Sullivan on Bipartisan Policy on Iran

Andrew Sullivan links to the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Recent Report on Iran-US relations.

Sullivan is against bombing and for engagement but his interpretation at the end I find wanting:

My core belief is that the Iranian people are on our side. The key is to somehow leverage them against their repulsive regime. It’s going to be very hard and very treacherous. But it’s the biggest national security challenge facing the next president.

It’s certainly true that the Iranian population (even post-Iraq) is the most pro-American population in the Middle East.  They are not Arabs, have a separate history and culture, have strong ties to the US via ex-pat families in the US (US pop culture is strong in Iran).

But Sulllivan goes astray when he states that the key is to “leverage” the population against the regime.  Granted the regime is repulsive and abhorrent.  But people do not exist for them to be used as leverage for our goals.  Especially in this case.  Nothing would more quickly hurt the chances of indigenous Iranian reformers than being seen as a fifth column for the US.

The issue is to deal with the regime, to see if the 30 years of bad blood (the hostages, the CIA murdering their president/overthrowing their government/backing the brutal Shah) can be buried.  The regime is given a clear choice between change of behavior and good to come from it (i.e. regime change off table, entrance into world banking system, recognition of their role as regional power, esp. in Iraq) OR war.

If you want sanctions, then target them at the big wigs, the elites with the military-industrial-clerical complex that is Iran.  Don’t target the population.  Putting the squeeze on them is not likely to start a revolution against the regime.  The regime is embedded very deeply.  They have to be dealt with and then a policy of containment, connectivity, and watch the system collapse.

And #2 contra Sullivan, the biggest national security threat facing the next president is Pakistan (not Iran) in terms of foreign policy and domestically possible catastrophic cascading failure in the economic sector leading to massive violence in the streets and/or the possibility of security breakdowns around non-linear climate events.

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NIE on Afghanistan

Behind (for now) a government firewall, but what’s leaked isn’t good. NyTimes on the report.

A draft report by American intelligence agencies concludes that Afghanistan is in a “downward spiral” and casts serious doubt on the ability of the Afghan government to stem the rise in the Taliban’s influence there, according to American officials familiar with the document…Its conclusions represent a harsh verdict on decision-making in the Bush administration, which in the months after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks made Afghanistan the central focus of a global campaign against terrorism.

The Afghan Army apparently is getting better, but the opium trade has exploded of course, rampant corruption in the government.  And by corruption we should say that is a Western judgment–fair within those parameters but not so much outside of them.  What is typically called corruption in the Western press is what Edward Luttwak called “family-ism”–i.e. people using their jobs to get a cut to protect their families.

And then there is this (my italics):

The administration is considering whether the United States should devote more effort to working directly with tribal leaders in far-flung provinces, and possibly arming tribal militias, to fight the Taliban in places where Afghanistan’s army and police forces have been ineffective.

The Bush administration had long resisted making tribal elders a centerpiece of American strategy in Afghanistan. American officials had hoped instead that strong national institutions like the Afghan Army could protect the Afghan population, but the escalating violence this year has forced a reassessment of the value of the tribal system for counterinsurgency operations.

That’s McCain’s idea of the application of the SURGE (“Feel The Surge!!!”) to Afghanistan.  There have been some over-reaches by the Taliban in certain quarters of the tribal areas.  Other places they are protected under tribal rules.  In the places where there has been violence by Taliban against indigenous tribes that generally has been on the Pakistani side and is a product of lower classes rising up (under the banner of Talibanism) against entrenched local elites.

I’m not sure further weaponizing an area already awash in guns is an especially smart idea.

debate live thread

[All times Pacific Standard]

8:05 McCain’s preening-hood was on display at the beginning, but he did manage to modulate it (slightly).  McCain had some moments where he looked relaxed and in command of his facts/talking points.  But the repeated shots at Obama was not pretty.  What is clear to me over the psychodrama that is his campaign especially in the last 48 hours or so, is that for all this “Obama is the Messiah” talk (he’s an image, a dream, gives a good speech), it’s all driven clearly by the fact that Obama gets under McCain’s skin.  McCain can’t handle not being the media darling.  Jilted lover with the media.  (Que sera, sera I say).  Obama just thinks McCain is a honorable old fool.  He has the decency and good sense not to get personal as McCain wants to do.  Not flattering.

McCain’s viewpoint is very limited to the 20th century.  His crieria of who is ready to lead is totally predicated on his insider-carpetbagger-aristocrat background.  Obama certainly isn’t that, so he doesn’t pass the test (whereas Hillary would by McCain’s standards).

