Monday, December 11, 2006

"The Bourbon kings remembered everything, but learnt nothing."

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. The New York Times imitates Bill Roggio.

PESHAWAR, Pakistan — Islamic militants are using a recent peace deal with the government to consolidate their hold in northern Pakistan, vastly expanding their training of suicide bombers and other recruits and fortifying alliances with Al Qaeda and foreign fighters, diplomats and intelligence officials from several nations say. The result, they say, is virtually a Taliban mini-state.

The militants, the officials say, are openly flouting the terms of the September accord in North Waziristan, under which they agreed to end cross-border help for the Taliban insurgency that revived in Afghanistan with new force this year. The area is becoming a magnet for an influx of foreign fighters, who not only challenge government authority in the area, but are even wresting control from local tribes and spreading their influence to neighboring areas, according to several American and NATO officials and Pakistani and Afghan intelligence officials.

Here's what Bill Roggio, now embedded in Iraq, wrote nearly two months ago in his The History of the Fall of Waziristsan.

On June 25, I sounded the alarm that a truce would be in the offing in North Waziristan. The Pakistan Army was taking a pounding, and President Musharraf lacked the will to fight in the region became apparent. All along, Musharraf and the Pakistani elite attempted to draw distinctions between the Taliban and “miscreants” and “foreigners” - which is merely code for al-Qaeda. The failure to realize the Taliban and al-Qaeda worked towards the same end, and have integrated political and command structures, led the Pakistani government to cut deals with the 'local Taliban' and the eventual establishment of the Islamic Emirate of Waziristan. The Taliban and al-Qaeda are by no means finished with their goals of carving out safe havens along the Afghan-Pakistani border. The series of posts below document the history of the fall of North and South Waziristan and the rise of the Islamic Emirate of Waziristan, from 2006 onward.

And as with the "insurgency" and the "militias" in Iraq, one basic reason why the Taliban will never be completely eliminated in Afghanistan is because they have safe havens across the border. To graphically illustrate this, imagine that you're trying to keep your yard clean next to a neighbor who keeps throwing trash over the fence. You are allowed to keep cleaning your yard; you are even allowed to ply your neighbor with gifts in a process called engagement. You are even permitted to promise part of another person's lot to your pesky neighbor in an effort to get him to stop. But the one thing you will never be permitted is to punch his lights out. You may be a very long time in keeping your premises clean; and while in ordinary life most people would call you stupid, in international relations you will earn fame as a statesman. Here's the New York Times again on events in Pakistan.

This year more than 100 local leaders, government sympathizers or accused “American spies” have been killed, several of them in beheadings, as the militants have used a reign of terror to impose what President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan calls a creeping “Talibanization.” Last year, at least 100 others were also killed. While the tribes once offered refuge to the militants when they retreated to the area in 2002 after the American invasion of Afghanistan, that welcome is waning as the killings have generated new tensions and added to the region’s volatility. “They are taking territory,” said one Western ambassador in Pakistan. “They are becoming much more aggressive in Pakistan.”

Ironically, a terrorist mini-state like Waziristan can be useful within the context of the Sunni-Shi'ite global rivalry because it provides Sunni "militant" organizations with an acceptable substitute for the former al-Qaeda training camp of Afghanistan. Competition in terrorist politics compels a strange symmetry. Sunni states fearful of a Shi'ite revival envy Iran it's bomb -- and its terrorist capability. The doggerel ditty "any gun you will need I will need better; I can need any gun better than you," is a sentiment any terrorist would understand. The terrorist postgraduate school in Waziristan, now undergoing renovation, has no lack of applicants.

In recent weeks, Pakistani intelligence officials said the number of foreign fighters in the tribal areas was far higher than the official estimate of 500, perhaps as high as 2,000 today. These fighters include Afghans and seasoned Taliban leaders, Uzbek and other Central Asian militants, and what intelligence officials estimate to be 80 to 90 Arab terrorist operatives and fugitives, possibly including the Qaeda leaders Osama bin Laden and his second in command, Ayman al-Zawahri. ...

Who is paying the tuition? Anyone with a need for guns for hire.

[a captured suicide] bomber said that the former head of Pakistani intelligence, Gen. Hamid Gul, was financing and supporting the project, according to the statement, though the claim is impossible to verify. ... Money continues to flow in from religious supporters at home and in the Persian Gulf, as well as from a range of illicit activities like a lucrative opium trade, smuggling and even kidnapping, said diplomats, United Nations analysts and local journalists.

