AfPak response to Obama's speech; fear

On the one hand, you have to sneer at the hypocrisy of Pakistan who has played the anti-American card whenever the government - Musharraff's or Zardari's - felt it could do them some good with their own people.

On the other hand, you have to be alarmed at their reaction to Obama's promise to withdraw in 18 months. Afghanistan considers it "shock therapy" according to one minister quoted in this New York Times piece by Sabrina Tavernise and Carlotta Hall:

In Afghanistan, Foreign Minister Rangin Dadfar Spanta, the only minister who commented on the speech, said the announcement that American troops could begin leaving in 18 months served as a kind of shock therapy, but caused anxiety. "Can we do it?" he asked. "That is the main question. This is not done in a moment. It is a process."

In Pakistan, Mr. Obama's declaration fed longstanding fears that America would abruptly withdraw, leaving Pakistan to fend for itself.

Many in Islamabad, Pakistan's capital, argued that the short timetable diminished any incentive for Pakistan to cut ties to Taliban militants who were its allies in the past, and whom Pakistan might want to use to shape a friendly government in Afghanistan after the American withdrawal.

"The most serious issue, as far as we see it, is the exit date," said a senior Pakistani security official who spoke anonymously because he was not allowed to speak publicly. "It will have serious implications."

Note the Pakistani threat to continue their cozy relationship with the Taliban. Ignore it. They'd continue to support the terrorists even if Obama said we were staying 10 years.

Our quick withdrawal may end up forcing the Afghan government to open negotiations with the Taliban and perhaps even agree to some kind of "unity government." The prospects otherwise are bleak. There is no way the Afghan security forces will be ready to protect the government in 18 months.

Was this Obama's plan all along? It sure would be the quickest way to get American troops home