Apparently we've found them. Or at least, found them more explicitly than before. Not-so-suprisingly, the Pakistanis have come out and said what we all knew they were thinking: that they're hedging for the day the West pulls out of Afghanistan, and want to preserve their 'strategic assets,' namely those militant groups based in Pakistan that aren't allies of the TTP.
So, no, Mr. Obama, we won't be going after the Haqqani network, or other elements of the Quetta Shura that don't seek our overthrow. Because in our grand delusions, we still believe that we can control and direct the chaos on the other side of the border to our own advantage. And dammit, we will have 'strategic depth'!
Apparently this is "part of a mounting grievance in Pakistan that the alliance with the United States is too costly to bear." Umm, and what do you think the costs of abandoning that alliance will be?
Seriously, if Pakistan is concerned that it will be surrounded by Indians (or pro-Indian regimes) on all sides, why can't they see that the surest way to make that happen is to become the West's opponent? If it becomes an explicit proxy war between Pakistani and US-backed groups, why wouldn't the West align more closely with India?
Granted China may align with Pakistan against India again if the surge fails and there's a scramble in Central Asia, but isn't it just as likely to have second thoughts rooted in concerns about militants in Xianjang? Moreover, the Pakistani military still seem to think they can manage and control their militant clients. That strikes me as a deeply dangerous game to play between nuclear powers that seem at times to be itching to step into the street and settle 60 year old scores.
Perhaps more to the point, this brings into pretty sharp focus the unanswered questions about our Pakistan strategy. Even if the NYT story reflects attitudes in the military rather than civilian leadership, how do we simultaneously strengthen the civilian government's grip on its military (while not appearing to do so and thereby delegitimizing it (further) amongst the Pakistani electorate) while at the same time putting Hellfires into Waziri hillsides...or maybe the suburbs of Quetta?
Here's a question for all the Pakistan experts out there: in the eyes of the Pakistani military, what is the relative value of US military aid compared to taking out Haqqani? Would the threat of cutting off the former change the calculus, or simply reinforce the paranoia?