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March 2007: Waziristan, Pakistan, and the War

| 14 Comments

Bill Roggio, who has earned deserved respect up to the highest levels of the US military for his coverage of the war from on the scene and from home, writes:

I hope all is well. My apologies in advance for a long email, I believe this is important and requires some explanation.

The media is getting the story of the fighting in Waziristan 100% wrong. The Pakistani government is claiming the fighting is between local tribes and Uzbek al Qaeda. Musharraf has a vested interest in doing so - it wants to promote the Waziristan Accord as a success that can be used elsewhere. The media very rarely looks at what Musharraf says critically.

The real truth is: The fighting began after Uzbeks killed an Arab al Qaeda fighter supported by the Taliban. This is essentially an internal conflict - like a mafia war. Think the Godfather. To settle the conflict, the Taliban sent in senior commanders, including Baitullah Mehsud and Mullah Dadullah Akhund, military leader of the Afghan Taliban, to negotiate a truce between the factions. Digest that for a second, and you'll see who runs the show in Waziristan. And that this so-called 'pro-government tribe' is really just a Taliban group that is angry over the murder of one of their Al Qaeda patrons. I've written on this here.

See also this Roggio article on the larger situation in Pakistan, which is rapidly coming unglued; even guys like Carl Levin are beginning to sound the alarm.

There are significant implications here for NATO's Afghan operation, and indeed for the future course of the global war. Musharraf's phony accord has handed Osama and his Taliban allies a base comparable to pre-2001 Afghanistan. One they've been busy consolidiating; there are reports that America has no human intelligence left in those sanctuaries. Sanctuaries protected by the nuclear weapons Pakistan was unwisely allowed to obtain - and with the potential for future access to those weapons as al Qaeda and the Taliban further consolidate their strength within Pakistan.

14 Comments

Reading Roggio's reporting has been essential for understanding what has been happening in Pakistan. He has been consistently three to six months ahead of the mainstream press in reporting on the silent and ignored al Qaeda and Taliban victories in the west of the country.

It has become very important that US policymakers have a clear grasp of the different groups within the Pakistani government and military, and who they see as their friends and their enemies. Sadly, there is no evidence that the Bush Administration, far less Congerss (ha ha), understands the urgency of tasks like that.

The situation continues to darken.

Amac -- I think they understand it. They just don't have the appetite for action.

Joe Biden asked his followers a hypothetical about bin Laden in Pakistan and the cost to get him. To a man they told him they didn't want to know.

Pathetic.

Pakistan has a full scale insurgency going, with significantly better odds of success than Iraq's. Al Qaeda owns the lawless frontier and Quetta, and is working with its allies in the ISI et. al. to take over Pakistan. The government can fairly be described as paralyzed, outside of small efforts done mostly for show.

The CIA is doing the "what, us worry?" thing, even though their HUMINT in enemy areas has been expunged. Pakistan will be added to their long list of screwups and seismic missed calls very soon.

AMAc, agree that there's little sign that the Bush Administration truly gets what's going on. Indeed, their efforts to step up weapons transfers, as a way of 'helping' their 'friends' so they'll be encouraged to act, may turn out to be a very bad idea indeed. As one source told me, re: Musharraf's odds of retaining control of the situation: "That ship has sailed."

But as noted above, guys like Carl Levin ARE sounding the alarm. And it has been mostly Democrats gunning for legislation that would begin to make the transfer of advanced military equipment (including things like Hawkeye AWACS radars) to Pakistan conditional.

We need a lot more of that, plus threats from other NATO countries to start squeezing both immigration and remittances (Pakistan's biggest export is people) unless and until the Pakistani government gets serious about taking on al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

Joe -- Levin is not sounding the alarm. Merely playing partisan politics. What does he propose to DO about the situation?

Answer: nothing. Merely criticize Bush.

Do we have contingency plans to nuke the hell out of Pakistan and it's nukes if an Al Qaeda coup takes place? Hell no Levin would be the first in line to beg Al Qaeda not to nuke us. He has no alternative to GWB.

