I don’t want to. I just got back from DC and I am tired. Very tired. But I simply can’t listen to Obama prattle on about Pakistan yet again without providing a bit of a refresher for readers. Stick with me here.
Before the first American boot hit the ground, Pakistan was presented a choice: You will be an ally or you will be the enemy. Pakistan, under Musharraf, wisely chose to be an ally. We guided them in that direction because we wanted them to be an ally. We were not indifferent.
We smashed the Taliban and al-Qaeda and those that survived dispersed, some of the mainly Arab al-Qaeda fled into Iran, but most into Pakistan along with virtually all of the Pashtun Taliban.
We had a choice: Follow them across the Pakistan border – an invasion – or stop at the border and allow the new Pakistani allies to do the heavy lifting on their soil. To have followed in an invasion would have flipped an ally into an opposing army at war with us and driven them onto the side of al-Qaeda and the Taliban rather than standing – to any degree at all – against them.
What would you do as Commander in Chief in 2002? Drive headlong into nuclear-armed Pakistan and start a second war with a country just as much in al-Qaeda’s sights? Invade a country that has motivation to kill the same enemy based on its position as a fellow al-Qaeda target (please note the current insurgency run against Pakistan)? You would be a fool.
We stopped. We are still stopped. And, somewhere in Obama’s answer about what he would do differently, he is still stopped in his strategic vision. Yet he would “get bin Laden.” And if he “had bin Laden” in his sights, he would strike. Why didn’t anyone else at the Pentagon think of that yet?
The only thing different is that he would put more troops into Afghanistan shifted from Iraq. Not measurably more or less than McCain is saying (no quantity or force structures given, of course). Nor does he say what those forces would be doing differently than they are or have been doing.
This is a non sequitor of the first degree.
What he does talk about differently is the past, not anything going forward except bring up Iraq over and over again. This aspect of a much much larger and wider war – one which Obama fails to acknowledge in scope and scale – will be won on Pakistani soil. He brings up the past in that he would not have supported Musharraf, that he would not have given them billions in military aid. He would instead “support democracy” and give them non-military aid.
News Flash: Pakistan’s democracy is imploding apace, and non-military aid will not assist the Pakistani military in carrying out operations against the Taliban and al-Qaeda.
One can make the argument that going into Iraq was a bad decision.
But, right here, right now, acknowledge that this decision has nothing to do with the fact that al-Qaeda and the Taliban have set up shop in the tribal areas of Pakistan. Not unless one is going to say that as Commander in Chief he would have ordered a ground invasion of Pakistan.
He would have you believe he would have been doing something different and have bin Laden’s head on a pike. He would be sitting at the same border. But with more troops. This is different how with respect to this theater and the killing or capture of bin Laden, Zawahiri, et al in Pakistan?
Obama simply has done what he always does on issues of National Security. He has overplayed his hand in trying to play against the Iraq card. This from the man who first rolled out his plan for Iraq and Afghanistan. Then he went on a fact-finding mission to each this summer. Starting to get my point?