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Let's Talk Pakistan

I don't want to. I just got back from DC and I am tired. Very tired. But I simply can't listen to Obama prattle on about Pakistan yet again without providing a bit of a refresher for readers. Stick with me here.

Before the first American boot hit the ground, Pakistan was presented a choice: You will be an ally or you will be the enemy. Pakistan, under Musharraf, wisely chose to be an ally. We guided them in that direction because we wanted them to be an ally. We were not indifferent.

We smashed the Taliban and al-Qaeda and those that survived dispersed, some of the mainly Arab al-Qaeda fled into Iran, but most into Pakistan along with virtually all of the Pashtun Taliban.

We had a choice: Follow them across the Pakistan border - an invasion - or stop at the border and allow the new Pakistani allies to do the heavy lifting on their soil. To have followed in an invasion would have flipped an ally into an opposing army at war with us and driven them onto the side of al-Qaeda and the Taliban rather than standing - to any degree at all - against them.

What would you do as Commander in Chief in 2002? Drive headlong into nuclear-armed Pakistan and start a second war with a country just as much in al-Qaeda's sights? Invade a country that has motivation to kill the same enemy based on its position as a fellow al-Qaeda target (please note the current insurgency run against Pakistan)? You would be a fool.

We stopped. We are still stopped. And, somewhere in Obama's answer about what he would do differently, he is still stopped in his strategic vision. Yet he would "get bin Laden." And if he "had bin Laden" in his sights, he would strike. Why didn't anyone else at the Pentagon think of that yet?

The only thing different is that he would put more troops into Afghanistan shifted from Iraq. Not measurably more or less than McCain is saying (no quantity or force structures given, of course). Nor does he say what those forces would be doing differently than they are or have been doing.

This is a non sequitor of the first degree.

What he does talk about differently is the past, not anything going forward except bring up Iraq over and over again. This aspect of a much much larger and wider war - one which Obama fails to acknowledge in scope and scale - will be won on Pakistani soil. He brings up the past in that he would not have supported Musharraf, that he would not have given them billions in military aid. He would instead "support democracy" and give them non-military aid.

News Flash: Pakistan's democracy is imploding apace, and non-military aid will not assist the Pakistani military in carrying out operations against the Taliban and al-Qaeda.

One can make the argument that going into Iraq was a bad decision.

But, right here, right now, acknowledge that this decision has nothing to do with the fact that al-Qaeda and the Taliban have set up shop in the tribal areas of Pakistan. Not unless one is going to say that as Commander in Chief he would have ordered a ground invasion of Pakistan.

He would have you believe he would have been doing something different and have bin Laden's head on a pike. He would be sitting at the same border. But with more troops. This is different how with respect to this theater and the killing or capture of bin Laden, Zawahiri, et al in Pakistan?

Obama simply has done what he always does on issues of National Security. He has overplayed his hand in trying to play against the Iraq card. This from the man who first rolled out his plan for Iraq and Afghanistan. Then he went on a fact-finding mission to each this summer. Starting to get my point?


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Comments (29)

A bit off subject but why i... (Below threshold)

A bit off subject but why is it Pockiston to Obama and not Pakistan? He pronounces Afghanistan correctly but why the odd pronunciation of Pakistan?.

Pah-kee-stahn is the correc... (Below threshold)
Steve Schippert:

Pah-kee-stahn is the correct phonetic pronunciation.

Why he selects this one to pronounce correctly but not Af-gahn-ee-stahn is anyone's guess.

But it doesn't really matter.

The question is:

Why is he not going to go into Pakistan, not going to give them military aid, yet defeat the Taliban and al-Qaeda there?

The answer is a mystery, perhaps to him.

Sans a solid embrace of Pakistan via General Kiyani and continued military support, and Pakistani protection of the population there, al-Qaeda will own Pakistan within one calendar year under the guise of Hamid Gul or his protege' Imran Khan or perhaps even AQ Khan.

Obama appears frighteningly inept and/or poorly advised on Pakistan.

We stopped. We are still... (Below threshold)

We stopped. We are still stopped.

No we're not.

