Monday, October 27, 2008

Hopeful signs from Pakistan?

The following editorial appeared in the National Post this past weekend, Saturday October 25, and rightly points the finger at Pakistan as the key to either a solution or a much greater war than Iraq turned out to be. My own personal concern is what the hell is going on with our British Allies. Not the troops on the ground; they've been fighting like the the Brits we know and love.

It's the general staff that concerns me. They insisted on treating their part of the Iraq war, Basrah, as if it was Northern Ireland in the waning days of the troubles. Consequently, Basrah became ruled by the thugs and murdering scum of the Mahdi Army and other competeing mafia stylye Militias.

Things got so bad in Basrah that Prime Minister Nouri Al- Maliki ordered his generals to draw up a plan of battle in March 2008, without American support and move in and take back control of the city and province. Despite what the early wire service reports had to say the operation was a success. During it Maliki refused to meet with the British commander in the area because he rightly blamed the British for the mess. He was outraged.

Now we have a so called British Brigadier-General saying the war in Afghanistan can't be won! Churchill must be turning in his grave. Monty would have had the man shot! Patton would have shot him himself! (Of course Patton would have shot Monty too if he had the chance. Hee Hee)

In any case, here is a well thought out piece from the National Post outlining the situation we, as allies, face in the very near future. What the writer fails to put into the equation is an Obama Presidency. Give us strength. (Joe Biden says we'll need it).

National Post Editorial Staff, October 25, 2008

The outcome of the war in Afghanistan will be determined as much in the madrassas, safe houses and training camps of Pakistan's north-western provinces as on the roadsides and battlegrounds of Afghanistan itself. The Taliban were an early-1990s creation of fundamentalist elements within the Pakistani secret service-- the ISI -- and they continue to be a force inside Afghanistan today only because they are constantly funded, resupplied and sent new recruits through Pakistan.

So it was encouraging to learn this week that the new Pakistani government has undertaken two new campaigns to eliminate Taliban activity on its soil. Pakistani military commanders have begun enlisting the help of local tribal militias, or lashkars, to battle pockets of Taliban within Pakistan's largely lawless territories. And the Pakistani military has accepted nearly three dozen U. S. special forces trainers to help improve the effectiveness of their own counterterrorist forces.

Both, admittedly, are but small first steps. But at least they are steps in the right direction.
During the past month, many Western leaders have doubted out loud our chances of winning the war against Taliban insurgency outright.

Earlier this month, the commander of British forces in Afghanistan, Brigadier-General Mark Carleton-Smith, told London's Sunday Times that NATO troops may have to withdraw before the insurgents are entirely defeated. "We're not going to win this war," he said. "It's about reducing it to a manageable level of insurgency that's not a strategic threat and can be managed by the Afghan army."

In recommending that NATO nations sit down with the Taliban at the negotiating table, United Nations special envoy to Afghanistan Kai Eide, insisted, "We all know that we cannot win it militarily. It has to be won through political means." Even our own Prime Minister Stephen Harper admitted during the recent election campaign that it was an "unrealistic objective" for Canada and its allies to attempt to defeat the insurgency "in a few short years."
There are several reasons for NATO's inability to dispatch the Taliban, among them the failure of NATO nations -- beyond Canada, the United States, Britain and Australia -- to commit significant forces to combat.

The biggest reason, though, is likely the material support our enemies get from Pakistan, and even from radical Islamic elements with the Pakistani government. When Pervez Musharraf was president, despite his professed devotion to combating terrorism, there were always suspicions that he was wilfully blind to the aid pouring into the Taliban through his nation. Our troops have occasionally witnessed Pakistani agents and border guards loading Taliban trucks or cheering them on as they drive over the Pakistan border and into Afghanistan.

Since General Musharraf resigned earlier this year, the situation in the tribal regions has worsened, and there have emerged hints that the mood in Islamabad has changed. In many foothills regions along Pakistan's western border with Afghanistan, the Taliban are the de facto government, levying taxes, setting up bases and defending supply lines. They even issue business permits and run a rough sort of court system. The challenge to Pakistan's national integrity is so great that the country's government has felt compelled to respond with more than token force.

The Pakistani army is afraid to operate in these areas, so the new national government has recently begun using a tactic that proved highly successful in Iraq, especially in the once Qaeda-dominated western desert region of the country. It now partners with local militias to root out the Taliban and provide a modicum of civil order.

This week, it was also announced that American special forces advisors have been invited by the Pakistanis to help train their counterinsurgency troops. While the Americans have come in small numbers and will be in the country no more than few weeks, under Gen. Musharraf, they could never get invited at all.

Canadians will have to withdraw from Afghanistan at some point, perhaps even before the Taliban have been eliminated. There is a greater chance of the Afghan army and police being able to take over effectively at that point if Pakistan is no longer a sheltering friend for the Taliban.

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