Afghanistan and the areas of Pakistan that border it have always been the epicenter of the war on jihadist terrorism--and, at least for the foreseeable future, they will continue to be. Though it may be tempting to think otherwise, we cannot defeat Al Qaeda without securing Afghanistan.Responds Matthew Yglesias:
To my mind, Bergen’s account of the situation largely begged the question—he says we’re fighting the Taliban because the Taliban is working so closely with al-Qaeda, but arguably the Taliban is working closely with al-Qaeda largely because we’re fighting them.
In general in these foreign occupation scenarios it’s difficult to disentangle cause and effect. If 70,000 Taliban fighters showed up in the United States for any purpose whatsoever, I take it that Americans would all band together to fight them off. But our unity of purpose and anti-Taliban resolve in the face of foreign invasion wouldn’t tell you very much about our post-invasion behavior.