The Council on Foreign Relations is another anachronistic institution whose ties to monolithic liberalism is rendering itself obsolete in our present age of digital revolution. This is a sad state of affairs given this nations need for clarity of purpose in the arena of international affairs. A former Titan now relinquishes its authority as it grapples with the intractable nomads of Western Asia in Afghanistan & Pakistan.
Richard N. Haass is the current President of the Council, his recent address concerning the political imperatives governing our relations with Afghanistan and Pakistan is sadly incompetent. The liberal bane that dominates the thinking of the elites at the Council is rendering this once formidable institution irrelevant.
Our current problem with Afghanistan is simple to understand, yet intrinsically difficult to politically solve. COIN doctrine reveals a startling truth that we understood in Vietnam: the enemy cannot be given access to sanctuary. Pakistan is the sanctuary for the Taliban and Afghanistan’s Pashtuns. The inherent weaknesses of central government institutions in both nations will continue to hurt American resolve. Our fundamental problem here is cultural and political for we have an enduring national interest in preserving our presence in this region. We simply cannot bug out and run. The recent demise of bin Laden proves the absolute necessity that we maintain viable intelligence in both nations. Our ability to project lethal power will be dependent on our ability to maintain a presence in both nations. This may effect U.S. combat operations and mission but tactical mobility will maintain primacy.
We must admit that Pakistan is unlikely to become a full partner in the Long War. Pakistan will continue its historically myopic view of Afghan tribes and territory as part of a larger policy to confront arch-rival India. Only a turn about in Pakistan’s relations with India, specially the political class at ISI will alter this strategic outlook.
What does this mean?
The United States should consider dropping its policy of state-building in favor of counterterrorism policies. But these carry obvious significant political risks as witnessed in the aftermath of the death and capture of Osama bin Laden. To contend with these fluid issues will require leadership from the best America has to offer, so far our Generals have shown interest in probing political and tactical solutions to this most intractable problem.
Ultimately the United States faces a review of its strategy in light of Pakistan’s intransigence. With bin Laden dead we ought not to fall for the political trap that is ‘stability’. A divergence of strategic interests may not precede tactical maneuvers on the ground.