General in Town
General David Patraeus was in town over the weekend to preside over an ROTC awards ceremony in Cornell. According to the Cornell Sun the famed 4 star General was in Ithaca on Friday and was involved in a number of events in the University. After delivering a speech at the ceremony he then proceeded to take part in a discussion with faculty from the Peace Studies Program in which he answered a range of questions on the problems with Afghan governance, the military’s involvement in Iraq, civilian casualties in military operations and the role of contractors in peace-keeping. General Patraeus is the current head of US Central Command which is the military body that oversees all operations from in the Middle East from Egypt to Pakistan excluding the particularly sensitive areas of Israel and the Palestinian territories. Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan are just a couple of the high profile campaigns under his control. He rose to fame as the commanding General of the Multi-National Force-Iraq from January 2007 to September 2008 during which he was in charge of all the coalition troops in Iraq.
In dialogue session he urged the audience to adopt a realistic perspective with regards to establishing a legitimate government in Afghanistan, reminding everyone that it could not turn into Switzerland overnight. ‘Afghan good is good enough’ was his catchphrase from the night and epitomized the message he was trying to deliver. On the issue of civilian casualties he said that it was a regrettable by-product of war and that he ensured all risks were considered before any offensive move was made. He stated too that he would ‘never never deny our troopers dropping a bomb if they are in a tough spot’ though he caveated that by reiterating that his soldiers considered carefully before dropping a bomb on a building without precisely knowing the nature of its occupants.