I don’t know ultimately how Obama will turn out as president (if and when).  But I do know that I supported him from the get go (way back like 20 months ago now) because I’ve always sensed he had a different insight than all the others.  Even the ones I like (like Biden).  That intuition I find borne out again tonight.  I’m willing to take that chance, not because I know for sure Obama is the greatest being ever or something but because the way of operating that the Boomers have done has served its time and is now over.  They can help in the new order. Lend a hand if Bob Dylan were singing about it (or get outta the way).  But whatever, the same can not do.  While I still have some serious policy disagreements with Obama (check the thread), I didn’t see anything to dissuade me tonight.  I saw Obama give what I think was his strongest debate performance by far to date.

8:00 One correction. I said that McCain was only interested domestically in tax & spending cuts. Forgot Nuclear Power. (Yippee!!!–isn’t that what the Iranians say they are building their reactors for? Oh nevermind).

7:38 The ending was pretty flat from both of them as I said earlier. But overall I have to give it to Obama. Especially during that middle portion. McCain showed that the only domestic agenda he cares about is spending and the only foreign policy is Iraq and Russia/Georgia.

Obama looked sharp and in control. McCain settled in towards the end I think but at the beginning was really jittery.

7:37 McCain gets the last line and it’s actually a pretty decent one: He knows how to heal wounds of war, deal with enemies, work with friends.

7:36 McCain came back to Reform, Peace, Prosperity. Haven’t heard that slogan (only one of 15 or so he’s had so far this campaign) for awhile. I think that was given the McCain Campaign, four iterations ago.

7:35 McCain says that the veterans know he will take care of them. Except that he voted against the last bill (and the Webb GI Bill).

7:34 But little mini-comeback by referring to global vision versus the tunnel vision-“all chips in” on Iraq that is Bush-McCain.

7:33 I don’t like Fear the Chinese Dragon lines here from BO. Almost as dumb as McCain’s League of Democracies/Fear the Autocracies. The balloon is going on both of them.

7:31 BS on McCain Alert. If we lose in Iraq, al-Qaeda will have a base there. Not uh when the Sunni Tribesmen, Shia gov’t/Army, and/or Kurds kill them dude.

7:29 Neither of them are very strong on the “Are We Safer Question?”. Did Obama just support Star Wars (er Missile Defense)? Haven’t heard that before. Ugh.

7:27 McCain taking credit for Homeland Security? You can have it. If Biden were here, he would blow his top on McCain’s suggestion that they have done most of the recommendations.

7:22 Thumbs down to Obama for Georgia/Ukraine NATO entrance. Apparently it was all Russian aggression now in the CW (Larison is probably head in hands now). No Georgian aggression.

7:21 McCain’s story about Abkhazia where he saw a poster Putin for President just undermined his whole argument about how it was Georgian territory. Apparently they thought it wasn’t Georgian territory.

7:13 McCain’s attempt at a joke/dig at Obama for a seal just bombed out. McCain doesn’t get the difference between preparation and precondition. A precondition is say “Unless you stop all nuclear activity you will not get to talk with us.” Preparation is we put the issues we will discuss on the table. I was five seconds ahead of him as on a few others.

7:11 He is going back to Axis of Evil. Iraq had no WMDs. North Korea gets the message that if you don’t have a nuke you get overthrown (minus a security agreement) and BOOM–Builds one. And Iran…..same thing?

7:08 oh shit. he just flipped Kissinger wanting to talk with Iran on McCain after McCain just cited Kissinger & Nixon go to China. BAM!

7:06 zing. Obama hits McCain on how you need China and Russia (which my esteemed colleague would admit are not democracies).

7:05 League of Democracies. If I had liquor nearby, that would be a triple shot. On to Iran….

6:54. McCain just mispronounced the name of the new President of Pakistan. And now we are going to have THE SAME SURGE in Afghanistan as in Iraq. W-T-F? Who are the Awakening in this version? The Shia?

6:53. Obama’s strong on Afghanistan in his answer (though I still harbor question his policy). McCain is answering about the 80s. He just said we couldn’t leave Afghanistan like we did after the Soviet War. Except that is exactly what happened when we went into Iraq. McCain has got nothing on Afghanistan.

6:46: Obama’s got a very good answer on the troop funding. Obama is the only one to see strategy as a beyond one country tunnel vision. Strategy as Overall Strategy.

