Thursday, June 19, 2008

FATA Attraction

The Taliban Campaign is approaching, with signs of a post-Westphalian campaign inside Pakistan's frontier tribal areas taking shape, perhaps without much Pakistani help. Al Qaeda is attempting to regenerate its ability to attack our homeland, which has gained added urgency given our defeat of al Qaeda in Iraq. With the Pakistanis unwilling to pacify the area and with our inability to invade and pacify the area, the only alternative left to win is to focus on the tribes of Pakistan and get them to fight al Qaeda.

Michael Hirsch has a bit of useful information regarding this in a piece that is mostly just drivel (Gee, Pakistanis blaming their tribal area problems on George Bush distracted by Iraq? Shocking!):

NEWSWEEK has learned that the energetic Petraeus is already informally involved in talks with the new Pakistani government, including its ambassador to Washington, Husain Haqqani, about counterinsurgency plans for the tribal regions, where Taliban and Al Qaeda elements still hold sway. And in his discussions with the Pakistanis, Petraeus has indicated he would add up to two additional Coalition brigades to Afghanistan once he takes over CENTCOM, according to a senior diplomatic official in Washington who spoke on condition of anonymity owing to political sensitivities.

An offensive that requires only up to two additional Coalition brigades, which may mean only one will be American, does not rely on drastic reductions in American combat brigades in Iraq. Remember, our Army is still growing to its 48 brigade target. Further, we really don't want to put too many troops into Afghanistan when the supply line is tenuous at best.

Yet we are drawn in for lack of alternatives other than just giving up. This will be a delicate operation requiring persistence, restraint in the direct application of Coalition force unless a decisive opportunity presents itself, and a lot of diplomacy to keep Pakistan quiet while we work on the tribes in the Federally Administerd Tribal Areas.

Both presidential candidates are fully committed to fighting al Qaeda in Afghanistan and even in Pakistan. For one candidate, this may well be the curse of getting what he wished for.