Free Markets, Free People

Petraeus Says Next 2 Weeks Critical For Pakistan

Gen. David Petraeus says it is put up or shut up time for Pakistan. They’ve let the Taliban establish itself within Pakistan’s Swat valley and they are now threatening other areas. We covered that in a post about the price of appeasement.

Petraeus said:

“The Pakistanis have run out of excuses” and are “finally getting serious” about combating the threat from Taliban and Al Qaeda extremists operating out of Northwest Pakistan, the general added.

But Petraeus also said wearily that “we’ve heard it all before” from the Pakistanis and he is looking to see concrete action by the government to destroy the Taliban in the next two weeks before determining the United States’ next course of action, which is presently set on propping up the Pakistani government and military with counterinsurgency training and foreign aid.

Earlier in the month the Talibs had advanced within 70 miles of the capital, Islamabad. So what about the nuclear weapons?

The officials who spoke with Petraeus, however, said he and they believe that even were Zardari’s government to fall, it was still conceivable that Kayani’s army could maintain control over the nuclear arsenal.

That is because the Pakistani arsenal is set up in such a way — with the weapons stockpile and activation mechanisms separated — so as to prevent easy access by invaders. Moreover, the Taliban is not believed at present to possess the sophisticated technical expertise necessary to exercise full “command and control” over a nuclear arsenal, and would probably require weeks if not months to develop it.

Oh wonderful – they don’t possess the knowledge now, but a few months, and the Taliban could be nuclear. And, of course, we know what organization would be a beneficiary of such a capability, don’t we?

Pakistan is suddenly a much more critical story than either Iraq or Afghanistan. So what is our plan?

As for the security of the Pakistani nuclear arsenal, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said last Saturday, in an interview with FOX News in Baghdad, that the U.S. believes the arsenal to be “safe” but only “given the current configuration of power in Pakistan.”

She described as “the unthinkable” a situation in which the the Zardari government were to be toppled by the Taliban, adding “then they would have the keys to the nuclear arsenal of Pakistan, and we can’t even contemplate that. We cannot let this go on any further…”

You know, say what you will about the last administration, but if they had said what Clinton said, I’d pretty well understand what they meant. But with this administration I have no idea what “we cannot let this go any further …” means.


28 Responses to Petraeus Says Next 2 Weeks Critical For Pakistan

  • I wonder if we even have a plan to destroy the nukes if we needed too. You know, like those Iranian plans everyone said meant we would attack them….and then didn’t.

  • It means they’ll kick back and watch it go further.

  • Given this crew, possible choices:

    1) They’ll write a strong letter to the UN
    2) They’ll give the Taliban backdoor assurances they’ll “look the other way” if Israel suddenly sports a mushroom cloud if it means “peace”
    3) Obama will have yet another prime time news conference where he’ll take puffball questions about being enchanted and he can whine about inheriting problems and how being Pres. is hard

  • One wonders what would have happened if the US had kept focus on stabilizing Afghanistan rather than the misguided adventure into Iraq.  Yet another consequence of that horrid decision.

    Clearly this would provide the Sunni Taliban’s main rival, Shi’ite Iran, even more incentive to develop a deterrent force. 

    Seriously, all the US can really do is aid the Pakistani government in whatever efforts it undertakes, using covert and special operations rather than massive military force.   The odds are against the Taliban, and against them getting any kind of access to nuclear weapons.   If somehow they do, it’s containment and deterrence in a very interesting part of the world.  China, India, Russia, Israel and potentially Iran will nukes.   Israel is safe, they have a strong deterrent force and the Taliban is focused less on Israel than on defeating the moderate Muslim world — and Shi’ite Iran.

    • Clearly this would provide the Sunni Taliban’s main rival, Shi’ite Iran, even more incentive to develop a deterrent force.

      Using this simplistic logic, it would be equally clear that Sunni Saddam’s main rival, Shi’ite Iran, would have even more incentive to develop a deterrent force against Iraq with Saddam still in power. Thanks for playing, Erb.

      • Well, Duh JWG, of course they had incentive while Saddam was in power.  Luckily for them, we destroyed his capacity to harm them in 1991, and then we finished the job in 2003, helping put in place a regime in Iraq friendly to Iran.  We’ve been very kind to the Iranian regime.

        • So Erb is arguing that by going into Iraq we allowed the Taliban to strengthen in Afghanistan which leads to Iran having “more incentive to develop a deterrent force.”

