I wasn’t able to attend Joe Lieberman’s appearance at the neoconservative Foreign Policy Initiative conference this morning, but according to his Twitter feed while chatting with Bill Kristol he remarked: “We can’t ultimately succeed in Afghanistan so long as the enemy has safe havens in Pakistan.”
Obviously these two of the most war-happy individuals in the United States of America so they would never reach this conclusion, but isn’t the obvious followup to Lieberman’s theory of the case here that we can’t ultimately succeed in Afghanistan? Of course Lieberman and Kristol are more likely to conclude that we should invade Pakistan. But if prevailing against a medium-sized band of poorly equipped irregular fighters requires a fundamental shift in the policy orientation of a large adjacent nuclear-armed state whose national security thinking is overwhelmingly focused on combatting the threat from India, then we’ve got a serious problem.
A more sensible take would be that we need to define objectives in Afghanistan that can be realistically achieved even if we assume that Pakistan will continue to be basically Pakistanish in the future.