Never has Colin Powell's Pottery Barn analogy been more apt than in the next lost war, Pakistan. In our quest to strike down radical Islam, we have done so like an angry housewife chasing a mouse with a broom, and in the process done more damage with the broom than the mouse ever could.
I recently listened to Ray McGovern speak about Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the third rail of American foreign policy, Israel. McGovern, a life long security analyst for the CIA, explained with true emotion about the effects of the fabrication of intelligence for the war in Iraq and what that did to the intelligence community as a whole.
Just as the legal community and civil libertarians decried the fabricated legal theories of John Yoo, so too did the intelligence community. Events such as the yellowcake incident, that were created out of whole cloth, had the same effect as a second set of books would have on an accountant. To a community trained in factual analysis, now they had to wonder what is true. If I can't trust your work, can you trust mine? Are these figures real or false? Accurate or generated?
McGovern then used the example of the Pentagon Papers in comparison to Afghanistan. In 1968 General Westmoreland asked Lyndon Johnson for an additional 208,000 US troops. What the Pentagon Papers showed was that Westmoreland was fudging on the numbers of North Vietnamese troop strength by 100%. General McKrystal is asking for an additional 40,000 troops for Afghanistan, but where is the independent analysis? We have only the military's analysis, the rosy analysis, the cake walk analysis, the flowers and candy analysis.
We stormed into Afghanistan with too much faith in high tech weaponry and too little understanding of our enemies, a tribal society with cross-flowing allegiances, religious, tribal and political. The money and arms that had flowed into Afghanistan to fight the Soviets in the 1980s came through Pakistan. Those networks were still alive and the Pakistani intelligence service is as much responsible for the Taliban in Afghanistan as is Islam.
Since the Taliban are a product of the Pakistani ISI, it is only logical to assume that once the bombs started to fall in Afghanistan the Taliban would return to the place of their birth, Pakistan. The Taliban was created to rule Afghanistan, to protect and secure the border region of Pakistan. The Russian invasion of Afghanistan was bad news for Pakistan and likewise is the American invasion of Afghanistan.
Pakistan is a country of crossroads. The product of a former British colony, it has strong judicial roots and an educated middle class in the cities. Outside of the cities it is more Islamic and the people are poorer and loosely educated. There are three power bases in Pakistan: the civilian government, the military, and the ISI, the Pakistani intelligence service.