On December 7, 1941, the Empire of Japan attacked the United States in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
We promptly invaded Tunisia.
A wise is war is fought where it’s advantageous to fight. There is no need to be fair in war, or to fight where an enemy expects. We responded to Japan’s attack by joining Great Britain and the Soviet Union in changing the whole world system.
On September 11, 2001, al Qaeda attakced the United States in New York, New York.
We promptly invaded Afghanistan, and within a few years Iraq.
In Afghanitsan and in Iraq, like in the North African campaigns of World War II, we fought where it was easy. Actually attacking the state that supports, trains, protects, funds, and fights along with al Qaeda is hard.
Pakistan, after all, has nuclear weapons.
The situation is complicated by Pakistan’s economy, which is growing by at a good clip, but falling further behind India’s. Our future actions Pakistan must focus on separating the tribal areas — where Pakistan funds Taliban insurgents and thus protects al Qaeda cells — from the economically productive areas, where eventual integration with India should be our aim.
Some naive commentators believe that the Taliban had pacified Afghanistan by 9/11/01, though of course this is not true. The Taliban are not an Afghan insurgency, but a Pasthun/Baluchi movement supported by Pakistan. Pakistan is behind the Taliban.
Our way forward will be difficult. Liberals will soon turn against the War in Afghanistan. Within a generation of 9/11 — which means within the next 13 years — al Qaeda will be a fashionable cause on college campuses. We have been unable to change Pakistan’s support of the Taliban, so (assuming regime change is not an option), that leaves destroying Pakistan’s ability to conduct an independent foreign policy.