Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Devil We Know

Hamilton urges U.S. to rout al Qaeda from Pakistan
(CNN) -- U.S. forces should go into Pakistan to rout al Qaeda from the safe haven it has found in the mountains on the border with Afghanistan, a co-chairman of the Iraq Study Group said.

Former Rep. Lee Hamilton, who also served as the vice chairman of the 9/11 commission, says the Iraq war distracted the United States when it had al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden on the run in the tribal region between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

He says it's now time to finish the job.

"This has to be carefully calibrated, worked out with the Pakistanis, but I am very concerned that you have a safe haven in Pakistan today where they (al Qaeda) can regroup, rethink, and get ready for more attacks," Hamilton said on CNN's "Newsroom" on Wednesday.

Declassified portions of the National Intelligence Estimate released Tuesday reported that al Qaeda has "protected or regenerated key elements" of its ability to attack the United States while in this region.

Some intelligence analysts believe bin Laden and his second in command, Ayman al-Zawahiri, are hiding in western Pakistan. more

He's right. We should go after them. But the question is can we afford to? Musharraff is barely in a politically tenable position in the cities. He had previously signed over control of much of the rural areas to local tribal leaders in order to remain in power. Its highly questionable as to whether or not he can allow us to perform such an operation let alone allow his military to participate in it and stay in power. No matter how little you may think of Musharraff you have to admit that he a: knows where his nukes are b: knows how many nukes he has c: hasn't used any of them and d: hasn't sold them or the recipe/blueprints to anyone.

The fact that we haven't gone in after Al Qaeda in Pakistan strongly suggests that Musharraff would be out of power if we did. If he loses power in a cioux we have no guarantee that a through d remain true. So for better or for worse he is, if nothing else, the devil we know.