Bill Roggio reports on efforts by the Pakistani government to come to a political solution in Waziristan, after much inconclusive fighting with the Taliban. Roggio raises the key question of why any ceasefire should be different from the earlier ones which failed.
Orakzai has pushed for the signing of peace agreements with the Taliban in the tribal agencies and the settled districts of the Northwest Frontier Province despite clear evidence the Taliban bypassed the accords immediately after signing the agreements. The Taliban violated the terms of the accord when it established a shadow administration, opened recruiting offices, taxed the populations, enforced sharia law, attacked Pakistani troops, and conducted a campaign of murder and intimidation against its rivals.
The question that springs to mind is what distinguishes the dismal efforts by the Pakistanis with the epidemic-like "uprising" against al-Qaeda that began in Iraq's Anbar and has since started to spread like wildfire. Brigadier General Kevin Bergner recently described recent developments in a blogger teleconference roundtable.
Two possible differences in the situations spring to mind. The first is that the Pakistani government is part of the problem, while in Iraq the government is still a work in progress. While it may eventually become a problem of the same nature as Musharraf's, it isn't yet. People aren't struggling against an Iraqi government so much as trying to create one. On the other hand, certain sectors in Pakistan are actually trying to oppose their government. Therefore the "peace offerings" in Waziristan may be politically defective. The second difference may be the inefficiency of the Pakistani Army, which, while it may not lack for will or brutality, may nevertheless be deficient in operational skill.
David Kilcullen observed that counterinsurgency is fundamentally about politics, and that the role of military force is to provide space for a political solution to occur. That basically restates the two possible differences. Pakistan may neither have the the military capability to provide the "space" nor the political solution which could bloom in it.
Just now the New York Times is reporting a proposal to redeploy the Marines from Iraq and move them to Afghanistan.
The idea by the Marine Corps commandant would effectively leave the Iraq war in the hands of the Army while giving the Marines a prominent new role in Afghanistan, under overall NATO command. The suggestion was raised in a session last week convened by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates for the Joint Chiefs of Staff and regional war-fighting commanders.
While the NYT bravely tries to spin things, "it is not clear exactly how many of the marines in Iraq would be moved over. But the plan would require a major reshuffling, and it would make marines the dominant American force in Afghanistan, in a war that has broader public support than the one in Iraq," -- it is difficult to imagine a redeployment of this magnitude taking place outside the context of a re-assessment about the relative criticality of each theater. It may be that the military challenges in Iraq are now lower relative to Afghanistan, or that the situation in Afghanistan has suddenly reached a crisis. The NYT implies that the reason is to take advantage of the efficiency of making one theater "all-Army" and the other "all-Marine". But I don't think this is plausible. If such a plan is under consideration it must be in response to some other driver.