5 years ago
One of the good aspects about blogging with really smart readers is that I get to let some of them do the writing. Consider TSAlfabet’s comment concerning McChrystal Releases Counterinsurgency Guidance and Requests More Troops.
OK, let’s just cut right to it.
The heart of the problem is that the U.S. has been and continues to be unwilling to do what it says it is going to do to protect itself and that is why we are having problems in A-stan.
To elaborate: the U.S. got hit on 9-11 and we declared, as a sort of Corollary #1, that we would retaliate against and pursue those responsible wherever they could be found.
The U.S. did, in fact, go after AQ and the Taliban in Afghanistan and pretty much took care of the initial problem. The INITIAL problem. Predictably, however, AQ scattered like roaches. Some to Pakistan, some to Iran, some to Yemen, etc.. Rather quickly they found a more-or-less willing host in Pakistan where they could re-group, re-fit, re-form and re-commence their war against the U.S.
Did the U.S. then employ Corollary #1 against Pakistan? No, we did not. And we still refuse to do so. Same for Iran who hosts AQ leadership and has been actively at war against the U.S. since 1979.
I am sure that there are many cogent arguments as to why the U.S. cannot employ Corollary #1 against P-stan and Iran, but once the U.S. has surrendered the principle or otherwise limited its application, say, to only those countries that are too weak to defend themselves such as A-stan and Iraq, then we are in an untenable position.
To close the circle, the reason that we are struggling in A-stan is because we refuse to eliminate the havens in P-stan where the enemy takes refuge. Same as the Soviets. Without that vital sanctuary, AQ and the Taliban collapse and become a primitive curiosity, dwelling in remote caves, a threat to no one except perhaps the local goat population.
COIN is nice and good and McCrystal’s document is all nice talk, but it is not serious. We are willing to allow our military to die and suffer in A-stan because we will not go after the P-stan sanctuaries. (Sorry, little decapitation strikes with Predators do not count). In so doing, we violate a primary rule of counter-insurgency: cut off the insurgent’s base of supplies and support. If the Paks don’t like it, then they can pull some divisions off the Indian border and exercise the proper control over their own territory that a sovereign nation is obligated to do. Otherwise, the U.S. is coming in and wiping out every camp and stronghold. We are not staying to occupy, but we will ensure that AQ is going to spend all of their time re-building and re-constituting rather than attacking into A-stan (or New York, for that matter). As soon as our intel says there is a whiff of AQ in an area, we go back in and wipe them out again. It will become clear to the local population (and potential recruits) that enrolling in or supporting AQ and the Taliban is a death warrant and is the losing side. (If a villager knew that he would be paid well for reliable information on AQ whereabouts AND that the bad guys would promptly get whacked as a result, we might have more good intel than we could handle).
Until such time as the U.S. goes after the enemy in its base of operations, we are just swimming in quicksand.
Consider his comment within the context of the recent targeting of Baitullah Mehsud. Of course, I had issued a clarion call to assassinate the bastard, since I (correctly) saw him as the strong man who held the Tehrik-i-Taliban together in their protection of al Qaeda. Baitullah (if he is indeed dead) is in hell now, and that’s just fine with me. But make no mistake about it. Drink a glass of wine to his demise, but this is neither the end of the Taliban nor the Tehrik-i-Taliban.
TSAlfabet has recommended some serious action against states that harbor enemies. But it appears that we cannot even take the minimalist approach with some of them. Talk about talk with the reconcilable Taliban has been noisome, while the head of the snake, Mullah Omar, sits with his shura in Quetta, Pakistan. Where are the CIA drones? Where are the black operations to target him? Why hasn’t serious pressure been brought to bear on Pakistan?
Consider the situation. Mullah Omar is the head of the Afghan Taliban who are fighting and killing U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Pakistan is willingly giving him sanctuary. Pakistan has even dropped their supposed war against the Tehrik-i-Taliban which was begun with such fanfare and artillery fire. Do you doubt it?