President Obama’s top counterterrorism adviser, John Brennan, announced on Thursday that the President has urged him to be more aggressive in destroying al Qaeda. They will be stepping up efforts on all fronts including predator drone attacks and pushing the Taliban out of key population areas in Afghanistan.
I was pleased to see that the plan also includes an increase in development efforts in Afghanistan and $1.5 billion annually in direct support to Pakistan for education, healthcare and infrastructure. One reason that al Qaeda and the Taliban continue to be so resilient is that they have had support from a lot of the rural tribes in Afghanistan and Pakistan who hide them, give them shelter and are a source of new recruits. They have won this support by providing the tribes with food and medicine and money. Unless we are able to provide these people, who have nothing, access to basic goods and services and the chance to build some sort of life for themselves, then they will have no reason not to support these terrorist groups and we will continue to have a very difficult time stamping them out. They will just disappear back into the hills, hide amongst the tribes and regroup.