When he sat down with NBC's David Gregory last week for a "Meet the Press" interview (video here), Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari delivered a message that some in the U.S., perhaps, didn't want to hear--namely that America bears some responsibility for the Taliban threat in Pakistan.
MR. GREGORY: And is it America's war or Pakistan's war?
MR. ZARDARI: It's a war of our existence. We've been fighting this war much before they attacked 9/11. They're kind of a cancer created by both of us, Pakistan and America and the world. We got together, we created this cancer to fight the superpower and then we went away--rather, you went away without finding a cure for it. And now we've both come together to find a cure for it, and we're looking for one.
In other words, the U.S. and Pakistan colluded to create the Taliban as a response to Russia's presence in Afghanistan. This is, in part, the lesson of Charlie Wilson's War: that the U.S. armed and funded militants to fight the Russians--the Mujahaddin who successfully drove the soviets out--and that those militants later became the Taliban.
For Americans, this notion isn't a big part of the debate. U.S. observers have mainly been concerned with two questions: is Pakistan doing enough to fight the Taliban, and is the current regime there capable of defeating them? As the U.S. has been sending aid to Pakstan for years, one question that came up during the campaign was: are we getting our money's worth/ are there enough strings attached to this aid to ensure that Pakistan does more to fight the Taliban? (This was evidenced by Gregory's questions, as he repeatedly asked Zardari if Pakistan has dedicated enough troops to fighting the Taliban.)