Administration can't make up its mind about the ISI
They're either helping the terrorists or are vital to negotiations in Afghanistan. Which is it?
The Obama administration, after correctly calling out Pakistan's intelligence service, the ISI, for assisting that Haqqani network in attacking Americans, is now pleading with them to use their influence to get the terrorists to the negotiating table.
Just a month after accusing Pakistan's spy agency of secretly supporting the Haqqani terrorist network, which has mounted attacks on Americans, the Obama administration is now relying on the same intelligence service to help organize and kick-start reconciliation talks aimed at ending the war in Afghanistan.
The revamped approach, which Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called "Fight, Talk, Build" during a high-level United States delegation's visit to Kabul and Islamabad this month, combines continued American air and ground strikes against the Haqqani network and the Taliban with an insistence that Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency get them to the negotiating table.
But some elements of the ISI see little advantage in forcing those negotiations, because they see the insurgents as perhaps their best bet for maintaining influence in Afghanistan as the United States reduces its presence there.
The strategy is emerging amid an increase in the pace of attacks against Americans in Kabul, including a suicide attack on Saturday that killed as many as 10 Americans and in which the Haqqanis are suspected . It is the latest effort at brokering a deal with militants before the last of 33,000 American "surge" troops prepare to pull out of Afghanistan by September, and comes as early hopes in the White House about having the outlines of a deal in time for a multinational conference Dec. 5 in Bonn, Germany, have been all but abandoned.
Why should either terrorist outfit want to talk? They're winning. A US withdrawal is a victory and the ISI knows that as much as Haqqani or the Taliban.
Now if someone could cue in Hillary Clinton and the State Department on those facts, we might get a more realistic policy toward disengagement. As it is, our plan appears to depend on wishful thinking and erroneous assumptions - about what we've come to expect from this crew running American foreign policy these last three years.