Thursday, June 12, 2008

Problem Child

Pakistan surely helps us in the war on terror. And we couldn't fight in Afghanistan without Pakistan's cooperation and supply lines running through Pakistan.

But Pakistan is a post-9/11 convert to our side in this fight and continues to support the Taliban:

Pakistani intelligence agents and paramilitary forces have helped train Taliban insurgents and have given them information about American troop movements in Afghanistan, said a report published Monday by a U.S. think tank.

The study by the RAND Corp. also warned that the U.S. will face "crippling, long-term consequences" in Afghanistan if Taliban sanctuaries in Pakistan are not eliminated.

We can't push Pakistan too hard to rein in these agents who support the Taliban and make the war in Afghanistan harder to fight. If you think we have problems without full Pakistan help, imagine how hard it would be without much help at all.

Or, we could try a less ambitious and less dangerous Lexington Campaign. Although this route clearly is problematic.

There is one way to cut the Gordian Knot, however.

UPDATE: Fighting a post-Westphalian Lexington Campaign won't be easy at all if the Pakistani government just check out of the war:

On the Afghan border, a battle between Taliban, Pakistani border guards, Afghan and U.S. troops left at least eleven Pakistani troops. The dead were paramilitaries, recruited from local troops. Fights on the border usually start as Afghan or U.S. troops pursue fleeing Taliban (who are trying to reach safety in Pakistani territory). Sometimes the Pakistani troops will open fire on the pursuers. Sometimes the Pakistani border guards basically side with the Taliban, but are usually careful in who they take on. Firing on NATO troops risks bring in the smart bombs, which is what happened this time. The U.S. apologized, but refused to promise it would not happen again, because it will.

It might not be so bad if the Pakistanis wouldn't simultaneously refuse to enforce their sovereignty over the Taliban on the border areas and complain when we cross the border to try to impose some sort of friendly order.

Tell me our strategic options wouldn't be dramatically better if we cut that Gordian Knot.