Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Winning Af-Pak

The Secretary General of NATO met with Obama today to discuss Af-Pak and made the most decisive statement yet from anyone in the west regards winning this war. Obama also spoke:

Nice comparison--the speech of a leader versus the speech of a policy wonk. What did Obama say other than we're now in a NATO war (funny how it's now a shared effort when during the campaign Afghanistan was entirely Bush's fault)?

Meanwhile, the WaPo provided some backdrop to the Af-Pak problem:
As American troops move deeper into southern Afghanistan to fight Taliban insurgents, U.S. officials are expressing new concerns about the role of fugitive Taliban leader Mohammad Omar and his council of lieutenants, who reportedly plan and launch cross-border strikes from safe havens around the southwestern Pakistani city of Quetta.
And this is news? Conventional wisdom says the government should already be intimately familiar with a terrorist hub like Quetta, Baluchistan province, Pakistan because after all, two of the worst terrorists to ever plague our nation called it home, one even leaving a family there. Maybe they do, and maybe they understand too well how much of a problem it is.

The hanging question continues to be our next move. Pundits say Obama should do this, that or the other; personally speaking the strategy is best left to generals and the fighting left to soldiers with speculation left to the armchair warriors and pundits. As one from the latter group it seems logical that if we cannot make a dent behind enemy lines in places like Quetta then we're wasting our time and our troops' lives in Afghanistan while helping AQ win this war.

So, either leave a strike force in the Indian Ocean with a bold and widely advertised promise to rain fire down should the next attack be linked to the region (and take the propaganda lumps) or commit to a Powell Doctrine-sized force and try to overwhelm the Taliban in both Afghanistan AND Pakistan once and for all, with the full understanding we will lose many heroic men and women in the process. Obama could even leverage his popularity in Hollywood and the Arts community to urge their assistance with this fight with all their might, just like they did in World War II.

Whatever the final decision, strong leadership and charisma will be key to victory and Sec-Gen Rasmussen made a good start of it today.

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