Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Is Obama's Recipe for Afghanistan Credible?

Senator Barack Obama calls Afghanistan the "central front in the war on terror" and advocates reinforcing American military presence there. The senator has talked about expanding the war into Pakistan's tribal areas by saying "If we have actionable intelligence about high-level Al-Qaeda targets, we must act if Pakistan will not or can not." Mr. Obama has also called for a $1b increase in non-military aid for the Afghan government, a government that has already received $15b in non-military aid with not much to show for it. Afghanistan ranks 172 on a list of 179 nations in Transparency International's corruption index.

Rory Stewart, a former British diplomat and current head of an NGO in Afghanistan, disagrees with Mr. Obama's assessment of the situation and his prescription for improving it. Writing in the latest issue of Time Magazine, Mr. Stewart says ," But just because Afghanistan has problems that need to be solved does not mean that the West can solve them all. My experience suggests that those pushing for an expansion of our military presence there are wrong. We don't need bold new plans and billions more in aid. Instead, we need less investment — but a greater focus on what we know how to do."

Mr. Stewart proposes that the West's efforts in nation-building, governance and counternarcotics should be smaller and more creative. He adds, "A smarter strategy would focus on two elements: more effective aid and a more limited military objective. We should target development assistance in provinces where we have a track record of success. Our investment goes further in stable and welcoming places like Hazarajat than it can in hostile, insurgency-dominated areas like Kandahar and Helmand, where we have to spend millions on security and the locals do not contribute to the project and will not sustain it after our departure. We should focus on meeting the Afghan government's request for more investment in agricultural irrigation, energy and roads. And we should increase our support to the most effective departments, such as education, health and rural development; they are good for the reputation of the Afghan state and the West. Creating more educated, healthier women and men and better transport, communications and electrical infrastructure may be only part of the story, but they are essential for Afghanistan's economic future."

Another commentator Brian Cloughly accuses Obama of proposing to continue the failed Bush policies in Afghanistan. He writes for the Reuters blog as follows: "So Senator Obama would continue Bush policy to send US troops and strike aircraft and missile-firing drones (”We need more Predator drones on the Afghan border region,” he declared) to attack US-identified targets in the territory of a friendly nation. He says “We must expect more of the Pakistani government”; but how much more does he want? His country has already killed scores of civilians in Pakistan in the past two years by having drone-launched missiles blast villages in which US-recruited Pushtun-origin agents, Afghan and Pakistan citizens, picked out what Senator Obama calls “high level terrorist targets” and sent information to their controllers in Bagram or Islamabad (and elsewhere that I won’t mention) by their amazingly technically advanced communications devices. But it is ironic, as well as morally appalling, that the villagers in Pakistan who were killed in the Predator-guided missile attacks - these slaughtered women and children - died because the target information that led to their massacre was incorrect. (And unfortunately for these pawns of the US, who were well-paid and inserted by ingenious means into the tribal areas on both sides of the border, many were identified and killed in the most disgusting manner. But their families in the US and elsewhere have been fairly generously recompensed, which may be some consolation.)"

On Mr. Obama's plans to stop infiltration from Pakistan, Mr. Cloughly writes: "But if America can’t secure its own border with Mexico, in spite of annual expenditure of billions of dollars in security measures, how can it expect Pakistan to seal its frontier with Afghanistan? Half a million illegal immigrants cross from Mexico into the US each year, including criminals of all natures, and, no doubt, some terrorists intent on mayhem in America. Yet Washington - and Senator Obama - make the demand that Pakistan stop all the militants and drug smugglers who want to move to and from their areas of operation."


Another commentator and author of "The Duel: Pakistan on the Flight Path of American Power", Tariq Ali, argues that the US presence in Afghanistan is designed for more than just fighting the "war on terror". He writes: "Jaap Scheffer, Nato's secretary-general, told the Brookings Institution in February that the continuing occupation had less to do with good governance than with the desire to site permanent military bases (and nuclear missiles?) in a country that borders China, Iran and Central Asia. Contributors to the organization's house magazine, Nato Review, have argued that the preservation of Western hegemony in the Asia-Pacific region requires a permanent military presence. Whatever the justifications or fantasies, the occupation cannot last, since those who live under it feel they have no option but to back those trying to resist, especially in a part of the world where the culture of revenge is strong."

