Click here to check the ultimate guide to learn how to leverage your PC and internet to make money online.
The Washington Independent
The Washington Independent

Is Containing Al-Qaeda the Real Endgame in Afghanistan-Pakistan?

Dedicated readers know that since March I’ve been trying to determine how the Obama administration conceives of the actual endgame in Afghanistan-Pakistan --

Daisy-Mae Schmitt
News
Last updated: Jul 31, 2020 | Dec 04, 2009

Dedicated readers know that since March I’ve been trying to determine how the Obama administration conceives of the actual endgame in Afghanistan-Pakistan — that is, the point at which we can say the mission is successful. The whole strategy is geared around the elimination of al-Qaeda’s safe havens in Pakistan and strategic depth in Afghanistan. But the path out of Afghanistan articulated by the Obama administration, and reiterated at West Point on Tuesday, is through a transition to overwatch with the Afghan security forces. So, once again: could we be transitioning to Afghan security control in the future, and sending U.S. and NATO forces home, while the al-Qaeda safe havens in Pakistan still exist?

Gen. David Petraeus, commander of U.S. military forces in the Middle East and South Asia, got asked a modified version of this question by NPR’s Steve Inskeep this morning: “Can you win so long as there are safe havens outside of Afghanistan for the people you’re fighting?” Petraeus responded:

Depends how large the safe havens and sanctuaries are, obviously. And again, the objective is to see those whittled down on either side of the border. Again, there has to be a continued level of pressure and progress in that regard.

It’s a shame that Inskeep moved on to a different line of questioning. Because this sounds very much like Petraeus acknowledging that the U.S. cannot and will not kill every last al-Qaeda operative. What it can do, along with its Pakistani partners — and *can’t *do without them — is degrade al-Qaeda-central’s safe haven and harass it militarily when possible, so that it can’t export the extremism that senior officials continue to see emanating from the region. There’s a word for that: containment.

“Containment” in the post-9/11 age has acquired an unfortunate pejorative connotation. The Bush administration contrasted “containment” with “victory,” and repeatedly said that it was impossible to contain stateless terrorist networks. In doing so, George W. Bush ended up overtaxing American power without ever articulating how “victory” could be achieved; accordingly, it never was. But al-Qaeda’s senior leadership has proven over the past eight years that it does seek to hold territory, operating from somewhere. Reducing its ability to branch out from that place effectively limits the threat it poses, and gives U.S. and allied forces a place to respond if the cordon proves to be porous.

But is this actually how the Obama administration conceives of how the endgame is achieved — which is to say, an endgame that looks more like long-term vigilance and partnership with Afghanistan and Pakistan? When I posed that question in March to Denis McDonough, one of the most influential of Obama’s advisers, that seemed to be his answer. But the actual answer still remains unarticulated — by President Obama, by his critics, and by the entire constellation of U.S. foreign-policy analysts. And if containment is the answer, does the U.S. transition to Afghan security forces beginning in 2011 mean subcontracting out the military edge of containment to the Afghans?

Daisy-Mae Schmitt | Daisy-Mae is obsessed with inventing new ways to create awesome content that's absurdly useful and successful, with over ten years of editorial and inbound marketing experience. She also serves as a reporter, strategist, interviewer, mentor, and therapist for in-house contributors and clients.

Related

Giffords shooting leads nation to introspection and political finger wagging

In the wake of the shooting in Arizona this weekend that critically injured Rep.

EPA Administrator Addresses Concerns About Oil Spill Waste Management

At a hearing of the national oil spill commission today, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson addressed concerns about waste disposal from

E-Verify Mandate Begins Today

The Obama administration today begins implementation of a new mandate to require all federal contractors to check the legal status of their employees to confirm

EPA administrator defends allowing Florida to write its own water pollution rules

The EPA seal (Pic via sentryjournal.com) The Environmental Protection Agency has come under fire for its decision to allow the state of Florida to write its own water pollution rules (known as “numeric nutrient criteria”). EPA Regional Administrator Gwendolyn Keyes Fleming is now firing back, writing that the Agency commends the state Department of Environmental Protection for its draft of a proposed standard. A host of environmental groups filed suit in 2008, seeking to compel the EPA to implement a strict set of water pollution standards in Florida, arguing that the state was in violation of the Clean Water Act.

EPA administrator fires back at critics in op-ed

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson (Pic by USACEpublicaffairs, via Flickr) EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson penned a new op-ed for the Los Angeles Times , criticizing House Republicans desperately seeking to undermine the authority of the agency they have dubbed a “job killer.” Arguing that the environment affects red states and blue states alike, Jackson writes that “it is time for House Republicans to stop politicizing our air and water.” As head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Jackson has faced harsh criticism from House Republicans and GOP presidential candidates who say the agency’s regulations are an undue burden on businesses that have to cut jobs simply to comply with clean water and air rules. Presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann  has pledged to end the EPA if she takes office. “Since the beginning of this year, Republicans in the House have averaged roughly a vote every day the chamber has been in session to undermine the Environmental Protection Agency and our nation’s environmental laws,” writes Jackson.

EPA administrator says federal nutrient criteria is a ‘myth’

In testimony given late last week, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said that false accusations about her agency’s numeric nutrient criteria to govern Florida waterways are proving to be a detriment to their implementation. # Testifying before the House Agriculture Committee, Jackson said her agency’s work was often “mischaracterized” and addressed several myths surrounding its work

EPA announces hold on nutrient standards if Florida can come up with own criteria

The EPA announced today that it is now prepared to withdraw a portion of its proposed numeric nutrient criteria (a set of standards governing water pollution in inland waters) and delay the portion related to estuarine waters, to allow the state Department of Environmental Protection to develop its own criteria. # From a statement released by the EPA earlier today: # EPA recognizes that states have the primary role in establishing and implementing water quality standards for their waters. Therefore, EPA is prepared to withdraw the federal inland standards and delay the estuarine standards if FDEP adopts, and EPA approves, their own protective and scientifically sound numeric standards

EPA Analysis Says Climate Bill’s Cost for Households Would Be ‘Modest’

All the attention on the energy front today is going to the BP spill, but the Environmental Protection Agency quietly released its long-anticipated analysis of

EPA and California Near Deal on Fuel Efficiency Standards

Two weeks ago, the Obama administration raised fuel efficiency standards by an average of two miles per gallon -- a modest change that disappointed some

© Copyright 2021 The Washington Independent All Rights Reserved

Terms & Privacy | twi.news@washingtonindependent.com

Click here to check the ultimate guide to learn how to leverage your PC and internet to make money online.