First, we all know where the "bad guys" are. We've known where they have been for quite some time. Take a moment or two to go back to this episode of Frontline where you can see what any member of OEF can/could/will tell you: they attack and run back home to Pakistan.
Second, if you had to make a guess of one spot on the globe where the next attack on US soil was being planned, it is right across the Afghan border in Pakistan.
Third, 2008 has been the deadliest year for American troops in Afghanistan. Our men and women are being killed by people from Pakistan who then quickly make their way back across the lawless (at least from their side of things) border.
Fourth, the government of Pakistan has as much influence or authority on the integrity of its western border as we do.
There are a couple of other reasons but the operating principle here is that enemy forces are crossing into Afghanistan from Pakistan, killing our troops, inciting violence, and then returning to a safe haven that can neither be patrolled, attacked, or policed by the inept government of Pakistan. At the end of the day, greater destabilization comes from inside the borders of Pakistan than it does when US troops do what needs to be done by crossing a line that only they respect.
1 year ago Barack Obama said that he would support US operations within Afghanistan:
This is now the stated policy of the United States government. We are striking at the people who knocked the buildings down, who are currently attacking and killing our men and women in uniform, and who are planning new attacks while hiding behind a border that is respected by no one but us. The attacks have likely proved one crucial thing: Al Qaeda and Taliban leaders are there, as the Marriot bombing was a clear warning signal to the Pakistani government that they need to put pressure on the US to back off.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama said on Wednesday the United States must be willing to strike al Qaeda targets inside Pakistan...
Obama's stance comes amid debate in Washington over what to do about a resurgent al Qaeda and Taliban in areas of northwest Pakistan that President Pervez Musharraf has been unable to control, and concerns that new recruits are being trained there for a September 11-style attack against the United States.
This is a sensible policy that takes aim directly at the people who attacked us and who are continuing to plot against us. It is not another Iraq. This is keeping our eye firmly on the ball. Of course, it is also another issue where Obama is right and McCain is wrong:
Presumptive Republican nominee John McCain Wednesday branded Barack Obama "naive," in a pre-emptive strike designed to paint his possible Democratic White House rival as a national security novice.
"You don't broadcast that you are going to bomb a country that is a sovereign nation and that you are dependent on ... in the struggle against (the) Taliban and the sanctuaries which they hold."
On Tuesday, McCain warned America could not afford the "confused leadership of an inexperienced candidate who once suggested bombing our ally Pakistan" and suggested talks without preconditions with US foes.
Of course, the "serious" folk of Washington will probably come around to Obama's position on the matter of negotiations as well.
Now is the time for a truly effective policy against non-state entities. Negotiate with the states, attack the bad-actors without a country to call their own...regardless of borders. Iran and Pakistan should be the first places where this new philosophy is put to the test.