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06 May 2011

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Basilisk

WRC,

I think we've had enough of extraordinary rendition, don't you?

bth

The drone technologies we gave Pakistan are very short range and almost high end hobby. The items they received will help reduce their infantry casualties, but not much more.

Given the vulnerability of our supply lines through Pakistan, I don't see how we can reasonably sustain our troop levels in Afghanistan.

We should take OBL's demise as an opportunity to reset our expectations and resource allocations.

Air bases, special forces units and a renewed effort at training ANP and ANA should be the emphasis.

That and a renewed strategic interest in a tighter alliance with India.

I do not know what Pakistan could do to reestablish trust with the American public even if they wanted to and so far as I can tell they do not.

Patrick Lang

bth

Exactly. pl

JYD

Col. Lang,

Pakistan keeps its nuclear card off the board not as a favor to anyone but because it is an "in case of emergency, break glass" option. If they threaten to use it and don't, it loses its value.

BTW, the US also has a similar but more usable option. If Washington were to use its power within the IMF and the World Bank, Pakistan will default in a couple of weeks and Pakistanis will face unpleasant things like total blackouts in major cities, food riots etc.

Michael Brenner

MYTHS OF ABBOTTVILLE

Myth-making, especially national myth-making, is normally a slow and long process. Not so for the myths being spun about the death of Osama bin-Laden. We are setting a Guinness record for the creation of a mythical story that weaves an elaborate design around a few hard facts.

The process began on Monday when White House terrorism czar John Brennan gave us a colorful fictive account of what happened in Abbottabad. It was pure Hollywood. The shootout with an armed OBD, his cowardly use of a wife as a human shield, the fanatical guards, the fortress villa behind 18 foot walls. In truth, a passive OBL, a wife shot accidently by the American strike team, three not very fanatical guards, and a villa readily visible from the street behind standard 12 foot walls. These fabrications were doled out with obvious deceit aforethought since no one on the spot ever reported these things. Brennan has a history of going public with over dramatized accounts of any terrorism related incident. There was a day when `a senior adviser to the President pronouncing on a matter of historic importance did not advertise himself for the job of chief consultant to whichever movie studio will do the film version.

Then there was the dramatic photo of the President and his national security team watching the action live from some hideaway in the White House. Again, pure fiction. There was no live transmission.

The bigger myth is how the nonpareil American intelligence agencies designed and executed a brilliant strategy to track down and eliminate OBL. An operation completed in a stunningly swift nine years. I beg to differ with this assessment. The truly amazing thing is that it took so long given that OBL had located himself in a highly visible place not far from where another leading al-Qaidi operative, Abu Faraj al-Libbi, had been nabbed years earlier. OBL’s primary courier reportedly was identified five years ago. Anything easier would be something like his selling Afghan tribal rugs on the pavement outside the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad. Sure, he had some sort of protection for some period of time by some segment of the Pakistani military. But he was not hidden. Moreover, I presume that such things as agents still are employed who circulate in Pakistani high society with the purpose of picking up clues. How about a clever scheme to compromise/black mail Mrs Musharraf or Mrs Kayani while on a shopping trip to London by setting her up for shoplifting charges in Victoria's Secret in Chelsea?

The myth-making goes on. Jose Rodriguez, who as head of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Centre from 2002 to 2005 ran the Agency’s torture program and later illegally destroyed the interrogation video tapes, is now trumpeting the idea that it was all that water boarding that led to Abbottville. The Washington Post fantasizes that even Iraq was an integral part of the scheme for dealing this lethal blow to al-Qaidi.

With all of these exalted folk writing the Hollywood screenplay, the professionals in L.A. are in danger of joining the unemployment lines.

PirateLaddie

"reestablish trust with the American public"? Pleeze, and I've been accused of baseless romanticism!! The American public is not a player -- if it was, we would not be in Iraq, Paki, SoKo, or two dozen other playsites around the world.
It's our masters of foreign and commercial relations (and their many-starred military "enablers") that commit US blood and treasure to various & sundry important-sounding enterprises among the lesser breeds without the law.
Given a voice, the "American public" would pull up the rope ladder and, in the word of WLS Churchill, "damn them all."

Patrick Lang

JYD

You're right! We owe them even less consideration than I had thought. pl

Arun

I think that Mullah Omar and other members of the Taliban "Quetta Shura" must be quite worried right now. Did Pakistan sell out Osama, or did Pakistan fail to protect Obama? Either way, their own position cannot seem very secure.

To capture them is definitely a legitimate part of the US war effort. I hope it happens.

walrus

Ahhh! The myths of empire!

The idea that we can make more trouble for Pakistan than they can make for us.

...In dollar terms.

I used to face this imbecility in the corporate world on a daily basis.

While I know Col. Lang is not a fan of Gen. Schwartzkopf, he did say in response to a question about minefields; "One mine....".

