In the Arena

The Real War

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OK, let me get this straight: An Islamic country with a shaky government, which possesses nuclear weapons, and is harboring the terrorists who hatched the 9/11 plot, and whose intelligence service is now accused of having tried to assassinate the leader of its neighbor…and they’re our ally?

It seems clear that the Pakistani government’s attempt to appease the Al Qaeda/ Taliban-supporting tribes in the FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas) bordering Afghanistan is an abject failure. This slaughter is only the latest evidence of the price we have paid for diverting attention from the real war against Al Qaeda. In fact, I’ve talked with covert U.S. intelligence assets who were moved to Iraq from the Pakistan border area in 2006 because the situation was deteriorating so badly in Bush’s War of Choice. The good news is, according to a recently retired military official, that a subtle change of policy has taken place in the past few weeks: the U.S. has decided that it will take modulated cross-border action to prevent the terrorists from using Pakistan as a safe haven.
This is precisely what John McCain criticized Barack Obama for proposing. And it’s something that my contentious friends over at Commentary mention very infrequently compared to their attempts to rationalize the war in Iraq and their drumbeat for war with Iran. Pakistan is clearly the most difficult, delicate military/diplomatic problem we now face. It will take a combination of intense diplomatic pressure backed by the judicious use of military action–not occupation, but action–to deal with this situation. It’s time to return our attention to the War of Necessity, against those who attacked us in 2001.