Bob Woodward talks to Gen. Jones:
Asked why al-Qaeda, which is comparatively safe in its current sanctuaries in Pakistan, would want to return to Afghanistan, where more than 100,000 U.S. and NATO troops are stationed, Jones said, "That’s a good question. . . . This is certainly one of the questions that we will be discussing. This is one of the questions, for example, that one could come back at with General McChrystal."
It is a great question. On "Face The Nation" just now — actually in an interview taped Friday — Secretary Clinton said, "Focusing on al-Qaeda and the Taliban, which are largely but not exclusively now in Pakistan, cannot be done if we allow them to return to safe haven in Afghanistan." Which is necessarily true and yet conveys absolutely no information. It amounts to saying "If we stop focusing on the safehavens, we will will stop focusing on the safehavens," because it would take a lack of focus on al-Qaeda for al-Qaeda to reestablish a safehaven.
But at the same time, it’s complacent to predicate a strategy on al-Qaeda being cozy in Pakistan. The whole goal of the strategy is to disrupt that Pakistani safe haven in the first place. If the strategy is working, then al-Qaeda will try to move in response to increased harassment. I don’t know where they’ll move, and it’s not necessarily the case that they’ll move back to Afghanistan, but we should want them to feel the need for getting out of where they are. The drone strikes are a component of that, and the U.S. will need to get Pakistan to invade the tribal areas before meeting a sufficient condition for such harassment. "We are not satisfied with anything, and this is not a check-box experience," Clinton said in a praiseworthy comment. Accordingly, the U.S. has to prepare for al-Qaeda dispersal if things are going the way we wish them to go.