Tariq Ali criticizes Ahmad Rashid, the well-known author and strong advocate for use of overwhelming military force in Afghanistan and Pakistan against the insurgents. Ali says, "Rashid was a firm supporter of the Soviet intervention, although he is coy about this in his book (Descent into Chaos). He shouldn't be. It reveals a certain consistency. Afghanistan, he thinks, can be transformed only through war and occupation by civilized empires. This line of argument avoids the need to concentrate on an exit strategy. Civilian casualties in Afghanistan are high and in the last two months more US and British soldiers have died here than in Iraq."

As the US presidential candidate articulates his positions on Iraq and Afghanistan, he is accused of being "US-centric" by making proposals more for domestic consumption than a serious effort to resolve the underlying issues. In words, Obama is not being completely honest with the American electorate or their international audience. Mr. Cloughly puts it as follows: "His (Obama's) speechwriters concentrate only on the sharp, US-centric aspects of international affairs. They care nothing about the sacrifices of Pakistan in this US-created conflict. He doesn’t know that Pakistan has been host to millions of Afghan refugees for decades. (No other country in the world has been forced to look after so many refugees for so long - a horrible global record, which is hardly the fault of Pakistan.)"

Here's a video clip of Obama's threat and Pakistan's response:

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Checkout Hamid Mir's report to PM,
In short, guys are coming from all places on planet earth to play first person shooter game with NATO by airliners. My Goodness Lord!

TEXT OF HAMID MIR’S REPORT

Monday, July 21, 2008

By Hamid Mir

ISLAMABAD: In a disturbing report presented to Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, days before he travels to the United States, the latest figure of foreign fighters present in the tribal areas of Pakistan is estimated to be more than 8,000 but the government is reluctant to officially confirm this number.

At a special cabinet briefing on Sunday in which Asif Ali Zardari was also present, besides the prime minister and Adviser to the Interior Ministry Rehman Malik, said the government will have to use force if the process of dialogue does not produce the results but his view was opposed by the minister from FATA Hamidullah Jan.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and his key ministers will visit Peshawar on Monday for a special meeting, which could decide the launching of a major operation against foreign fighters in Fata, Interior Ministry Adviser Rehman Malik told The News on Sunday.

It would be a short and effective operation like the one in Bara recently, officials told The News. Information Minister Sherry Rehman confirmed the briefing to The News without giving any number for the foreign fighters but expressed the determination of the government to pull them out. Mr Zardari listened to the briefing without making any comment.

Although officially the government of Pakistan accepts that foreign fighters are present, their unusually large number has set alarm bells ringing in Islamabad and possibly in other capitals as well. Interior Adviser Rehman Malik, when pressed by this correspondent, however, conceded that the number of foreign fighters was about 1,000.

According to the report presented to the PM, a majority of these foreign fighters are living in North and South Waziristan and Bajaur. Prime Minister Gilani has also been informed that some foreign intelligence agencies are pushing their agents into the Pakistani tribal areas from Afghanistan under the cover of Taliban and Al-Qaeda fighters. These under-cover agents are trying to instigate the local population to fight against Pakistani forces as part of a “great game” in the region.

Taliban sources on the other hand are not ready to confirm that they are hosting thousands of foreign fighters in their areas. They claim that the number of foreigners is just a few hundred and most of them are living in the tribal areas from the time when the American CIA and Pakistani ISI encouraged them to come and fight against the Soviet Union.

Independent sources in both the Pakistani tribal areas and eastern Afghanistan have, however, claimed that number of foreign fighters started increasing in 2007. The biggest attraction for these young militant guests from the Middle East, Central Asia and Europe was the increase in the number of US troops in Afghanistan. A lot of young Muslims are coming to Afghanistan to fight the US troops who, they believe, have come to Afghanistan not to fight terrorism but to occupy more Muslim lands, including Pakistan, and to plunder their
resources.

According to some Afghan sources, foreign fighters are welcomed not only in the Pakistani tribal areas but also in eastern, southern and western Afghanistan. The rising number of civilian causalities has created lot of hatred and resentment against foreign security forces in these Afghan and Pakistani areas. Angry locals believe that the foreign fighters are coming to avenge these killings.

A few years ago, Pakistan was the safest route for foreign fighters to enter into Afghanistan but now they rarely use this old route. Most of them come as tourists and traders directly from Dushanbe, Baku, Istanbul, Dubai, Sharjah, Delhi and Frankfurt to Kabul by different airlines. Many Afghans in Kabul, Karachi, Dubai and Delhi are working for them as travel agents. It is also very easy to make a new Afghan passport for them in Kabul.

