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AfPak: Indecision May Negate Possible Strategic Success

Pakistan’s army is on the march against both the Taliban and al Qaeda in South Warziristan where there is a large concentration of both:

The Pakistani army pushed farther into a mountainous Taliban and al-Qaeda haven Sunday, as civilians continued to flow out of an area that has become a full-fledged battleground.

On the second day of a ground offensive in the restive border region of South Waziristan, the military said at least 60 militants and five soldiers had been killed. The Pakistani Taliban, which the government says has plotted a cascade of recent attacks on security forces from its base in the area, told the Associated Press that its fighters had inflicted “heavy casualties” against the army.

The fight in South Waziristan is a key test for Pakistan’s military, which is tasked with shattering a rising Islamist insurgency that has killed nearly 200 people in bombings and gunfights in the past two weeks. American officials, who have urged Pakistan to get tougher on militants operating on its soil, say the region is also a hub for militants who plan attacks on U.S.-led forces across the border in Afghanistan.

According to reports we’ve been asking for and encouraging the Pakistanis to take exactly this sort of action since the Obama administration has been in office.

Question: How long do you suppose the Pakistanis will commit to such operations and continue to push back against the Taliban and al Qaeda if we continue to dither about our commitment? Here we have a desired result in action.  You’d think that would be extremely useful against the very target candidate Obama said we’d taken our eye off of with Iraq – namely Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda. Are we conducting  a complimentary and supporting NATO operation right now?  And if not, why not?

I’ll tell you why – the administration is instead worried about the results of a run-off election in Afghanistan and can’t manage to separate that from the supposed strategic goal that candidate Obama laid out as our purpose for being Afghanistan in the first place.

All things being equal, it would be wonderful to have a popularly elected government free of corruption and connected across the country with provincial and local governments. But what has that to do with that primary goal of defeating (i.e. eliminating) al Qaeda and those who support it who are now located between Kabul and Islamabad? Eliminate the threat, go home, and let the Afghan’s sort out who they want in charge and what sort of government they’d prefer.

In the meantime, we’re undermanned to do what we claim, or at least claimed, was our goal – kill al Qaeda and its supporters. We’ve finally seen Pakistan get off its collective posterior and do what we’ve been asking them to do for years and we’re unprepared to support the operation even though we’ve had 10 months in which to make a decision (IOW, why aren’ t we engaged in an operation that supports theirs?).

If Pakistan’s losses mount while we (and NATO) sit on our rear ends, how long do you imagine Pakistan will commit to proactive and costly offensive combat?

~McQ

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11 Responses to AfPak: Indecision May Negate Possible Strategic Success

  • I have serious doubts as to how committed the Pakistanis are to achieving success in the latest offensive.

    I think Pakistan might be a schizophrenic nation incapable of making correct strategic decisions. The military is clearly more afraid of India then of internal guerilla forces, otherwise they would commit more combat power to suppressing them. And the ISI, in my opinion is a hopeless mess that does more harm to our interests than helps. The political leaders in power appear to be more clear eyed about the threat array, but I’m not certain how much actual power they have over the military.

    If I were a Nobel Peace Prize Winner, I’d be focusing my time and attention not on solving Israel and Palestine but figuring out a way to eliminate tensions between India and Pakistan.

  • The only thing I can think to do is just laugh, man.

    Okay, shooting for as little snark as possible. You know, I really do think you’re okay on foreign policy. But.. today is..not outrageous, just so unaware….

    So how can you not know how much the Pakistani government hates the Karzai government’s guts and wants the Haqqani network in power in Afghanistan? Pakistan is waiting for us to declare our commitment to Afghanistan?? Giggle! Snort! These are the people that are paying Afghanistanis to kill us! Hint, it’s *not* because they want us to stay! How can you have this so completely backwards?

    I can’t go a week without reading another report on how few of the people fighting us in Afghanistan are even Taliban at all, much less Al-Quieda. And the Pakistanis would hold a one-hundred day orgy if we left the whole region tomorrow. They hate our fucking guts. Did you somehow fail to notice how pissy they were last couple of weeks when we handed them $4 billion dollars in civilian aid for *nothing*? Yes, some of that was military sabotage of the civies in Pakistan, but even the locals were practically setting piles of dollar bills on fire.

    I’ve seen polls demonstrating that the two countries most Pakistanis think are blowing up their hotels are 1) India and 2) us. And you think they’re waiting to get deeping into propping up their enemies in Afghanistan at expense of their Taliban friends??

    Wow.

  • Pakistan is moving because their army HQ got attacked. You can’t let that go by without serious reprisal.

    Its interesting to note that if we withdraw in Afghanistan, no longer targeting “Taliban” then the Pakistani taliban will have a nice hideout in Afghanistan, sort of reversing roles.

