The flaw in the US ‘National Strategy for Counterterrorism’

In the June 2011 update to the US government’s “National Strategy for Counterterrorism,” President Barack Obama states:

We will defeat al-Qa’ida only through a sustained partnership with Pakistan. The underlying conditions that allow the group to maintain its safe haven and regenerate–including its ability to capitalize on relationships with militant allies–can only be addressed through a sustained local presence opposed to al-Qa’ida. Pakistan has shown resolve in this fight in the face of increasing brutality by al-Qa’ida and its Pakistan-based allies, but greater Pakistani-U.S.strategic cooperation across a broader range of political, military, and economic pursuits will be necessary to achieve the defeat of al-Qa’ida in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Unfortunately, Pakistan seems to have other plans, according to The Express Tribune:

The United States’ plan to maintain a military presence in Afghanistan beyond the stipulated 2014 deadline does not seem to be sitting too well with Pakistan, as Islamabad has begun secret diplomatic manoeuvres to forge a consensus among regional states to thwart American ambitions, The Express Tribune has learnt.

Pakistan has stepped up efforts to take China, Iran, Russia and other neighbours of the war-torn country on board to “convince or force” the US to abandon the region by 2014.

Back-to-back trips by top Pakistani political and military leaders in recent months were all part of Islamabad’s diplomacy to seek support from countries bordering Afghanistan, sources revealed.

Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani has just returned from Iran. President Asif Ali Zardari visited Iran, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, China and Tajikistan over the past two months. Similarly, Chief of General Staff of the Pakistan Army Lt Gen Waheed Arshad was also in Beijing for a week two months ago, with officials in Islamabad saying his visit was “part of the security establishment’s manoeuvres to get China on its side”.

There was a consensus, by and large, among all regional states including China and Iran that any solution in Afghanistan should envisage a complete US drawdown from the war-hit nation, officials familiar with these developments said. “Discussions in Beijing, Moscow, Tehran and Islamabad right now are focusing on how these regional players should take a lead role in the transition in Afghanistan,” a foreign ministry official said.

Iran is ready to accept a Taliban comeback into the Kabul administration, but wants to restrict their presence to the southeast of the country. China too considered them a “lesser evil” compared to US presence in their “backyard”, diplomatic authorities revealed.

According to diplomatic authorities, Iran is ready to accept a Taliban comeback into the Kabul administration, but wants to restrict their presence to the southeast of the country, while China also considered them a “lesser evil” compared to US presence in their “backyard”, the paper said.

Are you a dedicated reader of FDD's Long War Journal? Has our research benefitted you or your team over the years? Support our independent reporting and analysis today by considering a one-time or monthly donation. Thanks for reading! You can make a tax-deductible donation here.

Tags: , ,

27 Comments

  • hillbilly says:

    Whats wrong with “pakistan seems to have other plans” ? there are some powerful countries in the region , should not they have any say in it ? why should every thing revolve around USA’s interest?
    American woman stay away ( Guess Who ).

  • cjr says:

    Hillbilly:
    Please note that the title is “The flaw in US strategy”, not “The flaw in Pakistani strategy”.

  • bard207 says:

    hillbilly,
    ————————————-
    Whats wrong with “pakistan seems to have other plans” ? there are some powerful countries in the region , should not they have any say in it ? why should every thing revolve around USA’s interest?
    ————————————-
    Whats wrong with “pakistan seems to have other plans” ?
    I would be impressed if the Pro Pakistan commenters at the LWJ endorsed the same plans for their country (Pakistan) as what they would like to see done – happen in Afghanistan.
    Could somebody from the Pro Pakistan side explain why Taliban rule is what the people in Afghanistan need, yet it isn’t needed in Pakistan? Both are majority Sunni (Afghanistan 80% and Pakistan 75%) countries, so it isn’t an attempt at punishing a country (Afghanistan) with a mjority Shia population.
    ————————————————
    should not they have any say in it ? why should every thing revolve around USA’s interest?
    Pakistan had a tremendous amount of say what happened in Afghanistan from the mid 90’s to Fall 2001.
    During that time period:
    1998 United States embassy bombings
    September 11 attacks
    ——————————————
    why should every thing revolve around USA’s interest?
    Because Pakistan failed to protect the interest of the U.S. when they (Pakistanis) had the opportunity from the mid 90’s to Fall 2001.
    In fact, Pakistan has been an obstacle of the U.S. trying to foster change in Afghanistan even after Musharraf had pledged to help the U.S. in Fall 2001.
    Airlift of Evil