6:41. What is up with McCain bringing up the no-hearings on Afghanistan. Really he is so petulant. Obama just needs to keep it cool. McCain just said Obama doesn’t know the difference between a tactic and a strategy. Hello pot, kettle here.

6:39: Allright. Onto foreign policy. McCain’s answer on Iraq just made no sense. The lesson from Iraq was we can’t have a failed strategy that we will cause us almost to lose. Except that the STRATEGY is elections, the push for national reconciliation, creation of strong central government, NOT THE SURGE. Sorry Johnny. The Surge did not change the STRATEGY. The Surge is a tactic pinned to the Strategy which exists only to serve the goal (unified democratic Iraq).

6:35: Obama is getting to the issue of values. This is smart imo. McCain only has his value as less government/less spending. I don’t know it plays in this economy. Republican economic deregulation orthodoxy–like none of this fallout just happened.

6:30 [PST]: I wasn’t expecting it go about budget hawk wonkery. Kinda weird and has essentially nothing with the Bailout.

6:27 [PST]: Good question from Lehrer. What can they not do post-bailout? Obama is dodging a bit. He says he is still going forward with health care, energy, education, infrastructure. I think he actually is right–i.e. those things have to be done–but where is the cash? Do we just bust the budget because you know the Republicans get the levers of power again, they will f it up again. And the Democrats always have to come in (a la Clinton) and have their agenda screwed via Republican monetary malfeasance.

6:21 [PST]: McCain is giving the US has the 2nd highest corporate tax rate we need to be more like Ireland. Except that it’s on the books as the 2nd highest, there are so many loopholes, that the payout is much lower. Obama just makes the same point.

6:20 [PST]: WTF is with McCain’s monomania against earmarks? Seriously. Seriously dude. Now you wanna pick this fight?

6:19 [PST]: Obama is quick to make sure he doesn’t get the tax raiser/big spender librual.

6:17 [PST]: oooh. interesting. Obama has got his numbers and is calling McCain out on tax cuts for the rich. He’s doesn’t want McCain to grab populist ground. Pretty shrewd.

6:14 [PST]: McCain has got his talking points ready. Spending, responsibility, increased gov’t (nice Great Society shot there). I don’t know how this plays. God he just said earmarks are a gateway drug (like pot?)–DRUG WAR on EARMARKS? The Bears in Montana? WTF? How does this have anything to do with the financial crisis?

Not Good, Really Not Good: Pakistan Edition (Breaking)

From Time:

(KABUL, Afghanistan) — Pakistani troops fired at American reconnaissance helicopters patrolling the Afghan-Pakistan border Thursday, heightening tensions as U.S. steps up cross-border operations in a region known as a haven for Taliban and al-Qaida militants.

The Pakistani army has put a message that their troops have orders not to fire.

Here is the PM (from the US allied PPP):

“We will not tolerate any act against our sovereignty and integrity in the name of the war against terrorism,” Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani told journalists Wednesday. “We are fighting extremism and terror not for any another country, but our own country. This is our own war.”

That could be interpreted as simply grandstanding and a wink-wink deal behind closed doors where the Pakistani leadership has signed off on US/NATO incursions (if only aerial) into their land.  But it again makes clear that Pakistan is only interested in this fight insofar as it involves al-Qaeda and the Pakistani Taliban attacking their country.  They have no real care or interest in Taliban roaming across the NWFP into Afghanistan and launching attacks against either the Afghan Army/Police or NATO.  That simply doesn’t matter to Pakistan.  Pakistan wants the Taliban or a Taliban-like (Pashtun dominated) government in Afghanistan.  Always has, always will.

The Pakistanis also know that increased US pressure in the tribal regions, pushes the insurgency/terrorism against them.  If NATO/US gets better at preventing cross-border raids from Pakistan into Afghanistan (i.e. West), that energy-violence has nowhere to go but back into the heartland of Pakistan (i.e. East).

It’s the foreign policy equivalent of the financial meltdown.

Published in: on September 25, 2008 at 9:43 am  Leave a Comment  
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Bloody Brutal Bombing in Islamabad

Warning, by clicking the link to the Reuters story in the NyTimes you will see a disturbing photo.  The link is here.

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – At least 40 people were killed on Saturday in a suspected suicide car bomb attack on the Marriott Hotel in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, the city’s police chief reported.

The attack was timed at the exact moment that the new president of Pakistan, Zardari (widower of Benazir Bhutto) was to first address the parliament and call for a crackdown on militants.  The attack then sends the signal that the government is not in control, can not protect citiizens and most importantly can not protect foreigners–the Marriott in Islamabad is a major foreign (mostly Western) hang out.

