Bill Roggio of the Long War Journal provided Freedom Radio an update last night on Afghanistan and Pakistan. In part, he said, “The momentum has definitely shifted towards the Taliban and towards al Qaeda, particularly over the last year … the U.S. military, NATO, and Afghan government admit the Taliban openly controls 11 … of the 34 Providences in Afghanistan.”
Roggio recently did the math and found that since January 2008, “74 airstrikes and ground raids the Taliban and al Qaeda’s network in Pakistan’s lawless tribal agency [have killed] 13 senior al Qaeda leaders and one senior Taliban leader [and] sixteen other mid-level al Qaeda and Taliban commanders and operatives.”
General McChrystal was placed in command to fight a counter-insurgency operation there with the mission to protect the civilian populace and train up the Afghanistan army and police. The mission entailed setting the conditions for good governance, the infusion of aide, and the building of needed infrastructure. Yet he does not currently have in country sufficient troops to do all those things. Roggio explains the General’s frustration:
“We will not invade northwest Pakistan. … There is another irony with this. Last year, what were we told? We were told conducting cross-border attacks into Pakistan was illegal, it’s immoral, it’s against international law, [and] what we’re doing is killing civilians. Now the same people who told us that was bad want to ramp up those types of attacks. What am I missing here? It is a convenient way out. They’ve learned that Afghanistan is much harder than they thought. They thought everybody supports Afghanistan, it’s the “good” war … but once they found out how difficult [it is] and what the situation was, now they want to back off.”
Click the speaker to listen to Bill Roggio’s 27-minute interview (Windows Media Audio file – see note below):
Me: Perhaps it is fair to say the previous administration “took its eye off the ball” yet most Americans and the media all but forgot about Afghanistan. Pakistan stood by and watched the Taliban reconstitute and grow to more than 100,000 armed insurgents in its northwest and tribal areas. American intelligence officials have shown the Pakistan government evidence that from 8,000 to 14,000 al Qaeda are operating under protection in those areas and helping to train the Taliban’s fighters. In addition, Pakistan’s ISI watched as a total of 62 terror camps opened and now “15,000 to 20,000 trained militants” are directly aimed at India.
President Barack Obama is at a decision point. With McChrystal’s troop requests and recommendations in hand, he is considering whether to change the mission in Afghanistan back to counter-terrorism. Before he decides, America should ask itself a few questions.
If destroying al Qaeda’s ability to conduct terrorism worldwide, denying them sanctuary anywhere, and bringing justice to the murderers of 2,976 men, women, and children on 9/11 was the right mission back then, is it not the right mission today?
Will we accept the occasional mass-murder of our citizens both home and abroad?
Will we let Israel stand alone as again six million Jews face incineration?
While we have the world’s finest military and troops, have the civilians they defend lost the will to fight?
Has al Qaeda won the War on Terror?
Note: A 13 MB mp3 file of the interview is available here to download.