Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Calling Commander-in-Chief Obama

The Republican Party has grown so disdainful of government that it can't handle its most basic responsibilities. Not even defense!

The Iraq debacle. Quagmire in Afghanistan.

Pakistan is imploding. The last thing we need is a failed state run by thugs imposing barbaric "law."

It's time for war run right, by a party that knows the awesome power of government and knows how to use it shamelessly.

It's time for President Barack Obama to become Commander-in-Chief Barack Obama!

Kick the Taliban's ass once and for all.

Clinton: Pakistan a 'mortal threat' to the world.


Uh, no.
Imagine the Taliban with nukes.
Imagine us not being the world's policeman. Pakistan is indeed a troubled area. All the more reason for us to be as far away as possible from it.

Sorry. This is Somalia all over again. Yes, with nukes. Again, even more reason to steer clear.
Sometimes a nation's role is not self-chosen.

And given the percentage of the world's resources we consume, given the amount of resources other countries have to poor into power acquisition just to play by our global rules...

We owe somebody and somebodies.
First of all, the Pakistani people have a greater responsibility for stability in their country than anyone else. If they decide to go full-bore collapse, that is the road they have chosen. With all it entails. I think it far more likely that we should encourage India to deal with it than we.

Second, the hands of the US are far too bloody for any goodwill or benefit of the doubt being granted either our intentions or some sense of duty. Trying to return to some semblance of responsibility, especially with Muslim states, would not be helped by intervening in Pakistani affairs, regardless of our interest in doing so.

Noam Chomsky calls this "military humanism", and it is nothing more than putting lipstick on the pig of imperialism, as far as I'm concerned.

I once had a discussion with a Greenpeace activist, who insisted that the threat from ecological disaster was so great that Third World nations should have their development curbed in order to keep the day of reckoning at bay. I said that these nation-states interpret such high-minded rhetoric as imperialism; we declining imperial states are clamping down on their sovereignty for no reason other than to preserve the crumbling status quo. He responded that their opinions didn't matter.

Sorry, but I don't practice that kind of paternalism. If Afghanistan and Pakistan want the Taliban to rule, as monstrous as they may be - other than remove our diplomatic relations with them, and encouraging other states to do so, taking away foreign aid, freezing their assets - they have as much right to do that as we did to have George W. Bush as President for eight years. We may not like it, but until some other system comes along, that's the way things are.

Should Pakistan, say, attack our military base on Diego Garcia with nukes; or should they use their military intelligence service to directly attack the United States, that is another matter entirely. Changing their form of government, however, to one we don't like is hardly a prima facie case for direct military intervention.
Ten seconds after the Taliban take over the PAK nukes, India will blow the f......k out of them and Iran in concert with Israel. Not the missle sites mind you, the whole damn place.

Also be aware that PAK is 30% Shia (second largest to Iran) and 70% Sunni. Which group has control of the missle buttons?

All of our troops in Afganistan will be dead one way or another.
(check the map)

So of course we will engage sooner rather than later to keep this from happening.
The on-going bombing of suspected Taliban and Al Qaeda outposts inside Pakistan is hastening the process Sec. Clinton spoke of, which is all the more reason to stop doing it.

I do not believe India would nuke Pakistan. I do not believe Iran would nuke Israel for the very good reason that they do not currently possess nuclear weapons. We are half way through the period it would have taken Iran to enrich enough uranium to make a bomb according to CIA estimates five years ago.

I am not even sympathetic anymore to our presence in Afghanistan. It is far too little far too late, as far as I'm concerned. We would be far better served to remove ourselves entirely, and start a fresh approach to the Al Qaeda problem than sending bomb-laden ROVs into northwest Pakistan, killing civilians in a vain attempt at "getting" Al Qaeda. All we are doing is shooting ourselves in the foot.
Attack Diego Garcia? Huh?

Nukes are serious. Deadly serious. Serious like nothing else. These are not a pretext or a propaganda ploy, as in Iraq. Neither is that the Government of Pakistan has progressively lost FATA and parts of other provinces to fundamentalist groups,. The danger is not so much that the Gov't of Pakistan will launch - and if they did, India would be the target, not the United States, so we'd have a nice dirty nuclear war on the far side of the world. The direct danger is that they lose control of one or more of the nukes or even just the enriched cores. Al Qaida, which is not a bogey man and does have links with some of these groups, has long expressed the intention to acquire nukes if possible, and does have access to the information required to build devices given the fissionable material. One going off in an American city would be bad enough, but a 9/11 scenario with multiple simultaneous targets would be the destruction of America as we know it. This is an existential threat and no President would ignore it.

How would it get to these shores? As one joke goes:

Q: How do you smuggle a nuke into the US.
A: Hide it in a marijuana bale

That being said, American military action is not going to dictate the leadership of Pakistan and i'd like to believe we can come up with something better than the prophylactic Glassistan option. As a contingency plan in the event the country really starts to crumble, suborning key members of the Pakistani military - which controls the nukes - with billions of dollars and political asylum if they assist us in taking control of the devices and rendering inoperative the production facilities has possibilities. And I believe an Indian first strike won't eliminate this threat.

