Petraeus,who oversees all U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan,promoted a holistic approach to counter-terrorism. Although he was scheduled to give a talk,Patraeus spent the entire time answering questions from the audience of about 350 law students,professors and guests at the Georgetown University Law Center.
Petraeus said the U.S. must take a broad approach to fighting terrorism to destroy al-Qaida and the Taliban.
The U.S. must cut off terrorist groups' access to foreign fighters,funds,weaponry and popular support,Petraeus said. Only by addressing those issues simultaneously can the U.S. counter terrorists effectively,he said.
“All of that takes a lot more than just military force,just kinetics,” Patraeus said. “What you have to do is use every asset that you have.”
Petraeus said the U.S. should treat diplomacy and international cooperation like counter-terrorism tools. The U.S. can stop extremists only by reaching out to locals and neighboring countries,he said.
The general said the U.S. has been working with nations throughout the Middle East to improve military-to-military relations and cited recent international dealings with the governments of Qatar,Bahrain and Kuwait as positive steps toward better relations with the Middle East.
Petraeus also emphasized the importance of communication among intelligence agencies as a tool for counter-terrorism. He said the military has created “fusion cells” in Iraq where U.S. agents and their allies can meet “without walls” and exchange information.
Petraeus called the war in Afghanistan “hugely important” and said the U.S. still has “enormous national interests” in the country. Although he admitted violence has been worsening,Petraeus said the war will improve once the U.S. military improves communication and cooperation with other nations.
Regarding Pakistan,Patraeus said the U.S. has ignored past chances to befriend the nation now thought by the U.S. to be the hiding place of Osama bin Laden.
“We cut them off for 12 years from access to our military education and training opportunities,” Petraeus said. “The penalty for that for our relationship is substantial.”
He said direct military action within Pakistan is unlikely.
The talk was one of two Petraeus gave Thursday. The second was at Georgetown's main campus.