    Also, what’s the big deal about Afghanistan’s tainted elections? Pres. Obama has already accepted Iranian tainted elections, and they are our enemies! If its in our national interest to deal with unelected thugs there why not Afghanistan?

    I also wonder if its not the case that the people who can steal elections probably have the best power structure anyways. What was the other party doing, sitting around drinking mint tea? (ok this is partially sarcastic.)

    • Harun… what’s the big deal about Afghanistan’s tainted elections? Pres. Obama has already accepted Iranian tainted elections, and they are our enemies! If its in our national interest to deal with unelected thugs there why not Afghanistan?

      Good point. Some thugs and crooks are more equal than others, I suppose.

  • Pakistan will do what’s in Pakistan’s interest (as they perceive it). They have proven that we have very little impact on their decision making. The idea they are doing “what we want” because of any actions or urging from us is overstating our role.

    As for Afghanistan, the US can’t really commit to the Afghan government when it’s clear that the elections were fraudulent and there is an on going investigation. Even then, the US needs to see how inconsequential the “surge” was in Iraq — violence continues, no real stability, the country effectively divided in three (or even more, as the Shi’ites squabble) and Iran their closest ally. The surge brought a short term decrease in violence, but the problems pre-surge are just as intense. And Afghanistan is much farther gone. Moreover, with major deficits, debt, and public weariness of distant wars, any commitment to Afghanistan is unsustainable.

    • “The idea they are doing “what we want” because of any actions or urging from us is overstating our role.”

      You seem to be responding to an argument that was not made in the post. It makes no difference whether they are doing it because we told them to do it, or because they now perceive it to be in their national interest. The only thing that is important is that they are doing what we wanted, no, needed them to do.

      And we are now dithering away the opportunity and, as Harun points out, probably sabotaging the possibility that they will accomplish what we need them to accomplish.

      • Precisely. The operation the Pakistanis are now executing has been in the planning stages for 4 months. Why weren’t we involved with them and why aren’t we running a coordinated supporting operation on the other side of the border that might help prevent the Taliban/AQ force from concentrating their effort against the Pakistanis? That is, as candidate Obama kept telling us, if the main goal in AfPak is to take out AQ and those supporting them?

  • The media has taken note that in the past, the Pakistanis have gone to war against the Taliban because we asked (or requested) them to do so.

    This time, however, they are doing it without being asked.

    I am glad to see this happening, if only for one large and dominating reason: the Taliban are a cancer. Plain and simple: they are a cancer. And you cannot “live” or “deal” with a cancer growing inside of you. The Clown™ is just a dumbf*ck who thinks he can make nice and play patty cake with these psychos, but in the end we will have to go back to war to crush them. I think it is possible to now say that Pakistan realizes that the Taliban – and, by extension, al-Qa’ida – are a cancer that needs to be excised. How strange that the Pakistanis are more attuned to having to fight this gang of psychos than even the dumbf*ck sh!thead who fancies himself as the President of the United States.

  • President Barack Obama is falling short as Democrats’ leader in the fight for health reform, according to a freshman Dem lawmaker.

    Freshman Rep. Eric Massa (D-N.Y.) openly lamented the Obama administration’s calculated decision to let the House and Senate craft their own health bills, with the congressman blaming the president for the vast discrepancies between the two bills now.

    “The Senate bill and the House bill are on different planets,” Massa said during an appearance on the liberal “Bill Press Radio Show” podcast. “And they’re on different planets because, as much as I want this administration to succeed, they did not present a piece of legislation to the United States Congress.

    “We still don’t have a piece of paper that says what his plan is. We’re kind of like pilots flying blind,” he added.

    This is beginning to look as bad as the Left portrayed Bush-43’s service in the Alabama Air National Guard .. Missing In Action.

    The “Great Decider” seems he can’t decide on anything.

    We are left to wonder if the Nobel Committee will be able to insert the medal far enough up his anus so he will be able to actually see it.

    • Has anybody else picked up on the pattern that has Reid and Pelosi running one end of Pennsylvania Ave while Obama runs the other end of Pennsylvania Ave, with all parties staying off each other’s turf.

      Notice how there have been virtually no major inquiries into administration operations by Reid and Pelosi, and virtually none the other way (with Rangel, Dodd, etc. receiving almost no DOJ activity). Reid and Pelosi haven’t even complained, at least publicly, about the intrusion of the Executive into areas that were disputed during the Bush Administration. And finally, the above lack of a healthcare bill or written “plan” from the Obama Administration after endless speeches on the topic .. it’s almost as if to send up legislation would break the “deal” that separates their respective fiefdoms.