The U.S. has been fighting in Afghanistan for seven years now. We achieved excellent returns in the first few months, but since then we've mostly just been sucked into that useless place's endless knuckleheadedness.
Has the U.S. government ever explained to the vast Pashtun tribe on what terms honor would be satisfied and we would leave? (E.g., Deliver Osama alive or prove that he is dead? Rename their movement something other than "Taliban?" Understand that if they ever tolerate anti-American terrorists again, we'll be back, and really mad this time?) I suspect we could reach a meeting of the minds with the Pashtuns more easily if we phrased all our demands in terms of "honor demands that ..."
If Barack Obama wins, he should appoint McCain to be Ambassor to the Barbarian Tribes (which was Sir Richard Burton's de facto title within the British Foreign Office). McCain is exactly the kind of man the Pashtuns would feel sympatico with.
Still, the idea of negotiating a final peace agreement with the Pashtuns is probably unlikely. I'm not sure that the concept of "war" and "peace" as mutually exclusive periods of time is one that they subscribe to. To them, fighting is kind of like the professional golf season is to Americans -- something that, whether formally or informally, goes from early January to late December with a one week break for Christmas. Just as somebody somewhere is always playing golf for money, somebody somewhere in Pashtunland is always fighting somebody else.
But the Establishment view seems to be swinging in the direction of Obama's suggestion that we instead amp up the war in Afghanistan and widen the war into Pakistan, a country of 170,00,000. After Musharraf's fall, Bush has publicly allowed crossing the border into Pakistan. Perhaps some commandos can grab Osama (assuming he is still alive) and we can be done with it.
But even if that happened our "allies" in Afghanistan would probably insist we stay. We always seem to end up at the service of our supposed puppets in country. The anti-Pashtun/Taliban folks in Afghanistan have been telling us for years, "Let's you and them fight."
By the way, speaking of Pakistan, Obama was close friends with three Pakistanis he hung out with at posh Occidental liberal arts college in LA. (That's when he changed his name from Barry to Barack.) That's why he went to Pakistan in 1981, which is just about the only foreign trip he ever took unconnected with his parents. And he later roomed in NYC for years with another Pakistani that he knew through his Oxy friends.
UPDATE: In Pakistan in 1981, Obama stayed at the estate of the man who was recently caretaker Prime Minister after his boss, Gen. Musharraf, quit. Although Obama recently boasted of how much foreign policy expertise he gained from this trip, he didn't mention it in Dreams from My Father since it didn't have much to do with his story of race and inheritance.
Obama's youthful connection to Pakistani bigshots is not particularly remarkable. Imagine an American student at Amherst in the 19th Century who makes friends with the tiny number of Italian students there, and goes to visit Italy with his classmate. His friends would almost certainly belong to a politically influential network of Italian families. Of course, if the American later ran for President, it would be interesting to know which network of Italian families he had connections to.
Still, Obama sure has a lot of odd Muslim connections -- like Tony Rezko being in bed with the Black Muslims in Chicago. I don't see any evidence that Obama ever had a spiritual interest in Islam. As he admitted in connection with his Muslim grandfather, the youthful Obama saw both Islam and the Nation of Islam as being anti-white and anti-miscegenation (his grandfather had denounced his parents' marriage), so Obama vaguely approved of both religions, without, as far as I can tell, caring much about their theology.
Obama's Pakistani friends no doubt came from wealthy, influential families within Pakistan. Does anybody know what their political connections are within Pakistan, since they've probably helped shape Obama's view of that complicated and obscure part of the world?