What's not widely realized is that the Fall of Waziristan was occasioned by attempts to "engage" the Taliban. Safe behind an international border from military pursuit, the Pakistani plan was to buy them off. By acceding to their "legitimate" demands it was thought that the militants would leave Afghanistan alone and quit carving up Pakistan. Under the deal, the militants would cease cross-border operations, refrain from killing Pakistani officials and stop spreading their influence in exchange for dismantling checkpoints, releasing detainees, returning captured weapons and declaring an amnesty. They would get guns in return for a promise not to use them. Peace would descend over the region and Nobel Prizes would be handed out like Crackerjack prizes. But as some might have guessed, the militants lied.

Still, Javed Iqbal, the newly appointed Pakistani secretary of the tribal areas, defended the North Waziristan accord as an effort to return to the traditional way of running the tribal areas, through the tribal chiefs. That system, employed by the British and Pakistani rulers alike, was eroded during the military campaigns of the last few years. “We have tried the coercive tactic, we did not achieve much,” he said in an interview in Peshawar. “So what do you do? Engage.”

"So what do you do?" You die. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Khomeini's Islamic Revolution was the fashion leader for al-Qaeda; Nasrallah for Moqtada al-Sadr. Who in heaven's name would emulate Pakistan's approach? Oh wait ...


Anonymous Anonymous said...

yet another example of terrorists playing the local government like a drum

12/11/2006 06:25:00 PM  
Blogger buck smith said...


You are funny! great closing comment

12/11/2006 06:36:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

Because terrorism is a viable mode of politics in much of the world there is a real demand for its services. How would you attain the power in "Palestine"? By shaking hands? Rather by cutting off hands. Nor is terrorism peculiar to the Arabs. Lenin and certainly Stalin would have understood. Probably Hitler too. But the Middle East, starting with Algeria, has added to the corpus, no pun intended.

Sunni militants once debated whether it made more strategic sense to seize a state first, like Iran, as a force-generation base for terrorist legions. And they once had Afghanistan. But Osama, in a stupid moment, attacked America and lost Afghanistan. This unbalanced the terrorist world, to some extent, because he lost his Fort Benning.

Yet for all the talk about Iraq being the new "training ground" for al-Qaeda, it has grave shortcomings, if you don't mind the pun. For one thing it also gives the Shi'ites great practice in hunting them down. And it will be all they can do to hold their own.

Pakistan, on the other hand, has great advantages. It's a nuclear state, a nominal American ally. It has UN recognized borders. And therefore uninvadable. The US can only stare impotently at the Taliban from across the border. Ok, the Coalition can run cross border ops, but it will never be decisive against their foes in sanctuary. In many ways Waziristan was an adequate swap for Afghanistan.

The point of this post that I never quite got to was that the War gives us an opportunity to search for ways to fight terrorism on its own terms. Because it is definitely not going away. Pakistan is a principal provider of emigrants to Britain, the original heart of the Anglosophere and they may carve out their Waziristans there too.

But principally we need a way to meet the enemy in the new world without (for them) borders. How do we do it? One way to learn is if a viable method is found in Afghanistan to deal with Waziristan.

12/11/2006 06:54:00 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

How about a little light genocide?

Eh? Eh? Any takers?

I know the Nazis supposedly discreditted it, but that's because the Jews don't actually run the world and didn't actually stab Germant in the back, etc.

What do you do when you have a population of, say, 30 million or so that wasn't even dragged into the 19th or 18th century by the Raj, and yet, according to the usual perversities of progress, has AK-47s, cell phones, financiers at Lloyd's (or whatever its successor is), and international passports - to say nothing of the lovely UN Charter and its whimsical hopes that the "post-WWII era" will forever be a sufficiently cogent and precise description of the world order that was called explicitly into being by that war?

What do you do, moreover, when these people are the thralls of a religion that Marco Polo described as doing in the 13th century pretty much what they seem to be doing today?

In all honesty, and with all humility, it must be asked: what do you do with these people? I mean, it's not like they're *nice,* or something; it's not as though anyone outside the immediate region had had any thoughts about them, or if they didn't shut up and just even run their heroin anyone outside Pakistan and Afghanistan and perhaps Uzbekistan would ever again think of them.

So what do we do? Frankly, I think the world has earned the right to no longer countenance something like this after the Second World War and the Cold War concluded in the rather merciful way they did. Especially in the latter, it could have been much, much worse. So now we have these folks threatening the entire rather fluid architecture with their immemorial plundering razzias. The old method is to kill every man and enslave every woman and child. A venerable tradition. Also, there are blankets with small pox, or some suitable substitute.

Yes, I am a terrible person.

