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While violence, gunfire, and war may be absolute Hell, a war against Al Qaeda's best friends is what many can agree to be "the good fight".   The Pakistani military has been routing the militants and their allies in and around the Swat valley for weeks now since the Taliban broke the cease-fire(which many felt was a very generous offer).   In the days since then, government-encouraged militias called lashkars(which we are funding) of local tribesmen have begun turning against the Taliban more and more with every news report of a suicide bombing targeting civilians who don't share the Taliban's hard-line beliefs.

The tide is turning against the Taliban in Pakistan, which offers us a fighting chance in Afghanistan.   The Pakistani military is now even on the move against militants in a district neighboring Waziristan.

Never in my life did I think the Pakistani military would come as close to Waziristan as they have now.  Much like the fighting in and around Swat, the new offensive in Bannu seems to be going in Pakistan's favor.   The offensive there is blatantly being referred to as "collective punishment" against a specific tribe for having aided the Taliban, which conducted a mass-kidnapping there last week with safe-haven provided by the targeted-tribe.

The Pakistani people(not just plains-land Punjab) seem remarkably in agreement that the Taliban need to be stop.   With increase cooperation continuing between the U.S. and Pakistani military, we are right now fighting the smartest possible war against terror.   And while things across the border may not look great(see Pres. Karzai's drug-kingpin brother), it seems the Obama administration is getting things right in Pakistan.

The increasing-use of Predator and Reaper drones, which then-candidate Obama strongly advocated for in 2007, have taken the fight right to the heart of Al-Qaeda.   A U.S. troop surge on the Afghani-side of the border will put pressure on the baddest-of-the-bad, while a Pakistani military offensive all around them on the Pakistani-side could very well be the pincer-move that traps them all.

Three cheers for President Barack Obama, special envoy Richard Holbrooke, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of Defence Robert Gates, General Petraeus, General McChrystal, and the men and women who are running this smart war against terror.

Originally posted to Setrak on Wed Jun 10, 2009 at 05:31 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (15+ / 0-)

    "Change has come to Washington, and I hope Karl Rove is ready for it. After two years of stonewalling, it's time for him to talk." Mr. John Conyers Jr.

    by Setrak on Wed Jun 10, 2009 at 05:31:35 AM PDT

    •  Good news, if true (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Seeds, esquimaux, pamelabrown, Setrak

      I'd like to see some citations from news reports showing the public support in Pakistan, to flesh out your diary.  I also hope the military have learned some of the lessons of Swat, and are acting to lessen civilian casualties and suffering.  The heavy-handed tactics they used in the Swat Valley may come back to bite them in future if they hardened local resistance.

      Health care is for people, not for profit. Let your representatives know.

      by Dallasdoc on Wed Jun 10, 2009 at 05:42:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I haven't seen public opinion polls, (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        NYFM, Bush Bites

        but last I checked, Sharif is still supporting Zardari's offensive.

        It's not so much the tactics in Swat that may come back to bite the Pakistani government, but rather, the damage to civilian-infrastructure in and around Swat and the care for the displaced people who fled the fighting.

        If Pakistanis continue blaming the Taliban for breaking the cease-fire, and if the suicide bombings continue hardening public opinion against them, than the Taliban may be on the slow-wane.

        "Change has come to Washington, and I hope Karl Rove is ready for it. After two years of stonewalling, it's time for him to talk." Mr. John Conyers Jr.

        by Setrak on Wed Jun 10, 2009 at 05:46:13 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  And yet you claim a groundwell... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          esquimaux

          ...of popular opinion against the Taliban.

          Your enthusiasm for the so-called "war on terror" is very Bush-like, Setrak. I'd advise you to drop that Bush-born phrase and rein in your enthusiasm for feeble Pakistani reprisals against the Taliban. They are welcome, of course, but wholly insufficient.

          •  You're just trying to make me out to be a (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            cotterperson, Bush Bites

            conservative, as became evident down below when you implied that I at some point thought that Netanyahu's sabre-rattling was constructive.

            Please, continue spinning.  It's amusing.  Just don't get yourself too dizzy.

            "Change has come to Washington, and I hope Karl Rove is ready for it. After two years of stonewalling, it's time for him to talk." Mr. John Conyers Jr.

            by Setrak on Wed Jun 10, 2009 at 06:03:11 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  war is evil (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            esquimaux

            Bring all of the troops home NOW.

            There is nothing to win in Afghanistan. No Afghani killed anyone on 9/11.  How many more innocent men, women and children need to be murdered in their sleep by falling american bombs in order for us to call the war won?  how many more innocent people do we need to kill?

            we're safer because we're killing people all over the world?  how does that keep anyone here safe?

