There is an important element missing in the extensive coverage of Afghanistan: multilateral diplomacy. The Obama administration has been correct to emphasize the stakes for Pakistan in Afghanistan and, by extension, the seriousness with which the U.S. takes Pakistan’s stability. But it has begun to sound like Afghanistan has only one border, and only one important neighbor. So far, the administration and the media’s portrait has oversimplified the nature of the Taliban insurgency, defining it as essentially an extension of the fragility of the Pakistani state and political system. In truth, Pakistan is probably more stable than it looks, however […]

The Taliban, Al-Qaida and Safe Havens

Just to clarify a bit on this previous post, the only national security interest in preventing a Taliban victory in Afghanistan is based on the premise that if they could return things to the status quo ante, they would continue to maintain a relationship with al-Qaida. I happen to agree that this is likely if they could “win” to that degree. But I’m not sure they could actually do that, especially if we maintain support to the Afghan National Army. It could also be that the al-Qaida leadership feels safer where they are now, or elsewhere, or a decentralized combination […]