No easy exit from Afghanistan

US Iraq PetraeusIn a Washington Post commentary, author and former Post reporter Thomas Ricks explored why Afghanistan presents an even harder challenge for Gen. David Petraeus (in photo) than Iraq, noting “the two biggest problems the United States faces in Afghanistan are the Karzai government and the Pakistani government — and neither of those really can be addressed by military operations.” On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Ricks was more blunt, suggesting Petraeus may lobby Obama to give Afghan President Hamid Karzai ultimatums (such as “You want to end up hanging from your heels from a streetlight in Kabul, keep it up, Karzai”) and warning “leave Afghanistan right now, and you’ll find us having to go after al-Qaida again and again there for decades.” Ricks also had the last word on the depressing subject of Afghanistan: “We are dealing with phenomena in the Middle East that’s going to be crucial to this country as long as we’re dependent on Middle East oil. So the best exit strategy I can think of is emphasize alternative fuels.”