            War is evil and they need to end NOW.  The soldiers need to come home to their families and to a grateful nation.

            Your cheerleading is offensive.

            Why can't we vote online?

            by reasonanyone on Wed Jun 10, 2009 at 08:47:53 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  From your link: (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    borkitekt, Setrak

    The fighting has displaced more than two million people, raising fears of a humanitarian crisis as overstretched camps struggle to cope with those forced to leave their homes.

    That's a lot of people.

    Why couldn't Obama's speech have been more like an I/P diary? Because those are so helpful!

    by Inland on Wed Jun 10, 2009 at 05:40:11 AM PDT

    •  Damn straight, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      G2geek, Bush Bites

      and everyone is doing what they can for those people.  We have to.  I probably should have addressed that point, given the damaging-consequences of not doing enough for them.  It's absolutely imperative that we keep those people out of the Taliban camp.  With every suicide bombing, more Pakistanis seem to be acknowledging that the fault primarily lies with the Taliban.

      "Change has come to Washington, and I hope Karl Rove is ready for it. After two years of stonewalling, it's time for him to talk." Mr. John Conyers Jr.

      by Setrak on Wed Jun 10, 2009 at 05:42:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  excellent on all fronts. (0+ / 0-)

        The Pakistani military goes after the Taliban, the US provides reconstruction aid in the battle zones after the dust clears, and the Pakistani people come to recognize that primitive barbarians are not their friends and move forward to modernization.  

        So I wonder about this:  Can the Pakistani military either a) surround & fully defeat the Taliban forces, or b) enclose them on three sides thereby driving them to the Afghan border where we can finish the job?  

        The concern is, the longer the distance of pursuit, the greater the degree to which Talibans may slowly disappear into the prevailing woodwork along the way, only to come out again later and cause more trouble.

        On one hand it's tempting to want to finish the job locally: capture / kill as many of them as possible as quickly as possible.

        On the other hand, flushing them all the way to the border increases the chances of causing Bin Laden to respond in some way.  If he's local, he may move.  If he's hiding out in Saudi, he may make a communications error.  I have some ideas about the latter but I'm not going to speculate in public nor should anyone else here.  

        Anyway, something tells me we're going to see Bin Laden "dead or alive" in a few months.  Preferably alive, to be tried at The Hague.  That would be a whole new world in many ways.  

      •  they don't need help (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        esquimaux

        what they need is to not be bombed by the USA.

        stop murdering children in the name of 'protecting' the USA from the evil dooers.

        I am not afraid of Muslims, Arabs or Persians. I believe their ancient, holly civilizations can adapt to the modern world over time and bombing them will simply cause more hatred of the USA.  

        What are you war supporters going to say when in 10 years a child whose mother or father was murdered by the USA revisits that evil upon us at home? He could justify his actions using the same silly claims being used to justify the deaths of his parents.

        The more bombs we drop, the longer our troops are occupying their land the more danger we face at home.

        What are we fighting for anyway? What needs to happen so we can say the war has been won?  What's the goal?  

        Why can't we vote online?

        by reasonanyone on Wed Jun 10, 2009 at 08:54:13 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  The Taliban deserve credit too. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    G2geek, Setrak

    I never thought they would be stupid enough to alienate the population.

    BTW: Interesting article on the use of microchips to target the drones.

    http://www.wired.com/...

    •  They long decried technology, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Bush Bites

      and now technology is coming back at them with a vengeance.

      "Change has come to Washington, and I hope Karl Rove is ready for it. After two years of stonewalling, it's time for him to talk." Mr. John Conyers Jr.

      by Setrak on Wed Jun 10, 2009 at 05:47:53 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm hoping there's other technologies at work.... (0+ / 0-)

        ...that we won't know about for a while.

        I mean, the Taliban are not the brightest bulbs: They should have never outsmarted us in the first place, though outsmarting Bush and Cheney isn't the hardest thing to do.

      •  technology isn't vengeful - America is (0+ / 0-)

        your displaced anger and vengeance from 9/11 and the Bush years is palpable.

        How can you think killing innocent people with remote controlled wmd's isn't going to forever escalate the hate and violence?

        These wars are hateful and punish entire nations of innocent people for crimes they had nothing to do with.

        Why can't we vote online?

        by reasonanyone on Wed Jun 10, 2009 at 08:56:58 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  they don't know how not too (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cotterperson, MKSinSA

      the only reason they had success in Afghanistan in the first place is because they were the only viable option to anarchy.

      i forget where, but I came across a story that said the current Pakistan PM did the truce deal in Swat to prove to anyone symphathetic to the Taliban that they could not be trusted in negotiations. sure enough, after the deal in Swat, the Taliban began to reach beyond that territory, terrorizing inhabitants.

      now that they've overreached, he has the politcal backing to step in with the army in a big way.