Funny... Obama was absolutely pilloried for saying he'd do what it turns out Bush then did in secret.

funny how everyone forgets ... (Below threshold)

funny how everyone forgets to mention india when discussing pakistan. it wasnt too long after 9/11 when those 2 were ready to throw some nukes at each other and start ww3. also strange that obama doesnt seem to know that the $10 billion we have given pakistan over the last 7 years, was in large part to secure those nukes from rogue generals.
by saying you will invade pakistan, you are weakening the truce between india and pakistan. if we did invade to get obama, their would be no stopping india from trying to take back kashmir which leads to throwing nukes again.
this is why obama is dangerous.

Brian:You gone ove... (Below threshold)


You gone over the top with your inability to engage critical thinking. Maybe you are unable, I dunno.

google the name Steve Schippert and see who you are debating. You are not only over your head, you are outclassed to a degree that is ludicrous.

Didn't you at least listen to McCain when he said in effect: "Obama, shut the F up."

It is all about POSTURING for Obama. He lacks discretion Brian. If you are gonna take out a terrorist in a country like Pakistan, you don't take an ad out in the NYT or run your mouth on TV. You just do it, very, very quitely.

Sheesh. . .

Dang it Brian, it is ok for anyone to want to vote for anybody in this country. That is the American way. But defending a candidate when they just made an idiot of themselves perverts your own intellect, if you have one.

Again, sheesh. . .

Given your knee jerk rush to defend Obama and that Obama is well acquainted with the limitations of his base; I can only conclude that HE thinks that people who are going to vote for him are nitwits. Either that, or he has a massive blind spot or just frigging naive.

Take your pick.

Steve:I have been ... (Below threshold)


I have been following your stuff on threatswatch for a while. I get it.

Do you think that another military government will save them? Is there a chance the more or less corrupt current government will be able to control the country?

Corruption seems to be the national pastime over there. I understand a lot of cultures around the world, but Pakistan is just different enough that I have never been able to get a fingernail under the nation thought process.

What say you?

Larry,A military d... (Below threshold)
Steve Schippert:


A military dictatorship is never the optimal. But, for all the daggers thrown Musharraf's way (including more than a few from me over the treaties w/Taliban), there was merit to what he said when he said he declared a state of emergency and suspended the constitution in order to save democracy in Pakistan.

Not a whole lot unlike its manifestation in Gaza/West Bank, the outcome would have been (and is now proving) self-destructive. And it is proving so now. It sounds counterintuitive, but it is so.

So anxious to rid the current, the next lot was worse and Pakistanis didn't much care. Each political sect felt that without musharraf, their sect could solve the puzzle.

instead, we have Mr. 10% Contract Skimmer as President, a male Pakistani Nancy Pelosi as PM, and an opposition made up of a former PM bought and paid for by al-Qaeda for decades.

The current government is divided, interminably weak, and inept. It is one well-timed dump truck bomb from decapitation, a sniper's shot from assassination, and never - never - is Nawaz Sharif within even earshot of the blast or crack. Why is that, one must ask?

The progression is this:

Assassinate Zardari (10%) and the goofy PM.

Assassinate General Kiyani, American trained 'apostate'.

Clear the way for Nawaz Sharif to insert himself as president (w/Constitutional amendments necessary).

Sharif is but a caretaker, whose shelf-life of usefulness expires in less than 12 months,

He is introduced to his virgins in order to clear the way for Hamid Gul - or, by proxy, Imran Khan or AQ Khan.

When Gul, Khan or Khan rise to Pakistani presidency, you will know that AQ controls the country.

The only wildcard is Kiyani. If he pushes out Zardari/Gilani and assumes control, this could put a wrench in AQ's progression. Remember, Musharraf did not survive at least three major assassination attempts because his security sucked. It is now Kiyani's. Kiyani is the key to Pakistan's survival.

In theory (and I believe practice), if he can steward to the defeat (or beating down to low-level thuggery) of AQ/Taliban, then democracy post-threat will have a chance.

Probably about a decade away from being secure enough to actually thrive (democracy) if the threat can be subdued.

Kiyani is a quiet, principled man from humble roots. If there is a man in Pakistan who would turn Pakistan back into a functional democracy, it would be him. But no democracy in AQ's midst (with their influence corrupting to the core of many men) can survive AQ's plans.

Hope that helps.

You gone over the top wi... (Below threshold)

You gone over the top with your inability to engage critical thinking.

And you've gone over the top with your inability to respond to a single issue. Maybe you are unable, I dunno.