Two American-born Al-Qaeda operators Adam Gadhan alias Azzam al Amriki and Abu Ahmad alias Amir Butt are known in the Afghan Kunar province for making travel arrangements of these young and educated Muslims from the US, UK, France, Germany, Belgium, Spain, Canada and Australia. Most of these Western Muslims tell their Afghan and Pakistani hosts that they will take not only their revenge from the “occupying forces” but they will also take the revenge for the sacreligious cartoons of their prophet from Western governments who encourage such cartoonists in the name of freedom of expression.

Some of these foreigners have married into the tribes of Kunar, Nuristan, North Waziristan and South Waziristan. German-born Turkish fighter Saad Abu Furqan is also known in the Pakistani tribal areas for attracting young Turks to organise Jihad against what he calls the “crusaders” in Afghanistan. A very well known Taliban leader Ustad Dawood is working as coordinator between these foreign fighters and locals from Afghan Paktika province. Dawood speaks English and Arabic fluently.

A source who knows Ustad Dawood revealed that Al-Qaeda and Taliban are now slowly moving foreign fighters to areas round Kabul for a big attack on the Afghan capital Kabul in near future. Some of the foreign fighters have already entered Kabul as vendors and shopkeepers and provide a lot of intelligence to their commanders.

Ustad Dawood has also established contacts with his old friends in the Northern Alliance and is working with Jalaluddin Haqqani for an alliance between the Taliban, some Northern Alliance groups and the Hizb-e-Islami to jointly fight the foreign forces in Afghanistan.

An independent source said many experienced and hardened Al-Qaeda fighters were coming from Iraq to Afghanistan via Iran by road.These fighters enter the Afghan provinces of Herat and Balkh from Iran illegally.

The Nato forces are aware of this infiltration from Iran and have started bombing civilian vehicles moving close to the Iranian border indiscriminately. The bombing killed nine Afghan policemen in southwest Farah province on July 20 and seven civilians on July 17. Nato was also accused of killing more than 50 civilians in the Shindand area of Herat on July 17.

It is also learnt that many fighters from Saudi Arabia,Yemen, Egypt, Kuwait, UAE, Qatar, Jordan, Bahrain, Libya, Iraq, Syria and some from India and Bangladesh prefer to stay in the warmer areas of southern Afghanistan which is a safe haven for the Taliban. The fighters from Morocco, Algeria, Chechnya, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Azerbaijan and from western countries like to stay in the eastern Afghanistan provinces of Kunar, Nuristan, Paktia, Paktika, Khost and Pakistani tribal areas bordering these areas.

Sources say that fighters from African countries are not encouraged to come to Afghanistan or Pakistan as Al-Qaeda wants them to go to Darfur in Sudan or Iraq. The foreign fighters in the Pakistani tribal areas and Afghanistan are aware about the presence of some undercover agents in their ranks. Recently, they arrested two Uzbeks, three Afghans and one Pakistani for spying and executed them in North and South Waziristan when they confessed during interrogation that they were working for the CIA and ISI.

Foreign fighters avoid getting in touch with non-tribal Pakistani fighters because they suspect them of having links with Pakistani intelligence. Pakistani officials are putting pressure on the Taliban leadership not to encourage foreigners to cross the border into Afghanistan to fight US and Nato troops. The Taliban are also asking them to put down their guns and register themselves with the local political administration.

While some Taliban leaders in North Waziristan have started discouraging foreigners from crossing the border, some in South Waziristan are not ready to listen to the Pakistani government. Their defiance has created a lot of confusion and resentment in Islamabad because the Pakistan government is already under lot of pressure to use heavy force against the Taliban.

Defiant Taliban leaders are of the view that it is the right of every Muslim to join the Jihad against “crusaders” in Afghanistan and they will not ask any foreigner to leave their area or stop fighting in Iraq or Afghanistan. A Taliban leader said: “We are not against all the Jews and Christians, but we are against crusaders and Zionists, who should leave Afghanistan first and then we will ask our foreign Muslim brothers to leave the area but if the Pakistani rulers want to fight with us, we are ready.”

Riaz Haq said...

Anoymous:
Hamid Mir reports that "Most of them (foreign jihadis) come as tourists and traders directly from Dushanbe, Baku, Istanbul, Dubai, Sharjah, Delhi and Frankfurt to Kabul by different airlines."

