How Important is Af-Pak?

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The Center for Strategic & International Studies' Anthony Cordesman has a new report out arguing that the Obama administration has to keep the Af-Pak conflict in proper perspective:

...US strategy must accept the fact that this is a limited war fought for limited objectives where the cost can exceed its value. The US cannot afford to become overcommitted to either Afghanistan or Pakistan. Its strategy must consider options that limit future US commitments and that focus on containment – undesirable as those options may seem. The US may well be able to win – particularly if the Afghan and Pakistani governments become more effective partners – but it cannot let a limited war fought for limited purposes become the central focus of its strategy and actions – even at the regional level.

Part of the problem with the whole "central front in the war on terror" language - which both Republicans and Democrats indulged in - is that it created the expectation that we'd fight a set piece battle with radicalism, and then move on. Unfortunately, it's not going to work that way. Instead, it's turned into a question of how much we care to invest in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq and to what degree this investment is going to stem the broader tide of radicalism.


An Afghan police man stands guard as his colleague, rear, guides vehicles at a police check post on 17th anniversary of guerrilla fighters over the Soviet-backed Communist regime in Kabul, Afghanistan on Tuesday, April 28, 2009. Photo credit: AP Photo.

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