Lynn Neary: Michael O’Hanlon is a Senior Fellow in Foreign Policy Studies at the Brookings Institution here in Washington. He joins us now in the studio. Good morning Michael. Michael, Secretary Rumsfeld obviously thinks we’re seeing a new phase in the war against terrorism. Where does it go from here?
Michael O’Hanlon: Well, first I would take note of this week’s events. They’ve been remarkable. And they suggest that we are pretty good at rooting out these cells. I think we will continue to do so. Even though we had the tragic loss of American life, I’ve been surprised and impressed at how few American casualties we’ve suffered, given the nature of this fighting. This is several thousand feet up in mountains in the middle of wintertime. People against us are hiding in caves and tunnels, firing out at us, as we try to descend from helicopters. And we haven’t had any casualties for five or six days. This is a remarkable testament to the kind of capabilities we have and to the quality of the battleplan. I think that means we will continue to do this sort of thing elsewhere in Afghanistan if necessary. I wouldn’t expect a whole lot more battles to be necessary of this type, but there may be some more and I think we will stay certainly for the rest of this year if not beyond.
Complete interview available at npr.org.
Emerging Voices Network Reception with Gareth Bayley, U.K. Special Representative on Pakistan and Afghanistan
The ceasefire shows yet again the leverage the Taliban now has thanks to its recent attacks. What’s most interesting is that the ceasefire doesn’t apply to the Islamic State. Whereas the Taliban have primarily attacked security forces, the Islamic State’s violence has much been much less selective, and has killed far more civilians. The Taliban’s strategy appears to have paid off— there’s popular support for a ceasefire with the Taliban, but not for one with the Islamic State.