Dems plan: blame Bush, "peace treaty" with Al Qaeda. That's it.

The idea that we could stop remittances and travel from NATO countries is laughable. Britain won't even stand up for it's own sailors wrt Iran. Blair depends on the Muslim vote and he certainly won't impact Pakistan's "colony" which is Britain's Pakistani community. He can't even act on the terrorists who blow up UK cities. Britain and other Euro countries stopping remittances is a non-starter politically.

Bush ought to act more aggressively. Recognize the situation and offer a "nuke em first" policy of pre-emptive nuclear strikes on any Al Qaeda coup or control. State it publicly so everyone knows.

Joe -- Levin is not sounding the alarm. Merely playing partisan politics. What does he propose to DO about the situation?

Jeez Jim, you're responding to a comment in which Joe provided one proposal Levin has made.

Or did you just skip over that part in your attempt to declare it all partisan politics?

But then, we all know that to you politics trumps all.

I believe Levin is also pressing for cross border attacks on sites in Pakistan used to plan and stage attacks in Afghanistan. Dawn

Levin sounded the alarm last month when he said: ďLong-term prospects for eliminating the Taliban threat appear dim, so long as the sanctuary remains in Pakistan, and there are no encouraging signs that Pakistan is eliminating it.Ē It was so alarming, the Times attributed the statement to Mike McConnell.

My question remains, what does LEVIN or OTHER DEMOCRATS suggest to DO about the situation in Pakistan?

My answer is still nothing, other than "negotiations." Already the Boston Globe is floating a "let's negotiate" trial balloon with the Muslim Brotherhood, and various Dem think-tank officials have floated negotiate with bin Laden trial balloons.

Levin, Biden, a few others in the Dem Party see the danger. They probably know it will have to be confronted.

Yet they lack the intellectual tools to propose any serious solution which MUST involve the use of military force. No Dem at any time and any place will use anything other than impotent Clinton missile strikes at empty sand dunes. I've certainly not heard any Dem argue for:

*Increased Military strength, i.e. increase the size of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines.
*Unilateral actions given that NATO exists of the US plus token military forces of nations unable to provide any real military support.
*Clear articulation of the US's "bright lines" of conflict and what will happen to nations/peoples that cross them, i.e. spelling out in detail the negative consequences for a people if one of their own sets off a WMD in a US city.

These are also faults of GWB, and many if not most Republicans. The main distinguishing mark between Reps and Dems however is that Reps will on rare occasions fight sometimes half-heartedly to protect America's interests. While Dems won't even do that.

Look at the tremendous influence the Peace Movement (funded largely by Gulf Oil Terror sheiks which accounts for the anti-Semitism) has within the Dem Party (and the money flowing into Hillary, Albright, Bill Clinton, and Sandy Burglar's bank accounts for lectures in places like Dubai) has within the Dem Party.

Peace Movement marches feature burned America Flags (and marchers defecating on the Flag), soldiers burned in effigy and chants that the soldiers will all die in Iraq. Dems can't even muster the political will to denounce it. Not a word from Hillary or Obama or Biden or Levin.

Yes like Leon Blum in 1936 Levin sees the danger. But like Blum he lacks the political will to DO anything about it.

America is horribly ill-served by the degeneration of the Dem Party through the Peace Movement, if nothing else than people like Levin lacking the will and courage to act as a realistic check on GWB's weakness and fear in confronting the dangers. I would have more respect for Levin if he outlined a proposal to at least illustrate the consequences for an Al Qaeda take-over of Pakistan, i.e. an "automatic" nuclear first strike on Pakistan's nukes and Command and Control and other military facilities because such a situation (Al Qaeda control of Pakistan's nukes) would be viewed as a complete existential threat to the US not to be tolerated.

However Dems instead are pushing resolutions to prevent GWB from ordering any military action against Iran unless OK'd in advance by Congress.

Pathetic.

Look at the tremendous influence the Peace Movement (funded largely by Gulf Oil Terror sheiks which accounts for the anti-Semitism) has within the Dem Party (and the money flowing into Hillary, Albright, Bill Clinton, and Sandy Burglar's bank accounts for lectures in places like Dubai) has within the Dem Party.

You're joking right? Money from the mid east having a tremendous influence on the Democrats?

Given the history of the past 30 years, that's downright farsical!

Is James Baker influenced by the sweet heart bailout deal Khalid bin Mahfouz provided his family 1985?

Ever hear of Sheikh Abdullah Bakhsh? I'm guessing not. Perhaps you should Google his name.

Note that in my first link (#6), the only Senator that apparantly spoke out for Mushariff was Republican John Warner: "I think under the leadership of Musharraf, they're doing the best they can, but the realities are there's fragility in the political system in Pakistan." I take this to mean the status quo should continue.

I think most self-identified Democrats now oppose the war in Afghanistan, believe that some sort of golden moment has passed to eliminate the Taliban and al-Qaeda, and will be content to gnash their teeth at former President GWB for all eternity for whatever consequences now befall the U.S.

But I don't think that is a fair description of Levin. I'm not particularly a fan of Levin, but it seems to me that his recent comments should be a central point of discussion in the presidential race and among left-leaning foreign policy circles.

Davebo, mideast buyouts are cross-partisan. They include law firms, large sections of the State Department bureaucracy, PR firms, many Mideast studies programs in American universities, et. al. Sad but very true - or had you not noticed?

Jim, there have been persistent reports that safeguard contingencies exist that would help get nuclear weapons out of Pakistan. To the extent these measures have been discussed at all, the hints are that they're direct which means they would work only as long as the transfer of authority is abrupt but not too abrupt.

A slow squeeze approach using collaborators (which are not in short supply in Pakistan) could foil that. So would a takeover that's simply too well planned and too fast. Caveat: if serious plans exist for this contingency, they wouldn't be talked about much. An effective plan may, therefore, exist. But let's assume that it doesn't (which is possible), or that said plan fails (also possible)....

At that point, near as I can tell, nobody really has a plan. It would be one of those snap Presidential decisions. Nuking Pakistan with a massive attack would be about the only viable option that would mean anything at that point, and I'd personally have no issues with a President who did it; it wouldn't change anything in terms of long-term consequences for Pakistan, and many more people in our ally India would survive than would otherwise be the case. At present, however, I see neither American party taking meaningful action in such a situation.

Time and events will tell. With a lot of luck, we may never know what either party would have done.

Meanwhile, the most productive thing to do is make it clear to all that Pakistan is NOT a friend, is in fact closer to an enemy, and keep the reminders going. Not loading them up with advanced American military technology, as a combined pressure tactic and future safeguard, strikes me as a good start along those lines.

Making it clearer that Pakistan is unfriendly is in fact a real contribution, as it prepares the ground for a range of measures like increased isolation (to include immigration/ visas), economic sanctions, any future action required, et. al. All of which must, however, begin with acknowledgment of the problem and its scale. There is a cumulative effect to this sort of thing, not just in diplomacy but in public perceptions.

Levin grasps the issue for Afghanistan, and he's correct. That needs to be hammered home in public, including repeated public diplomacy aimed at our NATO allies so who is killing their soldiers becomes a larger and larger issue.

Where Levin doesn't grasp the scale is the level of instability in Pakistan itself, and the nuclear corollaries. Making THAT clearer is the job of those who do grasp it.

The clearer it all becomes for more and more people, the more freedom of action will exist for a range of measures that could be useful in either derailing this evil trend or confronting it.

Davebo --

Of course Bush and Bush Senior and James Baker are all heavily influenced by oil money. But when Clinton gets half a million for a speech in Dubai, or Madeline Albright gets $120K for a speech there, or Hillary Clinton rakes in hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations by Gulf Oil interests with ties to terror (Prince Taleel) and ANSWER and UFPJ get funded by Taleel and various other Gulf Oil Sheiks with ties to terrorism, I think it's time to take a good hard look at the Democratic Party which skates by any serious press examination of their finances.

