April 21, 2004


Al Qaeda Disrupted in Pakistani Tribal Areas, General Says (CARLOTTA GALL, 4/20/04, NY Times)

The commander of American-led forces in Afghanistan, Lt. Gen. David Barno, said Monday that Pakistan had successfully disrupted the Qaeda network in the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan and had significantly affected its ability to support a suspected Taliban insurgency across the border in Afghanistan.

In an interview in Kabul, the Afghan capital, General Barno commended the Pakistani military for its "bold moves" against foreign fighters in the Pakistani tribal area of South Waziristan in March. He said it had so far prevented an anticipated offensive this spring in Afghanistan by the remnants of Taliban fighters who are suspected to have taken refuge across the Pakistani border in tribal areas.

"There have been some tough fights, so I give them great credit for making some bold moves over there," he said. The Pakistani operation since January has been larger and more intense than the previous level of enforcement in the border area, he said. He added that it appears to have disrupted what had been a very stable area for Al Qaeda's foreign fighters and senior leadership, where they are believed to have lived and operated for two years.

"That has had a significant unsettling effect on their organization over there and to some degree on their ability to support the Taliban as well," he said of Al Qaeda. "But clearly they are concerned about what is going on over there."

Imagine the coverage and hysterical hand-wringing a Taliban Spring offensive would have produced? We'd be hip-deep in quagmirism. But prevent those attacks and turn it into a Spring defensive and it is a non-story.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 21, 2004 1:39 PM

I don't want to be too much of a stick-in-hte-mud. But how can you call it a "non-story" if it's being printed in the NY Times?

Posted by: Brandon at April 21, 2004 2:58 PM

I wouldn't trust that general as far as I could throw him. The Pakistanis put on a show, and that's about it. They'll even repeat the performance next year, and the year after that, and the year after that one...

Posted by: Derek Copold at April 21, 2004 3:03 PM


Last year you said they wouldn't put on this show.

Posted by: oj at April 21, 2004 3:52 PM


Ever read the Times? It's 80% broccoli--storiers that are "good for you" that no one else even bothers to run.

Posted by: oj at April 21, 2004 4:01 PM

One may always question the veracity of any such claim. However, there must be some informational content behind them, as making these claims is not entirely "free" or "riskless". You make them knowing them to be false or exaggerated. The Taliban makes the so-called Spring offensive. You look like a fool. And worse, given recent Dem behavior, you find yourself in front of a career-ending inquisition.

Posted by: MG at April 21, 2004 4:05 PM

OJ: Broccoli? no. broccoli is tasty, especially when not overcooked. Brussels sprouts. Overcoooked brussels sprouts.

If a story does not fit the template of Bush lied and our boys died -- quagmire, quagmire, quagmire. It will not have any traction.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at April 21, 2004 4:22 PM

I said we wouldn't go into Pakistan, and I was right. The U.S. didn't participate beyond giving them a few pictures. The rest was a Pakistani Kabuki play, where they pretended to crackdown on terror, but really didn't. For crying out loud, they gave every serious guerrilla in the area enough advance notice to clear out. If that isn't a sign of a lack of seriousness, I don't know what is.

Posted by: Derek Copold at April 21, 2004 4:43 PM

An apposite comment here:

"Let's start with the Pakistani Army's Al-Qaeda hunt in the Pushtun provinces. This was the biggest farce since the last Don King fight I saw. Watching it on CNN was like sitting through a bad remake of Starship Troopers, with dumb-ass reporters hyping the big battle in XL combat fatigues untucked to hide their fat bellies. (Don't try to fool a fellow fat man, fellas! I know all the tricks! Camo won't hide 20 years of Heinekins on the network's tab!)"

See also this article:

Great stuff.

Posted by: Derek Copold at April 21, 2004 4:52 PM


Some Russian guy watching on tv is your source?

Of course 16 months ago we weren't going to take out Saddam either. Al Qaeda in Pakistan has to wait until we're done in Iraq. You keep it in reserve because you want them to cluster thereand even Democrats can't complain when you go get them. Musharraf's willingness to risk alienating Islamicists is all that matters about the Pakistani operations.

Posted by: oj at April 21, 2004 6:04 PM

Actually, he's from Fresno, and if you read his stuff, he's very informed.

"Al Qaeda in Pakistan has to wait until we're done in Iraq."

LOL. I sure hope that's not the case, because if it is they got a nice, long vacation in front of them.

Posted by: Derek Copold at April 21, 2004 6:07 PM

By the way, Orrin, if we have to finish the job in Iraq first, what happens to all that tough talk about "Walking and chewing gum at the same time"? Looks like that approach has been shot to sh*t.

Posted by: Derek Copold at April 21, 2004 6:15 PM


Posted by: oj at April 21, 2004 6:26 PM


What's the hurry? These guys aren't going anywhere nor are their caves.

Posted by: oj at April 21, 2004 6:28 PM