It is all about POSTURING for Obama.

Let's see... posturing... posturing... nope, not mentioned once in the Wizbang thread I linked to.

He lacks discretion Brian. If you are gonna take out a terrorist in a country like Pakistan, you don't take an ad out in the NYT or run your mouth on TV. You just do it, very, very quitely.

You mean like this guy?

President Bush said Wednesday he would order U.S. forces to go after Osama bin Laden inside Pakistan if he received good intelligence on the fugitive al Qaeda leader's location.

"Absolutely," Bush said.

"Sheesh", indeed.

I flatly do not understand ... (Below threshold)

I flatly do not understand why no one points out the painfully obvious point:

Geographically, we cannot supply troops in Afghanistan except through Pakistan. It's as simple as that. All our supply routes to Afghanistan go through Pakistan, and not even Eisenhower could supply an invasion of Pakistan down the road from Dushanbe.

So Pakistan can clear us out of Afghanistan with little more than the stroke of a pen.

Bush was responding ... (Below threshold)

Bush was responding to Obama and he should have kept his mouth shut. He didn't help, Brian. Nor did Obama with his own ill advised remarks. I have no idea why Bush decided to pour gasoline on the fire, but he did. Maybe he should have called Dick Cheney before he shot his mouth off, you think?

And maybe Obama should have called Biden before he shot HIS mouth off first. Biden could have told him to wait until the French cleared up the battlefield, then, oh never mind.

And I was responding to what you didn't say but wanted to. The Pakistani comment from Obama was a gaffe, if you want to be charitable, just like his remark about meeting certain anti-US leaders without preconditions. Given that Obama is becoming famous for never, ever admitting a mistake, his gaffe's will become policy if and when he becomes President. And every President has a gaffe moment, it goes with the territory.

My issue with Obama is not that he shot his mouth off originally on either subject I just mentioned. It goes with the territory at times. I have a problem with Obama being a Carter clone and allowing a gaffe to become policy.

Steve:From reading... (Below threshold)


From reading your site, I have somewhat of a grasp of the issues and the players and a few of the likely scenarios. Thank you for the synopsis of current state and some likely ways thing can turn out.

What I don't know about Pakistan is the state of mind of the general population. The feudal states seems to be more or less, well feudal. That duplicates Afghanistan. The major parties are dynastic and I don't see anyone coming up the ranks who can replace Mr. 10%. You have knowledge I can't touch. Maybe you know of someone.

Anyway, feudal and dynastic can be stable if the ones in charge can survive. If as you say, the lower level wants to take over, how about what is going on between India and the US as leading up to a point of distraction?

Mullah Omar is probably manipulating things behind the scene in Pakistan and that guy scares me in terms of our US and western self interest.

"President Bush said Wed... (Below threshold)

"President Bush said Wednesday he would order U.S. forces to go after Osama bin Laden inside Pakistan if he received good intelligence on the fugitive al Qaeda leader's location."

That's a helluva lot different than saying "The first step must be to get off the wrong battlefield in Iraq and take the fight to the terrorists in Afghanistan and Pakistan."

I mean, come on, even Biden said at the time, "The last thing you want to do is telegraph to the folks in Pakistan that we are about to violate their sovereignty."

And by the way, Obama met with the Pakistani PM and they aren't exactly in agreement.

The fact is, we have gone into Pakistani territory numerous times. Only occasionally Pakistan would make noises about it. There's a reason for that and if one can't figure it out, then critical thinking skills are not their forte.

sans reality:Our s... (Below threshold)

sans reality:

Our supply lines to Afghanistan go NOWHERES near Pakistan.

Brian:Obama was a... (Below threshold)

Obama was absolutely pilloried for saying he'd do what it turns out Bush then did in secret.

He was pilloried BECAUSE he stated it publicly.

This was a HUGE political gaffe that could cause serious problems with Pakistan. While the Pakistani government might tolerate covert raids into its territory, overt intrusion of Pakistan by U.S. forces (Obama's statement) would require that the Pakistani government to respond to the 'slap in the face'.

Get bin laden. I am sick of... (Below threshold)
ed davis:

Get bin laden. I am sick of this get bin laden shit.

Get as many as we fucking can.

As far as 9/11 goes, we got khalid sheikh mohammed and ali abdul aziz.