  •  More nonsense from Setrak (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    reasonanyone

    Sporadic shelling does not constitute an offensive, and the BBC report to which Setrak links states that there is no evidence of a ground offensive.

    As for Setrak's characterization of Pakistani public opinion, I wish it were true, but there remains substantial popular sympathy with the Taliban, enough to  cause the Pakistani government to continue to pull its punches with the Taliban.

    Setrak's cheerleading for the war in Aghanistan is way off the mark, and periodic shelling of the Taliban by the Pakistan government will no more uproot the Taliban than our efforts in Afghanistan.

    •  It's not periodic shelling.. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cotterperson, Bush Bites

      ..periodic shelling doesn't take out dozens of militants with only one reported civilian casualty.

      I'm cheer-leading for the war in Afghanistan?  Damn straight I am.  Minus the pom-poms.  I want the U.S. to win.

      "Change has come to Washington, and I hope Karl Rove is ready for it. After two years of stonewalling, it's time for him to talk." Mr. John Conyers Jr.

      by Setrak on Wed Jun 10, 2009 at 06:00:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Then you support the Afghan war funding bill (0+ / 0-)

        Just like Joe Lieberman.

      •  I want the Taliban to lose in Afghanistan... (0+ / 0-)

        ...and the people of Afghanistan to win. Achieving this is partially, but not primarily, a military objective. We could try to do that, or we just just leave and say "hey, good luck. Sorry for all the stuff we broke, but it's your problem now!"

        We had a chance years ago to do the kind of nation building that would have locked out the Taliban in Afghanistan, except we had a President who didn't believe in nation building. What should we do now? I honestly don't know, but I do know that leaving the Taliban in power is very bad for that region and not particularly good for the USA, either.

        •  No one wants the Taliban (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          happy camper

          And no one wanted South Vietnam to fall. But the Taliban is not on the wane in Afghanistan despite our seven years there. How long do you propose to remain there? How many more troops are you willing to expend in this effort?

          •  how about trying to make it a priority? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Aranfell

            Afghanistan was never done full-bore because Bush wanted to invade Iraq.

            Shall we actually try in Afghanistan for a change before we give up?

            yeah, Afghanistan has swallowed Armies from Alexander the Great to the Soviet Union, but unlike any of them, we aren't in it to conquer.

            Break the Taliban, capture or kill the leaders of Al-Quaeda and go home.  That should be the goal.  Not what Bush's obvious goal was: Invade with far too few troops, let the leaders escape to become the Goldstein to our Oceania. and allow an invasion of Iraq.

            We have no desire to offend you -- unless you are a twit!

            by ScrewySquirrel on Wed Jun 10, 2009 at 06:37:31 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Bush's policy in Afghanistan was stupid (0+ / 0-)

            Does that mean that there are no successful, worthwhile strategies left? I don't know. All I'm really trying to say is that if we all agree that we'd break the Taliban if we could, then that makes disagreements about Afghanistan war funding a disagreement about what is achievable (and what would result from trying). That means that the valid criticism of Setrak would be for thinking that we could beat the Taliban, NOT for wanting to do so.

            As a contrasting example, I've concluded that torture is ineffective, but that's not why I oppose torture. It's wrong even if it did work (for things other than forced confessions, I mean). The valid criticism for those who support torture is "Dude, it's torture, and we shouldn't ever do that no matter what our goals or whether torture helps us to achieve them."

            I do see the comparison to South Viet Nam, including the incredible corruption of the governments that we supported then and are supporting now. That's one of the reasons why I leave the question of what is possible to others.

      •  What do we get ? (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Thomas C, esquimaux, reasonanyone

        "Win" implies that we will receive something of value, or that we will be better off by "winning".

        The taliban are a bunch of ragtag religious fanatics. Afghanistan is a frontier backwater of little strategic importance, save for the possibility that bin Laden might be there. Pissing away billions of dollars to "win" something that amounts to nothing makes little sense to me.

        "All that serves labor serves the nation. All that harms labor is treason. -Abraham Lincoln

        by happy camper on Wed Jun 10, 2009 at 07:25:27 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  win what? (0+ / 0-)

        what do you want the US to win?

        Why can't we vote online?

        by reasonanyone on Wed Jun 10, 2009 at 08:58:34 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Selective Cherry-Picking Twaddle (0+ / 0-)

      the artillery barrage always precedes ground troops.  Have a dose of contextual sense.