Pakistan can inflict more costs on American than we can on Pakistan. Get out your Google earth and look at Chinas roads heading towards the Pamirs......

arbogast

The issue is not quite so much Pakistan's nuclear weapons as it is their mode of delivery.

If there's a launch from Pakistan, forget Pakistan. Nuclear puddle.

So the things have to be gotten out of Pakistan and delivered by UPS (kidding) or the like to Israel. Presumably a lot of effort goes into preventing this. Effort that will not change and has not changed.

And that's assuming we know anything about the efforts to contain their nukes.

We, I, certainly didn't know about the intergalactic helicopter that crashed in the compound.

Pakistan really does seem to be all hat and no cowboy.

Why do we give them all that money?

shanks

With respect to this blog, why are we considering Pakistan traitorous and such? I submit, that it's better to look at it analytically than pouring scorn at Pakistan. You have your interests, they have theirs. Sometimes it jives, sometimes it doesn't. For all the monetary/military support you give them, they're not going to be thankful anymore than you're thankful for logistics transit. Both view each other as utilitarian entities as one should. Right now, it appears, you have a dependency on them rather than the other way around.

Figure out a way to reverse it or at least attenuate it so that they're as much on tenterhooks as you are.

Patrick Lang

shanks

No. You don't get it. We do not and should not be guided by their view of their interests. We should be guided by our view of our interests. As JYD has said below we could cripple them economically in a heartbeat if we wished to so do not fall into the typical 5rd workd trap of thinking that they have us at their mercy. pl

Patrick Lang

arbogast

Your argument reeks of the "rational actor model" nonsense from political science theory. In fact humans do not behave in that way consstently enough to be predictable in the way that you imply.

BTW Israeli deterrence against a possible Pakistani 1st strike rests on a belief that the US would as you say, reduce Pakistan to a puddle." Do you believe that would happen? Do the Israelis and Pakistanis believe that would happen? If they do not then there is no deterrent. pl

William R. Cumming

Question for bloggers and commentators? What exactly and how has USA policy changed towards MENA in the years since 9/11/01 other than the employment of the military to actively invade several countries or employ the use of drones? How many more centers of MENA scholarship now exist in the USA including increases, decreases, or whatever in those who study the languages, cultures, etc. of MENA in the USA?
What exactly has the USA learned in those years and how is that reflected in our foreign policy and relations with the Nation-STATES of MENA? In other words what evidence exists that as a GREAT POWER the USA still can learn from the past?

Am I correct that the question originally asked--why do they hate US?--answered that they don't just want the USA to change its policies and the radicals to have total withdrawal from the MENA?

shanks


No. You don't get it. We do not and should not be guided by their view of their interests. We should be guided by our view of our interests.

ummm...that's what I was saying too. And knowing how your interests would impact the other party would also need to be considered if you're going to get your objective, whatever it may be. And it is a fact that IMF/Saudi bailout is the only thing that is keeping Pakistan close to the fiscal precipice and not fall off. And that leverage, if used, would swing it completely within China's sphere. China can/will support Pakistan as it's a strategic gateway as well as the buffer against India.

My guess is, Pakistan has a better leverage than the US given the turmoil over food and energy and the security situation within it. Add to the movie plot scenario of a rogue nuke stolen from Pakistan, you have a fantastic ace to blackmail international community.

I mean N'Korea does that well. How long would it take the USA to nuke it to stone age? but everyone negotiates, right?

jonst

Dear Dr Brenner,

Brennan's 'misstatements', however 'Hollywood' and colorful, were by no means accidental. Any more accidental than a lawyer's misstatements, in the presence of a jury, when questioning a witness. Sure, the judge correct him...but the jury hears. Both want to attack the 'brand' of the subject of the statement. You get the Hollywood image out there first. It links up the old, familiar, entertainment endorphin receptor of the low hanging fruit out there. The one's who will only, at best, review the headlines of the papers or news programs...and more likely get their news from their work mate, or brother in law down at the diner. And hiding behind a woman is literally, to perfect to be influenced by subsequent updates.

As to the rest of the myth making you rightly point out....well, people should do, I guess, what they do best. Myth making, after the fact, is what these people do best.

They all remind me of the touts and ersatz prognosticators that used to be on Sat morning crowing about their football picks for the weekend. They would be more wrong than right, the bulk of the time. But that record would not stop them from sounding just as sure, the next weekend.

My favorite this weekend was the dead heads on the Sunday ABC talk show. The one hosted by Christine Om-not-poor-anymore. They all sat around and marveled that the superman they has spent years touting....in fact turned out to be "human, all too human", old man in a blanket muttering at the TV. With a ski cap on his head. Just like someone's crazy Uncle.

