Sunday, September 25, 2011

Getting Ready to Rumble

We are getting a little more explicit about our complaints of Pakistani double-dealing:

The U.S. military's top officer has accused Pakistan of supporting attacks by the al-Qaida-linked Haqqani network on U.S. targets in Afghanistan, including last week's assault on the U.S. Embassy in Kabul.

Admiral Mullen also tried to reel the Pakistanis in from their policies that also get Americans killed:

"By exporting violence, they’ve eroded their internal security and their position in the region. They’ve undermined their regional credibility and threatened their economic well being. Only a decision to break with this policy can pave the road to a positive future for Pakistan," he said.

But the Pakistanis aren't in the mood to take advice on this, as their foreign minister indicated:

"You will lose an ally," Khar told Geo TV in New York in remarks broadcast on Friday.

"You cannot afford to alienate Pakistan, you cannot afford to alienate the Pakistani people. If you are choosing to do so and if they are choosing to do so it will be at their (the United States') own cost."

Well, I don't want to lose Pakistan as an ally. Not until we can afford it. Besides, having Iran behave like Pakistan would be considered a major diplomatic triumph. So I don't want to lose what we have despite Pakistan's obvious problems as an ally. Not until we can afford it.

When we can afford it, Pakistan will find that it can't readily replace our support. We might lose Pakistan as an ally, but we are a potent enemy to have. And will China pick up the tab for Pakistan? Good luck with that.

Further, there is no doubt that Pakistan is doing exactly what Mullen accuses them of doing. And despite that, the jihadis inside Pakistan will not refrain from waging war on Pakistan in their own double-dealing.

Pakistan's foreign minister also warns us against coming into Pakistan after the jihadis who battle us in Afghanistan:

Pakistan's foreign minister on Saturday warned the United States against sending ground troops to her country to fight an Afghan militant group that America alleges is used as a proxy by Pakistan's top intelligence agency for attacks in neighboring Afghanistan.

Our warnings to Pakistan to get on the right side of the fight at long last are more than just a coincidence. After focusing on the southern parts of Afghanistan while we shaped the battlespace in the east in a secondary front, we are getting ready to shift our main effort to the east across from those jihadi sanctuaries in Pakistan's frontier areas, as Defense Secretary Panetta testified:

The second challenge is the difficult campaign we have ahead of us in the east, where the topography, the cultural geography and the continuing presence of safe havens in Pakistan give the insurgents advantages they have lost elsewhere in the country. We cannot allow terrorists to have safe havens from which they launch attacks and kill our forces. We cannot allow that to happen. And we have to bring pressure on the Pakistanis to do their part to confront that issue.

Now that we need to beat down the Taliban in the east, the sanctuaries in Pakistan that Pakistan tolerates and even supports are less acceptable to us.

Pakistan has long been a problem, but we were far from the point where we had to confront the problems in Pakistan. Other problems were greater and pushing Pakistan to solve them would not have solved our main problems inside Afghanistan. Pakistan believed it had us over a barrel because the war has long been a mobius war, as I called it, where our frontier was also our rear area. We couldn't push Pakistan since our supply lines ran through Pakistan.

But by the end of the year, 3/4 of our supplies will come from our northern routes. By next summer, we should be able to drop our Pakistan supply lines altogether.

So perhaps through the fall and winter, we start shifting resources to the east even as we draw down the surge troops and turn over more territory to the Afghans to free up our forces for the east. While we do this, we start going after the jihadis inside Pakistan more aggressively and push Pakistan to side with us fully. And in the spring, we start pushing to the border in the east to knock down the Taliban there enough so that with even more withdrawals of our troops the Afghans can take over the fight.

We're in no mood to win on the ground in Afghanistan only to see our plans to pull most of our forces (if not all of them) from Afghanistan founder on the reality that the defeated remnants of our enemies can regroup, rest, and re-arm in Pakistan under the protection of powerful factions within Pakistan. So this is probably just the first of a lot of meetings:

Pakistan's powerful army chief General Ashfaq Kayani on Sunday called a "special" meeting of his top commanders to discuss the security situation, the military said, as the war of words with the United States escalated.

The extraordinary meeting of the corps commanders came against the backdrop of sharp U.S. allegations that Pakistan army's powerful spy agency supported the Haqqani militant group Washington blames for the recent attack on its embassy and other targets in Kabul.

It is going to be a long winter for the Pakistanis as they contemplate whether they can continue to afford to be at war with America and the jihadis. The jihadis will wage war on Pakistan no matter what despite what the Pakistanis think their double-dealing can achieve. With supply lines that don't go through Pakistan, we will be able to treat Pakistan as less ally and more foe. We'll see if the Pakistanis want to risk that.

I'd rather keep Pakistan as an imperfect ally than confront them. But we are rapidly coming to the point where we can't ignore Pakistan's double-dealing because we had other things to do in Afghanistan that were more important. We're heading east, and Pakistan can either join the final offensive or find that we will decide to live without them. In time, we won in Iraq without getting the cooperation of Syria and Iran to halt their support of terrorists and insurgents. Pakistan makes brave talk that they can live without us in a dangerous world. Will their nukes give them the belief that they can do without our diplomatic, military, and economic help?