Are Things Under Control?

I’m sorry I have to ask this but I’m beginning to wonder if there is anyone left  who understands what’s going on.

It all started with 9/11 and look where we are now.

First Afghanistan. Then when things were almost under control Iraq was sprung on an unsuspoecting world. Then  back to Afghanistan but it hasn’t stopped there. Now I wonder where this roadshow will end up. Is Pakistan the priority or Afghanistan?

If the idea is that Afghanistan will stabilise once Pakistan is bailed out , I am unable to understand the logic. Sure they are entwined to an extent. Even so, they are two seperate issues altogether and should be handled individually. One cannot run an operation by shifting focus every few weeks. More problems will arise.

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Will it work?

Obama’s AF-Pak review has come up with some fresh legs and ideas . There’s also some old wine in new bottles. Am not yet aware of all the details except for what has appeared in the local press and some fairly comprehensive coverage on TV channels.

Personally I like the idea of concentrating on creating a competent Afghan force to look after its own problems over time. This was the focus in Iraq too, didn’t seem to be very successful. Perhaps the lessons learnt there have been assimilated and there will be better results.

Holding Pakistan responsible and extracting commitments from it is, in my view, the key to the whole problem. The key to success in Afghanistan, and success means peace and stability to me, lies in one single question. Does Pakistan have the ability and the desire to take on the Taliban and the Al Qaida? It cannot get away anymore playing footsie with both sides.

Biden’s plan of giving them 1.5 bn a year for the next few years is the old wine stuff. Pakistan has made a flourishing business of taking US money to help it fight its battles. Starting from the ’60s,  its always been with one hand held out for doles.  Just how much of this money has been well spent is a moot question. Personally I think its throwing good money after bad. But the US is rich. I have my doubts this will change attitudes in Pakistan.

I am  not aware of what is planned regarding Afghanistan finding its political feet . The current administration started off with a lot of promise but gradually deteriorated and is now pretty dysfunctional. How is a healthy political environment going to be created and what form will it take?  Given the many tribes and fierce  tribal loyalties, this will not be easy. Yet it is also an imperative.

Watch the faces

In this NY Times article about Judd Gregg, Republican Senator, withdrawing from being considered for Commerce Secretary, take a look at the photo at the top.  The pic was taken on 3 Feb, when Gregg’s nomination was announced.  Niether Biden or Obama look too happy with the guy.  Their instincts are expressed clearly on their faces.  They turned out to be right.  He didn’t look too happy, either.  So now I guess he is.  🙂

— Heath