12/11/2006 07:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wretchard wrote: "But principally we need a way to meet the enemy in the new world without (for them) borders. How do we do it?"

One serious problem is addressing how terrorists use the laws of war against us. The Geneva conventions clearly do not work with the WOT, and I think before we can meet the enemy effectively, we need to develop new laws of war that apply to terrorists. You might counter that the Geneva Conventions do cover terrorists as unauthorized combatants, but I have not seen them treated as such.

Without redefined laws of war, the protection afforded civilians by the Geneva Conventions will be eroded as more and more terrorist headquarters end up on the first floor of an apartment building.

12/11/2006 07:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


As I posted at EB, To them, everything is fair game. Legal-rational authority does not mean anything to them - neither does the concept of de jure authority stand up against their culture of inherent factionalism and lack of respect for the code of law. Power represents everything that they desire for - the unlimited accumulation of power over others through religious and state conformity - a perverse distortion of Lockean liberalism of unlimited accumulation of wealth and property; authority is merely a fig leaf of legitimacy for their brutal way of life: assassinations, brute force, coercion - all are options that appeal to them in order to seek and maintain power.

Terrorism will continue to function as a legitimate political tool for anyone who wants to enjoy a share of the cake - one need not be in a position of recognised authority like the government or civil service to exert influence. Terrorism is easily accessible and open to each individual.

The Shiites are doing way better than the Sunnis: instead of completely overtaking a state ala Afghanistan, they sought to forge a state-within-a-state in Lebanon, with Hezbollah able to wield unparallelled and unconstricted sovereignty without accountability to the Lebanese, their legally recognised government.

Perhaps the Sunnis are learning now, that Pakistan will soon function as its host whose diplomatic cover guarantees it against direct invasion or intervention.

Like in Anbar, we'll have to work with tribal leaders. Yet how exactly do we avoid warlordism that is currently plaguing Afghanistan? Or is that the best solution there is - warlordism is the "end of history" for the Middle East? Sure beats expansionist, nihilistic Islamofascism.

12/11/2006 07:17:00 PM  
Blogger Chester said...


You should change your handle to "Raskolnikov."

12/11/2006 07:18:00 PM  
Blogger 3Case said...

"...UN recognized borders. And therefore uninvadable." = another limiting nicety which must be eliminated in order to make effective the WoT. The only limit should be the ability of the host (whether willing or unwilling) state to resist us...other than that, we should pursue aQ and the Taliban like the dogs they are. To the host states we should say, "We'll be back to fix the mess when we're through with aQ." We've been good on that pledge, to friend and foe, for 60+ years now.

Bush43 said he was going to get them (aQ/Taliban) moving and keep "them" moving until they were destroyed. Seems to me that "they" have been allowed to settle. ThatMUSTbe ended SOON.

Slaughter now or slaughter later. Slaughter later = slaughter more.

12/11/2006 07:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We, the West, are becoming side players in this conflict as it turns to a power play between the Persians/Shia and the Sunnis (maybe with KSA at the head).
For the Saudis, with discontent at home and the Persians whipping up Shi'ite power, the threat is real. For the Persians, who feel assendant, but sit upon a brittle economy, oil money be damned, this is the time to strike before they cannot. For them, our decision and action in Iraq is much more existential than it is for the U.S. The terror threat for the West is a threat at the border that must be addressed. For the other players, it strikes at their core.
Sure, we have a dog in the fight in that we don't want a facist Islamic rising, but the stakes are not the same.

The only concern for the west is the effect of an conflagration at the wellsprings of our wealth. Will we be afforded the luxury of not choosing sides?

12/11/2006 07:26:00 PM  
Blogger 3Case said...

As to the Islamic Dungheap of Waziristan: send birthday candles...enough to make the rubble bounce.

12/11/2006 07:29:00 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Alternatively, I wonder if there's a precedent for a state divesting itself of a chunk of real estate. I presume enough legal ambiguity exists as to the status of the "Islamic Emirate of Waziristan" in the context of the already-grayish "Federally Adminstered Tribal Territories of Waziristan and [Whatever the other one is named]" that the case could be made, with the suitably-coerced and bribed acquiescence of Musharaff, that the "Emirate" now constituted a separate entity with a legal personality independent of Pakistan proper, and could therefore be invaded by anyone who happened to want to do so.

Certainly, the case could be made de facto, and sponsored by the duly-constituted and internationally-recognized government of Hamid Karzai. Afghanistan gets no press because no one can make an opportunity out of these psychotic Tatooine-dwellers; they have no sex appeal to the frothy Amazons of the press and their slaves. They are so untidy; no one even knows what their food tastes like. So fuck it yo let's just go in and start annihilating everything.

