THE BLOG

Al Qaeda, Obama and Pakistan

12/20/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

So once again we have to suffer through yet another one of Al Qaeda's anti-American diatribes -- this one constituting a pre-inaugural attack on our president-elect by Al Qaeda's propogandist and ideologue-in-chief "Dr. Evil" Ayman al-Zawahiri. When, pray tell, are we going to put al-Zawahiri out of his misery once and for all? Insha'allah

In its first "official" reaction to Barack Obama's election Al Qaeda's propogandist used a sure-to-backfire demeaning racial epithet against America's president-elect, likening Barack Obama to a "house slave" or "house negro." Given the fact that he hasn't even been inaugurated, Al Qaeda's attack on the president-elect reveals a certain appetizing panic and desperation in the face of worldwide acclaim over Obama's election.

There is no doubt that Barack Obama's election is going to go a long way in helping to rebuild America's tarnished image in the Muslim world. And Al Qaeda is clearly worried that with his election, Barack Obama will make it infinitely more difficult to convince Al Qaeda's Muslim base from which it must continuously recruit that the America under George Bush will be the same America under Barack Obama.

The U.S. intelligence community clearly fears that through indifference, neglect and policy misstep Al Qaeda's command and control structure has reconstituted itself inside Pakistan's war-torn western frontier provinces. And given Obama's campaign commitment, reitereated in his "60 Minutes" interview last Sunday, that under his presidency, stamping out Al Qaeda once and for all will be a top priority, the next administration faces a battle against Al Qaeda on many fronts: in the battle of ideas against extremists, in denying their funding, sanctuaries and recruits, in forging stronger Muslim allies, in executing a responsibly swift withdrawal from Iraq, in taking the battle to Al Qaeda's re-established bases in Pakistan and on the Afghani-Pakistan border, and developing an effective strategy to redress our relationship with Pakistan.

Despite the continuing debate within the intel community about where best to concentrate our resources against Al Qaeda, one thing is for certain, fulfilling a pledge to dismantle Al Qaeda will not be possible without coming up with an effective multi-tiered strategy to stabilize Pakistan and rebuild America's image with this essential ally.

Pakistan is not only ground zero against Al Qaeda's command structure, it is a nuclear-armed country that is teetering on financial collapse. Fortunately, Pakistant was able to negotiate an IMF loan of $7.6 billion this week to temporarily stave off economic chaos. Unfortunately, this financial band-aid is insufficient to restore Pakistan to long-term economic stability, without which the struggle against Al Qeda will prove even more daunting for President Obama.

Just a few days ago, the venerable Center for American Progress (CAP) issued an inciteful and highly probative report on Pakistan entitled "Partnership for Progress" detailing an innovative policy approach to help reverse Pakistan's deteriorating fortunes. I commend the report to our readers, which can be found at "www.americanprogress.org."

The Report outlines a daunting series of policy challenges facing Democratic national security experts in the months ahead to maintain Pakistan's democracy and support. But the Report also delineates a responsible roadmap to helping restore Pakistan's poitical and economic foundation.

There is no doubt that unilateral military operations against the Taliban and Al Qaeda will defeat Pakistan's militant groups. The Report recommends a reversal fo the Bush administration "military only" policy by proposing the adoption of a diverse strategy, including strengthening governance and rule of law, creating economic opportunities and exploring political negotiations with non-Al Qaeda-oriented militant groups.

I realize that chaning the Pakistani equation is easier said than done. I recall that right after 9/11, Pakistan appealed to the U.S. to help its internal economic crisis by reducing U.S. tariffs on Pakistan's textile industry to help it garner domestic support for U.S. policy, only to find textile-state lawmakers dead set against the idea.

Ultimately, the war against Al Qaeda will not be won on the battlefields of Waziristan alone. Ayman al Zawahiri's unwelcomed reemergence from his cave today is a sad reminder how much the Bush Administration's failures are being dumped into Barack Obama's lap.