      The BBC's Syed Shoaib Hasan in Islamabad says that the army operation at the moment is focused on the bombardment of areas belonging to the Janikhel tribe by artillery and helicopters.

      At the same time the army says that troops have been deployed in the area, but there are no reports yet of a ground offensive.

      "Give me but one firm spot to stand, and I will move the earth." -- Archimedes

      by Limelite on Wed Jun 10, 2009 at 06:40:38 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  But ground troops don't always follow shelling (0+ / 0-)

        We'll see if a real ground offensive develops, and then we'll see whether it's indicative of a real commitment of the Pakistani govt. to taking on the Taliban or just more of the temporizing we've seen from them for the last seven years.

  •  A few questions for Setrak (0+ / 0-)

    Do you support the Afghanistan war funding bill?

    Do you still believe that Netanyahu's sabre-rattling against Iran is potentially constructive?

    •  Seriously... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Bush Bites

      ..when did I say that Netanyahu's sabre-rattling was constructive?

      I never did.  You're making stuff up.

      "Change has come to Washington, and I hope Karl Rove is ready for it. After two years of stonewalling, it's time for him to talk." Mr. John Conyers Jr.

      by Setrak on Wed Jun 10, 2009 at 05:59:20 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  These are your words, Setrak... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        reasonanyone

        "Netanyahu's impatience regarding Iran's nuclear program may be President Obama's best weapon in stunting the growth of settlements, and hopefully their eventual dismantlement."

        If that ain't saying Netanyahoo's sabre-rattling is potentially constructive, I don't know what is.

        Do you care to clarify your prior statements?

        •  I said his "impatience". (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Bush Bites

          If you can't see the difference between what you implied and what I said, then I can't help you.

          "Change has come to Washington, and I hope Karl Rove is ready for it. After two years of stonewalling, it's time for him to talk." Mr. John Conyers Jr.

          by Setrak on Wed Jun 10, 2009 at 06:04:11 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Doesn't Netanyahu's "impatience" mean... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          reasonanyone

          ...his threat of a first-strike against Iran? And you think that could be helpful?

          •  in that quote, (0+ / 0-)

            Netanyahu's impatience in regards to Iran is contructive for Obama, in that it gives Obama a card to play in negotiations on stalling settlement construction.

            •  But wouldn't a first-strike against Iran... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              reasonanyone

              ...kill any possible deal on the settlements? I assume so, given that the alienation of opinion in the middle east will cause Israel to harden its stance on the settlements.

              •  yes it would, (0+ / 0-)

                but that's not what sestak said in that quote, which could be paraphrased as 'Netanyahu's concern about Iranian nukes gives Obama a possible card to play in negotiations about settlements.'

                ->if Obama can resolve the Iran issue, or start a meaningful discussion on that topic, that would result in more earnest conversations/negotiations with Israel on settlements/Palestine.

                I'm not saying that I agree with this, but that's how I'm interpreting this quote. I don't quite get the alternative reads, discussed in this thread...

  •  There is great effort here at DKos... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    esquimaux, reasonanyone

    ...and elsewhere in the left blogosphere to oppose further funding for an endless war in Afghanistan. I'd suggest visiting FireDogLake to get some sense of the opposition on the left to funding this feckless war.

    If you oppose Afghan war funding, you should retract any tips you may have given Setrak's absurd diary. And his comment just posted to the effect that "I want the U.S. to win" implicitly accuses the rest of us of wanting the U.S. to lose in Afghanistan. Very, very Bush-like, Setrak.

  •  Paksitani actually nurtured the Taliban (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Thomas C
    and gave it the means to rise to prominence and power

    Taliban: Relations with Pakistan

    For a period of seven years since their origin, Pakistan's government had been the Taliban's main sponsor. It provided military equipment, recruiting assistance, training and tactical advice that enabled the band of village mullahs and their adherents to take control of Afghanistan.[81]

    Officially Pakistan denied it was supporting the Taliban, but its support was substantial -- one year's aid (1997/1998) was an estimated US$30 million in wheat, diesel, petroleum and kerosene fuel, and other supplies.[82] The Taliban's influence in its neighbour Pakistan was deep. Its "unprecedented access" among Pakistan's lobbies and interest groups enabled it "to play off one lobby against another and extend their influence in Pakistan even further. At times they would defy" even the powerful ISI.[83]

    Back in February, Pakistan cut a deal that gave the Taliban control of the Swat valley.


