The Obama Administration has implemented a significant change in policy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan, which they view as a single challenge, AfPak. More troops and a new commander have been sent to Afghanistan, and the US has increased its level of support and aid to Pakistan. To many, this means we are becoming further entrenched in an open-ended quagmire where any military solution will ultimately fail. Others question whether we should care if Afghanistan has a strong central government or a democratic one. While most agree it should not become a terrorist haven, opinions differ on how this should be accomplished: more troops, covert operations, diplomacy?
And what to make of Pakistan? We cannot allow its nuclear arsenal to fall into the hands of radicals, but President Obama has ruled out putting US troops on the ground. The task of rooting out al Qaeda and Taliban militants falls to Pakistan’s army, which has, until recently, supported these groups as a hedge against future conflict with India. How much tolerance does America have for the long road ahead with AfPak? Can we ever “win,” and how would we even define a win in this region?