How the Democrats are undercutting the war against al Qaeda
Arnaud de Borchgrave:
The way Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf reads the geopolitical tea leaves in the Middle East and South Asia is not to our liking -- but hardly surprising. Political Science 101 shows a U.S. Congress, controlled by the Democrats, not prepared to see the Iraq conflict through to victory -- i.e., a free democratic country able to sustain and defend itself without the U.S. military.The Democrats' failure of will in Iraq is haunting us in Afghanistan and more importantly in Pakistan. The problem is that Democrats cannot be trusted to maintain support for wars that endure more than a few years. That plays into our enemy's strategy that is based on raids and avoiding contact. It usually takes nine to ten years to defeat such a strategy but Democrats are not willing to give us much beyond three week without declaring a quagmire. Beyond three years and they are ready to be routed.
In fact, Mr. Musharraf, like the rest of the world, noted that Hillary Clinton, her party's early front-runner for the White House, who voted for the Iraqi war, now calls for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq to begin in 90 days. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid calls Iraq "the worst foreign policy mistake in American history" as senators prepare legislation that would revoke authorization for the war.
Mr. Musharraf can also see two-thirds of the American people oppose the war. The corollary is what happens in Afghanistan if the U.S. does not prevail in Iraq. He began hedging his bets with a controversial deal last Sept. 5 with tribal leaders in North Waziristan, a Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA) on the Afghan border. Tribal elders, who are Muslim fundamentalists and pro-Taliban, guaranteed Taliban guerrillas would be held in check and not allowed to cross into Afghanistan.
Skeptical, NATO and U.S. commanders in Afghanistan decided to give Mr. Musharraf the benefit of the doubt. Today, there is no doubt. Both North and South Waziristan are under virtual Taliban control and attacks into Afghanistan have trebled. Even more worrisome, Pakistan's all-powerful Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency received a wink and a nod from Mr. Musharraf to assist "moderate" Taliban elements in their campaign to wrest control from President Hamid Karzai in Kabul.
Mohammad Aurakzai, the Musharraf-appointed governor of Pakistan's Northwest Frontier province (NWFP), described Taliban as waging "a war of liberation" against foreign troops occupying Afghanistan. Local populations, he added, are "increasingly supporting Taliban."
Meanwhile, public and political support for a close U.S.-Pakistan partnership is rapidly evaporating in a Muslim country with the world's second-largest Muslim population -- and a nuclear arsenal. Pakistani extremists are making their views known with suicide bombings in major cities, including Islamabad, and rocket and mortar attacks on mosques.
By Mr. Musharraf's own reckoning, there are about 1.6 million people willing to push extremist agendas through acts of violence -- or 1 percent of the population.
Pakistan's 1,400-mile border with Afghanistan is more porous than the U.S.-Mexican frontier. The Pakistan army flew reporters to North Waziristan to meet with tribal elders last week, but they didn't show up.
In his testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Anthony H. Cordesman said, "No one can return from visiting the front in Afghanistan without realizing there is a very real risk that the U.S. and NATO could lose their war with al Qaeda, the Taliban and the other Islamist movements fighting the Afghan government. We are still winning tactically, but we may well be losing strategically."
Mr. Cordesman, the Center for Strategic and International Studies' renowned strategic thinker, added, "Winning will take more resources, more forces, more patience, and at least 5-10 more years of persistent effort."