Pakistan is an interesting case. It's far more important than Iraq as far as the issue of terrorism and Al Qaeda go. I suspect that we will have to find some way of dealing with the problems of Pakistan if we wish to succeed in Afghanistan.
Via Matt Yglesias come two articles on Pakistan.
Unfortunately, the worst thing about the Bush administration’s Pakistan policy washed away any of the gains achieved from providing emergency relief. In nearly every single speech on national security, President Bush has made a central argument that has been called the Freedom Agenda. In Bush’s worldview, the forces of freedom and democracy would defeat the forces of terrorism and extremism. The Freedom Strategy was an extension of the “us versus them,” “with us or against us” reaction the Bush administration had to the devastating September 11th attacks here at home. But there have been two main problems with the Bush Freedom Strategy.
First, the actual policy didn’t match the rhetoric in several prominent cases, including Pakistan. President Bush talked a good game when it came to freedom, but when Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf took an autocratic turn in late 2007, imposed emergency rule, and jailed judges, lawyers, and peaceful civil society activists, President Bush offered no criticisms or major shifts in policy.
What strikes me as most ironic about this is, though Bush is constantly pointing to his "Freedom Agenda" (Bush: “No President has ever done more for human rights than I have.”), democracy managed to arise in Pakistan, even though the Bushies fought it tooth and nail, and failed to even embrace democracy even when it was clear that Musharraf had no future. This should be tonic for our arrogance.
The other article has some interesting things to say about the best ways to counter terrorism. It concludes that military confrontation may not be the best option (this is why I'm skeptical of hitting in Pakistan or ramping up our presence in Afghanistan).
Then there’s the study released by the Rand Corporation this week, “How Terrorist Groups End: Lessons for Countering Al Qa’ida,” by Seth G. Jones and Marin C. Libicki, which concludes that military operations alone rarely are the primary reason for the end of terrorist groups. The study found that since 1968, most terrorist groups ended operations because they joined the political process (43 percent) or local police and intelligence agencies arrested or killed key members (40 percent).
While a small part of the solution to the terrorist issue will doubtless be military, most of is will be political or law enforcement work, which, while less headline grabbing, will prove more effective.