Thursday, July 19, 2007

Straight Talk About Taking Out Al-Qaeda

Finally someone says the glaringly obvious about what we have to do to prevent terrorist attacks here: Stop wringing our hands about Musharraf’s shaky situation in Pakistan and cross the Afghanistan border to take out bin Laden’s people who are dug in there.

Lee Hamilton, 76 years old with no political ambitions, said it straight out on CNN yesterday: "If there's anything we should have learned, it's that we must not let Al Qaeda have a sanctuary, which they certainly do in Pakistan today."

For years now, Pakistan’s President has been playing the Bush Administration like a violin, promising cooperation and doing just enough to placate us while keeping the militants in his own country at bay. But Musharraf’s political games have left the United States increasingly vulnerable.

Even Bush and Cheney see by now what has to be done. “In identifying the main reasons for Al Qaeda’s resurgence,” the New York Times reported yesterday, “intelligence officials and White House aides pointed the finger squarely at a hands-off approach toward the tribal areas by Pakistan’s president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, who last year brokered a cease-fire with tribal leaders in an attempt to drain support for Islamic extremism in the region.”

“It hasn’t worked for Pakistan,” said Frances Fragos Townsend, who heads the Homeland Security Council at the White House. “It hasn’t worked for the United States.”

According to the Times, “Ms. Townsend...acknowledged frustration that Al Qaeda had succeeding in rebuilding its infrastructure and its links to affiliates, while keeping Mr. bin Laden and his top lieutenants alive for nearly six years since the Sept. 11 attacks.”

It will undoubtedly take a highly sophisticated combination of overt and covert operations to do what has to be done in Pakistan, but, as usual, it is taking someone like Lee Hamilton to say so out loud.

If Bush and Cheney are lusting to invade somewhere, they should forget Iran and do what has to be done in Pakistan. They won’t have to take over a whole country and stay, as they did in Iraq, just get in far enough to uproot Al Qaeda and get out.

No comments: