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Pakistan: Think this through before acting
Posted by: McQ on Thursday, July 19, 2007

This is a situation where we need to really consider all the options and ramifications before we act:
U.S. forces should go into Pakistan to rout al Qaeda from the safe haven it has found in the mountains on the border with Afghanistan, a co-chairman of the Iraq Study Group said.

Former Rep. Lee Hamilton, who also served as the vice chairman of the 9/11 commission, says the Iraq war distracted the United States when it had al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden on the run in the tribal region between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

He says it's now time to finish the job.

"This has to be carefully calibrated, worked out with the Pakistanis, but I am very concerned that you have a safe haven in Pakistan today where they (al Qaeda) can regroup, rethink, and get ready for more attacks," Hamilton said on CNN's "Newsroom" on Wednesday.

[...]

"I think we have to find ways and means, perhaps it's use of covert actions, perhaps it's use of special operations, perhaps it's the pursuit of the Taliban when they're in Afghanistan, to let us go after them as they move back into Pakistan.

"Whatever it is, I do not find acceptable a sanctuary for al Qaeda in Pakistan. We have to be able to go after them."
Well yeah, that would be nice, except we're talking about invading the territory of an ally. And if you think Iraq is a mess, just follow Hamilton's advice and push into Pakistan. Introducing US forces into Pakistan is not the way to solve this problem, nor has it ever been. In fact, for Pakistan's shaky government, it might be all she wrote. And the possibility then, of a nuclear armed Islamic state (and possibly a radical one) might become reality.

Additionally this "Iraq was a distraction" argument doesn't work either. Pakistan has always been a haven for the Taliban and even if we had the entire force in Afghanistan that we have in Iraq, that wouldn't change.

The fact remains that the Warzirastan and the other autonomous tribal areas have always a) resisted their own government and b) been a haven for Islamic extremists. A laser focus on only Afghanistan wouldn't have changed that one iota.

Special forces aren't magic either. If, indeed, SO was introduced into Pakistan, it would simply be the fulfillment of what the Taliban has been telling these tribesmen for years, that the Great Satan was invading their homes.

At most we should find a way to support Pakistani military operations, perhaps with air support. And we could do that with SO people working with their military (not alone and running around the hills of Pakistan) to root out the Taliban and al Qaeda and providing precision munition targeting for the air support I mentioned.

We could also do simultaneous operations on the Afghan side of the border so when and if the Pakistanis can flush and drive the Taliban/AQ, we're in a position to intercept and kill them (and that intel would come from our Special Operators with the Pakistani military, not the ISI). That is the only "closely calibrated" type of operation which may not cause more harm than good.

But this is a Pakistani job in the final analysis. We certainly need to pressure them to go after the safe havens and even support their effort in a limited way, as outlined, but what we don't need to do is risk the collapse of the government of a nominal ally (and seeing who knows what replacing it) and expanding the conflict in the region by invading their territory.
 
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I wonder if, in this case, considering all the ramifications, isn’t an impossibility. There is so obviously a great deal going on here that we don’t know about.

Even whether not our not knowing is by design of our supposedly Allies is an outstanding question. (Put another way, I don’t entirely trust Musharraf.)

As for Pakistan being able to mount operations to take care of things on their own side of the border because it’s their job, agreed, so far as your logic takes this.

However; one of the outstanding questions is the loyalties of Pakistani troops. Certainly, at least a few of them are going to find their loyalties divided between the semi-popular and shaky government, and their religion.

And in any event...that those bases for al-Qaida exist in the region, suggests an inability on Musharraf’s part to deal with the issue. It would be a difficult task for our military, even when we find ourselves so much better equipped than the Pakistani army to deal with it.

On the other hand ....assuming we stay out of Pakistan... if the government of Pakistan is that shaky... what is the ability of al-Qaida to attack and defeat that government from those bases in Warzirastan, thereby obtaining nukes for their own purposes? Certainly, the worst of all possible outcomes.
 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitsblog.florack.us
To the issue of "Iraq as a distraction":

Clearly if we hadn’t invaded Iraq this probably wouldn’t have been as much of a problem. Al qaeda would not be present in Iraq in any significant way (and most of them have come from Saudi Arabia and were recruited in Iraq), and we’d have had the forces to better stabilize Afghanistan and pressure Pakistan. We’d probably have a lot more international good will, Islamic extremism would be weaker, and Musharraf stronger. Right now our options our limited, invading Iraq was a benefit to the Taliban and al qaeda on virtually every level.

I think this is a problem that will linger, and only real change in Pakistan over time (and a reduction in the appeal of groups like al qaeda, which is likely over time) will end this.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Clearly if we hadn’t invaded Iraq this probably wouldn’t have been as much of a problem.

No, this problem would have been far worse.

Al qaeda would not be present in Iraq in any significant way

No, they’d either be in Afghanistan, or (more likely) in Pakistan where we can’t attack them without invading a nuclear power.

we’d have had the forces to better stabilize Afghanistan

Bzzzzt! The plan was never to have hundreds of thousands of troops in Afghanistan.

invading Iraq was a benefit to the Taliban and al qaeda on virtually every level.

Bzzzzzt again! Establishing a relatively liberal democracy in Iraq is the greatest threat to AQ’s ideology, and in their desperate, brutal effort to displace it they have alienated Muslims everywhere. Even the people who cheered 9/11 don’t cheer the bombs in Baghdad.

 
Written By: TallDave
URL: http://www.deanesmay.com
Eric Florak writes:
There is so obviously a great deal going on here that we don’t know about.
That is the fact that haunts the entire war on terror, including operations in Iraq. You can’t really talk about what you’re doing even after you’ve done it because the strategy and tactics will only work so long as the enemy doesn’t know what most of them are. (I’m obviously not talking about the troop-intensive clear and hold operations that are part of the surge and pursued openly.) One can imagine what they might be, or what they should be, but that’s going to be it. The rest, from an observer’s point of view, is frustration.

And in some ways, Lee Hamilton is so far out of the loop that you could take it as a matter of faith that what he says is particularly irrelevant. His day of specialization in military stuff was during the Cold War. My opinion of people like him and even Jim Baker is that they have old news and old concepts at their disposal and are fighting the last war.

McQ mentions special forces and special operations, which remain authentically "special" as long as they remain secret. But there’s another level of operations that are sometimes called "black ops," which I would suggest are significantly more "special" than special ops. You could be working a dozen different approaches to the problem in the tribal regions of Pakistan, inclusive of infiltration, psy-ops, disinformation, assassination, kidnapping, and payoffs all under a tent that looked no different than the status quo, so as not to raise the suspicions of the local populace.

In an "information rich society," when something is being seriously hidden, those who are talking don’t know, but because they are talking that becomes the public perception. Scratch beneath the surface of that and you come up with "we don’t really have a clue about what’s going on."

What you see in our "information rich society," therefore, are feeback loops that are rich in nonsense. It is this that frustrates the public more than anything else, in my opinion.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
The "Iraq is a distraction" thing is one of the stupidest talking points of all time. Afghanistan is a landlocked country with giant mountainscapes to hide in. Putting in 150,000+ troops to "finish the job" would have accomplished nothing because AQ can just slip away. If we had put all of our forces there then the media/Democrat propaganda would have been that AQ isn’t located in one country they can just run away. The remaining AQ leadership will be caught by intelligence work and Special Forces when they catch a lucky break, not because the First Armored Division was sent there to roll around a mountain.
 
Written By: andrew
URL: http://
And for the record, McQ has my complete agreement when he says:
…this “Iraq was a distraction” argument doesn’t work either. Pakistan has always been a haven for the Taliban and even if we had the entire force in Afghanistan that we have in Iraq, that wouldn’t change.
Quite correct. Indeed, my take on that point has always been that Iraq has always been a prelude and a precondition for the rest of it… whatever “the rest if it” entailed. Eliminating al-Qaida from the region, which, after all, is the ultimate goal, would have been an impossibility, without Iraq having been quelled first.
 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitsblog.florack.us
Talldave has Erb dead to rights, and I raise Erb the success reported by General Petraeus.
invading Iraq was a benefit to the Taliban and al qaeda on virtually every level.
Not even slightly, meaningfully possible. It cannot have been an aid to recruiting, because they already had a the support to pull off 9/11. It cannot be a strategic benefit to them—unless we leave—because our continued presence will mean Iraqi society evolves as all human population long exposed to the rule of law and popularly accountable government do, and they will become uninterested in AlQaeda’s crusade.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://tomdperkins.blogspot.com/
Responding to this comment by Boris Erb:
invading Iraq was a benefit to the Taliban and al qaeda on virtually every level.
Tom Perkins writes:
Not even slightly, meaningfully possible. It cannot have been an aid to recruiting, because they already had a the support to pull off 9/11.
I forget the exact number and am too lazy to go dig it out at the moment, but the number of jihadis who had been through al Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan was somewhere in the neighborhood of from 10 to 20 thousand. Al Qaeda was booked up with more terrorists than it could use before 9/11.

Now, I’m not going to blame anyone for that, but within 30 days after 9/11 (less time if you count CIA units) George Bush had U.S. forces on the ground in Afghanistan to put an end to those camps. So, taking the lower number of 10 thousand, al Qaeda personnel already in the pipeline equalled 500 teams the size of the one they used on 9/11.

That means that in addition to taking down the al-Qaeda/Taliban operation in Afghanistan that we have relentlessly pursued the terrorists already in the pipeline.

Let me step back to 9/11 for just a second. On that day, sensible people had one thought in their minds above all others. And that thought was the very immediate and logical one that "this could have been far far worse."

That’s right. We got off easy on 9/11. We got off easy and got the wake-up call, and we knew then that al-Qaeda had the personnel equal to 500 teams, at least, like the one that had just pulled off the largest terrorist attack in history, killed 3,000 Americans, and would send our economy into the doldrums for months.

So nearly six years later, when sensible people also knew on 9/11 that more was sure to come, we haven’t had another major terrorist attack inside the U.S.

The President must get credit for that. Certainly the military and all of the agencies involved have done their part and deserve enormous credit, but the President is at the eye of the storm and he has pursued this matter with great vigor.

We are surely not off the hook with respect to these creeps, the terrorists, but we have made them dead or captured them or rendered them sufficiently ineffective such that they haven’t yet nailed us again. And we have a president who has thankfully kept all of the options on the table — and I mean all — and I doubt that there’s a leader in the world today who doesn’t know what that means. Someone will pay dearly for another attack on the U.S., and so it’s in the interest of all potential suspects to make sure that it doesn’t happen, up to and including the lunatics in Tehran, who surely know how quickly their digs can be turned into a glass factory.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
Pakistan lost 700 troops when they first went into the tribal zones. (Bill Roggio says it was more like 3,000.) Let’s not dismiss the Pakistani efforts so lightly - yes its politically tricky for them, so say a B- for effort.

Now, this sort of idea - "let’s focus on Pakistan" is pretty stupid since we can do much more in secret, say having our special ops, predators, airpower, help the Pakistanis do better WITHOUT having Karachi in an uproar because a Lutheran crusader stepped onto their precious land.

That said, after this Red Mosque incident, you’d have Musharaffs ear at least.
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
Talldave, clearly Iraq has been a failure in comparison to initial expectations. You will appear completely out of touch with reality if you deny that. We were successful in removing Saddam, but if someone had said in 2003 "four years from now the President will be extremely unpopular, the public will have turned against the war, we will be divided, al qaeda will come into Iraq and we’ll have over 150,000 soldiers there fighting multiple enemies in a country where not only doesn’t oil pay for reconstruction but oil production remains bogged down, and political stagnation and stalement is rampant, that person would have been ridiculed for extremist pessimism. Moreover, if someone said the cost would be hundreds of billions, maybe over a trillion, women would suffer the most due to the imposition of extreme Islamic law, and reconstruction would be very slow since it isn’t safe for anyone in the West to operate without protection, the pro-war side would say that such a level of pessimism for four years of US military operation would be insane.

What if we didn’t go into Iraq? Iraq might still be led by Saddam now, but the number of dead, the chaos, the suffering, and the hit to America’s power (we’re not longer feared in the region) wouldn’t take place. President Bush would be pushing through his "ownership society" agenda, making long term changes in the American tax and welfare system. Tony Blair would be the most important leader in Europe, and we’d have been able to do whatever necessary to stabilize Afghanistan. The plan may have never been for more troops there (though they can’t get the number they need now), but as we see in Iraq, plans change.

Al qaeda and Islamic extremists have had a propaganda field day due to the Iraq war, it has helped the extremists recruit, incite anger, and has created a level of anti-Americanism world wide that has not been seen ever. I was talking to a businessman the other day who jets around the world and he said that even when people didn’t like Reagan there was never anything like the real disdain for America that he’s found, and an amazing amount of smug delight in seeing America’s policy fail. Iraq would have Saddam, but we would be able to continue to pressure for inspections and make it impossible to get meaningful WMD going (the real threat has always been Iran anyway). Without so much ill will, we’d have been able to launch diplomatic efforts to improve counter-terrorism in the region, and have closer ties with various states.

ALL THAT SAID, lacking a time machine that’s all water under the bridge. I actually think that President Bush has made some meaningful adjustments since 2005, especially promoting Rice, and bringing in Gates and even Lute. US diplomacy has improved (even if Bush gets no credit for it) and the strategy now shows a far better grasp on reality than it did in 2003. It’s clear we’re going to start pulling out of Iraq next year, and the question now is not should be stay or go, but how will we leave, will we leave troops behind (and where, in what capacity), and can we rebuild relations and influence the region after this fiasco. But even though the focus now is what we have to do going forward, it is dangerous not to learn from history, and the lesson in Iraq is clear: wars don’t go as planned, in a democracy it’s easy for support to erode, and military power doesn’t translate into the ability to shape the kind of political result we want. This should make us very hesitant to see military power as a means for social engineering. We also need to know that not only don’t things go as planned, but the negative consequences may be far worse than expected or even imagined. And in this case the fact we are not respected or feared, and thus less able to affect Pakistan and Iran, is one of the negative unexpected consequences of the Iraq war.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
You will appear completely out of touch with reality if you deny that
.

Rather, the opposite.
The president has said from the beginning, this would be a decades-long conflict. The only people who figured that it was going to be over in a short period of time, were those used to television dramas where things get wrapped up in 46 minutes which, of course, leaves time for the commercials. Tell me again, who is detached from reality, Scott.
What if we didn’t go into Iraq? Iraq might still be led by Saddam now, but the number of dead, the chaos, the suffering, and the hit to America’s power (we’re not longer feared in the region) wouldn’t take place.
The number of dead and injured would have been far worse. Not better.
Without so much ill will, we’d have been able to launch diplomatic efforts to improve counter-terrorism in the region, and have closer ties with various states.
Show us, conclusively, where the policy has ever worked in the case of Islamo- fascism. You cannot.

the issue of "Palestine" is but one example. What we are witness to in that case, is a hyperextended 40 year long exercise in backside kissing. That situation demonstrates quite clearly that no amount of “respect for their sensibilities” is going to solve the problem. What have all those concessions over the last 40 years brought us, except more demands? That, in fact, has been the pattern all along. It’s somewhat axiomatic to say that we should have learned from Neville Chamberlain that appeasement doesn’t work. The history of supposed Arab rage does nothing but bear that lesson out. I find an alarming that she would have a signal or that lesson.


Let’s be clear about this...This ill will as you describe it, is not caused by any action on our part. They’re not going to like us better simply because we kiss their backside. They will perceive it as a weakness, and they will act accordingly. as Christopher Hitchens remarks:

Rage Boy keenly looks forward to anger, while we worriedly anticipate trouble, and fret about etiquette, and prepare the next retreat. If taken to its logical conclusion, this would mean living at the pleasure of Rage Boy, and that I am not prepared to do.
Erb, apparently IS prepared to do so, if it means he can in the process cast a diminishment on the validity of our military actions against Islamo fascism.



 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitsblog.florack.us
Boris Erb writes:
Talldave, clearly Iraq has been a failure in comparison to initial expectations. You will appear completely out of touch with reality if you deny that.
Well, Boris, nearly everything is "a failure in comparison to initial expectations." Exceptions like Microsoft and Yahoo proving the rule.

But, of course, "initial expectations" in Iraq didn’t include regime remnants murdering everyone they could get at for as long as they could get at them.

But if we have stumbled in Iraq, we have stumbled fortuitously, since we now have a remarkably efficient kill zone to which jihadis are compulsively drawn from around the world. The very impulse that troubles the Islamic world anxiously brings itself, as if on a conveyor belt, within range of American lethality, and it’s all happening on Islamic soil.

That doesn’t mean that we need not keep our guard up at home, or persue the more reclusive terrorists to the ends of the earth, but who would have thought at the outset that Iraq would become a global convenience store for ridding the world of the most driven jihadis.

And don’t think you haven’t been doing your part, Boris. Your effort, as part of the larger effort of the Left, to reassure the enemy and disparage everything that the U.S. has done in Iraq has given him the confidence to keep on comin’ down to get what’s comin’ to him.

Of course that means that your efforts have also been "a failure in comparison to initial expectations."
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
It cannot have been an aid to recruiting, because they already had a the support to pull off 9/11.
Tom: You are saying that since they had X level of support on 9-11, it’s impossible to have more support than X. See anything wrong with that statement? Time for Logic 101.

You also misunderstand the true nature of this threat. 9-11 or something like it was inevitable. Most of us who pay close attention to foreign policy issues knew that in the 90s. It doesn’t take a lot of support to do that, it takes luck, planning and 19 people willing to die. The big threat is the rise of extremism in the region, and the impact on the Mideast, oil markets, and our long term national interest. It matters that mass recruitment of extremist groups has grown — the number of extremist organizations have multipled, its not just al qaeda. The pressure is on governments, it’s got the potential to ignite a regional war. Aiding their recruitment only magnifies the danger. Their real enemy is not us, it’s moderates and pro-western elements in the region. Hitting us is meant to help them achieve more regional power, and unfortunately attacking Iraq aided them. I still don’t think they have a chance to win, but they could do a lot of damage.

Bithead, the Palestinian issue has primarily not been one of Islamic extremism for decades, only recently has Hamas arisen, and its opposed by secular Fatah. The rest of your post is vague and doesn’t at all address the points I made. I’m not denying the danger, I’m noting that the danger is real, it cannot and should not be appeased, and we need to put ourselves in a position to be able to handle it, rather than feed the flames.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
And in this case the fact we are not respected or feared, and thus less able to affect Pakistan and Iran
Erb, I will take exception to this characterization. Iraq has has little or nothing to do with whether we are respected or feared by Iran or Pakistan.

Iran has shown nothing but derision towards us since the days of Carter. There is nothing short of annihilting the entire populace that would bring any level of respect for us in that country.

There is a whole lot of difference between Al Qaeda’s tough talk and the reality of their operations in Afghanistan. Pakistan is a different situation and their attitude towards us is directly related to their experiences there since the invasion. It is plainly evident in the Taliban’s operations. Go back and take another look at the map of Afghanistan and the operable leads within the country. Virtually all of the Taliban’s major operations since 2002 have come in any areas not dominated by the US or Canada. Why? Because they continually get their *sses handed back to them every time they do.

And that differs from their experience with the Soviet Union back in the 80s. initially, the Taliban avoided direct confrontation with the Soviets. They hit hard at the Afghani army. But as time passed in that conflict, the Taliban took on a very different view of the Soviets to the point where they had a virtal disdain for their military capability, regardless of their hardware.

And that is not true today with the US and Canadians. Every time the Taliban steps up to the plate us, with or without their Al Qaeda buddies, they get blown away. It is only through the use of their "safe zone" in Wazirastan that allows them any respite from the US.
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
Boris Erb writes, in a post full of vague recitations of conventional wisdom, posturing, and the usual platitudes:
The rest of your post is vague and doesn’t at all address the points I made.
Boris also employs this introductory clause for one sentence:
Most of us who pay close attention to foreign policy...
Ah, Boris, you don’t have a bloody clue about any of this. Your long view is short-sighted, and your short view is essentially "see my long view."

Not a word you write or a thought you think about any of this have enough truth in them to get you through a single paragraph that makes sense. And that includes your attempts to recite the conventional wisdom of your camp.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
Erb once again demonstrates he either has no reading comprehension, or is a dishonest debater:
Tom: You are saying that since they had X level of support on 9-11, it’s impossible to have more support than X.
No, Erb. I am saying it is meaningless that they should gain any increased support. What they had on 9/11 was enough for us to move to destroy them, and it is not a material question as to whether or not finally moving to deal effectively with them causes them a momentary increase in support.
9-11 or something like it was inevitable.
Yes. It might have been in the late ’80’s, it might have been last year—the abcess would remain until we were provoked to lance it.
The big threat is the rise of extremism in the region, and the impact on the Mideast, oil markets, and our long term national interest.
And the recovery of extremism in the region is part and parcel of their success in having the 20 ready agents.
It matters that mass recruitment of extremist groups has grown — the number of extremist organizations have multipled, its not just al qaeda.
It doesn’t really matter at all. There will never be enough they can pose an existential threat to us by sheer numbers, and anything we did to counter AlQaeda would have given them a recruiting boost. The question of whether or not to let them continue to fester or not was answered for us on 9/11, and thankfully not by a nuke; we were going to go get them, and this would make them a rallying point.
The pressure is on governments
Yeah! That’s the whole point and they do deserve it, and it serves our purposes for them to be under pressure. They are comfortable the way they were, but the way they were brought us 9/11.
it’s got the potential to ignite a regional war.
And it is inevitable that not confronting AlQaeda would result in increasingly bold and damaging attacks on our nation, and a regional war would always be in the wings if we let the the status quo continue. You simply aren’t making any points germane to the issues at hand.
Their real enemy is not us, it’s moderates and pro-western elements in the region.
Who do not have and will not soon enough acquire an effect on the course of the region for them to be more than a pleasant window dressing on our military action.

Your champions will proportionally have less effect than did the Copperheads in our own Civil War or the White Rose movement in WWII Germany.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://tomdperkins.blogspot.com/
SShiell, I think you underestimate our strategic weakness. A very sobering article by Timothy Garten Ash makes this point:
Osama bin Laden’s plan was to get the U.S. to overreact and overreach itself. With the invasion of Iraq, Bush fell slap-bang into that trap. The U.S. government’s own latest National Intelligence Estimate, released this week, suggests that Al Qaeda in Iraq is now among the most significant threats to the security of the American homeland.
His conclusion:
Looking back over a quarter of a century of chronicling current affairs, I cannot recall a more comprehensive and avoidable man-made disaster.
He does, by the way, agree with you (I think it was you) that a partition is a bad idea:
In an article for the Web magazine Open Democracy, Middle East specialist Fred Halliday spells out some regional consequences. Besides the effective destruction of the Iraqi state, these include the revitalizing of militant Islamism and enhancement of the international appeal of the Al Qaeda brand; the eruption, for the first time in modern history, of internecine war between Sunni and Shiite, "a trend that reverberates in other states of mixed confessional composition"; the alienation of most sectors of Turkish politics from the West and the stimulation of authoritarian nationalism there; the strengthening of a nuclear-hungry Iran; and a new regional rivalry pitting the Islamic Republic of Iran and its allies, including Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas, against Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan.

For the United States, the world is now, as a result of the Iraq war, a more dangerous place.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm


Your champions will proportionally have less effect than did the Copperheads in our own Civil War or the White Rose movement in WWII Germany.
I don’t know anything about the Copperheads (the wars I study from the 1860s involve Austria, Prussia, Denmark, Italy and France), but if you’re comparing me to the White Rose movement, does that mean you’re comparing Bush to Hitler? Shame on you!

Otherwise, Tom, you miss the point: Iraq has weakened and continues to weaken us in efforts to counter Islamic extremism.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
I don’t know anything about the Copperheads (the wars I study from the 1860s involve Austria, Prussia, Denmark, Italy and France)
I’d say you’re limiting yourself, then.
but if you’re comparing me to the White Rose movement, does that mean you’re comparing Bush to Hitler?
No you blind-minded fool! I am comparing the Middle East local opposition to AlQaeda as being like the White Rose—well meaning and irrelevant.
Shame on you!
Oh the shame’s not mine.
Otherwise, Tom, you miss the point: Iraq has weakened and continues to weaken us in efforts to counter Islamic extremism.
Iraq must be successful, or all our efforts in the region will be bootless.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://tomdperkins.blogspot.com/
Boris Erb, quotes Timothy Garten Ash:
Osama bin Laden’s plan was to get the U.S. to overreact and overreach itself. With the invasion of Iraq, Bush fell slap-bang into that trap.
That’s the tip-off that Ash is grossly off base, and likely off his nut.

Osama bin Laden didn’t want his "Olive Oil company" in Afghanistan ripped out of his hands, for starters. He didn’t want to be the most hunted human being alive, living in a cave somewhere in Pakistan, from where he can’t even communicate electronically lest he get one down the pipe before his telecom is over. So, he couldn’t have even anticipated that "overreaction." What bin Laden expected was the under-reaction that he’d been getting all along. He expected, in other words, weakness, in the form of more of the same irresolute dithering that he had gotten during the Clinton years. He expected Cruise missle reprisals followed by business as usual. Bush took the bastard by surprise, yanked Afghanistan away from him, and then took the psychopath Hussein and his regime off the board as well.

If anything, bin Laden believed that he was protected in Afghanistan by the spectre of what happened to the Soviets there. He didn’t believe that the Americans would dare risk coming after him on the ground, and was prepared to weather any air campaign in his cave compounds.

And if Ash believes that Iraq is the greatest man-made catastrophe he has seen in his "25 years" of following international events, he should trouble himself with something called history and take a peek at the entire 20th Century, where he will find "man-made catastrophes" that dwarf Iraq into insignificance. Even looking within his own limited horizon, he could certainly find Rwanda.

Ash is writing specifically for those with the same closed horizon he has cultivated for himself, the "Born Yesterday" crowd who would be capable of buying into such remarkable piffle, along with their students, who have the excuse of having been virtually born yesterday. Anyone even glancingly familiar with 20th Century history and who can think about beyond some intentionally cramped desire to misinterpret contemporary events, knows better.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
Oh, I know my knowledge is too limited. I really need to dig into American history. I know more about Napoleon III, Bismarck and Cavour than I do about Abraham Lincoln, that’s a gap in my knowledge I need to fill. Maybe I can make that a summer reading project.

OK, I should have understood the White Rose comment. Sorry.

As to this: Iraq must be successful, or all our efforts in the region will be bootless.

I don’t know if Iraq can be successful. I do know that all signs point to our leaving next year after the surge is complete. You can be optimistic that the surge will work, but I don’t share that optimism. I think by early 2008 we’ll see an Iraq still politically stalemated, and news today is that the insurgents are forming alliance against al qaeda AND the US — all foreign fighters, with the goal of being in a position to negotiate with the Shi’ites when we leave. How we leave is going to determine if the groups in Iraq can manage to handle things once the foreign power is gone. I can’t see that happening unless we engage in real diplomacy, much like Nixon at the end of the Vietnam war.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
"I think we have to find ways and means, perhaps it’s use of covert actions, perhaps it’s use of special operations.."

My parents were right, too much television does rot the brain.

" so as not to raise the suspicions of the local populace."

These areas in the tribal areas are not densly populated. Strangers stick out.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Boris Erb writes:
Oh, I know my knowledge is too limited.
What you may or may not know isn’t the problem, Boris. Intellectually curious people — of whom I do not count you as one — can easily enough look into matters with which they are unfamiliar. In theory, you could do that just as easily as anyone, though you’re notorious for not taking the time to bother before opening your mouth.

No, your problem is, I’m afraid, something else. I mentioned to someone in e-mail this morning that you reminded me very much, in your manners and methods, of how illiterate persons sometimes become quite adept at avoiding or sliding past the issue of being unable to read or write.

Now, I don’t want you to miss the meaning of what I just wrote and think that I’m saying that you are illiterate. I was using an analogy. The only problem I see with the analogy is that I think that most illiterate people, if they want, can learn to read and write. I don’t think that you can do anything about your problem, whatever it is.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
timactual quotes me and comments:
"...so as not to raise the suspicions of the local populace."

These areas in the tribal areas are not densly populated. Strangers stick out.
That’s why you wouldn’t use strangers. Venality can be located virtually anywhere.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
Osama bin Laden’s plan was to get the U.S. to overreact and overreach itself.
Poppycock - I’m sure he was not walking around Iraq and Afghanistan saying ’don’t worry - once we destroy the WTC, the American Armies will be here to destroy everything we have built!’

OBL was betting on a Jimmy Carter/Bill Clinton response. Verbal barbs, possibly a few Cruise missiles, and not much else. What he got, Toby Keith said best ’man we lit up your world like the 4th of July!’
 
Written By: meagain
URL: http://
Even if we had not invaded Iraq, or let’s say, stabilizing Iraq had only taken 2 years, the Democrats would still be relatively weak on National Defense, and anti-terrorism in particular. The Republicans still would have spent their political capital and the taxpayers money like a drunken monkey.

They’d still be complaining that we hadn’t gotten bin Laden yet, because we still wouldn’t have invaded Pakistan, and they still wouldn’t allow hot pursuit into their country.

Radicals in Pakistan would be even more inflamed if we had a larger footprint on their border.
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
Meagain, I disagree, Osama knew the US would hit back hard. I think he did miscalculate, I think he thought that we’d have more trouble in Afghanistan. Osama must see it as proof that Allah is on his side that the US, after initial successes there, wrecklessly shifted to Iraq.

I’m not sure if a larger footprint in Afghanistan would lead to more radicalism in Pakistan — but at the very least a more stable Afghanistan would benefit us, and I still say Iran has always been the biggest potential threat to American interests in the region, and they benefit from having a weak Afghanistan and America bogged down in Iraq.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Boris Erb writes:
Osama knew the US would hit back hard. I think he did miscalculate, I think he thought that we’d have more trouble in Afghanistan. Osama must see it as proof that Allah is on his side that the US, after initial successes there, wrecklessly shifted to Iraq.
Bin Laden "knew the US would hit back hard" based on what, Boris?

After the ’93 attempt to bring down the WTC, the President of the United States didn’t even visit the site. The matter was quickly left to law enforcement.

The retaliation for the African embassy bombings was feckless.

Nothing happened after the bombing of the Cole.

When Saddam plotted to assassinate a former U.S. president, the then-current president responded with a relatively light bombing.

Bin Laden, over and over again, preached about the weakness of the United States. One of his favorite examples was the cut and run from Somalia.

He never expected the U.S. to come gangbusters into Afghanistan, to get on the ground at all.

But what the Democrats have done and are trying to do on Iraq war policy, that meets fully with bin Laden’s expectations, which is one of the reasons he has made such an investment in Iraq. He wants his operation there to take credit for it if the U.S. leaves. That will restore his stature.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
One good thing that might come out of this is that Musharraf will need to sure up domestic support. He cannot expect support from the religious and that just leaves the "democrats" of Benazir Bhutto’s party - might finally lead to democracy in Pakistan.
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/
Of course the question remains precisely how he will accomplish that.
 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitsblog.florack.us
One good thing that might come out of this is that Musharraf will need to sure up domestic support. He cannot expect support from the religious and that just leaves the "democrats" of Benazir Bhutto’s party - might finally lead to democracy in Pakistan.
Good point — he may see it as time to make a transition which he can guide as a hero of democracy rather than a villain. He’s been a pretty clever and savvy leader. Let’s hope!
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
"One good thing that might come out of this is that Musharraf will need to sure up domestic support. He cannot expect support from the religious and that just leaves the "democrats" of Benazir Bhutto’s party - might finally lead to democracy in Pakistan."

It’s the one country where the "democrats" are almost as scary as the military dictatorship (or is it the other way around.)
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
The US (read civilized world) is in the fourplay stage of an international as well as an intranational world wide conflict. Our enemies closest cousin is communism, but this is a very distant relationship at best. Radical Islam - that is the abastardized version of Islam - has reached a cultural foothold at a level never before seen in the history of the world. Men, women and children (including those who are illiterate to those who are well educated and of means) are willing to at least have complicity if not the lead in acts of barbaric suicicidal attacks on innocents as well as enemy combatants.

The question is how to best quell this movement - Through open negotiations/acts of good will, subversive actions (ie black ops/psy ops) or the demonstration of pure might (ie fission - micronukes and on up) in targeted areas such warizirastan.
I can only hope, hope that there are apolitical smart people advising our president. It sure would be nice to have Putin get our backs.
 
Written By: GP Carlin
URL: http://
GP - I disagree that radical Islam (or fascists using Islam) is that strong. I think that, like Communism, it’s untenable for any kind of long term. Unlike with communism you can’t negotiate with the true extremists — there is no detente with Osama. But the extremists don’t run the show yet, and even in Iran the leadership is more fundamentalist than extremist. So I think we still can find partners in the Muslim world who will ultimately win their "civil war" with the extremists. After all, al qaeda is opposed by just about every government and in Iraq by just about every fraction.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Scott - instead of strength I would use pervasive. Correct - communism was untenable and Reagan et al ran them into the ground economically. This in ideological movement that appears to be transcending the from quote unquote usually suspects to the simply "disenfranchised". At the risk of being alarmist, our enormous prison system is potentially a major recruitment tool for those po’d enough to sell out their country - resulting in compromises in our food supply, water supply, etc etc without really physically participating in this "Jihad".
Their appear to be a growing number of groups, if you will, that have no official attachement to Al Quaida, inc. And them of course there are the quasi franchises...
We are winding up with a lot of "dodgy" suspects with whom it is difficult to charge/prosecute under the US law as it stands.

Our problems our minuscule compared to our European friends who have very high ethnic populations that are second and third generation citizens who are apparently corruptible in some circumstances.
It is not helpful when the US uses the term "WIN the war" in Iraq and Afghanistan. This "us against them" mentality just ferments more hatred
and humiliation amongst those we have conquered.

Good human intlligence, electronic survaillence, and "appropriate" responses to potential threats.
 
Written By: GP Carlin
URL: http://
"That’s why you wouldn’t use strangers."

" inclusive of infiltration, psy-ops, disinformation, assassination, kidnapping, and payoffs ..."

Why would you need to infiltrate natives? How do you plan on training, equipping, or communicating with these locals without using strangers? How would your venal local operatives explain their sudden wealth?
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
It’s the one country where the "democrats" are almost as scary as the military dictatorship (or is it the other way around.)
I can think of another....

 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitsblog.florack.us
It is not helpful when the US uses the term "WIN the war" in Iraq and Afghanistan. This "us against them" mentality just ferments more hatred


Had you forgotten, the kickoff was that we were attacked?
 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitsblog.florack.us
But this is a Pakistani job in the final analysis. We certainly need to pressure them to go after the safe havens and even support their effort in a limited way, as outlined, but what we don’t need to do is risk the collapse of the government of a nominal ally (and seeing who knows what replacing it) and expanding the conflict in the region by invading their territory.
I think it’s pretty interesting that in a place where the Administration and the military has chosen to mount a full-scale war, it of course makes sense to mount a massive invasion, but in a place where the military and Administration doesn’t feel like invading, that place suddenly becomes a strategic disaster to mount aggressive military action in.

You do know that attacks on the United States homeland are being planned, if they’re being planned anywhere, are being planned from Pakistan? Are you going to keep this line up about how we don’t dare risk military strikes after the next 9/11 sized strike hits us from Pakistan? If Osama Bin Laden had been inside Pakistan on 9/11 instead of Afghanistan, what would you have done?

I argue against aggressive military action in 90% of situations. I don’t even think having our soldiers shot at overseas is always a good reason to expand a war. I usually don’t think it’s worth it to go to war to save an alledged ally, usually from their own stupidity. It’s hardly ever worth it, in other words. But if you want to ask me, "when is it worth it", I’d have to say, "organizations who make mass-casualty attacks on the US homeland need to be flattened".

There’s only one place that holds the genuine core leadership of Al-Quieda. That place is Pakistan. They blew up 3000 US citizens. They need to be killed. We need to kill them. And we need to kill anyone who tries to stop us. This isn’t launching a new war on people who weren’t even involved. This is just finishing the original job

You can claim we’re all political opportunists if you want, but I’d feel the same way no matter who was in office. It’s a simple test. Did you blow up 3000 Americans on the US mainland? If the answer is yes, we need to violate whatever rules we need to to kill you. If the answer is no, we don’t.

Frankly, we can do whatever we want to inside Pakistan. Are we the strongest military on earth or are we not? Are people just kidding when they say that?

 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
"I think it’s pretty interesting that in a place where the Administration and the military has chosen to mount a full-scale war, it of course makes sense to mount a massive invasion, but in a place where the military and Administration doesn’t feel like invading, that place suddenly becomes a strategic disaster to mount aggressive military action in."

Do the math.

Area
Total 803,9401 km²
Population
2007 estimate 156,770,000[1] (6th)

Or do you need Gen. Shinseki to explain it to you?
Not to mention that Musharraf has been a bit more cooperative than Saddam or the Taliban.

"Frankly, we can do whatever we want to inside Pakistan. Are we the strongest military on earth or are we not? Are people just kidding when they say that?"

The strongest man on the planet cannot lift a million pounds. Pakistan has nuclear weapons. Pakistan has tribal areas where even Pakistani armed forces have trouble operating - they lost between 700-3,000 men there. That said, we certainly could use intelligence resources to bomb the bad guys when they arrange meetings and to use special ops there without inflaming the locals too much, meanwhile any Al Qaeda who flees to the cities can be caught and sent to Guantanamo...gee, we are already doing that. But I guess you won’t be satisfied until we have draftees patrolling Lahore, eh?
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
Let’s do some more deep thinking

Saudi Arabia is a major source of jihadis and funding. These come from private individuals for the most part.

The Saudi government provides intel, cracks down on domestic jihadis, and half-heartedly attempts reforms, etc.

At what point to you decide it would be better to treat them as an enemy regime rather than accept that you will get about as much help from them as say, Belgium, in terms of allied support?

Oh, and Saudi controls the world’s oil supply effectively. Did I not mention that?

I don’t know the calculus, but I suspect we are nowhere near the point of deciding it would be better to make them an enemy rather than a friend. And yes, turning the screws will increase cooperation until the breaking point when it creates an enemy...are we there yet?
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
If we had Russian support/cooperation we could present a much more credible threat to those who threaten us. We could cut financial umbilical cords of extra-state terroists. Make operatives go away and, in dealing directly with states such as Iran and the Warzirastan tribal area of Pakistan, pop off a few "demo" micro nukes and escalate as needed.
In fact with or without mother Russia’s support we should have lit off a few tactical neutron weapons in Tora Bora while we were pretty sure we had that devil and his minions holed up. Instead of relying on the Afghans to flush them out and the Pakistani army/ISI to kill/capture at obvious border crossings.
It is a shame that the two traditional superpowers (as well as China and Europe and the civilized Islamic world) can’t make nice and work together to if not elimniate at least neutralize a problem that is spreading at rather uncomfortable rate. A movement that destroys those who are drawn into it as well as its intended victims.
 
Written By: GP Carlin
URL: http://

 
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