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Af-Pak: Which comes first?
Setting priorities in the fight against al Qaida along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border
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resident Obama has his priorities reversed on the dangerous Afghanistan-Pakistan border, said Graham Allison and John Deutch in The Wall Street Journal. Obama improved on the Bush administration's Afghanistan policy by acknowledging that it's an “Af-Pak” issue, but Obama still acts like stabilizing Afghanistan is priority No. 1. But the al Qaida terrorists who planned 9/11 aren’t in Afghanistan anymore—“the heart of the problem” is now across the border in Pakistan.

It‘s not that simple, said USA Today in an editorial. “Preventing al Qaida from regaining a foothold in Afghanistan is crucial to U.S. security.” But we do need to win in Pakistan, too. And—with Pakistan’s lawless tribal regions, highly placed al Qaida sympathizers, and nuclear weapons—the “Pak part” of the Af-Pak issue “might well prove to be the most difficult and decisive.”

“The problem along the Afghan border is not mass support for Islamist extremism,” said Douglas J. Feith and Justin Polin in The New York Times. “It is widespread acquiescence” to extremists who have crushed Pakistan’s moderate Sufi tradition and claimed “the exclusive right to fly the banner of Islam.” Maybe what we need is a Cold War–style strategic communications counterattack—call it Radio Free Swat Valley.

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