  • CC says:

    The real question is what do the Afghans want. I highly doubt that they are enthusiastic about anything coming from Russia. I recall Medvedev saying a month or so ago that Afghanistan should be solved by regional powers. I suppose that lends credence to what those sources are saying.
    In regards to Pakistan, this shows their true face. They have been doing everything in their power to keep Afghanistan destabilized in an effort to force American influence out. If all this is true, it makes an Indo-American alliance even more crucial. Of course everyone wants the West out – they want to fill the power vacuum and exercise influence over the vast Afghan mineral wealth. China especially wants those deposits.
    Don’t worry about Iran, they’ll be toppled by 2014. I have a feeling we’re gearing up for another Cold War, though.

  • Neonmeat says:

    @ CC
    Exactly! what is good for Pakistan is not therefore also good for Afghanistan. Perhaps we should let Karzai et al decide what they want to happen.
    I can understand these nations not wanting American Troops or bases on their door steps however it would seem they are happy for Afghanistan to once again become a unstable country controlled by Pakistans proxy army, The Taliban, that will be a buffer zone against western influence with no regard for the internal desires of the Afghan people or politicians.
    It seems to me that they seem to be missing the fact that They will merely be swapping American influence in the region for the benefit Chinese, Iranian and Russian interests it is really not much different.

  • hillbilly says:

    cc,
    talking about jeffersonian democracy is a cliche in this part of the world. … look at the ground realities in both afghanistan and pakistan , where literacy rate is 10 and 50 percent respectively, democracy could not take hold in pakistan ( with 50% literacy rate ) where it has been tried many times why do you think its going to work in afghanistan? we need an honest but brutal dictatorship in these countries for at least 20 years to bring socioeconomic changes that are conducive for democracy…. USA has the fire power but not the intellectual capital to do social engineering in these countries……let them choose their own destinies.

  • bard207 says:

    hillbilly,
    ———————————————-

    … look at the ground realities in both afghanistan
    and pakistan , where literacy rate is 10 and 50 percent respectively, democracy could not take hold in pakistan ( with 50% literacy rate ) where it has been tried many times why do you think its going to work in afghanistan?
    ———————————————-
    Bangladesh is located in roughly the same part of the world as Pakistan.
    Bangladesh and Pakistan were part of the same breakup on the Subcontinent Post WW II, so the time interval for both countries to find their way in governance – democracy has been equal.
    Both countries have majority Sunni populations.
    Pakistan has a higher per capita GDP than Banglaadesh.
    List of countries by GDP (PPP) per capita

    The literacy rate in Bangladesh is roughly equal to
    that of Pakistan.
    List of countries by literacy rate
    Pakistan has a population of roughly 180 million while Bangladesh has a population of roughly 160 million. Yet, the Pakistani military has annual spending over five times as high as that of the Bangladeshi military. The spending figure for the Pakistani military possibly omits some of the military equipment given or sold at a discount by the U.S. and China.
    List of countries by military expenditures
    ————————————————-
    Is Bangladesh a perfect democracy?
    No, but it is much further along in that journey than Pakistan is.
    Upon reviewing the data cited above, it is evident that the factor impeding the growth of democracy in Pakistan is more likely the Pakistani military rather than the literacy rate in Pakistan.

  • Villiger says:

    CJ, thank you for highlighting this. Its a fine example of what enriches and differentiates this website from the msm.
    So light-bulbs were suddenly flashing in Wash DC in June!? Didn’t most of us here recognize this flaw way back in Nov 2009 when Obama, after god-knows-how-many-months of wringing his hands declared his half-Affed strategy which completely ignored the Pak dynamic?!!!
    Obama may not be effective but i gave him credit for being smarter than he now appears.