There's a report in Christian Science Monitor that says Taliban are a much bigger threat than foreigners: "Despite the apparently growing presence of imported fighters, a resurgent Taliban controlling a growing swath of Afghan territory is still the most significant factor in Afghanistan's mounting instability, some analysts say. "Foreign fighters do make a difference, and it's important to note their increase and the role they play, particularly in correlation to Al Qaeda," says Anthony Cordesman, a prominent expert on the Iraq and Afghanistan war efforts at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. "On the other hand, characterizing the problem in Afghanistan as driven by foreign fighters does not track with evidence from the ground."

So, it appears that the combined threat is growing and posing a serious challenge to US, NATO, Kabul and Islamabad. It seems that the foreign fighters are attracted to Afghanistan to attack mainly the American troops. It seems that the growing presence of Americans is a magnet for the Al-Qaeda jihadists and making the situation worse in Afghanistan and the entire region. So the Obama recipe of more troops is likely to exacerbate the situation in the near term.

But, even if you dislodge and eliminate the foreigners from the equation, the Taliban are still going to be there, as they have local roots and growing support from the population because of lack of results from US/NATO occupation in terms of security and reconstruction. The locals are also angered by US/NATO strikes killing their innocent civilian comrades. The main battle that the US/NATO are losing is the battle for the hearts and minds of the Pushtuns. And that is THE biggest problem that needs to be addressed.

Riaz Haq said...

Writing an Op Ed in the Wall Street Journal, Ms. Ann Malowe argues against an Iraq-style "surge" in Afghanistan.
She goes on to say: "The Afghan insurgency has no broad popular base and doesn't mirror an obvious religious or ethnic fault line. It is also far more linked with Pakistani support than the Iraqi insurgency or militias were with Iran. Afghanistan needs a better president, judiciary and police force -- and a Pakistani government that is not playing footsie with the Taliban."

She doesen't seem to know much about Afghanistan's sectarian and ethnic fault lines. The insurgency is mainly driven by the ethnic Pushtuns who are all Wahabi sunnis, sympathized by their ethic brethren across the border in Pakistan. The Pushtuns are mortal enemies of Tajiks, Uzbeks and Shias who were suppressed by the Taliban when they ruled Afghanistan. Recently, the Taliban blockaded shia areas in Pakistan's northern areas. The problem needs to be dealt with understanding this context.

Anonymous said...

Here we go again or should i say another one bites the dust .Barack obama ,just to win the white house is tryin to kiss the ass of the big brothers in ISREAL.The U.S media has been portraying him as having a soft stance towards muslims which scares the JEWISH lobby in ISREAL as well as at home in the states so in order to win their approval barack obama is using the same old tactics that has been used before by the presodents of U.S.The real question is once he becomes president then what will he do that is what has been worrying the JEWS.

Anonymous said...

They can do all they want but every one knows fighting will not solve the problem ever .In the end they will have to talk but that means changing their stance on no talking with terrosist which is pretty much every one who questions the authoroty these days. I think both the U.S govrnment and the Taliban need to easy up on their demands and negotiate. The sooner they realize that in the end thats what they will have to do the better. I think the reason why U.S doesnt wanna negotiate is because they know one of the demands will be the U.S support for ISREAL and under no circumstance will THE u.s ever ease up on their one sided support of ISREAL so until they realize that in the end isreal will have to give up the lands it took from the pelistenians this war will go on .You can't talk about freedom while you knowingly support the occupation of muslim lands in kashmir, chechnya, iraq, afghanistan and pelistine.That is the core of the problem .I hope there is one smart guy in all these think tankers all over the world who realizes that untill these muslim lands are free there will always be jihadis .

Riaz Haq said...

"untill these muslim lands are free there will always be jihadis ." While I agree that the injustices in Palestine, Kashmir, Chechnya, Iraq, Afghanistan and other places fuel anger and help Al-Qaeda and Taliban recruit jihadis, I believe that there will still be jihadis if all of these problems were to magically disappear. I think Al-Qaeda and Taliban aim to dominate the world and impose their extreme interpretation of the Shariah. They simply use the injustices as a tactic to recruit to move toward their goal.

Anonymous said...

