Monday, November 26, 2018

Look West for that Regional Solution

Trump's regional strategy for Afghanistan seeks to address sources of problems abroad that prevent us from defeating the Taliban in Afghanistan. Pakistan has been the focus of this approach.* Iran should be the focus.

I've long recognized that our military efforts in Afghanistan can only have a limited effect because the Taliban effectively have a sanctuary in Pakistan (which is why Osama bin Laden was hiding in Abbotbad until Obama ordered the raid that killed him there) that we can't fully address as long as Pakistan can cut our supply lines to landlocked Afghanistan if our pressure to behave gets too tough.

I kept hoping that Pakistan would come to its senses and stop supporting jihadis who are a threat to Pakistan, too. But that isn't happening. They are riding the tiger and can't/won't get off.

While there are military objectives in Afghanistan that we can achieve without a regional approach, if we want to stop the foreign accelerants that fuel the war we should look to Iran before we focus on Pakistan.

If we can get a friendly Iran that can be a supply line to Afghanistan and our forces there, we can afford to be tougher on Pakistan's support for jihadis who fuel the war in Afghanistan.

The line of supply exists and needs only a friendly Iran to be a secure line for our forces.

The freedom to pressure Pakistan to fight rather than support jihadis would finally be an option.

Solving Iran helps us solve Afghanistan which helps us solve Pakistan.

*And drawing Pakistan's arch rival India in for civilian development both helps Afghanistan and puts pressure on Pakistan to behave better to avoid the need for Indian aid.