we are 100 percent on their side and that we are not working with Pakistan, our longtime ally, you will never get the Afghans to go along with you, which is one reason why they're having a hard time with the Afghan national army, which is one reason why they're having a hard time with President Karzai, because deep down they don't believe that we're there on their side, and they know that we're going to leave, and in the end they have to protect themselves.
Recorded on June 29, 2010
Interviewed by Max Miller