Sarah Palin is clearly an intelligent woman who’s capable of learning the talking points on the major issues of the day. But in the extended remix version of the interview that they showed on Nightline she strayed a bit afield from the usual campaign topics and betrayed a serious lack of understanding of the strategic dynamics in the ‘stans:
GIBSON: But governor, I’m asking you, if you don’t have approval. We said the same thing about Musharraf. We said we needed his approval and we concede just the fact that we’ve got al Qaeda reconstituted in the Waziristan area making cross-border raids into Afghanistan. Do we need his approval or can we simply go in and go after them?
PALIN: This brings us right back to how important it is to win in Afghanistan, to make sure that the terrorist groups are not growing there. We can’t afford to lose in Iraq and we can’t afford to lose in Afghanistan. And we’re going to have to implement in Afghanistan a lot of the same successes, a lot of that surge solution that have been implemented and proven — proven to be successful in Iraq.
Basically, she thinks there are problems in Pakistan because we haven’t yet achieved total success in Afghanistan. “Win” in Afghanistan and our Pakistan problems goes away. In fact, the problem runs in the other direction — the existence of safe harbors in Pakistan is a huge problem for our efforts in Afghanistan. Anyone who’s actually been paying attention to the situation could tell you that. But instead we see from the McCain-Palin campaign basically warmed-over ideas recycled from their Iraq rhetoric and being applied in a way that demonstrates no understanding of the specific situation.