          But he is also arguing that, “Duh,” if we hadn’t gone into Iraq then Saddam’s continued reign would have led to Iran having “more incentive to develop a deterrent force.”

          Wow. That’s some solid reasoning against the Iraq war. It’s also Erb’s way of making Iran’s quest for nuclear weaponry everyone else’s fault…especially America’s.

          He’s got the PolySci mentality down pat.

    • You are presuming “Yet another consequence of that horrid decision.” 

      Exactly what do you think that focus would have entailed?  Democracy building in Afghanistan (Which you are rabidly against, I mean, after all, you’re against it in Iraq so in ‘principle’ it would be bad in Afghanistan as well). 
      That the Euro’s would have contributed MORE to Afghanistan? (since they didn’t contribute a lot in Iraq, you can hardly claim WE diluted THEIR focus on Afghanistan).

      And had we followed YOUR scheme, Saddam Hussein would STILL be stirring up trouble in the gulf.  As if we don’t have enough jokers in the deck as it is.

      No, the only thing our venture into Iraq did (aside from removing a mad-man and very possibly laying the foundation for a decent country) is provide people like YOU the opportunity to use it as a source of blame for all the  ills in the region. 

      It should be okay now though, you’re optimistic!  Obambi will soon get all those foreigners to love us and everyone will listen to him, and we’ll have  no more nuclear weaponry, Iran will start acting sane and give up dreaming of destroying Israel,  and the pretty moon ponies will come dwell amongst us.

      • Saddam was impotent in 2003 when we invaded.  It was probably the most costly foreign policy mistake in recent US history.  But there is karmic justice — it’s the reason Bush failed, the reason the GOP fell so hard, so fast, the reason we have a  President Obama with a large Democratic majority, and the reason that the US public has turned against an aggressive arrogant foreign policy.  It’s nice to see some justice in the world.

        • Oh, sweetie boy, the justice hasn’t even begun to be dispensed. 

          The difference is when it happens I’ll be ready, and you’ll be standing there looking like a deer in the headlights.

        • Many who were against the Iraq war want to believe the last election was a repudiation of said war, but wanting it to be doesn’t make it so. The main reason for President Obama, a Democrat majority, and the GOP out of power is the economy. When the dominant campaign issue *was* Iraq, McCain was ahead – even as awful a candidate as he was. Axelrod himself said the turning point for Obama was when the economy went down and McCain theatrically suspended his campaign to go vote for the nail in his coffin. 

          There are other lesser reasons, such as Obama’s powerful campaigning ability, McCain’s terrible campaigning ability, McCain’s loss of his party base, the historic nature of the election, Obama’s coattails, and the documented bias of the media’s coverage of Obama. Regardless, “it’s the economy, stupid” won out again, as it often does. Iraq wasn’t even on the radar when votes were cast.

          • The 2008 election was not  a referendum on then-long-since-over Iraq war: the 2004 election was.  Bush won and the people voted to continue it.

    • I believe that God is merciful, Scott, so I don’t think that when you meet Him, He will kick you in the balls and throw you into a pit filled with howling carnivorous monkeys.

      That’s the God of mercy, not justice. And I’m just guessing.

    • No Scott, Iraq had nothing to do with what is happening in Pakistan.  The Taliban had moved from Afghanistan into the wilds of Pakistan right after the initial invasion  to get away from the US pressure.   They have spent several years consolidating their position via torture and violence (as well as falso truces) and now we see the result.  The US did have more influence with Musharraf than with the current government.  But, Bush, Powell, and Condi had more influence in Pakistan, period,  than Obama and Hillary.


      • Well, that’s your opinion.  But if there had been no invasion of Iraq, and if the US could have done more to stabilize post-war Afghanistan, both of those actions might have undercut radicalism in Pakistan and altered the political dimension dramatically.  We’ll never know for sure.

        • “could have done more to stabilize post-war Afghanistan” – Like what?  You’re convinced there were other things we could have done to the point where you KNOW what we did was wrong.
          Tell us what those things ARE.

          “might have undercut radicalism in Pakistan and altered the political dimension dramatically”
          Then you fall back on “MIGHT”.

          And you MIGHT be wrong about Iraq, and you MIGHT be wrong that our intervention in Iraq prevented a better outcome in Afghanistan.

