And you would think that nobody seems to care that we are still engaging in a failed occupation in Iraq, or that the already worsening situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan is getting worse. Despite what was drummed into our heads, al Qaeda and the Taliban are not watching with baited breath to see which Democratic candidate will enable them to move forward with their plan to attack us - those plans are already well underway, thanks to Bush and the republican party’s enabling of him to neglect the region.
From today’s Boston Globe:
Sometime in mid-December, as the winter winds howled across the snow-dusted hills of Pakistan's inhospitable border regions, 40 men representing Taliban groups all across Pakistan's northwest frontier came together to unify under a single banner and to choose a leader.
The banner was Tehrik-e- Taliban Pakistan, or the Taliban Movement of Pakistan, with a fighting force estimated at up to 40,000. And the leader was Baitullah Mehsud, the man Pakistan accuses of assassinating former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.
The move is an attempt to present a united front against the Pakistani Army, which has been fighting insurgents along the border with Afghanistan. It is also the latest sign of the rise of Mehsud, considered the deadliest of the Taliban mullahs or clerics in northwest Pakistan.
The Taliban - that same group that harbored bin Laden and al Qaeda, that same group that allowed terrorist training camps to flourish in Afghanistan, the same group that is working with al Qaeda in Pakistan to launch attacks at NATO troops in Afghanistan for the past couple of years, the same group that Hamid Karzai called “defeated” on numerous occasions, the same group that Rumsfeld said were “gone” (he also said that al Qaeda was “gone”).
Yes, THAT Taliban now has selected a “leader” - someone who may have been behind the assassination of Bhutto (but who really knows at this point), has become stronger and more violent and has an estimated 40,000 followers/fighters. This same “leader” has previously been accused by Musharraf of being behind a number of suicide bombings as well. Oh yeah, there is also a stronger alignment with al Qaeda - with funds and logistical assistance being provided to the Taliban by al Qaeda.
And right on cue - only five years after neglecting Afghanistan and Pakistan as well as the Taliban and the real al Qaeda, the Bush administration is starting to realize that “shit” and “fan” have been on a collision course for quite some time:
In a shift with profound implications, the Bush administration is attempting to re-energize its terrorism-fighting war efforts in Afghanistan, the original target of a post-Sept. 11 offensive. The U.S. also is refocusing on Pakistan, where a regenerating al-Qaida is posing fresh threats.
There is growing recognition that the United States risks further setbacks, if not deepening conflict or even defeat, in Afghanistan, and that success in that country hinges on stopping Pakistan from descending into disorder.
Privately, some senior U.S. military commanders say Pakistan's tribal areas are at the center of the fight against Islamic extremism; more so than Iraq, or even Afghanistan. These areas border on eastern Afghanistan and provide haven for al-Qaida and Taliban fighters to regroup, rearm and reorganize.
I’ll take the obvious easy joke here, even though it is far from funny and point out this “growing recognition” by the US “leadership”, despite the fact that a dumbass like me pointed out how Pakistan was a “bubbling disaster” well over a year ago, and that this same dumbass made the same “recognition” closer to two years ago with respect to Afghanistan.
And I am still waiting for a call from the State Department for a position there.
Yet, this month alone has seen major attacks and violence in Pakistan (other than the obvious being the Bhutto assassination), and there has been concern about NATO troops being defeated by the Taliban in Afghanistan for almost a year now.
On top of this, I was in Canada less than two weeks ago, and there were a number of stories each day about their troops being killed in Afghanistan. And in today’s Winnipeg Sun, there is this stark assessment:
So far, most NATO countries have been deaf to Canada's cries for help in the deadly Kandahar region where Manley says our troops are waging a losing battle without reinforcements.
The U.S. recently said it would deploy 3,200 more marines to Afghanistan on a temporary basis -- seven months in and out.
I’ll point out that the US is being so generous with their “renewed refocus” on Afghanistan that we are only sending 3,200 marines to Afghanistan on a temporary basis, haven’t come up with any kind of big picture strategy to deal with the mess that was made by ignoring the Taliban and al Qaeda for 5 years since cutting and running from Afghanistan, yet we still have 150,000 troops refereeing a rapidly devolving ethnic cleansing and civil war in Iraq - a country that we had no business invading or occupying in the first place.
So while everyone over here in the US is laser focused on “he said/she said” and whatever other distractions we are being forced to swallow (or ignore), there is now a coordinated and organized Taliban and al Qaeda working together even closer than they have in years. With little to no pushback. With more money and freedom to operate. Resulting in more violence, more damage and more threats. In one country that we have largely ignored and another that we paid lip service to while leaving too soon for a folly in another country that we are still in five years later - with no real plan to help the people of or deal with the resurgent terrorism and civil war in any of the three countries.
Those are things that I would like to hear Clinton, Obama, Edwards, Romney, McCain and the other candidates talk about. How would they deal with the situation that one of them will be presented with in less than one year?
This is not a “hypothetical” - this is reality. And if one of them wants to lead this country, then they better be able to credibly and comprehensively lay out a plan to deal with this.
Or, we can continue to demand from them an explanation as to why the other ones are calling them names and saying mean things about each other.