    Taliban in Pakistan

    On February 18, 2009, the president of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari signed a deal with the Taliban to implement Shariah law in some parts of Pakistan banning all the girls from school.[131][132] On April 13, 2009, Zardari signed into law a peace deal for the nation's Swat Valley, implementing sharia law in the region.[133]


    in light of which, it is probably healthy to have skepticism about whether the Pakistani is really out to eliminate the Taliban, as that would take a complete U-turn from the long-standing relationship Pakistan military, government and ISI's have had with the Taliban, and such a sudden turn about is hard to fathom.

    For all you know, they may be putting on a "Good Cop (Pakistan), Bad Cop (Taliban)" show to milk more billions and military aid and supplies from the US. I hope our guys are cross-checking the claims being made by Pakistan with the reality on the ground.

  •  You know what would be helpful, Setrak? (0+ / 0-)

    Not Netanyahu's sabre-rattling against Iran, but an endorsement of the two-state solution. In case you missed it, Barak just called on your boy Bibi to step up and endorse the Road Map.

  •  Biggest Revelation in BBC Article (0+ / 0-)

    seems to me to be what was buried in the middle:

    But he said that the tribesmen were foiling the [Taliban] fighters' attempts to flee.

    Good indication of Taliban having lost battle of "hearts and minds" for the tribal people in the NEFP to the Pakistani gov't.  Huge reversal.

    "Give me but one firm spot to stand, and I will move the earth." -- Archimedes

    by Limelite on Wed Jun 10, 2009 at 06:44:43 AM PDT

    •  The Tribes can't defeat the Taliban... (0+ / 0-)

      ...and the hearts and minds of Pakistan's government and powerful intelligence apparatus are NOT being turned against the Taliban.

      •  Oh, Please (0+ / 0-)

        No argument is being made that the tribes will defeat the Taliban.

        Pak gov't and intelligence apparatus are sustained by the military that is currently enjoying success against the Taliban and with tribal warriors.  I suggest you're clinging to a picture of the Pak gov't. that may no longer represent the truth of the now.

        "Give me but one firm spot to stand, and I will move the earth." -- Archimedes

        by Limelite on Wed Jun 10, 2009 at 07:00:46 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The current Pakistani govt. is less committed... (0+ / 0-)

          ...to fighting the Taliban than the Musharraf govt. He was our guy, and the perception of him in Pakistan as a U.S. ally was a political liability for him. Why do you believe the current Pakistani govt. is more committed to fighting the Taliban than Musharraf?

          •  Excellent Question (0+ / 0-)

            First, Mushie was never "our guy" -- he was a pragmatist trying to protect his country from being overrun by Islamic extremists and paid by the US to protect his country's nuclear arsenal from same.

            Second, the military is what propped him up and has propped every Pak. ruler and will continue to do so into the foreseeable future.  The military is doing likewise with PM Gilani and pres. Zardari.

            Third, things and political moods change.  A year ago Gilani was protesting use of drones over Pak.  Now "his" military is utilizing the shared intelligence of US unmanned spy planes.  What changed?  The Taliban tried to assassinate him last September, for one.

            Gilani is a different man from Musharraf, has a reputation for doing the right thing, and has a good relationship with his figurehead pres., Zahiri.  For once, Pakistan seems to have a different kind of leadership that appears to have found a new cause that has landed fortuitously in its lap.

            The Taliban overstepped themselves in the NWFP, performing too many atrocites on too many good folks.  The kidnapping of those school children was probably the final straw.  The tide of public opinion has turned against them, something new.

            The political scene is an always shifting environment.  Success in politics depends on the ability to capitalize on those changes.  I think the US, Pak's pres. and PM, are now a coalition of the willing because of the change in the people's attitude to the Taliban.  Pakistan and the US will be wise to follow where the new opinion leads for as long as the people support the military.

            Just like in the US, the gov't of Pak, by virtue of it being a democracy (of its own variety) must bow to the will of the people or find itself out of power.  Musharraf rode the tiger for a long time because he learned that lesson.

            Fortunately for us vis a vis the Taliban in Pak, the political tiger has changed its stripes.

            "Give me but one firm spot to stand, and I will move the earth." -- Archimedes

            by Limelite on Wed Jun 10, 2009 at 07:40:02 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  While the tide is certainly turning in the (0+ / 0-)

    Pakistani government's favour, i don't think they will ever get rid of the Taliban in that area of the world. Nobody really could tell you who is a member of the Taliban and who isn't. It's not like they have membership cards. My guess is that the Pakistani government is taking over villages, killing many thousands of people and then claiming victory when there's nothing left but dust.

    Also, you have the question of India. If Pakistan pushes out these Taliban militants they will find a new home somewhere, and India will likely to be a candidate for their next location.

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