Israeli lobby cliche is sickening. Americans,irrespective of noises jewish lobbies make, does things in its own nation interests and for a very long time more or less congruent with strategic interests of the Israelis. Another factor might be that its a stabilizing factor in the middle-east with vibrant democracy and qualitative military & intelligence capabilities.Islam has escaped reforms unlike other religions which either reformed or forked out of orthodox traditions in light of changing realities and circumstances or simply bite dust. Religious concepts are always symbolic and its core essence only should be imbibed across ages. Attempts to superficially recreate 1400year old customs in a hollow sado-masochistic manner disguised as 'spirituality and values' are dangerous. This creates a cognitive dissonance and inability to come to terms with tools of modernity and liberalism thereby creating internal conflicts,stress and insecurity that practitioners projects outwards towards fellow practitioners as well as to those outside that ambit in a aggravated manner.
Abt injustices in Kashmir, why there is a selective amnesia about ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Pandits and wat is left of them living in refugee camps in horrible conditions.

Riaz Haq said...

"Israeli lobby cliche is sickening. Americans,irrespective of noises jewish lobbies make, does things in its own nation ....". I think you are repeating the rhetoric of the Israel lobby. I would suggest some more reading and research for you on this subject. For example, read The Israel Lobby by John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, professors at Harvard who say "the thrust of US policy in the region (Middle East) derives almost entirely from domestic politics, and especially the activities of the ‘Israel Lobby’. Other special-interest groups have managed to skew foreign policy, but no lobby has managed to divert it as far from what the national interest would suggest, while simultaneously convincing Americans that US interests and those of the other country – in this case, Israel – are essentially identical.

Also read Michael Scheuer, the Chief of Bin Laden unit in CIA. He has condensed his learning in two books published last year. The first is titled "Imperial Hubris" and the the most recent one is "Marching Toward Hell". In both of these books, he rejects the common refrain heard in the United States that "Al-Qaeda hates us because we stand for freedom and democracy". Instead, he argues that it is our interventionist policies around the world that motivate our enemies to be so determined to commit violence against our interests. He singles out our policies in the Middle East and our unqualified support for Israel as the biggest obstacles to a peaceful coexistence between Islam and the West. Among the prominent US political elite, all of the mainstream parties and leaders disagree with Scheuer's message. The only two people that show any agreement with Scheuer are Congressman Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul, who ran unsuccessfully in the presidential primaries.
As far as the persecution of pandits is concerned, I agree that it's wrong and condemnable. But it can not be used to justify the Indian military's persecution of the rest of Kashmiris. India has horrible human rights record in Kashmir and it's been condemned by major international human rights groups.

I'd humbly suggest that we not deny the injustices done to people in Palestine or Kashmir, but let's not use these injustices to commit even more injustices and violence in the name of any religion or nationality.

John Maszka said...

Senator Obama is a dangerous man. Moving the war on terror to Pakistan could have disastrous consequences on both the political stability in the region, and in the broader balance of power. Scholars such as Richard Betts accurately point out that beyond Iran or North Korea, “Pakistan may harbor the greatest potential danger of all.” With the current instability in Pakistan, Betts points to the danger that a pro-Taliban government would pose in a nuclear Pakistan. This is no minor point to be made. While the Shi’a in Iran are highly unlikely to proliferate WMD to their Sunni enemies, the Pakistanis harbor no such enmity toward Sunni terrorist organizations. Should a pro-Taliban or other similar type of government come to power in Pakistan, Al-Qaeda’s chances of gaining access to nuclear weapons would dramatically increase overnight.

There are, of course, two sides to every argument; and this argument is no exception. On the one hand, some insist that American forces are needed in order to maintain political stability and to prevent such a government from rising to power. On the other hand, there are those who believe that a deliberate attack against Pakistan’s state sovereignty will only further enrage its radical population, and serve to radicalize its moderates. I offer the following in support of this latter argument:

Pakistan has approximately 160 million people; better than half of the population of the entire Arab world. Pakistan also has some of the deepest underlying ethnic fissures in the region, which could lead to long-term disintegration of the state if exacerbated. Even with an impressive growth in GDP (second only to China in all of Asia), it could be decades before wide-spread poverty is alleviated and a stable middle class is established in Pakistan.

Furthermore, the absence of a deeply embedded democratic system in Pakistan presents perhaps the greatest danger to stability. In this country, upon which the facade of democracy has been thrust by outside forces and the current regime came to power by coup, the army fulfills the role of “referee within the political boxing ring.” However, this referee demonstrates a “strong personal interest in the outcome of many of the fights and a strong tendency to make up the rules as he goes along.” The Pakistani army “also has a long record of either joining in the fight on one side or the other, or clubbing both boxers to the ground and taking the prize himself” (Lieven, 2006:43).