If anyone thinks getting bin laden is an end to the GWOT, they are sadly mistaken. This fuckin' war with religious/idealogical terrorists has barely fuckin started and we have PUSSIES crying and moaning about how long it has taken to get what little amount of security we have so far, just SEVEN FUCKING YEARS after 9/11.

Fuck obama and his pussy ass monday morning quarterback approach to our nation's security.

Obama's timeline on Pakista... (Below threshold)

Obama's timeline on Pakistan (which he pronounces without an accent) is way off, see:


Not to digress but Barry had a roomate at Columbia, a Pakistani thug, who he apparently sold coke with who refuses to talk to FoxNews, specifically the Factor & Hannity & Clown!!!

Barry spent one month in Pakistan and we cannot figure what he did, where he went other than some jibberish about engaging in cultural activities with a certain well to do family.

Pakistan is extremely complicated, not black and white at all.

Yes, Musharraf was a SOB, but like Somoza (and others, Shah of Iran) he was OUR Son of a Bitch to quote FDR.

He did the best he could, and I have no illusions about him, he came from the Army but remember that the ISI is the most powerful entity in Pakistan and even he could not dislodge some of the prime players there, having to rely on the Army, which tilts to the West.

ISI created and controls the Taliban, therein lies the problem....Khan & Sharif are handmaidens of AQ indeed.

So now we have Mr. 10% (Bhutto's corrupt, but relatively pro Western husband, who apparently got a hard on for Sarah Palin)Gilani, and Kiyani to deal with.

So let's forget about this neo con dream of "democracy" and focus on putting in our people in order to kill our enemies...we need Realpolitik there.

Larry,Pakistan is ... (Below threshold)
Steve Schippert:


Pakistan is not feudal. What we think of when we think Pakistan is the bulk of the country, largely Anglicized and secular.

The tribal areas (Pashtun border regions) are another issue (planet) altogether. The Durand line that created Afghanistan and Pakistan border went right down the middle of Pashtun land - sort of like trying to separate the Navajo tribe in our wild west.

There is no one to follow Mr. 10%, correct. The idea is for the guy from the other party - Nawaz Sharif - to replace him once he is killed.

And to the earlier reader: Excellent point on Pakistani supply routes. We are defending them still, as all our fuel comes from the Karachi port through the Khyber Pass.

Steve:Not feudal? ... (Below threshold)


Not feudal? That puzzles me. Yes, I believe you absolutely know what you are talking about, so I need to better communicate what I meant so I get an answer I can understand, if this run on sentence gets me there :-)

By feudal, I meant that it seems a large part of the country, specifically but not limited to the tribal areas, is run by local bosses and warlords or whatever. Is this true? Or what is the governing authorities in those areas?

Who are the political godfathers in the rest of the country? Is it a Chicago style machine based on patronage or what? Is this a good place for the discussion, or should I go to threatwatch and read more?

Thanks Steve.

Steve:Lemme just a... (Below threshold)


Lemme just ask one more question.

In another life, I did business with many "Pakis." I found them to be extremely smart and devious to the max. I had to basically stand against a wall with my hands over my privates at all times. Those in the hotel business are at the high end and they are know to charge each other 25% interest on loans.

One paki who shall be nameless once told me that he was not raised with any particular moral code other than self interest. In his words, that colors all dealings even with the ones who profess to be religious.

In other words, dog eat dog.

Is that the way the country is?

The Pakistani comment fr... (Below threshold)

The Pakistani comment from Obama was a gaffe

A "gaffe" repeated multiple times by Bush, actually implemented and advertised by Bush, and stated again by Palin. When does a "gaffe" become "policy"?

He was pilloried BECAUSE... (Below threshold)

He was pilloried BECAUSE he stated it publicly.

As did Bush, multiple times. And Palin. No pillories there, though.

GreetingsUnder Mus... (Below threshold)


Under Musharraf, the Pakistani public remained in a successful state of denial, simply blaming him for every ill in the country. Since his departure, and the severe terrorism wave that has hit the country since early 2007, Pakistanis increasingly now view the fight against terrorism as something genuine. However they are very weak in counter terrorism and counter insurgency.

Instead of Obama's prescription of bullying and bombings, United States should provide funding, training and equipment to greatly increase the strength and ability of Pakistan's counter terror and counter insurgency capabilities. It will be a far more counterproductive path.