People say, "O don't hit them! Them they will have a legitimate excuse to hit you back!" Ok, by that logic they already have plenty of justification for annihilating us outright. Let's not play this game any longer. I used to be against an invasion of Pakistan; I still am. But let's not confuse the Islamic Emirate of Waziristan with Pakistan, if only because that would be decidedly inconvenient for us.

12/11/2006 07:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


They'll just retreat deeper and deeper into Pakistani territory till both separate entities overlap each other - and then it'll be an invasion of Pakistan disguised as an incursion into Waziristan. Would Musharraf allow that to happen? Would we be forced to ignore all diplomatic niceties and violate Pakistani sovereignty - something with which they have failed to utilise and even conceded?

I sure hope the administration wakes up and does something decisive to arrest this problem before it festers into something as untenable as Hezbollah in Lebanon.

12/11/2006 07:40:00 PM  
Blogger trangbang68 said...

In May 1970,seeking to end the quagmire in Viet Nam,the king of Realpolitic,Richard Nixon sent the 1st Cav,the 25th Division,the 9th division,the Big Red One,etc.into the Parrot's Beak of Cambodia to deny sanctuary to the NVA.It was all part of the plan to extricate America from a brush war gone bad.
In May 2010,one of Nixon's inquisitors,Ms.Hillary Rodham will send many of the same fabled units over the border into Waziristan to find the secret headquarters of the Jihadists and allow America room to withdraw from all of Bush's follies.
Several Daily Kos demonstrators will be gunned down in protest.Impeachment hearings will begin over the longlost Rose Law Firm billing records.Mark it down.

12/11/2006 07:53:00 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Ha. Well, right, the problem is always that the Islamists succesfully coup in Pak: that seems like a cogent concern, and is the basic reason to treat Mush they way we do & etc. But here, India is not the China that was in the Indochina scenario: India would gladly mobilize. Al Qaeda on the red button in Islamadadong is not something the Hindu National Muslims Are Annoying Aren't They? party would countenance. And China itself would not invade their North; China could be expected to stay out, despite whatever treaties it had.

But this is the government. What we're talking about now is the post-imperial percpetion receding and all these islands of immemorial hatred and retardation emerging blinking into the media sun. What are Pakistan's Army's loyalties, really? Yes they have an elite that like the West or in any case likes the West's crap. They would be liquidated or co-opted in short order. But the disorder would be immediate. In any case, we are concerned here with populations and their vicious and immiserating folkways. Why should we be surprised they exist? Ash exists, after all. Why should we limit ourselves to treating them like nations with whom we share a deep historical symiotic evolutionary trajectory, who moreover have ICBMs and economies? C'mon: this is getting ridiculous.

One huge advantage with respect to justice and finality also obtains here: there are evidently no cameras in this part of the world.

12/11/2006 08:11:00 PM  
Blogger Mike H. said...

Was it wretchard who broached the subject of Letters of Marque, guerrilla style?

12/11/2006 11:36:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

mike H,

The other day there was a little noticed article from the WaPo or something saying that the number of civilian contractors in Iraq had approached the number of uniformed personnel. So there is a substantial degree of "privatization" in the war.

To that, I suppose, you could add several tens of thousands of people, working largely on their own dime, running what are in effect small newspapers engaged in information war against the "enemy" loosely speaking. These are of course the "bloggers".

There are probably a fair number of people in management consulting, in little technology startups, etc. that are involved in the nuts and bolts of the War.

The War has mobilized more people than is obvious. My own sense is that while people drop in and out of these activities, the total numbers entangled in some way is really quite large. This, in a way, is proof for the assertion that we are engaged in an epochal struggle, not as is so often maintained by the MSM, in an unnatural excursion from the normative. As if Kofi Annan and September 10 were the normal state of the world.

In fact, all around us, from the Middle East to Southwest Asia to the Horn of Africa; from Europe to the former Soviet Union; from North Korea to Southeast Asia we see the emergence of powerful forces which are never going to be swept back to September 10. Once you accept the way back is barred then consequentially every effort must be focused on the way forward. Slowly, but inexorably our eyes must turn forward.

12/12/2006 12:16:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wretchard said, "Pakistan, on the other hand, has great advantages. It's a nuclear state, a nominal American ally. It has UN recognized borders. And therefore uninvadable. The US can only stare impotently at the Taliban from across the border."

So much for the Bush Doctrine that says if a nation harbors terrorists, it becomes our enemy. Words, just words after all.

