Terrorist vs. Terrorist


by Ralph Peters [author, novelist]

As an intelligence officer or journalist, you’ve got to know which sources you can trust. And a source who’s never let me down told me yesterday that the terrorist multinational based in Pakistan is coming apart.

According to this insider’s insider, the Pakistan-headquartered Afghan Taliban is furious at the Taliban’s Pakistani wing because its assaults on the Islamabad government triggered a stunning backlash.

Unleashed at last, Pakistan’s military launched a series of offensives aimed at smacking down the domestic Taliban. But those campaigns also crippled the Afghan Taliban’s freedom of action — and the murky Pakistani intelligence service (ISI) has been killing any Taliban leaders who resist its guidance. (As I’ve noted in past columns, Islamabad intends to dominate any Afghan peace deal.)

Now Terrorist Mutt is blaming Terrorist Jeff.

The news gets even better. Both Taliban wings are mocking al Qaeda as a bunch of wimps unwilling to help with the fight. Under siege from drone attacks and special operators, al Qaeda has hunkered down — and is no longer paying the rent to which the Taliban are accustomed.

There’s more. Multiple reports tell of a “shootin’ war” between the Afghan Taliban and another brutal Afghan outfit, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s Hezb e-Islami mujaheddin (who’ve inched toward a deal with Afghan President Hamid Karzai). Meanwhile, the ruthless Haqqani faction — aligned with the Taliban — is supposedly squabbling with everybody.

You don’t have to keep all the players straight — just be glad they’re at each other’s throats. The US policy of killing our enemies and goading the Pakistanis to do the same is paying off.

But if things are going better within Pakistan’s Wild Northwest, our peace-and-love policies inside Afghanistan are in a muddle. Officers worry that Gen. Stan McChrystal’s ploy of warning the Taliban that we’re coming to take back Kandahar may backfire.

This “look out, here we come” approach is meant to convince the Taliban to fade away before we deploy, thus limiting casualties and property damage. But reports claim the Taliban’s doing just the opposite: stockpiling weapons and bombs throughout Kandahar.

Aware that we’re hyper-sensitive to blood and rubble, the Taliban may try to turn Kandahar into a slaughterhouse for civilians, a long struggle for our troops — and, ultimately, a wasteland. (Taliban strategists may have drawn a lesson from the First Battle of Fallujah in Iraq, which the insurgents lost in the city’s streets, but won — with the media’s help — at the political level.)

The upcoming Kandahar campaign’s also complicated by the perceived need to have Afghan forces play a greater role. While letting Afghans bleed for their own country is theoretically the right answer, the Afghan National Army isn’t ready.

If an Afghan battalion breaks down under fire, guess what the headline will be — no matter how well other aspects of the fight go (the iconic image of our crucial victory in Second Fallujah remains a Marine shooting a terrorist prisoner).

Precious to the Taliban, Kandahar is McChrystal’s all-or-nothing gamble. It may not have been wise to announce in advance that he’s betting the bank on the outcome.

It also would have been encouraging had our president, instead of checking the “Afghanistan box” with a six-hour night-time visit, spent just one full day in-country to see what our troops are doing. Obama logged four times as many hours in the air as he spent on the ground in Afghanistan.

Worse, Obama’s darkness-shrouded drive-by sent a counter-productive message to our enemies, allies and regional observers: The US president’s afraid to be on Afghan soil during daylight hours.

It’s irrelevant whether his after-dusk arrival and post-midnight departure had to do with security concerns or just scheduling issues. He looked furtive. And appearances trump all.

Reportedly, the president read Karzai the riot act about the destructive corruption and ineptitude of his government. Nothing will come of it. The Karzai regime’s too far gone. It isn’t afflicted with corruption — it’s built on it.

Obama then chowed down with local luminaries, gave rear-echelon troops a 20-minute pep talk (complete with photo op) on the safest base in Afghanistan, and faded back into the night. That wham-bam-thank-you-Bagram visit was a perfect measure of the president’s level of interest in a war to which he’s sending 30,000 more men and women in uniform.

The good news? We’re not only killing terrorists in Pakistan — they’re starting to kill each other. The bad news? Afghanistan isn’t a war. It’s a politically correct experiment — conducted with our troops — by an administration with higher priorities. ExileStreet

NY Post / copyright 2010 NY Post

Ralph Peters’ latest book is “Endless War: Middle Eastern Islam vs. Western CivilizationHis most recent novel is “The War After Armageddon,” is on the street. His most most recent non-fiction book is “Looking For Trouble: Adventures in a Broken World.” He is Fox News’ strategic analyst.

Peters is a retired Army officer and the author of 19 books, as well as of hundreds of essays and articles, written both under his own name and as Owen Parry. He is a frequent columnist for the New York Post and other publications.

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