Posts Tagged ‘Pakistan’

Pakistan: Not Our Friend

From cutting off our supply lines to harboring bin Laden and funding Taliban insurgents, it should be obvious by now that Pakistan is not our friend.  General Mattis, the commander of CENTCOM, unfortunately did not get the memo:

Marine Gen. Jim Mattis, commander of U.S. Central Command, ordered commanders in Afghanistan to improve coordination of operations along the Afghan-Pakistan border with Pakistani military, and ensure that all border stations are listed correctly on maps.

Mattis also ordered commanders to confirm border post locations before beginning operations along the border. And he ordered commanders to share military practices and procedures with the Pakistanis so they can better understand U.S. operations [no reason not to share that senstive intelligence, I’m sure]

It’s not certain the orders will solve the problems, because Pakistan refused to participate in the investigation [see we just need to make the first move, it’s all about “communication” like in a marriage where one party is already a serial adulterer]. It still is unclear why Pakistani troops initially fired on U.S. soldiers who had landed by helicopter near a village close to the border as part of a mission to go after insurgents [details details, like who fired first.  We just need to talk it out. I’m sure the Pakistanis thought that Apache or Blackhawk belonged to the Taliban or some other hostile force]

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Ralph Peters had an excellent editorial on Afghanistan this week that I think lays out the problem with Obama’s half-surge:

Initially, Afghanistan wasn’t a war of choice. We had to dislodge and decimate al-Qaeda, while punishing the Taliban and strengthening friendlier forces in the country. Our great mistake was to stay on in an attempt to build a modernized rule-of-law state in a feudal realm with no common identity.

We needed to smash our enemies and leave. Had it proved necessary, we could have returned later for another punitive mission. Instead, we fell into the great American fallacy of believing ourselves responsible for helping those who’ve harmed us. This practice was already fodder for mockery 50 years ago, when the novella and film The Mouse That Roared postulated that the best way for a poor country to get rich was to declare war on America then surrender.

Even if we achieved the impossible dream of creating a functioning, unified state in Afghanistan, it would have little effect on the layered crises in the Muslim world. Backward and isolated, Afghanistan is sui generis (only example of its kind). Political polarization in the U.S. precludes an honest assessment, but Iraq’s the prize from which positive change might flow, while Afghanistan could never inspire neighbors who despise its backwardness.

This sounds right to me and accords with my own counsel in favor of a punitive raid concept of operations and my criticism of the facile distinctions made between Iraq and Afghanistan by Obama and other Democrats seeking to appear hawkish but also sensible and nuanced.

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There’s a lot of talk about the recent attacks in Bombay being India’s 9/11.  But there was another such attack by Islamic militants in July 2006, it killed over 200 people, and I wrote about it here.  In 1993, a series of bombings killed 250 Indians in the same city.  Neither event is exactly ancient history.

I am struck, however, about the massive death toll the modest number of terrorists–10 by the latest reports–were able to inflict.  Any open society, whether in Europe or North America risks these kinds of attacks.  What would stop a similar group with similar goals from shooting up shopping malls, sporting events, or country fairs here at home.

Coupled with the attackers’ unappeasable demands and the high cost of stringent security measures, they appear inevitable and likely to be repeated barring what has for some years become unspeakable.  The most cost effective and least draconian solution for societies like ours still appears to be (a) not let people from the world’s aggrieved and militant populations within our borders and (2) make life difficult and laden with suspicion with an ultimate goal of self-deportation or assimilation for those whom we improvidently have allowed in.  Yet this approach is treated as unspeakable, while strip searching 80 year old grandmothers at airports is A-OK. The values of equality and diversity trump all others, including genuine security and our historic liberties.

We are not India.  Pakistan is not on our border, nor is there any source of organized militancy to be found at home.  While there are aggrieved groups among America’s poor, various ethnic minorities, and home-grown losers in the trends of globalization, their organization is lacking and their grievances dispersed in all directions against what may loosely be called “The Man.” In other words, these are problems of our own making; the root cause is easily identified, but we are too scared of not living up to our au courant value of open borders.  I should think if the body count of these types of attacks climbs high enough in Europe and America, the current order will be exposed as a fraud, and both regions will be ready for what is now considered radical political change.  For now, we have meaningless gestures of condemnation by the Bushes and Obamas of the world, neither of whom has shown any insight or moral courage on the big picture issues.

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This editorial about Benazir Bhutto’s return to Pakistan says something that the gleeful CNN International reporters miss:

She’s back. Hurrah! She’s a woman. She’s brave. She’s a moderate. She speaks good English. She’s Oxford-educated, no less. And she’s not bad looking either.

I admit I’m biased. I don’t like Benazir Bhutto. She called me names during her election campaign in 1996 and it left a bitter taste. Petty personal grievances aside, I still find jubilant reports of her return to Pakistan depressing. Let’s be clear about this before she’s turned into a martyr.

This is no Aung San Suu Kyi, despite her repeated insistence that she’s “fighting for democracy”, or even more incredibly, “fighting for Pakistan’s poor”.

This is the woman who was twice dismissed on corruption charges. She went into self-imposed exile while investigations continued into millions she had allegedly stashed away into Swiss bank accounts ($1.5 billion by the reckoning of Musharraf’s own “National Accountability Bureau”).

She has only been able to return because Musharraf, that megalomaniac, knows that his future depends on the grassroots diehard supporters inherited from her father’s party, the PPP. . . . .

Make no mistake, Benazir may look the part, but she’s as ruthless and conniving as they come — a kleptocrat in a Hermes headscarf.

The West, for all its power, still often behaves like an overgrown, immature adolescent.  We neatly divide the world into the “good guys” and the “bad guys” and assume blindly and against all evidence that democracy reveals who is who.  Bhutto, Musharaff, Mandella, Putin, Chavez, Ortega, and all the rest are leaders of tribal soceities with tribal politics.  We might have to deal with them from time to time, but we should never assume that these countries or their people or their leaders will resemble our own, nor should we embrace or distance ourselves from them on that basis.  Hard-headed calculation, true realism, is what is called for.  Our democratizing actions in Iraq and meddling in Ukraine and, for that matter, Turkey, are just part and parcel of our collective immaturity.  Even Europeans, who purport to lecture Americans on our lack of finesse, are all too frequently guilty of this failing. They are too concerned with atoning for their own sins of colonialism to think clearly about these matters. Unfortunatley, our people as well as those of the Third World suffer as a consequence.

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