Day 88, January 26, 2009

DAN-CHYI CHUA
Jan 26, 2009
*Special to asia!

WHO'S THE BOSS?

"General David Petraeus, not Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, will shape American engagement with the Middle East for years to come."

Thus began the op-ed piece in the New York Times, 'Real soft power'.

The point made by the writer, Gary Schaub, assistant professor of strategy at the Air War College, is that unlike Clinton - who just recently had a change in mindset from "President" to "Secretary of State", the general has a plan for the Middle East.

And due to no fault of Clinton's, the State Department is also one that is endowed with a smaller budget than Defense, so the same way that General Colin Powell had to play second fiddle to Donald Rumsfeld in the Bush administration, so does the former First Lady.

Hence it will be the generals that will have more room in which to manuver US policy in the Middle East, especially with the increased focus on the region that President Obama wants, and their presence there.

Already before taking over as the Chief of the US Command, running military strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, he made the unprecedented (for a military commander) move to meet International Monetary Fund and World Bank representatives to urge them to back Pakistan up financially.

This is a part of his brand of army strategy which has been more holistic than simply focusing on military issues. He has been emphasising on the need to consider the geopolitics and understanding the role that Pakistan plays in creating a secure Afghanistan, and extrapolating from there, the link between countering anti-coalition forces with greater economic security in Pakistan.

Read the op-ed at http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/27/opinion/27schaub.html.

dan-chyi chua

Dan-Chyi Chua was a broadcast journalist, before forsaking Goggle Box Glitz for the Open Road. A three-year foray led her through the Middle East, China, SE Asia, Latin America and Cuba, and she's now grounded herself as a writer for theasiamag.com, content with spending her days in Jerusalem.

Contact Dan-Chyi