The war in Afghanistan is both different and the same as Iraq. The Afghanistan theatre is seen as a righteous war. Iraq is not. The Iraqis have shown more progress than the Afghans. Empire after empire entered Afghanistan and went home empty-handed. Maybe because there’s nothing to do there. Except our Afghan war has much to do there. We’re eliminating terrorists in Pakistan and leaning on the right side of Iran. Both are important strategically.
Our airstrikes peaked in 2010 with 117 strikes in Pakistan. This year, there have been three. The airstrikes over the years have been concentrated in two regions: North and South Waziristan. These are areas of Pakistan where the central government has limited influence and control.
Obviously, Pakistan is an area of concern for several reasons. Osama Bin Laden was sheltered in Pakistan. While it looked like a prison, his presence seems conspicuous. They also possess nuclear weapons and are in an unstable region of the world. The Pakistani Northwest province is riddled with extremists. Pakistan is also the most destabilizing factor to Afghanistan.
But, Pakistan proper and its ruling class is an ally of sorts. They cooperate with us and seek to remove terrorists. They just can’t control their countrymen. They have deep domestic troubles and are waging a cold war with India. Their economic woes are beyond troublesome, and they’ve become increasingly reliant on foreign aid. That foreign aid has encouraged their impressive level of corruption. It also distracts Pakistan from enacting real and lasting economic policy to dig themselves out of the hole.