June 14, 2009

Schmidle on Swat

Man, does Nick Schmidle ever talk a lot of sober-minded sense in today's Washington Post:

In some ways, Swat and South Waziristan today are like Afghanistan and Iraq in 2003: Rushing into the latter would almost certainly jeopardize success in the former. Pakistan's battle against the Taliban won't be won or lost in the hills, but in the hearts of ordinary Pakistanis, and especially the Pashtuns who live on either side of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. They are watching more closely than anyone to see whether the army is serious about finishing off Fazlullah's Taliban. They are also watching more closely than anyone to see the fate of millions of Pashtuns who have fled their homes in and around Swat as a result of the army offensive.

One of the things I took away from General Petraeus' talk to the assembled masses as CNASapalooza '09 was his assessment that the Pakistani military really does seem to understand clear-hold-build, and that, having just created the largest concentration of internally displaced persons in the world, the Pakistani government recognizes the need to consolidate its gains against the militants and resettle those IDPs before moving westward. Nick's excellent piece should silence those few who now want the Pakistanis to carry on immediately into the FATA.

Remember the words of the wise: Slow is smooth, and smooth is fast.