Wednesday, October 25, 2006

WSJ and Pakistan

There are three excellent columns in the Wall Street Journal Opinion page today. Two are closely related (one is an editorial and another an article) and concern Pakistan. First, here is the editorial (with which I am in violent agreement).
"Our finest foreign-policy minds have been abuzz lately trying to explain how and why the U.S. and its NATO allies are, as a recent Newsweek International cover has it, “Losing Afghanistan.” But no need for deep thoughts here: The largest part of the problem is neighboring Pakistan."
I concur. Afghanistan has long been the battleground in which its neighbors expend their pol-mil energy. For anyone who is interested in learning a great deal (in a very easy read) about this particular subject, I recommend The Great Game: The Struggle for Empire in Central Asia, by Peter Hopkirk.
"In September, the Pakistan government of Pervez Musharraf agreed to abandon its North Waziristan province – which shares a long border with Afghanistan – to the de facto rule of its “tribal elders” and the Taliban and mujahadeen terrorists they harbor. Since then, as Barnett Rubin observes (Squirrel – in the other article that I mentioned above) nearby, the number of cross-border raids into Afghanistan has risen tenfold."
What the article doesn't mention is that the Government of Pakistan has not had control of the tribal areas (Waziristan in particular)… ever. I spent some time in North Waz and let me tell you that it is a forbidding place. The tribesmen are some seriously hard dudes and even better marksmen. Part of the reason that the Pakistani government can’t exert any control is because the Pakistani military gets its ass handed to it every time it tries. For context it is important to note that their elite special operations dudes (SSG) are about as good as our typical infantrymen. Their regular troops pretty much suck.
"It’s true that the agreement the Pakistan government signed with these elders explicitly forbids such raids. But General Musharraf surely knew that the Taliban would not keep idle in Waziristan for long, especially since he also agreed to the release and pardon of all Taliban prisoners and the return of their confiscated weapons."
There is much more to this story, I’m sure. Unfortunately, I’m not completely dialed into the internal politics at the moment. Rest assured, I’ve got a couple calls in over there and will let you know when I know.
"From day one in the war on terror, the Bush Administration has said it would make no distinction between terrorists and those who harbor them. So far, Mr. Musharraf has earned an exception to this rule by helping to capture al-Qaeda suspects early on, and then by pleading that his government cannot control its unruly tribal areas. But then he cannot also refuse to allow NATO troops and U.S. Predator missiles to do the job for him."
As far as I can tell, he simply cannot “refuse to allow” us to do the work for him. It seems to me that he abdicated his ability to tell us no in this particular instance. While he wants to have his cake and eat it too, we should consider declaring war on North Waziristan. We would begin this operation by sealing the borders and then systematically destroying the tribal infrastructure. It is bloody work, but necessary.

The only realistic problem is Musharraf closing our base in Jacobobad and ignoring the terrorists in the areas he does control. When I say he, by the way, I mean the Pakistani directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence. The educated, however, are very interested in Pakistan becoming the new India. They invest heavily in technology and have a solid base of labor. With help, we could undermine the military class that is totally controlling the country and allow the businessmen to build a country worth keeping.
"We don’t know what General Musharraf promised to President Bush and Afghan President Hamid Karzai during their recent conclave in the White House. But we hope it was more tangible cooperation that we have been seeing of late. Sovereignty has responsibilities, and General Musharraf is not exercising them."
I can’t argue with that last sentence. I would merely point out that the left in this country has worked assiduously to undermine our strength (sovereignty DOES have responsibilities). The Pakistanis are allowing American interests to be subjugated because they sense weakness. That weakness has NOT been flowing from the White House, but from the MSM and those that support them. What escapes the left (who claim that they would “go after Bin Laden”) is that there is nothing that they could do differently to end al-Qaeda. The thing that they could have done is show a united front. A united front in the GWOT would have precluded this entire mess with Pakistan. Thanks dickheads, a pox on your house.