To be sure, there is no one in Washington today who can match Zal's impeccable credentials, having seen it all in Iraq, and knowing like the palm of his hands the ethos and traditions of the Pashtun tribes. Certainly, he will take his stance to the right of McChrystal. When the tough special forces commander hits the Taliban hard, rubbishes them and makes them "reconcilable", and when the "chameleon insurgents" - as Petraeus calls them contemptuously - begin to peel away, he will pass them on to Zal.
Zal will carefully roll up his sleeves, sit down with them over a cup of green tea, and talk some sense into their dazed minds. And then, he will make a mental note as to the fastness of the color of the "chameleons" facing him and looking at him with their watery eyes, before short-listing them for future assignments. That is, until a job falls vacant for Zal himself - in the presidential palace in Kabul.
Footnote: P4 tells RP the mission,
Post: As the commander of the US Central Command, you're the big-picture "strategy guy." Could you give readers a clear statement of our mission in Afghanistan?...and the book he's been reading.
Petraeus: The mission is to ensure that Afghanistan does not again become a sanctuary for al Qaeda and other transnational extremists. That's what it had become before the operations conducted in the wake of 9/11. Al Qaeda wants to carry out further attacks on the US and our allies, and we need to deny them safe havens in which they can plan and train for such attacks.