It appears that Petraeus's affair with his married biographer, Paula
Broadwell, is not the type of thing that loses hearts and minds in
A Domestic Issue
Waliullah Rahmani, an Afghan social commentator, suggests that much of
this can be explained by the fact that General Petraeus is not as
involved in Afghanistan as he once was. Many Afghans, Rahmani says, see
this as an exclusively domestic U.S. issue, not one that raises concerns
about the American mission in Afghanistan.
"It has happened while General Petraeus was out of the country," he
says. "He is not someone who is engaged in the day-to-day business in
Afghanistan and, for sure, he isn't someone who is influencing the
destiny of Afghans, although he was [to a degree] when he was head of
the CIA. Since it [didn't affect the country directly], people weren't
attentive to it."
Rahmani says a "stronger Afghan reaction" could be expected if General
Allen were to fall because of the scandal. He is under investigation for
"potentially inappropriate" messages he exchanged with Jill Kelley, a
glamorous Florida socialite who reportedly received threatening e-mails
General Allen has denied an improper relationship with Kelley, and while
U.S. President Barack Obama accepted Petraeus's resignation he has
expressed "faith" in General Allen.
On November 14, U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton attempted to
downplay the effect the situation might have on the U.S. mission in
She maintained that U.S. officials have discussed the matter with allied officials.
"There has been a lot of conversation, as you might expect, but no
concern whatsoever being expressed to us because the mission has been
set forth and it's being carried out," Clinton said at a press
conference in Australia.
The most obvious sign that military operations in Afghanistan have not
been affected is perhaps apparent in what the Taliban is not saying.
While the militant group has a long history of quickly seizing on U.S.
military missteps as a propaganda tool, a week after the scandal broke
no strongly-worded statements had yet been issued by the Taliban.
That does not mean it hasn't been noticed; it just appears to be more a source of amusement than a call to arms.
In an interview with the AFP news agency this week in northwest
Pakistan, a Taliban official reportedly burst into laughter at the
mention of the Petraeus affair.
"What a bastard! But all Americans are the same, it's nothing new," the
unnamed official said. "It's quite normal for Americans and Western
people to behave like this -- they live in free-sex societies where
nobody cares about this sort of thing, so what do you expect?"
After news broke of General Petraeus's resignation and the investigation
into General Allen's actions, Afghan media have largely refrained from
commentary and debate.