The New Way Forward: Shifting the Goal Posts in the GWoT?
From the AP by way of ALLAHPUNDIT:
Obama’s developing strategy on the Taliban will “not tolerate their return to power,” the senior official said in an interview with The Associated Press. But the U.S. would fight only to keep the Taliban from retaking control of Afghanistan’s central government — something it is now far from being capable of — and from giving renewed sanctuary in Afghanistan to al-Qaida, the official said…
Bowing to the reality that the Taliban is too ingrained in Afghanistan’s culture to be entirely defeated, the administration is prepared, as it has been for some time, to accept some Taliban role in parts of Afghanistan, the official said. That could mean paving the way for Taliban members willing to renounce violence to participate in a central government — though there has been little receptiveness to this among the Taliban. It might even mean ceding some regions of the country to the Taliban…
Obama kept returning to one question for his advisers: Who is our adversary, the official said.
Should we be drawing a distinction between al Qaeda and other Islamic terror groups? Between al Qaeda and the Taliban? ALLAHPUNDIT also links to an excellent piece by Thomas Joscelyn & BIll Roggio:
We do not think that a shift to a predominately counterterrorism campaign utilizing airstrikes and the like is sufficient to beat back the threat to America’s interests. In fact, we argue that such thinking is rooted in a dangerous ignorance of al Qaeda and our terrorist enemies. Al Qaeda was never a self-contained problem that could be defeated by neutralizing select individuals – even though capturing or killing senior al Qaeda members surely does substantially weaken the network.
Instead, Osama bin Laden and his cohorts deliberately fashioned their organization to be the tip of a much longer jihadist spear.
This was true during the years of the Soviet Jihad, when al Qaeda established a vast rolodex of like-minded jihadist leaders who, despite what were sometimes deep differences of opinion over tactical issues, could nonetheless be called upon as allies. It was true in the pre-9/11 world, from the early 1990s through September 10, when al Qaeda forged relationships with allied terrorist organizations first in the Sudan, al Qaeda’s base from roughly 1991 until 1996, and then in Afghanistan.
And it is true in the post-9/11 world, where al Qaeda continues to leverage its decades-long relationships with jihadist allies around the globe and especially in the heart of Central and South Asia.
It is remarkable that anyone would argue that a Taliban safe haven in Afghanistan would not necessarily lead to an al Qaeda safe haven there given that the two currently enjoy the same safe havens in Northern Pakistan. After the two jointly established the Islamic Emirate of Waziristan in 2006, for example, it should have become painfully obvious that they had not given up on their combined territorial ambitions.
Just as in pre-9/11 Afghanistan, these safe havens are home to broad cooperation between the Taliban and al Qaeda. The Taliban hosts camps for al Qaeda’s paramilitary army, as well as al Qaeda’s external network – that is, those terrorists responsible for striking the West. By some estimates there are more than 150 training camps, of various sizes and configurations, in the tribal areas in Northwestern Pakistan.
Senior al Qaeda leaders are routinely killed at Taliban safe houses, training camps, and compounds during U.S. airstrikes. Numerous Taliban leaders, including the Haqqanis (a father and son team who are based both in eastern Afghanistan and in Pakistan’s tribal areas, as discussed below), Hakeemullah Mehsud, Mullah Nazir, Hafiz Gul Bahadar, Omar Khalid, Mullah Fazlullah, and Faqir Mohammed host al Qaeda’s leaders and foot soldiers. These Taliban commanders conduct cross-border operations in Afghanistan, and aid al Qaeda in doing so as well.
Read the entire piece.
Focusing narrowly on just al Qaeda as the enemy ignores the larger picture of a global jihad network of terrorism at work, which includes involvement by their state-sponsors (such as Saddam's Iraq).
Cross-posted at Flopping Aces