The Reuters article unhelpfully in some ways refers to “al-Qaeda-linked militants” as having suffered a series of attacks by the government.  If I had to guess who was behind this, it would be the head of the Pakistani Taliban from Waziristan, Baitullah Mahsud.  He is the main suspect behind the assassination of Bhutto and this has all the hallmarks of their operation.  The other major candidate would be Jalaludin Haqqani who is thought to have been behind the bombing of the Indian Embassy in Kabul and is perversely known as the father of suicide bombing in Afghan/Pakistan.

This entire strategy of predator drones/airstrikes into Waziristan, special forces in there, the Pakistanis announcing that they will attack any NATO/US soldiers who cross into Pakistan (!!!!!), needs to be fundamentally re-thought.  Pakistan is being destabilized–Pakistan with a NUCLEAR WEAPON, that Pakistan.  The most dangerous nation on the planet getting more dangerous by the minute.

Suicide bombing is a tactic of populations perceived to be under occupation.

I’m glad I’m not in charge on this one because I have no idea what to do.  If you leave it alone, the Taliban is too strong and too well equipped/financed not to overrun all kinds of places, especially in Afghanistan.  In Pakistan, the Taliban just want (at this point) to be left alone and left to rule their haunts.  But in Afghanistan they want the government back.

But a cynic or maybe a realist would ask how we could simply disentangle al-Qaeda from the Taliban and make our fight only with them.  But that just doesn’t seem possible.  Mullah Omar, Mahsud, Haqqani, too many of them are connected with AQ.  From such a perch it seems inevitable to me that AQ would successfully land another attack–probably on Britain not the US but possibly in the US as well.

That worries me for the obvious reason of loss of life but also for the hysteria/over-reaction that accompanied the September 11th attacks.  Another attack and God only knows what more civil liberties we would lose.

It seems a real damned if you do, damned if you don’t scenario.  And by damned here I mean people damned to death.  I don’t mean that in some vague gotcha sense or political campaigns. This is real human life here.

At the end of the day, the Pakistanis it seems to me don’t really want this fight.  Zardari does because his whole power lies in it.  He is the fulfillment of the US-backed plan to install Benazir Bhutto, which at the time was a Bhutto-Musharraf power sharing arrangement but now is a Bhutto-clan only scenario.  Nawaz Sharif of course is running to unseat the government on an anti-US, pro-Pakistani sovereignty platform (and undoubtedly a peace with honor/deal with the Taliban plank).  Bhutto got US approval because she told the West she would take on the militants (never mind that she helped them prosper in the first place).

So that’s where it all is now.

Pakistani Goings On

News out today of another missile attack from a drone into Pakistani (Frontier Provinces). As always sadly civilians were killed. This comes on the heels of an actual ground force into Pakistan. The Asian Times is reporting that the new president of Pakistan, elected this weekend, Ali Zardari (widower of Benazir Bhutto) is on board with the US/NATO attacks in Pakistan, however much for public consumption he has to decry the intrusion on Pakistani sovereignty. The Atimes article also argues that Zardari has the Intelligence Services in Pakistan under control. Or rather that with the size of his victory, the Army (and ISI) won’t challenge such a putsch. That’s a shocking claim given the recent history, and I’m not sure I’d by that one without more evidence.

But it certainly represents the achievement of the US plan to back Bhutto and basically install her in Pakistan after it was clear that our SOB in Pakistan, Musharraf, was in an untenable position (well Cheney apparently held out on Musharraf to the bitter end).

The Obama Presidency re: Afghanistan and Pakistan is now under way, in a less intense version than he has called for–particularly in terms of nuumbers of troops into Afghanistan. And as Bob Woodward’s new book makes clear, David Petraeus was made CentCom Commander in an attempt to preempt Obama (or any Democratic President) from drawing down more quickly on Iraq. I can see a coming clash between a President Obama and CentCom Petraeus. And right smack dab between those two fronts is of course Iran. What an absolute disaster.

But whatever else may be going on with Pakistan, they fight in the Long War a war of existential survival whereas the US fights a war of discipline.  Obviously the stakes are high given Afghanistan, Kashmir, and the history of militancy arising from Pakistan.  Olivier Roy points out that so much trans-national militancy has arisen from Pakistan because it was never really a full state rather a piece together amalgamation and a notion of an “Islamic state”. A failure in this policy (and hell even a “success” however that is defined) could lead to a renewed jihadi movement emanating from Pakistan (and Afghanistan).  And we know the last time that happened, how that story ended.

