Retreat first

The editors of the Washington Post examine the “Pakistan First” policy being championed by Vice President Biden in response to the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan. Under this approach, the U.S. would put Afghanistan on the “back burner” and attack al Qaeda targets in Pakistan with drones or special forces, while backing the government of Pakistan as it attempts to pacify and develop parts of Pakistan where Al Qaeda and the Taliban are flourishing.
This, of course, is the latest variation on an old Democratic play — accept defeat in the war we’re fighting under the guise of focusing on some other military action so as to avoid the appearance of weakness. It wasn’t long ago that the Democrats were promoting an “Afghanistan First” policy as a pretext for abandoning Iraq.
Thus has the Democrats’ defeatist two-step become a defeatist three-step.
To make matters worse, the shell game the Dems are playing now lacks even the surface plausibility of the “Afghanistan First” policy. When it came to Iraq and Afghanistan, one could argue that the real enemy was to be found in the latter venue. When it comes to Afghanistan and Pakistan, it’s essentially the same enemy, and ceding Afghanistan to that enemy would have major and adverse implications for Pakistan.
This is the point the Post’s editors make. They note that Pakistan’s leaders consider the Taliban’s advances in Afghanistan to be, in the words of the Pakistani foreign minister, “a mortal threat to their country.” The Post also reminds us that elements of Pakistan’s military and intelligence services are sympathetic to the Taliban. If the U.S. retreats in Afghanistan, these elements will be strengthened at the expense of the pro-Western government.
At that point, Biden and his fellow Democratic defeatists can abandon Pakistan on the theory that the government no longer supports our efforts. We can then implement our “Indonesia First” strategy.


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