General David Petraeus on Closing Gitmo: The ‘New Great Game’ in Asia

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty:

RFE/RL: In your view, does the closing of “Gitmo” and the abandonment of those techniques complicate the U.S. mission in Iraq, Afghanistan, and in the overall struggle against violent transnational extremist groups or does it help it?

Petraeus: Doing that, [closing the prison at Guantanamo,] in a responsible manner, I think, sends an important message to the world, as does the commitment of the United States to observe the Geneva Convention when it comes to the treatment of detainees.

RFE/RL: The Central Asian states all agree that the region’s biggest security problems right now emanate from Afghanistan. Given that, why, in your opinion, has it been so difficult for some of them to commit more firmly to helping the U.S. and NATO efforts?

Petraeus: What might be most beneficial for all of the countries — including my own and Russia and the other great powers of the world — would be to recognize the common threats to the Central Asian states. And those are extremism coming out of Afghanistan, Pakistan, from the south, and the illegal narcotics industry that has enslaved so many people in the Central Asian states, even in Iran by the way, and works its way up into Russia as well.

These common threats warrant cooperation and a broad partnership rather than continued zero sum approaches to the new “Great Game,” if you will, the competition for power and resources in the Central Asian states.