Eikenberry’s objections

Did the United States’ man in Kabul advocate action against Pakistan?

In a secret cable opposing the McChrystal plan to inject more troops to bolster counter-insurgency operations in Afghanistan, Karl Eikenberry, US ambassador to Kabul (and a former commander of US troops in the country) wrote:

[Friday November 6th, 2009]
More troops won’t end the insurgency as long as Pakistan sanctuaries remain. Pakistan will remain the single greatest source of Afghan instability so long as the border sanctuaries remain, and Pakistan views its strategic interests as best served by a weak neighbor. There is reason to be encouraged by Pakistan’s current military offensive in Waziristan, but the lasting result of this effort is still unclear. Nor does the Pakistan military action address the role of the Quetta Shura, which has the most influence over the insurgency in southern Taliban strongholds, or the Haqqani network, the most lethal killer of allied troops and Afghan civilians. Until this sanctuary problem is fully addressed, the gains from sending additional forces may be fleeting.
— We are always looking for game-changers. If we are looking for a strategic partner and military or political moves likely to have decisive results, those might be in Pakistan. As we contemplate greatly expanding our presence in Afghanistan, the better answer could well be to further ratchet up our engagement with Pakistan.

[Monday November 9th 2009]
Among the issues this panel should examine are:
— the prospects for the Pakistani security services putting meaningful pressure against the Afghan Taliban, the insurgent sanctuaries and leadership, and al Qaeda.[NYT]

Mr Eikenberry’s phrase—“to further ratchet up our engagement with Pakistan”—is intriguing. In the context of the paragraph of which it is a part of, it seems to suggest that he is advocating military coercion against Pakistan. He was only reiterating what he had already told a Congressional committee in February 2007, when, after leaving his position as commander of American troops in Afghanistan, he noted that “a steady, direct attack against the command and control in Pakistan in sanctuary areas is essential for us to achieve success.”

Tailpiece:It is astounding how many secret documents are making their way to the public. Overall, it conveys an impression of an establishment soaked in defeatism, with individuals trying to protect themselves by leaking correspondence selectively. In this case, one official took it upon himself to hand over a secret document to the New York Times, because a “reporter requested them…(because) “it was important for the historical record that Mr Eikenberry’s detailed assessments be made public.” Seriously, now!

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