Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) accused Gen. David Petraeus, the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, of employing a “Charlie Sheen” strategy in trying to convince the American public to stay the course in Afghanistan.
“General Petraeus is giving us the Charlie Sheen counter-insurgency strategy, which is to give exclusive interviews to every major network, and to keep saying ‘we’re winning’ and hope the public actually agrees with you,” Woolsey said during a speech on the House floor Wednesday.
Woolsey, a leading advocate for pulling troops out of Afghanistan, was repeating a line from Rolling Stone editor Michael Hastings, who first made the analogy at a Congressional Progressive Caucus Peace and Security Task Force briefing Tuesday.
Woolsey has been disappointed with Petraeus’ testimony to Congress, which she called “bland and tone-deaf,” especially because it comes just months before the July deadline for the beginning of a troop drawdown. While President Obama’s political base is expecting a massive troop redeployment, Woolsey said she sees no sign of that happening, noting that officials seem to be walking back the timeline.
Last year, Petraeus said the July deadline was a starting process of returning control to the Afghans “at a rate to be determined by conditions at the time.”
“With all respect to the general, Madam Speaker, that’s an awful lot of weasel words,” Woolsey said.
Petraeus testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday and urged the American people to remember the reasons why U.S. forces continue to fight in Afghanistan in the face of a new poll showing the lowest level of American support for the longest war in U.S. history.
Petraeus said he understands the level of American frustration with the Afghan war, but warned of the growth of al Qaeda in the country and region if the U.S. abandons its mission and allows the Taliban to regain control.
Although the American people have heard that argument before, Petraeus said the U.S. only started to get its “input” right in the war in the last two years since the Obama Administration shifted U.S. focus back to Afghanistan from Iraq.
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