  • Villiger says:

    Hillbilly:
    “USA has the fire power but not the intellectual capital to do social engineering in these countries……let them choose their own destinies.”
    hillbilly, we have let you choose your own destiny, but despite that you have come to be sitting on a mound of cockroaches, covered your pathetic Army/ISI. Since your cockroaches don’t know any borders and you’re incapable of wiping them out, they will be exterminated in the interests of the rest of humanity moving forward.
    Ignore my comment if you want to (although i always find yours irresistible), but i dare you to respond to Bards rationale. You won’t because you are as intellectually bankrupt, as you are morally. THAT is the sorry state of affairs of your country today. That is the result of the intellectually destructive path of destiny you have chosen.

  • Villiger says:

    The Indians have been saying this all along to The Administration:
    ITS NOT AFPAK. ITS PAK-PAK, STUPID!
    Judging by the overwhelming volume of comments by Indian commenters in the recent thread of the ironical Pak WSJ ad, there exists today an extraordinary empathy between the US and India. Are those Governments listening to their people, and factoring that into their strategies in dealing with terror in general, and the terroritories of Pak specifically?
    The US and India getting together is Kayani’s worst nightmare.
    I wouldn’t worry about the alliances that Pak is trying to build in the region. And as for Moscow, the Indian leverage still works.
    A discussion on Pak’s sponsorship of terror is long overdue at the UN (encompassing its nuclear stockpile)–this needs to begin now in preparation for the next level of this Long War. Let China be isolated as the last-man-standing if necessary. Then we can deal with that reality.
    Meantime, hillbilly, one aspect i agree with you on: keep away that woman. Hillary is tired and exhausted and way past her sell-by date. Unimaginative and creative, she’s run her race and should now be put out to grass.

  • Villiger says:

    indulge me to make one last point.
    Hillbilly:
    “we need an honest but brutal dictatorship in these countries…”
    An “honest” dictator in Pakistan???!!!!! Indeed, where do you propose to find him/her? Are you going to import one from an exoplanet?
    Have another round of charas and crawl back up your hill, billy.

  • cjr says:

    Commenters: Please note the comments policy:
    Please refer to current and former elected officials and public leaders respectfully.
    Personal attacks are not permitted.

  • hillbilly says:

    villiger,
    calm down please, and yes , i love my afghani and let me know when you are mellow , we may find something to talk about.

  • hillbilly says:

    bard 207,
    bangladesh hmm, different country different culture and different dynamics, there is nothing to go gaga about it……bangladesh can not be a role model unless one is under the influence of LSD , i was a teenager when the last time i tried it.

  • omar says:

    Kurtz: do you find my methods unsound”
    Captain guy (sorry, i forgot his name): “Sir, I see no method at all”.
    What strategy?

  • bard207 says:

    hillbilly,
    ———————————–
    villiger,
    calm down please, and yes , i love my afghani and let me know when you are mellow , we may find something to talk about.
    ———————————–
    Please list the criteria – requirements – specifications needed to have a discussion with you.
    I have been calm & mellow, yet you still haven’t engaged me.
    Let me know what
    * defects
    * shortcomings
    * problems
    * issues
    * flaws
    are in my posting style so that I can correct them and raise my level of discussion so it will be acceptable to you.

  • bard207 says:

    hillbilly,
    —————————————-

    bangladesh hmm, different country different culture
    and different dynamics, there is nothing to go gaga about it……bangladesh can not be a role model unless one is under the influence of LSD , i was a teenager when the last time i tried it.
    —————————————-
    I didn’t go ga-ga over Bangladesh. I found a country that was from the same part of the world as Pakistan with a comparable literacy rate and many other similarities that were found while researching this topic. I also noted a factor (Pakistani Military) that I think might have had the largest impact on the failure of Democracy in Pakistan.
    ——————————————————–
    Your earlier Comment noted the literacy rate in a country as a factor in the success or failure of Democracy.

