Al Qaeda, the West's original impetus for invading Afghanistan, may
be "severely constrained" there and in Pakistan, the Wall Street
. The news comes after a weekend that included one of the war's bloodiest battles
, leaving eight Americans dead. America's continued involvement in Afghanistan, fervently debated
faces new stakes. At the heart of discussion: If we've succeeded in
reducing al Qaeda, should we now leave, or do groups like the Taliban
pose a sufficient threat to require staying?
- Stay. You Can't Fight Terrorism in a Failed State Fred Kagan and Kimberly Kagan argue
that a strategy pure counterterrorism (the "CT option") was destined to
fail without serious nation building. "In reality, any 'CT option' will
likely have to be executed against the backdrop of state collapse and
civil war in Afghanistan, spiraling extremism and loss of will in
Pakistan, and floods of refugees," they write. "These conditions would
benefit al Qaeda greatly by creating an expanding area of chaos, an
environment in which al Qaeda thrives. They would also make the
collection of intelligence and the accurate targeting of terrorists
- Shifting Af-Pak Politics Could Change Any Moment Andrew Sullivan urges patience. "If I were
to approach this from an ideological perspective or simply as a political
assessment of Obama's short-term domestic interests, I could probably come
to a swift conclusion. My Tory pessimism tells me that, after a war now as
long as Vietnam, this is a hopeless endeavour," he writes. "But
right now, hold on to see what emerges after the results of the imminent
Pakistani military campaign in Waziristan and after we know more about the
post-election position in Afghanistan.The time for a deep strategic call may not, in fact, be now. It will, for
sure, be soon. But in wars and politics, timing is everything."
Could U.S. Partisanship Save The Taliban? Thomas P.M. Barnett wonder
how Washington's partisan split could feed Afghanistan policy. "If I'm
the Republicans, I see a winning issue here in 2012: the 'good
war' reduced to just claiming a victory over al Qaeda won't play well
when the Taliban once again rule Afghanistan," he writes. "If I'm al
Qaeda, I feed
this assumption (dare I say 'myth' like the proverbial White House
'senior official'?) that Taliban rule does not equate to a sanctuary
for my group. Americans get turned around very quickly: they think one
thing today and another in eight months."
- Terrorists, Now More Creative, Still Flourish in Af-Pak Thomas Friedman warns,
"we may be tired of this 'war on terrorism,' but the bad guys are not.
They are getting even more 'creative.'" Friedman says one of the "many
fronts" against terrorism remains Afghanistan and Pakistan. "In the
long run, though, winning requires partnering with Arab and
Muslim societies to help them build thriving countries, integrated with
the world economy, where young people don't grow up in a soil poisoned
by religious extremists and choked by petro-dictators so they can never
realize their aspirations."
- Obama's Domestic Mandate Precludes Endless War E.J. Dionne worries
that President Obama's domestic goals, including health care reform and the
economy, could suffer dramatically as Afghanistan consumes his
attention and agenda. "Obama was elected not to escalate a war but to
end one," Dionne writes. "The truth is that Obama has only bad choices
in Afghanistan." Dionne notes that al Qaeda shrinks as the Taliban
grows. "The last thing [Obama] should do is rush into a new set of
Afghanistan that would come to define his presidency more than any
victory he wins on health care. Those most eager for a bigger war have
little interest in Obama's
quest for domestic reform."
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