Abe, it may not only be appeasement in Pakistan, but the narrow U.S. plan in Afghanistan, that accounts for the moves by the Taliban. J. E. Dyer says in her post today that the U.S. plan created an exploitable weakness:
My own assessment is that the Taliban were emboldened, in their push into [Northwest Pakistan] over the last several weeks, by the narrow focus of the US plan for beefing up force in Afghanistan – a plan that has accounted less, in my view, than it should, for the issues of logistics routes into and out of Afghanistan (for both insurgent factions and NATO), and for the likelihood of the Taliban seeking more urgently to consolidate a base in Pakistan.
The problem may also be that a broader perception of U.S. weakness is taking hold, resulting from a combination of (1) setting a fixed date for the withdrawal of combat forces from Iraq next year, (2) a narrowly focused plan in Afghanistan, (3) the inability of Obama to convert a European apology tour into European troop commitments, (4) an Iran policy that consists largely of an invitation to talk, with apparently no time limit for accepting the invitation (much less completing the talks) and no credible Plan B, and (5) indications the U.S. plans to spend its strategic energy instead leaning on Israel (if Roger Cohen’s quotation of Lee Hamilton today is correct).
All of this sends a signal that adversaries and allies alike are beginning to perceive. They are making their own evaluations of the first 100 days.