How's This For a New Pakistan Strategy?: Just Leave Already

Military writer Ralph Peters isn't the sort of guy who is slow to say "Bombs away!" So check out his recent New York Post column arguing for a new strategy toward Pakistan, the Fredo Corleone of our supposed allies in the war on terrorism.

Suppose we just left Pakistan, even withdrawing our embassy personnel? Without us to protect them when they go rogue, would Pakistan's murky intel thugs still launch terror strikes on India?

Pakistan would have to behave responsibly at last. Or face nuclear-armed India. And Pakistan's leaders know full well that a nuclear exchange would leave their country a wasteland. India would dust itself off and move on.

Of course, there's also the issue of the Pentagon's bewildering incompetence in placing 50,000 of our troops at the end of a 1,500-mile supply line through Pakistan, rendering our forces virtual hostages of Islamabad.

The answer's another dose of common sense: Instead of increasing our troop numbers in Afghanistan, cut them. Instead of embracing the hopeless task of building a modern nation where no nation of any kind has ever existed, concentrate exclusively on killing al Qaeda terrorists and the hard-line Taliban elements who help them.

Peters calls for reductions in force size in Afghanistan as well, arguing that

Our sole mission in Afghanistan should be killing terrorists. To that end, we need a smaller, lethal, unfettered force, not more agricultural experts and con-game contractors.

Emphasis in original. Peters believes that India can and will deal with Pakistan—and that China will play nice as well since Indian neutrality is "essential in any future conflict with the United States," so Beijing won't screw around too badly. Well worth reading, even if various questions (such as Pakistani nukes) aren't quite addressed. Whole thing here.

Reason interviewed Peters in 2003, when he was stumping for the Iraq war. And Jesse Walker noted his recent col on getting the hell out of Afghanistan.

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  • Abdul||

    It may be a comforting thought to think that Pakistan's only problems is our presence, or the presence of our contractors and agricultural specialists instead of just highly trained terrorist-killers, but that thought is just a delusion.

    One of the destabilizing forces in Pakistan is the Taliban. They showed no regard for world opinion before 9/11 or afterwards, and they regard Indians with greater contempt because of India's many sins--real or imagined--against Muslims. The Taliban caused enough problems for the world and for their own subjects when the only country they ran was a stone age Afghanistan. We'd be in even bigger crap if they gain more control of a nuclear-armed Pakistan.

  • semm||

    How do you find where Al Qaeda/Taliban fighters are hiding without some support/intel from the locals? How do you garner that support without boots on the ground?

  • ||

    Yes, very clever, the "Ostrich" defense against terrorists. Instead of attacking them we withdraw!

    Will the "Brave Sir Robin" be in charge of the operation?

  • ||

    I agree putting more troops into Afghanistan with such a tenuous supply line is really risky. At this point, the only outcome that matters is that Afghanistan doesn't become a harbor for terrorists to attack us. I don't see why 40,000 more people is necessary to accomplish that.

    Sending more in risks the Afghanistan becoming another Bataan if Pakistan falls. That sounds unthinkable, but if Pakistan went hostile, just how the hell do you supply or extract 50,000 troops out of Afghanistan?

  • ||

    "...but if Pakistan went hostile, just how the hell do you supply or extract 50,000 troops out of Afghanistan?"

    I guess someone's going to have to suck Putin's dick. Hillary? Obama? Biden?

  • Abdul||

    how the hell do you supply or extract 50,000 troops out of Afghanistan?

    In 1944, we needed beach-heads. In 2009, we just need a defensible airstrip. It's more expensive, but when has thrift been a concern in a military action?

  • ||

    "In 1944, we needed beach-heads. In 2009, we just need a defensible airstrip. It's more expensive, but when has thrift been a concern in a military action?"


    We don't have the air lift capability to supply 50,000 people. You can only do that over land and sea. You have to understand the enormous amounts of supplies it takes to do that. 100s of tons a day in food alone. Then you have ammunition, spare parts, and all the stuff it takes to keep a high tech army working. Further, if Pakistan goes south, where do you fly in over? Hasn't Uzbecistan kicked us out? I don't even want to contemplate the concessions Putin would extract from a desparate President McHopey in return for flyover rights. It would be a fucking nightmare.

