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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Tora Bora Redux

Theorists love their strategies and who are we to blame them. After several years of the so-called flypaper strategy in Iraq and Afghanistan we now have the glorified pincer movement. The NATO and Pakistani counterinsurgencies on either side of the Durand Line are being described as a hammer and anvil. Clearly such people have never spent much time in that part of the world nor have the slightest knowledge of the terrain.

Rumors abound that Osama bin Laden and/or a few of his henchmen will be delivered to the Americans just in time to save whatever public support is left for their Afghanistan policy. But what happens to all those who manage to escape the perfect pincer? Already we see them moving south to Baluchistan, and to the north. A widening of the Afghan civil war across the Oxus could be one of the worst imaginable unintended consequences of handing Pashtunistan back over to the Pakistanis, which is more or less inevitable at this point. The reaction among non-Pushtuns in Afghanistan, and their co-ethnics across the border, could be severe, particularly toward one another.

The Tora Bora analogy, then, may be quite relevant after all.

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