I was in favor of the Iraq invasion in 2003 and, although the post-war period was botched, I think the Surge has made it a modest success. Iraq was always a better bet than Afghanistan because it is a rich country and had a modest middle class already. In fact, I think Iraq has a good chance to become the most successful Arab state. On the other hand, I think Afghanistan is a very risky situation.
During Afghanistan’s golden age which consisted of the last king’s rule, the country consisted of a small civilized center in Kabul while the rest of the country existed much as it did in the time of Alexander the Great. I have reviewed Kilcullen’s Accidental Guerilla, which explains much of the Afghan war. He is not optimistic about it and neither am I. Aside from the fact that Obama is a reluctant, very reluctant, warrior here, Pakistan is a serious obstacle to success.
it’s an open secret the Taliban are headquartered across the border in the city of Quetta, Pakistan, where they operate openly under the aegis of Pakistani intelligence — and the financial sponsorship of the Saudis.
Sending more troops to Afghanistan is a necessary, albeit unfortunate, rear-guard action against marauding Taliban fighters armed, trained, supplied and deployed from Quetta — and funded from Riyadh.
NATO and U.S. military command know this. They’ve complained about it over and over in military action reports. So have Treasury officials regarding Saudi funding of the Taliban.
“Saudi Arabia today remains the location where more money is going to terrorism — to Sunni terror groups and the Taliban — than any other place in the world,” testified Stuart Levey, Treasury undersecretary.
This is Viet Nam all over again. The enemy has a sanctuary and our allies are siding secretly with our enemies.
Here’s how the game works. The Pakistanis are currently engaged in a much heralded crackdown on jihadists. But they are limiting those operations to the jihadists in the northwest tribal region — i.e., those whose primary target is the Pakistani government. By contrast, the Taliban — i.e., the jihadists targeting the U.S. and Afghanistan — are holed up in Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan, under the protection of the ISI. In fact, there are now reports that Mullah Omar has been moved to Karachi to protect him from U.S. drone attacks.
Pakistan is playing a double game. Secondly, our troops are handicapped by absurd rules of engagement.
The Times compiled an informal list of the new rules from interviews with U.S. forces. Among them:
• No night or surprise searches.
• Villagers have to be warned prior to searches.
• ANA or ANP must accompany U.S. units on searches.
• U.S. soldiers may not fire at the enemy unless the enemy is preparing to fire first.
• U.S. forces cannot engage the enemy if civilians are present.
This is ridiculous. Pakistan is protecting the enemy and our troops are restricted to idiotic limits, such as warning hostile villages before attacks. We should leave.
Then, if things deteriorate, Pakistan may become the target instead of Afghanistan.