Pakistan’s army is also unusually large. Thathiah Ravi (2006:119, 121) observes that the army has “outgrown its watchdog role to become the master of this nation state.” Ravi attributes America’s less than dependable alliance with Pakistan to the nature of its army. “Occasionally, it perceives the Pakistan Army as an inescapable ally and at other times as a threat to regional peace and [a] non-proliferation regime.” According to Ravi, India and Afghanistan blame the conflict in Kashmir and the Durand line on the Pakistan Army, accusing it of “inciting, abetting and encouraging terrorism from its soil.” Ravi also blames the “flagrant violations in nuclear proliferation by Pakistan, both as an originator and as a conduit for China and North Korea” on the Pakistan Army, because of its support for terrorists.

The point to be made is that the stability of Pakistan depends upon maintaining the delicate balance of power both within the state of Pakistan, and in the broader region. Pakistan is not an island, it has alliances and enemies. Moving American troops into Pakistan will no doubt not only serve to radicalize its population and fuel the popular call for Jihad, it could also spark a proxy war with China that could have long-lasting economic repercussions. Focusing on the more immediate impact American troops would have on the Pakistani population; let’s consider a few past encounters:

On January 13, 2006, the United States launched a missile strike on the village of Damadola, Pakistan. Rather than kill the targeted Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda’s deputy leader, the strike instead slaughtered 17 locals. This only served to further weaken the Musharraf government and further destabilize the entire area. In a nuclear state like Pakistan, this was not only unfortunate, it was outright stupid.

On October 30, 2006, the Pakistani military, under pressure from the US, attacked a madrassah in the Northwest Frontier province in Pakistan. Immediately following the attack, local residents, convinced that the US military was behind the attack, burned American flags and effigies of President Bush, and shouted “Death to America!” Outraged over an attack on school children, the local residents viewed the attack as an assault against Islam.
On November 7, 2006, a suicide bomber retaliated. Further outrage ensued when President Bush extended his condolences to the families of the victims of the suicide attack, and President Musharraf did the same, adding that terrorism will be eliminated “with an iron hand.” The point to be driven home is that the attack on the madrassah was kept as quiet as possible, while the suicide bombing was publicized as a tragedy, and one more reason to maintain the war on terror.

Last year trouble escalated when the Pakistani government laid siege to the Red Mosque and more than 100 people were killed. “Even before his soldiers had overrun the Lal Masjid ... the retaliations began.” Suicide attacks originating from both Afghan Taliban and Pakistani tribal militants targeted military convoys and a police recruiting center. Guerrilla attacks that demonstrated a shocking degree of organization and speed-not to mention strategic cunning revealed that they were orchestrated by none other than al-Qaeda’s number two man, Ayman Al-Zawahiri; a fact confirmed by Pakistani and Taliban officials. One such attack occurred on July 15, 2007, when a suicide bomber killed 24 Pakistani troops and injured some 30 others in the village of Daznaray (20 miles to the north of Miran Shah, in North Waziristan). Musharraf ordered thousands of troops into the region to attempt to restore order. But radical groups swore to retaliate against the government for its siege of the mosque and its cooperation with the United States.

A July 2007 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) concludes that “al Qaeda is resurgent in Pakistan- and more centrally organized than it has been at any time since 9/11.” The NIE reports that al-Qaeda now enjoys sanctuary in Bajaur and North Waziristan, from which they operate “a complex command, control, training and recruitment base” with an “intact hierarchy of top leadership and operational lieutenants.”

In September 2006 Musharraf signed a peace deal with Pashtun tribal elders in North Waziristan. The deal gave pro-Taliban militants full control of security in the area. Al Qaeda provides funding, training and ideological inspiration, while Afghan Taliban and Pakistani Tribal leaders supply the manpower. These forces are so strong that last year Musharraf sent well over 100,000 trained Pakistani soldiers against them, but they were not able to prevail against them.

The question remains, what does America do when Pakistan no longer has a Musharraf to bridge the gap? While Musharraf claims that President Bush has assured him of Pakistan’s sovereignty, Senator Obama obviously has no intention of honoring such an assurance. As it is, the Pakistanis do just enough to avoid jeopardizing U.S. support. Musharraf, who is caught between Pakistan’s dependence on American aid and loyalty to the Pakistani people, denies being George Bush’s hand-puppet. Musharraf insists that he is “200 percent certain” that the United States will not unilaterally decide to attack terrorists on Pakistani soil. What happens when we begin to do just that?