The entire spectacle this week was something to behold. But I especially love/ed the use of the term 'harsh' interrogation methods. We just keep sinking lower.

Patrick Lang

shanks

"that leverage, if used, would swing it completely within China's sphere." This line from you implies that we have no real leverage with Pakistan. If that is the case then a reorientation of US policy strongly toward both China and India seems desirable. Yes. Yes. i know that means changing Chinese attiudes. If diplomacy were easy all those smart people at State would not be needed. pl

Harper

While President Obama is still running his victory lap, I think it is worthwhile to remember that the very CT strategy that Col. Lang is proposing, and which makes sense to me, was proposed by Joe Biden and rejected by the President during the 2009 policy reviews. The only measurable successes of the Afghan operation since Obama came into office have been CT targeted operations, based on a buildup of our own intelligence assets and capabilities, rather than relying on Pak or Afghan. Note that India has been much more of a constant ally in Afghanistan, dating back to Northern Alliance and our immediate post-911 response.

In all of this recent dialogue re. OBL demise, it is also stunning to me that there is so little mention of the Saudi backing for the larger neo-Salafi apparatus that poses a continuing global terror threat. OBL and Al Qaeda were but one part of that larger phenomenon, and if we truly do have a real problem on our hands vis. Pakistan, the problem vis. Saudi Arabia is even larger. China is the other "constant ally" of Pakistan, but China faces its own problems with Uighur and other insurgencies, safehoused in the Afpak no-mans land, and they have a vested interest in working with us against neo-Salafi expansion. Ultimately, as we leave Afghanistan, hopefully sooner than later, we are going to have to come up with an alternative regional stability approach, and I hope that it involves much closer interaction and collaboration with Russia, China and India. A sage fellow in India told me a few years ago when I was visiting there right after Mumbai attacks that the best course for India vis. Pakistan was to let China and the United States take the lead together. I think that makes sense. At recent Congressional testimony, a DOD official (I believe Paul Brinkley) confirmed that the Chinese are paying some of the costs of U.S. military operations in Afghanistan because U.S. troops are protecting Chinese personnel running a big copper mine in the east of the country.

optimax

John Yoo was on Huckabee taking credit for OBL's demise. He seems to think he deserves a statue on the Washington Mall. Huckabee, who sees this as a Holy War, thanked him for his service to our country.

Fiorangela


"Implications of bin Laden's Death for Indonesia"

http://www.crisisgroup.org/en/regions/asia/south-east-asia/indonesia/jones-implications-of-bin-ladens-death-for-indonesia.aspx

arbogast

Well, my premise was that MAD worked between the US and the USSR, although there were some rational actors in the US Navy who wanted to first strike them.

As for who would turn Pakistan into a puddle, I assumed Israel. I wasn't really thinking of the US.

But I admit strenuously to wishful thinking. The idea of Pakistan launching a nuclear missile against Israel is just too horrific for me to be able to do anything but flee into denial. I hope it doesn't happen.

I kind of think it would be the other way around, thinking about it a little more. If Israel thought it was possible, they would first strike. That would be the end of the world. Once again, I prefer denial.

Patrick Lang

arbogast

"Fleeing into denial" is no good. That is not analysis. You must be able to "think the unthnkable" and then weigh the probabilities. IMO the probability of a Pakistani nuclear strike on Israel is low that does not mean that the capability need not be considered.

There would be no Israel. Count. 100 Pakistani nuclear weapons - less than a dozen worthwhil Israeli targets. What would they retaliate with? Submarines and some kind of missiles? Any indication that they have this capability? That would be a kind of "dead man's trigger." pl

Nancy K

The US has used atomic weapons in the past, and I have no doubt that Israel and the US would use nuclear weapons if they thought it in their best interests. I think Pakistan is more concerned about India than Israel at this point. Most governments do not want to destroy themselves, however terrorists do not seem to be bothered by this. I think it more probable that some wackos in the Pakistani army would gain control of nuclear weapons and aim them at India and Israel. Hopefully they haven't seen the movie Dr Strange Love. However I really don't know what will happen and as I am a mother of 5 children and 4 grandchildren, all I can hope for, is life will go on for all of us and the world will become a better place.

Patrick Lang

Nancy K

Bless you. That's why Basilisk, TTG, Alan Farrell, Cold War Zoomie, John Minnerath and all these here devoted their lives to the republic. pl

PirateLaddie

If the Israelis are to be believed(!), they've got at least a handful of nuke armed diesel subs. Some French, the newest German, and G*d knows what targeting/telemetry assests -- probably the best Brother Pollard and the current crop could provide. They appear to be focusing on the situation in Iran, but that's just a few additional boost-seconds from Karachi, I'bad & the nuke sites that lie within the blast radius of the capital.
BTW - y'all hear the rumor of a possible release of old Jon just before President Obama goes off to Israel, 'round June or so?

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