I could not think of a Democratic Mayor who would echo Rudy and tell a Saudi Prince to shove his check for $10 million.

Both Parties have been corrupted by Gulf Terror Oil money, but the Dems much more so than the Republicans. Simply because the Peace Movement, largely funded by terrorist oil money, looms so large in Democratic Circles and the Reps have the somewhat cleansing effect of Jacksonian influences.

Joe I agree with you except that I think Levin if he had real courage would help encourage drawing "bright lines" ... what will America tolerate and what won't it tolerate?

One of the reasons 9/11 happened was that the Taliban was persuaded by Osama (and Iran and Pakistan also IMHO in general terms for their operational support) that there were no consequences for crossing America as it had defined no "bright lines" that everyone understood.

The responsibility of the Opposition Party is to help define bipartisan "bright lines" so that enemies know that change in parties won't affect fundamentals. It's nice to have that Levin has helped bring about awareness of Pakistan as our enemy (and I agree with your comments there), but it is essential that we define "bright lines." IMHO the "safeguarding" of Pakistan's nukes is fairy dust and fantasies.

Levin's cowardice is in failing to take on the Peace Movement which posits surrender in Afghanistan and Iraq, take a good dose of defeat as morally "good for us" and go back to 1994.

At the very least we ought to define our response to a US city being nuked, bipartisan-nature, but that is impossible with the Peace Movement. Which is built on terror money and naive upper class Western fantasies.

I'd forgotten what ticked me off about Levin.

He's convinced KSM was "tortured" and wants hearings on the matter. Doubtless with KSM sent on his way with apologies and criminal trials for CIA agents.

Levin fundamentally is not a serious man.

Levin also seems to have suggested invading Syria and Iran. Isnít that the Jim Rockford grand strategy? RedState

I confess that I donít have a consistent sense of where Levin stands on the Middle East. In the past, Iíve been unable to find discussion on his comments on the left side of the blogosphere.

"Just nuke Pakistan" "Our ally India"
Wow.....reality check dudes?
India is NOT an ally. Merely a cooperator against China as China was against USSR in 1970s.

In the future India will become a trade competitor to US and then Pakistan would provide US with considerable leverages. If India was an ally it would not be treating Iran as its strategic partner nor buy gas from it. It could also offer to send its million man army to Iraq or Afghanistan???Huh?It also plans to sell Brahmos (copies of yakhount) to Iran. You have not appreciated an enormous undercurrent of anti-US feeling amongst nationlistic young rightwing Inidans in IT sector.

Talk about Leftist gung-ho cowboys!!. How are you different from Cheney who just advocates pre-emptive regime changes in Iraq and Iran. You want pre-emptive nuclear strike on a small and often useful country to US interests in that region. May I have what you guys are smoking? You just picked another mid-eastern/central asian nation from Dicks pick!!!!
He wants Iran you say Pakistan?
Look at the map. Do you think that US knows where all Pak nukes are situated? Considering no one is sure where are Iranian centrifuges located?
Also after Gwader has been operationalized by China....What makes you guys think they would simply step back for you to bomb Pakistan????
They are invested in Pakistan.

Look at the map again. Once Pakistan is labelled as enemy and abandoned. How do you propose to fly the stream of C17s, C5As and F/A 18 hornets that daily cross into Afghanistan from carrier groups or Diego Garcia to keep Karzai alive so that one day he may actually have the balls to eradicate poppy fields? Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Kyrghyz republic are getting antsy about US bases. So maybe "our" ally India will allow us to somersault from Delhi to Kabul?
Do you think if Pak is fried and toasted, India would want to play on US team OR on Russian-China-India troika? Especially if commies come back in a big way in Bengal.

So I sugggest you boys zip your pants up and think about the future footprint of US in central asia. And who can help US from being shut out of an enormously strategic region?

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