Meanwhile in Pakistan

Since everyone else is focused on the latest drama surrounding Sarah Palin (I’ve lost count already–but HuffPo comes in for the support), this would be more vastly more important:

Two helicopters carrying coalition forces landed in a Pakistani village in South Waziristan near the border with Afghanistan in the early hours of Wednesday morning and the soldiers opened fire on villagers, killing seven people, according to a spokesman for the Pakistani military.

The account by the spokesman, Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas, broadcast on Pakistani television on Wednesday evening, described what appeared to be a first commando attack by NATO forces against the Taliban inside Pakistan.

Under normal circumstances, that would typically be labeled as an act of war.

Published in: on September 3, 2008 at 8:24 am  Leave a Comment  
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Air Strikes Afghanistan

Per the last post, a new UN report out states that the US airstrikes in Afghanistan have killed 90 civilians.

Now a HUGE CAVEAT: The UN based the number on interviews–no photographic evidence apparently (I would quote the passage but its AP–see the link for the reference to my paraphrase). As a good guess it usually always turns out to be more than the US army officially reports and less than UN type groups say.

But whatever the exact number it has been clear that Karzai has repeatedly called out NATO/US for the use of air strikes in the country killing civilians. He wants the US to use planes to bomb Pakistani targets–yikes.

Again, I have deep reservations (a la Juan Cole, Rory Stewart, and possibly even Jim Webb) about a ground force increase in Afghanistan. The alternative however is either A)continued use of air power which will mean more civilian deaths only increasing the hatred of the presence of foreign troops and/or B)the Taliban taking over and destroying the Karzai government. Unless they can massively train up an Afghan Army double quick time that could actually fight which doesn’t seem particularly likely then they are serious problems in this part of the world.

It is not just as China Hand said, that Pakistan is not Iran to Afghanistan’s Iraq (true) but also the Taliban are not the Sunni tribes of Iraq. They deal with al-Qaeda are not going to turn on them and can’t be bought off.

Iraq, since I obliquely am on the subject, is gearing up for Civil War 2.0, so even Iraq itself is headed back towards chaos so maybe there is no hope for any of them.

Political Turmoil in Pakistan

Excellent, excellent post by China Hand at American Footprints. The whole thing could be quoted, it’s that good in terms of the analysis of the situation. The central premise of which is that by pushing for COIN in the Pakistan Tribal Areas and/or an increased quasi-surge in Afghanistan, the Pakistani government could collapse completely. [A country which has nukes you will recall].

Pakistani media and international polling make it clear that Pakistan believes that unremitting American pressure on Pakistan to participate in a flawed, excessively militarized campaign against the burgeoning Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan is turning a serious but manageable problem—ethnic and Islamist extremism in Pakistan’s border regions—into an existential crisis that is ripping Pakistan apart.

In the days since Musharraf’s departure, Pakistan has been torn by a series of terrorist attacks, including a coordinated assault on Pakistan’s main armory near Islamabad, which left nearly 100 dead.

The attacks represent a highly persuasive demonstration by Pakistani Taliban extremists that peace inside Pakistan’s central, urbanized core requires accommodation with the Taliban, and not participation in America’s escalating counter-insurgency campaign in Afghanistan’s east and Pakistan’s frontier provinces.

The other point the post makes absolutely clear–and has been known to anyone who has bothered to pay attention/knew the history–is that the Pakistanis political elites (across the spectrum) essentially do not care about the government of Karzai. For Pakistan the calculation is entirely related to the US and India. Which is why Musharraf went after al-Qaeda (when he was pushed to by Cheney–mostly kabuki but to some effect) but never touched the Taliban. This was so Musharraf could receive fat checks for the military which were used to buy weaponry for a possible future war with India!!!

Now the PPP (Benazir Bhutto’s party) has tried to make nice with the US by promising a crackdown on the Pakistani Taliban/al-Qaeda but have lost political standing as a result–Sharif has just left the coalition government–and are likely to lose out and maybe fall soon.

China Hand compares this situation to the one in Iraq where nominal stability (for now) has been achieved because the Iranians have backed the Shia government and want stability and not an intra-Shia civil war which explains why they are putting pressure on Sadr to go political and not fight.

