In effect Ackerman recommends launching full scale war with Pakistan...
Nope. I argued that the U.S. should continue the drone war it's already waging while cutting off aid to Pakistan and realigning policy to favor India. The lattermost part of the proposal would probably be more damaging to Islamabad than keeping the drone war going. I do not mean to diminish the prospect of air strikes in denied air space, especially as U.S. strategy grows more hostile to Pakistan. But it's just not the case that I'm proposing about any military action the U.S. is not currently taking.
What's more, all Pakistan has to do to reverse this U.S. tilt is to stop helping insurgents kill Americans, something that Hussein doesn't address. At this point, Pakistan is simply telling the U.S. that it won't take meaningful action against the terrorist safe havens while enjoying our F-16s and billions in aid money. That is an unacceptable posture that the Obama administation unaccountably tolerates. If Pakistan is to change its behavior, some external pressure has to compel it to do so.
Hussain's broader point is a good one: that rather than confronting Pakistan, the U.S. ought to recognize that it's letting the Afghanistan war's tail wag its policy toward the Pakistan dog. He's right. Afghanistan strategy -- or the flailing series of measures that passes for one -- is determining U.S. actions in the whole region. And that has to stop. Indeed, reduce U.S. forces to what's necessary to ensure the Afghan security apparatus can survive and what's necessary to support a smaller, more focused drone war on the real irritant to U.S. security interests, the safe havens in tribal Pakistan.
Ah, except Hussain contradicts himself. He wants to see the U.S. end the Afghanistan war, admirably. But he locates the origins of Pakistan's complicity in terrorism in an odd place:
The U.S. is planning their exit strategy from Afghanistan, however Pakistan will never be able to “exit” from the region and as such has to live with whatever government is in power in Kabul and with whatever non-state actors are operating on its territory and beyond.
So what's the U.S. supposed to do? Continue the war and stay in the region to placate Pakistan? Or end the war that's supposed to be the big irritant to Pakistan, bring U.S. troops home from the region, and blithely accept continued Pakistani terrorism? The Pakistanis need to resolve this basic contradiction in their stated demands for themselves. They should not expect another dollar in U.S. aid -- including spare parts for the fighter jets their pilots fly -- until they do. And perhaps a frostier U.S. posture, perhaps, can sharpen the choices before Islamabad.