In more general terms, I'd note that America needs to stop acting as if there are no constraints or consequences for its foreign policy choices. With the rise of non-governmental actors, we now have a situation where enough concentrated hate will find the means - eventually - to cause very serious damage. If we regard the rest of the world as nuclear in whole and in part, and elements indifferent to their own survival, we will raise the bar for actions that add to the aggregate hate.
Yes, attack Diego Garcia. The US has a military base there. It's in the Indian Ocean. Check it out.

Obviously nukes are serious business. The world has lived with them for almost sixty-four years, in the hands of seriously unstable governments (the US under Nixon, Reagan, and W.). For the US to insist that, because Pakistan is a nuclear-armed nation, we must intervene in some manner, fashion, or form to insure that these weapons are not used is the height of arrogance and hypocrisy, since for decades US nuclear policy was pretty hair-trigger.

Instability, however, is no pretext for US action. Again, it is an excuse the US has used around the globe - in Central America for over a century; in Asia, Africa, and even southern Europe since the end of WWII - to install dictators, petty and not so petty. We should worry far more about ourselves and our own faults than those of others, even those others who have nuclear weapons. Since they're not in our hands, um, well, I guess they're not in our hands.
My view has nothing to do with the U.S. as world policeman. Nothing to do with the Pakistani government. Nothing to do with how the U.S. deals with a "nation."

It has to do with how we, as free people, deal with the potential unleashing of death and unfreedom on the world -- and the nukes do make the difference in my mind.

Not policing the world. Not making a political point.

Here is a fire that we, as the biggest Fire Department in the world, need to put out. Now.
To protest US, since the ones starting the fire, are our professed -- and demonstrated! -- enemies. Not to protect, or police, the world.
The Taliban is the KKK of the world. The bastards not having benefit of the freedoms acknowledged or granted by the U.S. Constitution, the Taliban deserves the full treatment of war, not the limited treatment of prosecutution owed anyone under U.S. law.
Geoffrey - I know what Diego Garcia is. It's not a plausible Pakistani target for all sorts of reasons.

Comparing America under Nixon with a dissolving Pakistan must strike even you as more than a little strained. Even if you went to the Cuban missle crisis - commonly used as the moent when the world came closest to nuclear war, there's still an ocean of difference. I think of North Korea as a nuclear-armed Ceausescu-era Romania, and that might mean a "throwing the board" scenario you seem to be fantasizing about Nixon. No, you also mentioned W and Reagan, which is just weird - there's still MAD and all the rest of standard nuke doctrine. But if Pakistan truly became a Somalia-with-nukes, I would guarantee you that a nuke would go off in some circumstance, with a better than even chance that it would be on the US or one of its allies.

And it's not a pretext - if there are nukes; if the action is done to get at the nukes, then if might be wrong in your terms, but it is not, by definition, a pretext.

Everyone becomes a realist at some point. Hostile nonstate actors with a non-negligible opportunity to acquire nukes is mine.
GKS : "I do not believe India would nuke Pakistan."

In a heartbeat they would, you betcha. The hatred between them is 1200 years deep. The miracle is that they haven't already. Take away the stability of the PAK army and put the nukes in "Sharia" type hands and India would do a preemptive strike without a stutter.

By the way I had Israel bombing Iran not vise-versa. Sort of a let's get it over with collaboration of Israel and India.

Besides the current PAK government is already psychologically preparing for war and India is on edge about this.
Check out some of the PAX stuff:

In PAK and Bharat every news channel is FOX news at its worst.
Oh, and since Feodor has brotherly concerns about my reading list, on Pakistan, I'd recommend Ahmed Rashid's Descent into Chaos: The United States and the failure of Nation Building in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Central Asia , writing from Lahore. On nukes, there's Graham Allsion's Nuclear Terrorism: The Ultimate Preventable Catastrophe. There are other books too if anyone's interested.
ER - you know I respect your opinion. I happen to disagree. Even if some plausible real politique rationale could be constructed that would convince me that intervention in the devolving Pakistani state was in our national interest, I still wonder, given our history, how effective it would be, or how well received.

Since you all seem to be worrying about fantasies of nuclear armed terrorists, I offered an attack on Diego Garcia as a possible fait accompli for American military action; since TStockman seem to think such an attack untenable (I disagree; it is actually a far more inviting target for many reasons, principally location), why should I be shaking in my boots because a hypothesized failed state might become an auction house for nukes?

In any event, I thought I would offer a view similar to my own, that reads in part: "Realistically, the potential collapse of the Pakistani state is a bigger problem for Pakistanis than it is for Americans. We can’t make Pakistani institutions more effective than the people running them want to be."

Which is the key point here. We can invade Iraq, or Afghanistan, or potentially Pakistan. We cannot, however, force them to make themselves a better country.

Another point in Yglesias' article is one I made, although with a gloomier conclusion - it would be better for India to take the lead, but it probably won't for any number of reasons.

In any event, Pakistan hasn't become a Taliban state yet, and until it does, I think getting excited about what that means for us as Americans is a little premature. Watch and plan, to be sure. But buckling on the Sam Browne and saddling the horses is a bit premature.
It's cool. We disagreee on some things. :-) Apparently, the Saudis paid the bastages to retreat anyway, or so I hear.
Good for the Saudis.

"A feast is made for laughter, and wine maketh merry: but money answereth all things."

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