Pakistan has always felt left out of the Afghan government. One flaw perhaps that can be attributed to the Bonn Agreement–which was heavily weighted towards the Northern Alliance, the Russians, the Iranians, and the (for Pakistan hated) Indians. Although to be fair, the Pakistanis (and particularly the ISI) has backed the Pashtun for so long and see everything only through their (quasi-paranoid imo) relationship with India, couldn’t conceive of a different policy . Zero sum equation in their mind—India gained influence with Karzai, hence Pakistan lost. Hence Pakistan should back the Taliban and the insurgency. Or at the very least no do anything to prevent it.

Sharif is clearly going to make his run to become PM again predicated on compromising with the Pakistan Taliban. He has stronger roots in the conservative religious parties. He is going to run against the PPP as the anti-American, pro-Pakistani (“Pakistani solutions for Pakistani problems” you can see it now) pol.

China Hand then weaves an interesting scenario. That the ISI (or elements within it at least) were involved in the brutal bombing of the Indian Embassy in Kabul so as to make Afghanistan completely cut off relations with Islamabad, provoke an Indian response (in Kashmir perhaps?), and then allow Pakistan to go back to the war it really wants with India.

And then from that narrative, this:

Instead, while Karzai floundered to his doom, the Pakistani army could do what it does best: deploying its divisions in a conventional order of battle in Pakistan’s east facing India and engage in the crowd-pleasing ritualized hostility that has secured the army’s place in the center of national esteem—and fattened its budget—for the last sixty years.

So, a surge into Afghanistan, instead of adding an emollient sheen to waters already smoothed by an interested regional power, might instead apply a highly flammable coating of gasoline to all of South Asia—with the Taliban and the ISI both eager to throw a match.

And here I think I have a quibble or at least a question. If there is no increase of troops to Afghanistan, Karzai will certainly fall. And that would no doubt be bad. Particularly if there is video of him killed spread around the world.

Does Pakistan really want another civil war in Afghanistan? I guess they could live with it particularly if a Neo-Taliban/Pashtun resistance comes back to power (they would love that result).

But from the Pakistani side: do they really think the Pakistani Taliban are going to stop attacking them if they stop playing with the West? What evidence is there for that assertion? Every time the Pakistanis have made a peace deal with the Taliban, the Taliban use the time to train, get more weapons/training, and then launch more attacks.

What happens if and when Pakistan signs a peace deal and then the P. Taliban set off a wave of suicide bombers in Islamabad? Or take over Peshawar?

And for the US–how does al-Qaeda not use such a platform of de facto Taliban victory to attack the US or Britain? Or both. Undoubtedly if left alone they will I fear launch successful terrorist attacks on the West.

I have to admit to my own near-despair/nihilism on whether this issue can be resolved. On the one hand I agree with China Hand that pushing in Afghanistan could very easily obliterate what is left of Pakistan politically–unless another dictator were to come along I guess–at the same time that I think not doing so does not leave some “emollient sheen to waters already smoothed by regional interests” because neither the Taliban nor al-Qaeda play by the nation-state rule set. And to leave them free to essentially hollow out two states (Pakistan and Afghanistan) thereby giving freedom of access for attack to al-Qaeda is a deadly deadly scenario in my estimation. I have no idea what can be done.

Pakistan: From Bad to Scary Worse

BBC reporting:

At least 63 people have been killed and dozens injured in twin suicide bombings outside Pakistan’s main munitions factory in the town of Wah, police say.

The attack is the deadliest on a military site in Pakistan’s history.

The bombs hit the town, some 30km (18 miles) north-west of Islamabad, as workers were leaving the factory.

A spokesman for the Pakistani Taleban said they had carried out the attacks, which he said were a response to army violence in the country’s north-west.

This follows on Tuesday’s attack on a hospital by the Pakistani Taliban.  The rationale is to force the Pakistani army to halt an offensive against the Taliban in the NWFP.

Meanwhile the political parties of Nawaz Sharif and Asif Zadari (Bhutto’s widower) continue their bickering over whether the Supreme Court Chief Judge (and other judges) should be reinstated.  Zadari is a well known crook and doesn’t want the Chief Justice Chaudhry returned to his post because he (Zadari) fears (probably correctly) that he would be quickly brought up on corruption charges.

Musharraf out, weakened political parties, the ISI with elements known to be sympathetic if not outright supportive of the Taliban, inflation skyrocketing (along with food prices), and the Army not clear in its mission.  Given Pakistan’s history, the timing looks ripe for another military coup.

Published in: on August 21, 2008 at 11:21 am  Leave a Comment  
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