Afpak paradigm adjustments
Three Fronts of War, Three Years to Make It Work
On Monday,President Obama promised to stick with his timetable for withdrawal from Iraq, but he also upped the ante on the conflict in Afghanistan and Pakistan by calling it a "war of necessity" against Al Qaeda and its allies (read: the Taliban). But here's the catch: Al Qaeda has already been evicted from Afghanistan and won't be evicted from northwest Pakistan by anybody other than the Pakistanis themselves (and we're talkingbadlandswhere Islamabad has never exactly had landlord status). That means our current strategy consists of fighting our way through the Afghani Taliban to get to the Pakistani Taliban (and thus, quite frankly, through them to the Pakistani military and intelligence services) to get to Al Qaeda. That, my friends, is called doing it the hard way.
And what would be the end result of the American military pulling off this seeming miracle? Al Qaeda would simply move somewhere else equally off-grid, resurfacing deeper in Central Asia or sub-Saharan Africa, and we'd begin this drones-versus-desperados show all over again in aMatrix-like reboot. Truth be told, absent Pakistan's nukes and its sordid history of sharing such technology,there is no great strategic argument for driving Al Qaeda out of its mountain cave lair. As far as our "machine world" is concerned, there will always be a number of "Zions" out there, demanding their back-to-the-future enclave be respected for what it is: a desire to disconnect from a "corrupt world."
So what will American end up doing? Inevitably, we'll cut deals granting local autonomy not all that different from the one Islamabad recently tried with the Pakistani Taliban. And guess what? Those deals will consistently backfire until the locals — including the so-called moderate Taliban (you know, your baseline misogynists) — decide that harboring Al Qaeda isn't worth the harm frequently visited upon them by outside forces. But even when that distant day comes, expect the Taliban to remain Taliban.
Labels: Afpak paradigm adjustments