12/12/2006 06:30:00 AM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

> The US can only stare impotently at the Taliban from across the border.

No, we are just using surrogate forces instead of invading ourselves. Colin Powell flew over to Pakistan with demands right after 9/11, and they have been cooperating ever since.

This is according to the US Army Counter Insurgency manual, based on the principles that we need to prepare for a long battle, use local forces as much as possible, and to isolate and dry up the insurgency.

Isolate Insurgents from Their Cause and Support

It is easier to cut an insurgency off and let it die than to kill every insurgent. Attempting to kill every insurgent is normally impossible. It can also be counterproductive, generating popular resentment, creating martyrs that motivate new recruits, and producing cycles of revenge. Dynamic insurgencies also replace losses quickly. A skillful counterinsurgent cuts off the sources of that recuperative power.

Prepare for a Long-Term Commitment

By its nature, insurgency is protracted...

The Host Nation Doing Something Tolerably is Sometimes Better Than Us Doing It Well

It is just as important to consider who performs an operation as to assess how well it is done. In cases where the United States is supporting a host nation, long-term success requires the establishment of viable indigenous leaders and institutions that can carry on without significant American support.

12/12/2006 09:31:00 AM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

> defended the North Waziristan accord as an effort to return to the traditional way of running the tribal areas

This makes perfect sense, realizing that it is just one step in the process. Make the tribal leaders take sides, by making them promise to follow the agreement. Then when Al Qaeda breaks its word, it puts the tribal leaders in the position that their word was broken.

The Pakistani central government can then say to the tribal leaders: we tried it your way; we trusted you; now what are you going with those foreigners?

At that point the tribes can either help the central government wipe out Al Qaeda, and keep them out, or can die along with Al Qaeda when the central government attacks.

The US has reported success with a similar tactic, as more and more Sunni tribes turn against Al Qaeda.

12/12/2006 09:45:00 AM  
Blogger pst314 said...

"Probably Hitler too."

Yes. The Nazis funded and armed fascist terror groups through much of Europe.

I was going to prefix that with "In the years leading up to WWII..." but remembered that those were merely the years when we did not yet realize we were at war.

12/12/2006 09:54:00 AM  
Blogger Sardonic said...

You do unto others as they do unto you.

That means setting up schools, little anti-Madrassas if you will, that explain the Western World's approach to economics and science and why these are fundamental Freedom Givers, and get the locals from these areas to becomoe Advanced Citizens. You then point out that their countries, because of the incessant terrorist threat, are being held back from progress by their own thug-killers. You then ask them if they will fight willingly against those who would not only destroy their own people via Talibanization, but also the hope of Civilization itself should they win-lose. And then you provide them logistical support and send them into the Terrorist areas to join the Talibaniacs in order to infiltrate and destroy them. Thus you create a counter-insurgency that makes sense to the people conducting it. This operation could be setup fast, but there would be a relatively slow turnaround time in order to get the local men to understand the real implications of the situation. Maybe you recruit local actually from Western countries where they've emigrated to in order to get away from the Taliban? They would have a vested interest, know the local culture and language, and be in fact perfect for this type of operation.

Just a thought. Fight fire with fire.

12/12/2006 10:46:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My thinking might be naieve but is this not a smart way of aggregating or concentrating the bad guys instead of having them dispersed and running all over the place? Let them feel safe and smart for a while then it's just one decision by Musharraf to allow access via the east through PAK by significant PAK/US/other Nato force and the bad guys will be trapped in the "pocket".

12/12/2006 06:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pst314 said, "I was going to prefix that with 'In the years leading up to WWII...' but remembered that those were merely the years when we did not yet realize we were at war."

That assumes a supra-national unity and identification between America and the nations of Europe that did not exist until after the war and the days of NATO. There is a tendency to retroject current circumstances on historical times.

12/12/2006 07:25:00 PM  
Blogger Marcus Aurelius said...

Roland The Thompson Gunner!

The eternal Thompson gunner, still wandering through the night
Now it's ten years later but he still keeps up the fight In Ireland, in Lebanon, in Palestine and Berkeley Patty Hearst heard the burst of Roland's Thompson gun And bought it

12/12/2006 07:58:00 PM  
Blogger Mike H. said...

Wretchard, put in terms that were operative when I was in the Marine Corps, "When you're up to your ass in alligators, it's hard to remember that your initial objective was to drain the swamp." Guerrilla units hitting the guerrillas might clear the field of distracting sappers, allowing a bit of planning.

12/12/2006 11:33:00 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

Powered by Blogger