Most critically, Pakistan has become for the Taliban, Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida the same sanctuary that North Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia provided for the Viet Cong and NVA, with this critical difference: We cannot bomb or invade Pakistan.
The new Islamabad regime is exhibiting no enthusiasm for fighting the Taliban who dominate the border regions and North-West Frontier province and have sympathizers in Pakistan's military and intelligences agencies.
Air strikes, to which we have begun to resort, have resulted in wedding parties and families wiped out in their homes on both sides of the border. President Musharraf has even threatened to retaliate against U.S. forces if more of his people become victims.
Anti-Americanism, pandemic in Pakistan, is rising.
As for Afghanistan, how do we win a war in a nation of 27 million, the size of Texas, with only 50,000 U.S.-NATO troops? How long will it take us to train, equip and arm an Afghan army that is both loyal to the regime and an effective fighting force against its Pashtun brothers?
How, ever, can victory be achieved, if the enemy can retire every winter to Pakistan to rest, rearm and prepare new attacks?
If the Pakistani army will not clean out the border regions, how can we accomplish it with pinprick strikes by Special Forces, or Predators and F-16s, which invariably cause civilian casualties?
Afghanistan, in and of itself, is of no strategic importance, if it is not a base camp for al-Qaida. Loss of Pakistan to Islamism, however, a nation of 170 million Muslims with atomic bombs, would be a calamity for the Near East and United States.
Under the (Colin) Powell Doctrine for fighting wars, questions must be asked and answered affirmatively before committing U.S. troops:
Is a vital U.S. interest imperiled here? Do we have a defined and attainable objective? Have the risks and costs been fully weighed? Is there an exit strategy? Is the war supported by a united nation?
How many of these questions did Obama ask himself before pledging 10,000 more U.S combat troops to what will surely become, should he win, "Obama's war" even as Iraq has become "Bush's war"?
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