Obama however does pronounce Pakistan correctly.

Do you think there is only ... (Below threshold)
Lisa Melody:

Do you think there is only one way to solve a problem? Given a choice would you approach the issue violently or non-violently? How far do other people get with you when they assert their dominance or does this just further the drive to fight?

Don't you think these ideas are worth considering in relation to Pakistan?

Brian:<i... (Below threshold)


He was pilloried BECAUSE he stated it publicly.

As did Bush, multiple times. And Palin. No pillories there, though.



Obama was absolutely pilloried for saying he'd do what it turns out Bush then did in secret.[em added]

Perhaps, Brian and Brian could argue this one between himself.

Pakistan as a country has a... (Below threshold)

Pakistan as a country has always indulged in power projection beyond its capacity in the region. It has used trained militants to influance kashmir, afghanisatan and even in the nasent central asian states. The words and actions of this counrty do not match. They will encourage militancy, proliferation and back stabbing ...even if they get monetory assiatance from its friends. ITS A COUNTRY THAT CANNOT BE TRUSTED.

rashadCan you give... (Below threshold)


Can you give specific examples?


Pakistan is on track to become one of the front lines in the War on Terror that the US neither wanted nor is properly equipped to deal with This is about as far as I can get with understanding.

Bangash KahnI was ... (Below threshold)

Bangash Kahn

I was to understand that the ISI is an extremely effective agency. Is that not true?

What is the percentage of secular versus strict muslim? To which sect do the muslim belong?

Help us understand Pakistan, please.

Without Pakistan and it's I... (Below threshold)

Without Pakistan and it's ISI, there would be no Taliban. Without the Taliban, Al Qaeda wouldn't have had a safe base to plan and train. The stupidity of our working with Pakistan after 9-11 will reverberate for decades. As soon as that first plane hit the Pentagon, we should have been at war with Pakistan. And our ICBM's should have lifted for Karachi, Islamabad, and every other Pakistani city and military base as soon as other ICBM's launched for their Afghani targets. This war should have been over within a week with our enemies dead and their lands ruined for generations. Instead, we've allowed our enemies to survive and for the useful idiots at home to be within weeks of total victory on the electoral front.

Peace comes when one side is destroyed and/or absorbed. That is the lesson of history.

Millions of Americans will die someday because we "worked" with the Pakistanis. It would be as if in WWII, we only fought Vichy France but talked with the Nazis.

LenS,It is this hawk... (Below threshold)

It is this hawkish American attitude towards other countries that brought 911 to your country . Have you ever seen any other country like China , Japan , Brazil , Mexico ,Canada etc being threatened by terrorist. The answer is No . We must understand the concept of "live and let live" .

Did you know that Pakistan has been an ally of United States since 1951 when second prime minister of pakistan visited America for engaging in bilateral trade . On the contrary India was allied with USSR then 1990 when it broke down and only after that it came to america to become one of its close allies .

What I am trying to say here is that with wisdom , negotiation and correct approach even bitter enemies can be become friends . Taliban had nothing against America before 2001 when Bush administration decided to use america's super military power to remove rulers one of the weakest country in the world . Instead Bush could have the followed the path of negotiations to get bin laden from Taliban and there would have been no wars and innocent loss of human lives. Instead they followed a policy of Nazi Germany and used power to crush innocent civilians of weak nation .

Now with your approach of kill and win , the decline of human race will start . Dinosaurs became extinct 65 million years ago because of an outside meteor explosion . But after 65 million years , human race will make sure that it will get itself extinct by exploding nuclear bombs at each other .

Trust me people of Pakistan are very sensitive when it comes to their country's sovereignity. They will do whatever it takes to defend themselves at all cost even if it requires using nuclear weapon and that was the only reason Pakistanis created these nuclear weapons to make sure that super powers like america dont invade them at will . Pakistan also has a much powerful conventional military then iraq , iran , afghanistan all combined together . It has the 4th largest army in the world with very sophisticated Navy , army and Airforce . Check-out J-10, JF-17 , Agosta 90b and al-khalid etc

So the only solution here is to get on the negotiation table and try to discuss and understand each others position including Taliban . We must ensure that no innocent human lives are lost anymore and lets make this world a better place to live for everybody.






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