General Petraeus assumed command of the 140,000 European and American troops in Afghanistan as former commander General Stanley McChyrstal left the scene. There was no surprise or shock about what the new leader of forces had to say concerning goals in this Asian nation. “We have reached a critical moment. We must demonstrate to al-Qaeda and its network of extremist allies that they will not be allowed to establish safe havens in Afghanistan.” He promised one and all that “we’re in it to win.” Of course, there was no explanation as to what “win” meant in operational terms. Even as he spoke, Afghan President Karzai denounced claims there was corruption in his country as “baseless” and went on to assure the media that after discussions with Petraeus, it was clear, “anti-corruption was the main part of the war against terrorism.” A glance at previous comments by military leaders assuming command in Afghanistan will produce similar promises about winning and not losing.

The main confusion I feel relates to the following:

Karzai statement that talk about corruption is “baseless.”

Karzai statement the war requires emphasis on “anti-corruption.”

Does this mean once we persuade the Taliban to end their corruption, then we “win?”