08/12/2010 06:06 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Thomas Ricks: I'm More Optimistic About Afghanistan Than Iraq

Today's AfPak round-up:

Joe Klein: "Of course" Petraeus wants more time. With President Obama's December policy review of the Afghan war looming, it comes as no surprise that Gen. David Petraeus is campaigning for a drawn-out withdrawal. But Petraeus, he says, will have a tough time fighting "the growing notion that afghanistan is a helpless sinkhole," which could lead more White House officials to back Vice President Joe Biden's plan to use special ops and drone attacks rather than counterinsurgency to hold the Taliban back. "Indeed," Klein notes, "the special ops piece of the war is about the only thing that's working now." [TIME]

Ricks more optimistic about Afghanistan than Iraq. In an interview on NPR, bestselling author Tom Ricks said that unlike in Iraq, which "does look to me like an endless war, [though] not necessarily one where a lot of American troops are going to be fighting and dying," the West still has "a couple of aces in the hole" in Afghanistan. "The biggest one," he added, "is that the Afghan people have lived under Islamic extremism and fundamentally they don't want it to come back." [NPR]

Worsening violence casts pall over upcoming parliamentary elections. Many analysts believe Afghan parliamentary elections slated for September 18th will, like last year's presidential vote, be marred by fraud and violence. "In the south there will be no free, fair, acceptable elections," said Afghan parliamentary candidate Haroun Mir. "You cannot open most sites there and guarantee security—so in half the country there will not be a safe election." Violence will also make it more difficult for election monitors to make their way to polling places, which could leave many candidates free to stuff ballot boxes with impunity. [NYT]

"Non-local fighters" killed aid workers, group says. According to a statement by the International Assistance Mission, the recent murder of 10 of its workers in Nuristan Province was not the result of a robbery, as was first reported in the press. Rather, the group is "now working on the assumption that the attack was an opportunistic ambush by a group of nonlocal fighters." The statement is largely based on an account by the sole survivor of the attack, an Afghan named Safiullah. According to Safiullah's account, the 10 aid workers were killed immediately after exiting their vehicles on their way back from the town of Puran, where they were providing medical aid. [CNN]