Tuesday, July 31, 2007

War in Waziristan

The recent National Intelligence Estimate stating that Al Qaida had largely reconstituted itself in tribal areas of Pakistan, where it poses a menace to the United States, raises serious questions about the Bush administration's efforts to prevent another 9/11 style attack here.

Even the most die hard apologists for Bush/Cheney have to be a little daunted at the prospect that after spending a trillion dollars on the "War on Terror," Al Quaida is as strong as ever.

So what should we do? Here's one answer, from Washington Post columnist David Ignatius: use our early Afghanistan strategy again. (Ignatius gives credit to former CIA operative and now consultant Henry Crumpton.) Arm friendly Pakistani tribal groups, give them economic aid, and use CIA and Special Forces operatives to help them tactically in disrupting and driving out Al Qaida. See "Sept. 10 in Waziristan: What Will Be Done About al-Qaeda's Camps?"

Ignatius is correct that a large scale military operation in Pakistan would be folly. "The lesson of Iraq is that unwise actions can make the terrorism problem worse."

We'd better do something, soon. Al Qaida no doubt is plotting to strike America hard and in spectacular fashion. If only we could count on the competence of the Bush administration to get this one right.

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