What is America's increasingly lethal war in Afghanistan about these days other than Barack Obama trying to to check off the Must Look Tough box on David Axelrod's re-election image strategy list?
I know it's supposed to now be all about Pakistan, but for decades the Pakistanis had a simple solution to Pushtun orneriness: the government just put up a big sign at the border of the northwest frontier territory near the Afghan border saying: "Sorry, but the Government of Pakistan does not guarantee your safety beyond this point. Cheer-i-o!" If Pathans tribal raiders came roaring down out of their mountains into the worthwhile land, they'd be slaughtered on flat ground by the Pakistani Army, and go back to their mountains, so, mostly they didn't. And the government of Pakistan didn't bother trying to control the mountains because A) They're mountains, and B) They're mountains that are are full of Puhktuns ... and why would anybody want to deal with them more than the minimum it takes to make sure they stay away from you?
But ever since Obama came to power, I keep reading (actually, I only glance at the headlines) about the Pakistani Army mounting punitive expeditions into the Swat Valley that sound very much like the one Winston Churchill took part in during the 1890s.
Churchill and friends won most of the battles, but in the very long run they lost the war, for the simple reason that, in the long run, people like Winston Churchill had some place nicer than the Khyber Pass to go home to, while the Pushtuns didn't, and the Pushtuns knew that.