  • ||

    I'm baffled.

    Why on earth would we assume that AQ, once it gets nuclear weapons in Pakistan, would use them on India? Either exclusively or at all?

    How exactly do we propose to have an unfettered and lethal military force roaming Afghanistan with no reliable supply line if the governments of Afghanistan or Pakistan are hostile to us?

  • ||

    "How exactly do we propose to have an unfettered and lethal military force roaming Afghanistan with no reliable supply line if the governments of Afghanistan or Pakistan are hostile to us?"

    It is interesting to comtemplate what they would do with them. If they used them on the US, the US would hopefully make Pakistan into a parking lot. So, they would have to use them in a way that would not have their finger prints on it, which would be impossible since you could tell by the urainium used in the bomb where it came from.

    That said, we now have a President who is basically a two bit Chicago thug who instills fear in no one. I am not convinced that if Al Quada say used nukes in Afghanistan on US troops, he would respond by destroying Pakistan. He might, but I am not totally convinced. Worse still, maybe Al Quada isn't convinced either and think it is worth taking a shot. That is a freightening prospect.

  • ||

    John, in the current transnational/legalistic war-fighting environment, we would not respond on the next day. We would, instead, be faced with a Pakistan denying it was their bombs, saying they needed time for an investigation, announcing (perhaps, eventually) that, golly, it was one of theirs stolen by a rogue faction, etc.

    By the time whatever burden of proof we would have to carry before whatever body was met, if ever, and that body gave approval for retaliation, if ever (the UN Security Security Council would never approve nuclear retaliation), the craters would be cold, and it would be too late.

    So, I would rate the odds of the Obama administration launching a retaliatory nuclear strike as pretty low, and our nuclear deterrence on AQ/Pakistan correspondingly weak.

  • ||

    "So, I would rate the odds of the Obama administration launching a retaliatory nuclear strike as pretty low, and our nuclear deterrence on AQ/Pakistan correspondingly weak."


    I would tend to agree. What is worse it doesn't matter what you and I think and it doesn't matter what would actually happen, what matters is what does Al Quada think. If they think they can get away with it, they will do it. Wars are caused by miscalculation not the certainty of bad effects.

  • Josh||

    "India would dust itself off and move on."

    Hmmm. Good thing I don't live in India!

  • ||

    An interesting parallel of a cutoff foriegn force having to fight it's way through a country in the middle of a civil war is the Czech Legion in WWI/Russia Civil War
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Czech_legion

  • Maritimer||

    Afghanistan can never be stabilized without military and economic support from other regional players like Russia, India and Iran. Depending exclusively on Pakistani supply routes is dangerous. India has recently built a highway connecting Iran-Afghanistan. The old Soviet-era railway network connect Russia with Afghan border through Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Tajikistan hosts Indian Air base, which can be used as well.

    While Pakistan's civil War with the Taliban continues, stabilization and military victory in Afghanistan can be achieved by aligning with other friendly nations in the region, who have a genuine long-term geo-strategic stake in Afghanistan. Once the Afghan situation improves, UN can intervene in safeguarding Pakistan's nukes.

  • Mike Laursen||

    India would dust itself off and move on.

    Maybe, maybe not. The United States' fundamental mistake is our hubris in thinking we're good at predicting what will happen in some country in which we intervene, that we're good at analyzing the moves and countermoves in these international chess games. Truth is we're bad at it, and that's why we should get out of the foreign meddling business altogether.

  • ||

    India would dust itself off and move on.

    Yeah right. I'd like to see if the US can 'dust itself and move on' if the Al-Q tried a dirty bomb on it Afghanistan or Iraq. Upwards of 10k lives just isn't what you 'dust off'. Oh yeah, the inept Govt of India might do just that but it still doesn't mean others can suffer when you can't suffer your own casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan. And the fact that India has been facing the highest terrorist strikes after Iraq should open many eyes to why Aq might strike India with pakistani nukes.

  • han||

    I know my earlier comment

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