The New York Times reported that the Obama administration has concluded that "most of the foot soldiers in Afghanistan and Pakistan are 'reconcilable' and can be pried away from the hard-core organizations of the Taliban and Al Qaeda."
The administration even has a figure in mind, according to "administration officials" says the Times, of "at least 70 percent of the insurgents and possibly more."
Now what does reconcilable mean you ask? Those that "can be encouraged to lay down their arms with the proper incentives." [The emphasis is mine.]
And what might proper incentives be? Charter schools for girls? Sub-prime mortgages for those whose houses have been bombed? National health care to replace missing limbs? Government funding so budding Taliban stem-cell researchers can eventually compete in the real world?
Apparently not. According to the Times, the Obama plan to reconcile the Taliban calls for a continuation of the CIA-orchestrated drone attacks inside Pakistan; and an increase in military and financial aid to Pakistan - with strings, however, says the Times.
Pakistan would have to spend the money "more on counterinsurgency and less on its long-running feud with India," according to the unnamed senior administration official the Times spoke to.
This condition should be easy enough for Pakistan to accept. How much can attacks like the ones in Mumbai last November cost?
As far as how much the Obama administration is thinking of giving Pakistan, if the legislation that Mr. Obama and Mr. Biden sponsored when they were both still senators is any indication, Pakistan might well get triple the nonmilitary aid it got under the Bush administration.
Now it may rankle some that the Pakistanis would get even more aid but the benefits of their hoping they will appear to be already paying off. Since the Times report does not explicitly connect the dots, I will. Here is the salient dot:
...in carrying out missile strikes, the C.I.A. has steadily developed its own network of sources in the tribal areas, and combined with improved information-sharing with Pakistan’s main intelligence agency in recent months, as well as some technical advances like installing more mobile towers to intercept cellphone calls, the agency has been getting much better intelligence on its drone targets than it did just a few months ago, officials said.
Now what kind of numbers are they throwing around here? Oh just another $1 billion a year for Pakistan - not including whatever military aid, they get, the cost of the added cellphone towers, and the CIA only knows what else. It's a nice business Pakistan has carved out for itself out of Afghanistan's misery.