    where literacy rate is 10 and 50 percent
    respectively, democracy could not take hold in Pakistan with 50% literacy rate.
    Your most recent Comment made no reference to literacy rates in regards to Democracy.
    Does that mean that you no longer consider the literacy rate of a country as a factor in determining if it can have a viable Democracy?
    ———————————————

    bangladesh hmm, different country different culture
    and different dynamics, there is nothing to go gaga about it……bangladesh can not be a role model unless one is under the influence of LSD , i was a teenager when the last time i tried it.
    ——————————————————
    I am used to complaints that Pakistan was wronged four decades ago when East Pakistan (Bangladesh) was freed from West Pakistan (Pakistan).
    Bangladesh was part of Pakistan until four decades ago, so you are fairly unique amongst Pro Pakistan circles by disavowing a linkage between Pakistan and Bangladesh.
    Upon further reflection, wasn’t there an issue with the concept of Democracy for those in West Pakistan four decades ago?
    Timeline: Bangladesh

    1970 – The Awami League, under Sheikh Mujibur
    Rahman, wins an overwhelming election victory in East Pakistan. The government in West Pakistan refuses to recognise the results, leading to rioting. Cyclone hits East Pakistan – up to 500,000 people are killed.

    Independence

    1971 – Sheikh Mujib arrested and taken to West Pakistan. In exile, Awami League leaders proclaim the independence of the province of East Pakistan on 26th March. The new country is called Bangladesh. Just under 10 million Bangladeshis flee to India as troops from West Pakistan are defeated with Indian assistance.
    ————————————————

  • Soccer says:

    Well, there are some good points to be made about dictatorship in that region though, especially regarding literacy rates.
    Saddam Hussein in the 70’s and 80’s made it mandatory for all Iraqis to learn how to read and write and under his regime, women, if they followed the Baath policies, were not subjected to discrimination under an Islamic pretext.
    That being said I don’t favour dictatorships but I just think SOMEBODY is going to have to eventually come along and force these people into the 21st century.

  • villiger says:

    Soccer, in the past that ‘somebody’ in Pak has been an Army General–it hasn’t worked. That country is lacking in leaders so don’t hold your breath for a miracle.
    As for education, the real problem in Pak is the content. The Islamist conditioning is violent and myopic. Even if you took the literacy rate up to 100%, that problem would remain.
    The real question is, is Pakistan as a federation worth saving? Why?
    This country has too many big-ticket problems, practically insoluble and way too much in ethnic tensions. Read Selig Harrison’s paper:
    //www.ciponline.org/asia/reports/pakistan_the_state_of_the_union.pdf
    Balkanize it, then you’ll have nations that are more likely to be manageable towards a 21st century society and economy.

  • bard207 says:

    Soccer,
    ——————–

    That being said I don’t favour dictatorships but I
    just think SOMEBODY is going to have to eventually come along and force these people into the 21st century.
    ——————–
    I agree with villiger that it has been the Pakistani Army Generals in the past and that trend is likely to continue as long as the PA (Pakistani Army) keep projecting India as the impediment for progress in Pakistan rather than themselves.
    As the younger PA officers educated during the reign of General Zia bubble upwards through the ranks, the trend is likely to continue and probably worsen rather than improve.
    Until the relationship between the PA and the regular citizens is altered and the Ghazwa-e-Hind mentality is eliminated, I see no reason to expect a positive change in Pakistan.

  • Soccer says:

    The problem with balkanization is that the powers that be won’t let that happen easily, without a fight and perhaps scores of people dead or wounded.
    Also, one problem with balkanizing the Pashtun population is that the “Islamic Emirate Of Afghanistan” wouldn’t let that happen. I emailed Dr Tariq, the person who you can contact to ask questions, and he rejected that idea and said that all the borders of Afghanistan as they are now are just and they should stay how they are right now, and that ethnic tensions and stoked by the “kuffar”.
    So, a huge problem with the balkanization plan is that the Islamic Emirate Of Afghanistan wouldn’t let it happen. And as you already know, a large portion of the Pashtun population resides in their territory.

