Monday, November 19, 2007

Oh, Brother...

Insanity has been defined as trying the same thing over and over, expecting a different result (meaning insanity is the essence of psychological conditioning, but I digress).

In foreign affairs, especially in the "war" on terrorists, it's a dangerous game to play:
WASHINGTON, Nov. 18 — A new and classified American military proposal outlines an intensified effort to enlist tribal leaders in the frontier areas of Pakistan in the fight against Al Qaeda and the Taliban, as part of a broader effort to bolster Pakistani forces against an expanding militancy, American military officials said.
OK, makes sense: buy a warlord or a dozen, and enlist their help in tracking down Osama and his minions, and capture them.

Right? Eh. Not so much:
But it raises the question of whether such partnerships, to be forged in this case by Pakistani troops backed by the United States, can be made without a significant American military presence in Pakistan. And it is unclear whether enough support can be found among the tribes, some of which are working with Pakistan's intelligence agency.
Why am I uncertain of the efficacy of this strategy?

Afghan Warlord Teams Up With Taliban And Al Qaeda

Afghan Warlord Splits With Taliban

More detail? Here:
Most disturbing to the allied commanders is that at least two of the enemy warlords, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Jalaluddin Haqqani, received many millions of dollars in cash, plus sophisticated weapons from the CIA and the Pakistani intelligence service (ISI), when they were fighting against the Soviet occupation of their country in the 1980s. Those weapons have now been turned against their former providers.

Lieutenant-General Karl Eikenberry, commander of Combined Forces Command in Afghanistan, with 20,000 US soldiers under his control, said western intelligence had identified a "Taliban triumvirate" that has been operating since spring of this year. [...]

At that time, the Americans did not care that Hizb-i Islami, the militant group founded by Hekmatyar, espoused an extremist religious and anti-Western ideology, and attracted thousands of religious radicals to Afghanistan, among them Osama bin Laden himself.

Hekmatyar even became prime minister twice in the 1990s. After September 11 2001, he sided with Osama bin Laden, and was named as a global terrorist by an executive order of the US government. He has issued a tape calling for a jihad against the US and offering rewards for those who kill US troops.
See, the rule of thumb when dealing with allies within factions of a country that one is at war with is, "If you buy them, they should stay bought."

This scenario has not played out, truthfully, in Afghanistan and there is no reason to think that Pakistani tribal leaders won't do the same: take US aid and particularly, arms, then turn around and protect Al Qaeda and the Taliban. They are more Pashtun than Pakistani (or Afghani), and so are the Taliban and much of Al Qaeda in that region.

So you tell me: is blood thicker than a falling dollar?