Friday, March 19, 2010

Winning the Taliban War

Years ago, I wrote of the need to target the Taliban on the Pakistan side of the border in order to win in Afghanistan. This problem was just one of the reasons that the charge that we were "distracted" by Iraq from dealing with Afghanistan was always ridiculous. So this is good news:

Pakistan’s tribal leaders will discuss a strategy tomorrow to end support for militants, their biggest gathering since the U.S. invaded Afghanistan in 2001 and removed the Taliban from power.

At least 3,000 elders representing the 20 largest tribes in North West Frontier Province and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas will hold a meeting known as a ‘jirga’ in the provincial capital of Peshawar, Naeem Gul, one of the organizers, said in an interview.

Tribal support is crucial to efforts by Pakistan’s army to prevent insurgents from regrouping after an offensive in the region, focused on Swat Valley and South Waziristan, against groups blamed for 80 percent of nationwide terror attacks. Elders failed to stop the rise of militancy after the Taliban fled Afghanistan and thousands of tribesmen joined their ranks, killing scores of pro-government leaders.

I give credit to the Obama administration for getting Pakistan to commit to the fight against the Taliban. Granted, President Obama has had the advantage of dealing with a civilian government with its own reasons to rein in their own pro-Taliban intelligence people (in the ISI), but nonetheless, Pakistan has committed their power to the fight and lets us use our Predators to kill terrorists. I won't deny this success. As I've written, if I ever degenerate into reflexive Obama hatred, I should stop blogging on foreign policy.

The Taliban are a problem that inconveniently span two countries. An escalation in Afghanistan will always be at risk of failure if our enemy can just run across the border to Pakistan to rest, regroup, and raid into Afghanistan until we get tired of the cost and casualties.