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16 July 2008

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Mad Dogs

As always, caveat emptor on MSM reports, but this news report seemed to fit right in with Pat's post here on Pakistan:

US troops poised to cross Afghan border for raid on bases

US troops in Afghanistan massed close to the border yesterday for a possible attack on al-Qaeda and Taleban bases in the lawless North Waziristan tribal belt in Pakistan.

Reports from the area said that hundreds of Nato troops were airlifted across the mountains from the village of Lowara Mandi, which has been an important base for cross-border attacks in Afghanistan. Heavy artillery and armoured vehicles were also being moved into position...

~snip~

...US Admiral Michael Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, made an announced visit to Islamabad at the weekend and held a series of meetings with Pakistan's top civil and military leadership.

According to well-placed sources, Admiral Mullen warned Pakistan that the US could take unilateral military action if the cross-border attacks in Afghanistan were not stopped...

~snip~

...An influential Pakistani army official said there were strong indications that the US was ready to launch bombing raids against suspected al-Qaeda and Taleban camps inside Pakistan.

The official said that any unilateral American military action could have serious repercussions and create difficulties for Pakistani counter-terrorism efforts...

And I repeat, cavet emptor on anything that shows up in the MSM!

Walrus

With respect Spider Rider;

"What DOES it really take to establish some sort of democracy in the Middle East?"

"But how do we play off of this, and establish the middle east, so the middle easterners WANT a democratic type system, so it emerges, and grows, through sound policy, and not corrupt business?"

You are making the fatal assumption that in the Middle East democracy is automatically seen by all as a good thing. The reality is that only a tiny Western educated elite in most Middle Eastern countries have any liking for democracy, and the general population views them with great suspicion.

Then you make the assumption that it is somehow our right to overturn their culture and social structures and force them into adopting a political system that is alien to them.

....And then we get all upset when they push back?

To put it another way, what would your reaction be if Saudi Arabia decided that sharia law is what America needs and proceeded to do everything in it's power(missionaries, economic aid, mosques, financial inducements, let alone withholding oil supplies) to ram it down your throat?

The first requirement is to understand the societies concerned and then do what is possible within the structures of Tribe, Clan, Family and Religious belief to advance the causes of Peace, Free Markets and human Rights as laid out in the U.N. declaration on the subject...

....Oh Wait! We don't have no time for them liberals in the U.N.!

FB Ali

All
I am glad that my note was of interest to many readers. Thank you to those who expressed appreciation.

There is one important aspect which I did not explicitly deal with (it is such a given for Pakistanis that, for them, it isn’t worth mentioning, but I should have done that here). If the US mounts sustained attacks on the tribal areas, this will be regarded by all Pakistanis as an attack on their country. The upsurge of anti-US feeling will be such that neither the government nor the military could thereafter afford to show any sign of cooperation with the US. That will seriously compound US problems in Afghanistan and the region.

Several commentators have mentioned the possibility of Pakistan unravelling. This is unlikely, but when things continue to spiral downwards, people tend to turn to saviours – and this is what religious fundamentalists claim to be, especially where corruption, lawlessness, and insecurity flourish.

David Habbakuk
First of all, this war was entirely winnable. As I wrote in my note Pakistan on the Brink (posted here by Col Lang in Oct 2007) : "Critics of the Bush administration point to the invasion of Iraq as its greatest blunder. History may well record that an even bigger blunder was its policies in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Knowing that al-Qaeda was the real enemy, that they were based in Taliban Afghanistan, and that the Taliban themselves had come to power out of their bases in Pakistan, it focussed its attention instead on invading Iraq. It let the al-Qaeda leadership get away; when the Northern Alliance routed the Taliban it did nothing to ensure that they found no sanctuary in Pakistan. At that time, a little prodding could have got a subdued Musharraf to neutralize the religious parties and take control of their madrassahs (which were the support networks of the Taliban) and deny the latter sanctuaries in the border cities and tribal areas. But the lure of Iraq and a reordered Middle East drew them away, leaving huge unfinished business".

What can the West do now? All I can suggest are some pointers. For Afghanistan : remove the target ! The foreign military presence unites former foes in opposition to it. Set a near date for a pullout. The carpetbaggers (Karzai and his clan, et al) will hurriedly depart to enjoy their loot, the old tribes and clans will make their accommodations, as they have for centuries. Their mutual suspicions and hostility (judiciously fed) will ensure they remain inward-focussed rather than a danger abroad. Prevent meddling by regional players.

For Pakistan : what it really needs is to hold free elections every two years for the next ten years (quite doable by the army under the supervision of an independent higher judiciary). This will durably empower the people and sweep away not only all the corrupt politicians but also the religious parties; it will also put to rest for good the temptation for a general to step in. The West needs to push in this direction rather than back military dictators and corrupt politicos.

Parvati Roma
I don’t think there is any chance of a conflict between Pakistan and India in the foreseeable future. Both countries seem to have decided that improved relations between them are good for them both.

JT Cornpone
The Northern Alliance fought the US war to win back their territories which the Taliban had conquered. The insurgency is in the Pakhtun lands to the south, it does not affect them.

condfusedponderer

Curious,
the problem might be the irrationality of the opposition-in-government in Iran and the US. As far as escalation is concerned Cheney and Ahmedinejad are on the same page. They think it's good.

condfusedponderer

John Moore,
if the Bushies are indeed serious about that 'war of ideas' of theirs, why don't they translate Sokrates, Plato, Thomas Aquinas, Descartes, Newton, Berkeley, Montaigne, Pascal, Leibniz, Galileo, Rousseau, Hobbes, Voltaire, Hume the Federalist Papers, Locke, Jefferson, Paine, Thoreau, Smith, Hayek, Keynes, Schopenhauer, Marx, Nietzsche, Kant, Fichte, Hegel, von Humboldt and so forth into Arabic or other respective local languages while resisting their inner Stalinist's urge to only translate politically correct GOP party line literature (reminds me of this song from the GDR "Die Partei, die Partei hat immer Recht ...). Reproduce Persian and Arabic classics on philosophy, medicine and mathematics, and especially theology other than Wahabism.

And then, to compensate for all that loftiness, translate school books on maths, foreign languages (English?), farming and craftsman school books, veterinary and medicine books etc. Give them something practical rather than Condi's obnoxious sermons.

Make the stuff available throughout the entire Middle East for free. You can do a lot of that for the cost of a few bombing raids. Let them get the ideas and fight their war of ideas. Of course, some peasants and certainly the Taleban will just feel that that's the stuff to light fires with, but that is inevitable.

The other risk is that, in order to compete for the funds, the US Army at at Fort Benning opens up an elite undercover combat philosopher course for six-foot-five male Caucasians with 35" biceps.

"SIR, YES, SIR! INDIVIDUALISM IS THE WAY TO LIBETRY!"

Yours Truly

I'm just worried 'bout the nuclear weapons in Pakistan. What's gonna happen if they fall into the hands of those who HATE the West?

Vijay

This war can only be won if US leaders develop the cojones to call Pakistan for what it is - the primary sponsor of the Taliban/Al Qaeda resurgence.

The way to solve this is not just military. We need President Bush to publicly and forthrightly tell Pakistan's leaders to get out of the jihad sponsoring business for good or face sanctions, cutoff of military aid and being globally branded as a state sponsor of terrorism.

Oh BTW, the ISI is not a rogue agency. If the ISI is involved in something it is because the Pakistani establishment wants it to be.

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