  • “One wonders what would have happened if the US had kept focus on stabilizing Afghanistan rather than the misguided adventure into Iraq.  Yet another consequence of that horrid decision.”
    Hmmmm, how about the Taliban unable to gain ground in Afghanistan decide to concentrate on Pakistan? Which is essentially what happened. Or are you imagining a US success so awesome that that the Taliban see the light and accept schools for girls, Virginia Slims advertisements, and legalized beer? Seriously, you need to meet some hard core Islamic types. They are not going to see the light. 
    “Clearly this would provide the Sunni Taliban’s main rival, Shi’ite Iran, even more incentive to develop a deterrent force.”
    The Sunni Taliban’s main rival is Iran. Classic. You know, maybe the USA might rank above Iran on the list of “rivals.” Or the Sunni Afghan government. Or the Sunni Pakistan government. Or the Northern Alliance.  So many choices. 
    And of course, by this logic, Iran should be hugging Bush because he took out the number one enemy of Iran, Saddam Hussein, a truly existential enemy that probably occupies slots 1-9 of the top 10 reasons Iran developed a nuclear bomb.
    Oh, you mean rivals for “Islamic Revolutionary” status? Well, Iran worked with Hamas, which is Sunni as well. So I think the air is out of that argument.

    • Indeed, despite the rhetoric, policy-wise George W. Bush was very good for Iran.

      • You mean a specific foreign policy objective might not cure every single issue facing America? It’s a good thing you got that degree, Erb. We’d be lost without you.

        Also, I’m sure Iran is thrilled to have the American military bordering on both sides.

      • You’ve become like the Washington Generals, Scott. I don’t mean the ones at the Pentagon. I mean the hapless basketball team whose job was to lose to the Globetrotters.

  • But with this administration I have no idea what “we cannot let this go any further …” means.

    It probably means that more American dollars will be shoveled in Pakistan’s direction.

  • I will grant Erb one millimeter…the Taliban angered the Iranians by killing some of their diplomats pre-9/11. The Iranians had connections with the Northern Alliance, and I am guessing the Shia Hazaris. There are surely historical issues between Pashtun and Dari (Persian) in Afghanistan. 

    However, I doubt this played into their thinking on Pakistani nukes, which probably already were “priced in” to any decision to seek nuclear weapons in the 90’s.

  • Why do I get the feeling that I’m looking at where I’ll end up being deployed to after infantry training?

  • The issues in Pakistan are coming to a head not because of Bush, but because he’s gone.

    That’s the timetable for groups like the Taliban vis a vis the U.S. They out-wait the democratic process in the U.S., knowing that when a strong leader is replaced with a putz, theycan have at it.

    The Taliban, you will recall (ahem), CONTROLLED AFGHANISTAN. Until when? UNTIL BUSH REMOVED THEM. They’ve been in the mountains hob-nobing with the “tribal regions,” where the government’s reach exceeded its grasp.
    The Taliban were not helped by Bush; they were nearly destroyed by him. And if Dave Petraeus has a hand in this most current mustering of them, they will be decimated. Everybody wanted Bush to go, but nobody was prepared to pay the price. Everybody want Musharraf to go, but that bill has come due, too.

    • No, I wasn’t on the fifth scotch when I posted that.

      I was in the process of running  out the door to pick up Mrs. McP at the bus station. My apologies for the half-formed sentences, all-caps yelling, etc.

  • Perhaps we need to consider whether the government of Pakistan is actually able to counter the Taliban, even if it were willing.

    • That’s a good question, because you know who would have to counter them if it came down to it. At least until the nuclear weapons are secured. After that the Indians might have to bear the containment mission. (Thank goodness Bush made a solid connection with them.)

      What was that that Bush said to General Casey about Iraq at one point, interrupting him, wasn’t it something like, “you know were not going for a tie here; we’re playing for a win.”

      Without that attitude — and it appears to me that no one in the world has it but Petraeus and Odierno now (a reduction of 33% in the “not playing for a tie” contingent) — you could see in Pakistan what you would have seen in Iraq but for Bush staying in for the win.

      Oh, what terrible hand-wringing there will be in Obamaland. You see Erb out early blaming any catastrophe in Pakistan on…Bush! (I wonder if he is even conscious of it, it was so well programmed into the Left).

      • Techinically I suppose Erb must be considered a conscious being, but I doubt that he is conscious of what he says, any more than a parrot is conscious of the meanings of the noises it makes.