Magazine article The American Conservative

Deep Background

Magazine article The American Conservative

Deep Background

Article excerpt

White House approval of a surge in Afghanistan appears to be part of a strategy to stabilize the country before disengaging. While the nation-building agenda is unrealistic and likely unattainable, a security framework to facilitate the kind of limited political consensus that would permit American withdrawal might just be achievable.

A key element in this plan is the increased likelihood that Osama bin Laden will soon be killed or captured and his al-Qaeda group eliminated from its remaining bases in Pakistan. Minus bin Laden, talks with the Taliban become more acceptable from Washington's point of view. Intelligence sources report that increased Pakistani cooperation against al-Qaeda, coupled with the establishment of a network of temporary U.S. special-ops bases inside Pakistan, have produced actionable intelligence against terrorist targets.

The U.S. is also exploiting new technical capabilities to track movements in the border region using drones and satellites and believes that it has come close to killing bin Laden on at least three occasions. The improved intelligence is the principal reason that drone attacks against Pakistan have increased under President Obama. They are viewed as the most effective means of eliminating al-Qaeda. Though publicly complaining, the Pakistani government agrees and has sanctioned the operations in the belief that it is in Islamabad's interest to destroy al-Qaeda and the Pakistani Taliban that serves as its chief supporter.

A recent demonstration of these enhanced U. …

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