  • bard207 says:

    Soccer,
    ——————————-

    So, a huge problem with the balkanization plan is
    that the Islamic Emirate Of Afghanistan wouldn’t let it happen.
    ——————————–
    You are focusing on potential opposition by those in Afghanistan, but the Balkanization that villiger is referring to would have a much larger impact on Pakistan and the Punjabi dominated PA.
    In fact, the paper that villiger linked to dwells mainly on the possibilities in Pakistan rather than in Afghanistan.
    Baluch, Sindhis, and Pashtuns would probably welcome separation from the Punjabis and the PA would be motivated to fight and prevent the Balkanization because of the serious potential of being landlocked in a Balkanized Pakistan.

  • Soccer says:

    Yes, but in order for said balkanization by villiger to happen, the Pashtun population in Afghanistan as well must rise up the same way all other ethnic groups in AFPAK will rise up. The Pashtun heartland stretches across both countries, hence the reason I felt it necessary to mention The Islamic Emirate Of Afghanistan in the first place. They just wouldn’t let it happen, and there is no sign in the region that such an upsurge would take place en masse anytime soon.

  • Villiger says:

    Soccer,
    “They just wouldn’t let it happen, and there is no sign in the region that such an upsurge would take place en masse anytime soon.”
    Firstly, if that region were to unravel, yes it will take time and will be painful, creating upheavals all around. It would be nice if there were a structured process to all this, yet there will be any number of unpredictable variables.
    Also, once there is one re-designation of just one border, domino effects are likely, regardless of what various factions positions might currently or officially or even ideally be. Life will happen while people are making other plans.
    Keep in mind the Durand Line remains very tenuous with even the Taliban regime while in “Govt” in Kabul, never accepted its sanctity.
    The Baloch independence movement is nothing new, has been bubbling over for decades and so, far from dead. The Sindhis have their own issues with the Punjabis. The Tajiks have their issues with the Pashtuns. One can go on.
    Point is that the Bangladesh example shows that religion alone is not enough of a binding factor, especially when there is a variety os sects involved and a political environment that is generally weak, unstable, corrupt and even tyrannically suppressive towards certain ethnic groups. All that is happening and being played out.
    Its what makes this Long War also a Slow War and convoluted.

  • bard207 says:

    There are parts of the Pashtun areas in Pakistan that are already dangerous for the PA and the TTP is already outside the control of the PA – ISI.
    I don’t attach as much importance to the sentiments of the Pashtuns in Afghanistan as you do.

  • Soccer says:

    “There are parts of the Pashtun areas in Pakistan that are already dangerous for the PA and the TTP is already outside the control of the PA – ISI.”
    So? That has no importance in relation to the subject. My point was that the powers that be, including the Afghan Taliban, simply wouldn’t let that happen. And there is absolutely no evidence of a pan-Pashtun ideology among the TTP at all. They are pan-Islamist, yearning for the return of a global caliphate. That doesn’t necessarily fit in with the plans of balkanization and ethnic micro-states in Pakistan.
    “I don’t attach as much importance to the sentiments of the Pashtuns in Afghanistan as you do.”
    I’m not doing that at all. My point, which I am repeating now for the 3rd time, is that the Pashtun heartland stretches across both nations and for your plan of balkanization to take effect, all ethnicities would essentially have to rise up at once and there is no sign that is happening anywhere, anytime soon, especially among the Pashtun populations of Afghanistan and Pakistan.
    The Islamic Emirate Of Afghanistan is not willing to cede territory based upon ethnic lines. Read all their literature and statements. There are more radical Islamists willing to fight for their cause then there are pro-ethnic fighters/militias. And time and time again the radical Islamists have thrashed said ethnic militias everytime they clash. And I don’t agree with the ‘domino’ effect theory. The Taliban started disputing the Durand Line in the year 2000 when a convoy of fighters crossed over into Mir Ali and started administering Sharia over that district. They did it not because of ethnic sentiments but because of a greater plan to conquer ‘Khorasan’ and bring about the global caliphate. The big power broker in that region is religion, not ethnic/tribal sentiment.

  • bard207 says:

    We can agree to disagree.

Iraq

Islamic state

Syria

Aqap

Al shabaab

Boko Haram

Isis