Friday, December 08, 2017

About That "Regional" Problem

America is now trying to approach Afghanistan as a "regional" problem. In fact, "regional" is just a way of saying "Pakistan" without being rude to Pakistan. This is a hard approach to take even if it is absolutely necessary.

I've long viewed Afghanistan as a problem with a major component in Pakistan that largely immune to our pressure given the line of supply through Pakistan to landlocked Afghanistan that we rely on.

And alternative line of supply through Iran is possible if Iran was more friendly than Pakistan. And a northern route pretty much relies on Russia, with all the problems that reliance creates.

Which is one reason I dismissed harping that Iraq "distracted" America from Afghanistan. Without the Iraq War being fought, we still couldn't have committed the resources to win in Afghanistan--as we showed after the 2009 surge orders--because of the "regional" nature of the Afghanistan problem.

I've long seen Pakistan as our black sheep problem child ally--a frenemy that both helps us fight jihadis in Afghanistan and sustains jihadis and their ideology. But frenemy is better than enemy. You deal with what you have and not what you wish you had.

So, yeah:

U.S. Defence Secretary Jim Mattis arrived in Islamabad on Monday to ask Pakistan's civilian and military leadership to do more to rein in militants accused of using the country as a base to carry out attacks in neighboring Afghanistan.

More than 100 days since President Donald Trump announced his South Asia strategy, however, U.S. officials and analysts say there has been only limited success and it is not clear how progress will be made.

While Iran is a problem in Afghanistan, Iran pales in comparison to the Pakistan problem of sanctuary and active assistance to jihadis.

I hope we can solve the Pakistan "regional" problem and finally put Afghanistan on a path to stability without a major American commitment of resources and attention. But if it was easy, Bush would have done it in his tenure.