Saturday, December 29, 2007

Taking our eyes off the prize

Thomas E. Ricks and Robin Wright, Washington Post:
... U.S. officials fear that a renewed campaign by Islamic militants aimed at the Pakistani government, and based along the border with Afghanistan, would complicate U.S. policy in the region by effectively merging the six-year-old war in Afghanistan with Pakistan's growing turbulence.

"The fates of Afghanistan and Pakistan are inextricably tied," said

J. Alexander Thier, a former United Nations official in Afghanistan who is now at the U.S. Institute for Peace.

U.S. military officers and other defense experts do not anticipate an immediate impact on U.S. operations in Afghanistan. But they are concerned that continued instability eventually will spill over and intensify the fighting in Afghanistan, which has spiked in recent months as the Taliban has strengthened and expanded its operations.

Unrest in Pakistan and increasing fuel prices have already boosted the cost of food in Afghanistan, making it more likely that hungry Afghans will be lured by payments from the Taliban to participate in attacks, a U.S. Army officer in Afghanistan said.

Associated Press: Transcript of alleged al-Qaida intercept.

A transcript released by the Pakistani government Friday of a purported conversation between militant leader Baitullah Mehsud, who is referred to as Emir Sahib, and another man identified as a Maulvi Sahib, or Mr. Cleric. The government alleges the intercepted conversation proves al-Qaida was behind the assassination of Benazir Bhutto.

LSB: Where is Osama? In Afghanistan. (We think, but then who really knows, as the information the public gets second-hand from intelligence sources has already been filtered and amended by Cheney et all.) If we knew that Osama and Saddam were not in cahoots - and we did, but it didn't fit Bush's plan to control the oil fields in Iraq for his petroleum buddies - then we might have put our energy and resources in Afghanistan and not involved ourselves in Iraq. Sure Iraq would still be led by a malicious dictator (not that he was then or now the only tyrant in the world, just the one with the oil fields), but a dictator who had control of his borders and who did NOT have nuclear weapons to threaten the U.S. By diverting our attention and resources to Iraq (and by continuing to do so), we failed to effectively fight the war in Afghanistan, and without a stable situation in Afghanistan we’ve effectively allowed the terrorist free reign in this part of the world. And where are the nukes we should worry about? In Pakistan. If the intercept of the al Qaeda operatives is true, then Bush needs to explain why we’ve been ignoring the terrorists (remember when he closed the investigation into Osama and moved military assets to Iraq?) and instead has been concentrating on an unwinnable civil war in Iraq. The assassination of Bhutto by al Qaeda and the instability we’re seeing in Pakistan is a result of taking our eyes off of the terrorists, and has resulted in a less secure America. This will be the Bush legacy. Now explain to me how the Democratic candidates don’t really understand the threats from al Qaeda?

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