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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Problem is Pakistan not Afghanistan

Democrats, especially Barack Obama, have constantly pounded the idea that the central front in the GWOT is Afghanistan or the Afghan/Pakistan border. That is of course up for debate. Yet, the Democrats' criticism misses a very important point. Democrats believe that we need to contribute more troops to Afghanistan and even change strategies. Now, this point is debateable, however it also misses the larger point. While I agree that our strategy in Afghanistan can be improved, that is not the real problem. The real problem is that Al Qaeda has found sanctuary in Pakistan. They are able to train and find a home base.

No matter what our strategy is in Afghanistan, unless the sanctuary in Pakistan is cut off the real problem will never be resolved. The problem is that it doesn't matter how many troops we put into Afghanistan. It doesn't matter what our strategy in Afghanistan is. That does nothing to resolve the sanctuary in Pakistan.

For that there is no easy solution. Pakistan is now threatening to shoot our troops if we continue to cross the border. The Pakistani government will be in a difficult position to act. Both the ISI, their intelligence arm, and their military are infiltrated by people with alliances to Al Qaeda itself. The areas in which Al Qaeda operates is largely porous and lawless. Furthermore, a fairly significant portion of the population is loyal to the Islamists themselves. As long as Al Qaeda maintainst this sanctuary, they will continue to have a near endless supply of fighters that can then be sent into Afghanistan and anywhere else to cause us problems.

In fact, the battlefield that Barack Obama and the Democrats want to focus on, the one in Afghanistan, has scant few Al Qaeda and Taliban. Most don't maintain their long term presence there. If anything they cross the porous border to fight our troops but at some point find their way back to Pakistan. The problem of Pakistan neither party or candidate has an answer for.

As such, the Democrat's idea of focusing on Afghanistan misses the larger point. Al Qaeda has a sanctuary in Pakistan. The only way to remove that sanctuary is to send in a massive amount of ground troops into Pakistan. That of course would be an act of war. It might bring down the government and an Islamist government would be installed. No matter how many troops or what strategy we have in Afghanistan, unless the sanctuary in Pakistan is removed the larger problem will never be resolved. Removing that sanctuary is no easy task.

1 comment:

Jay said...

Pakistan is a nasty hotbed of terrorism.

I think we might see a little more cooperation from Pakistan now that Musharraf is gone.