Here’s the conclusion to his – great – piece in SWJ, “Crunch Time In Afghanistan-Pakistan”:
To conclude, it might be impolite but it’s certainly not inaccurate to say that our policies in Afghanistan and Pakistan have, until early last year, been marked by woolly and wishful thinking, and a tendency to seek quick, neat solutions to intractable, messy and long-standing problems. The vital requirement now is to be clear-eyed about what we need to do, how much it will cost, and how long it will take. We need to be straight with the American people and our allies (including Afghans and Pakistanis) about this.
In Afghanistan, we have an immediate crisis to deal with. We need to stop the rot and regain the initiative before we can hope for long-term progress. That progress will come at a cost, and it will involve the four key tasks of preventing another 9/11, protecting the Afghan people, building sustainable institutions and then handing-off the effort to them.
In Pakistan, we need to stop asking ourselves the question “Is Pakistan an enemy or an ally?” Pakistan is NOT the enemy. But we have enemies – as well friends – in Pakistan. We need to identify those friends and enemies, and empower our friends to deal with our enemies. This is a classic diplomatic strategy, and an essential enabler for it is to build a willing partner in Pakistan – something that will mean, amongst other things, that we need to help Pakistani civilian politicians gain control over their own national-security establishment, and we need to impose a much more stringent set of limitations on strikes into Pakistani territory.
Things aren’t hopeless, but they are extremely serious. This is the critical year: the situation is still salvageable, but we must act now to put the AFPAK enterprise onto a sound footing before it’s too late.
Go read the whole thing, right now.
Then read TM Barnett’s reply.
I’m working on a piece on Afghanistan, but I have a few books to read first.