Thursday, 26 February 2009

AFPAK

Via Terry Glavin, a 15 minute documentary on Swat Valley, Pakistan, from the New York Times, Class Dismissed in Swat Valley.

George Packer at The New Yorker, Wanted in Pakistan: Competent Counterinsurgency. Reacting to a report on American military advisers in Pakistan, he writes:
What’s worrying is the nature of the help American forces are giving: intelligence for Pakistani air strikes and commando operations aimed at killing or capturing Taliban and Qaeda leaders.

What’s wrong with this picture? Have a look at the Army and Marine Corps counterinsurgency field manual, written under the leadership of General Petraeus. What experts call the kill-capture model was exactly the wrong approach to take during the early years of the Iraq war. This kind of emphasis always ends up creating more new enemies than it can eliminate old ones. Only when the military changed its strategy to protecting the population did the war in Iraq take a turn for the better.
February 24th in the New York Times, Strikes Worsen Qaeda Threat, Pakistan Says. Related, February 9th at the SWJ, Crunch Time in Afghanistan-Pakistan by David Kilcullen, calling in part for a change in policy on air strikes in Pakistan. Also, Abu Muqawama Declares Jihad on Google Earth.

And another one from Abu Muqawama, A Question from the Readership. His questioning reader writes:
Why is it that for all the ‘we can’t win Afghanistan without Pakistan’ talk, it’s never vice versa? In the New York Times, you made an excellent case for considering what exactly victory means in Afghanistan. Right below you, Parag Khanna stressed that International Forces are only at best pushing the Taliban problem over the border, and that we must consider stabilizing Western Pakistan to stabilize Afghanistan. Put the two together, and the road to success, as it were, seems gloomy and difficult. But can the question be flipped? To stabilize Western Pakistan, do we need to stabilize Afghanistan? [...]

I remember in the dark days of 2006, leading up the announcement of the surge, the meme for Iraq became (and still is) that leaving could lead to regional war and ethnic conflict. That case never seems to be made with Afghanistan. Would leaving mean that the anti-Pakistan elements have more room to cooperate with drug traffickers, and more opportunity to take down what seems to be the most collapsible nuclear weapons state? I guess I’m wondering what your opinion would be on the effect on Pakistan if the mission does wind down in Afghanistan?
Still to read in the current issue of The New Yorker, The Back Channel, India and Pakistan’s Secret Kashmir Talks, by Steve Coll.

Earlier related post here.

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