Friday, June 13, 2008

The dark frontier

Pakistan claims 11 of its paramilitary forces were killed on its border with Pakistan by US forces. US forces thought they were fighting the Taliban. There is not necessarily a contradiction between the two statements. Bill Roggio writes, "The Pakistani government maintains the US military struck a paramilitary outpost in Mohmand. A Pakistani military spokesman "condemned this completely unprovoked and cowardly act on the post and regretted the loss of precious lives of our soldiers."

A video clip describing the Pakistani outrage over the attack on what it considers to be its soldiery is shown below.



However, the US military released a video which clearly shows a number of individuals firing upon coalition forces until they were all killed by four precision guided weapons. Any reasonable commander on the ground would assume the forces depicted in the video clip below were hostile.





Bill Roggio highlights the possibility that Pakistan has already lost or is losing control of its border and observes, "as the security situation along the border further destabilizes, US and Afghan forces will be forced to strike along the border to prevent infiltration of Pakistani Taliban forces."

The situation poses a number of strategic dilemmas for the US. US-led forces may have to assume the security responsibility for an area that Pakistan has effectively abandoned to the Taliban while simultaneously being pummeled by the "outrage" of same Pakistani politicians who abdicated it in the first place. In the worst case Pakistan will demand all the dignities of sovereignty over an area for which they will assume no meaningful control. At the same time, the US must respond to this situation without wholly alienating Pakistan through which the bulk of US supplies pass. Afghanistan will be effectively lost if the supply lines are irrevocably closed.

It's a scenario tailored-made for extortion. Efforts will probably be made to encourage Pakistan to resume control over the area through such inducements as training, largesse and foreign aid. But the internal problems of Pakistan itself will make all such efforts as effective as pushing on a rope. The strategic goal of ensuring al-Qaeda and similar organizations have no safe haven in the area is inextricably linked to the political health of Pakistan. While Pakistan remains broken it cannot effectively control its territory; and border problems will only get worse. A fractured Pakistan will ipso facto mean that radical Islamic organizations will always have a safe haven within its formal borders.

Finding a way to stabilize Pakistan is of overriding importance. Afghanistan can be lost on the Pakistani border, but Pakistan itself cannot be saved on the Northwest Frontier. That can only happen through political improvements in its heartland. If Pakistan unravels or permanently loses part of its territory it may eventually set in train a series of events that will destabilize the subcontinent, with incalculable consequences not only for the region but for Central Asia and even the UK.

The return of Benazir Bhutto was a failed attempt to find a magic bullet with which to slay Pakistan's political monsters. Whether they can still be stopped is an open question.





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38 Comments:

Blogger What is "Occupation" said...

But at least there will be no more additional gitmo detainees from the operation!

6/13/2008 06:33:00 AM  
Blogger Wretchard said...

I don't know whether Gitmo has any more future, but given that the fight keep changing its character, perhaps that's something that has be lived with. Probably none of the rules are going to stay the same for any length of time. This isn't one war. It is more like a Chinese firecracker string of wars, each sui generis We're going to have to make the rules up as we go along.

For example, many of the counterinsurgency techniques learned in Iraq will probably have limited application in resolving the political instability of Pakistan.

What happens when a Muslim country implodes, as Pakistan has been imploding all these years, including but not limited to the loss of Bangladesh? Anyone remember "while my guitar gently weeps." That was a million years ago. Now we're getting to the interesting part of the implosion.

Radical Islam, globalization, oil and nuclear weapons are an explosive brew. Maybe, in addition to being explosive it's also a self-priming and self-igniting. However that may be, all these volatile elements are oozing together now.

I don't think we can keep all of it from exploding. But like some desperate damage control team trying to fight a magazine fire, maybe we can still work towards ensuring that no really large quantities of material blow up at once.

But if we fail, then Pakistan with its nukes, will represent a gigantic main charge that is just starting to char and smoke, and maybe the day will come when it's time to dive over the side and every man swim for himself. If that day comes, then we'll not only be looking at very expensive petroleum but a whole lot of Islamic dystopias just falling apart. In that situation, all one can do is batten down the hatches and hope to survive.

6/13/2008 06:56:00 AM  
Blogger Wadeusaf said...

C-Span has a clip of the newly arrived Ambassador of Pakistan speaking before the Atlantic Council.

rtsp://video1.c-span.org/project/intl/intl061208_haqqani.rm

The Ambassador illuminates the direction the in which the newly elected Pakistani government wishes to proceed. This will like any Counter insurgency take a great deal of time.

However heartened I am by the stated Pakistani government goals for the frontier region outlined by the Ambassador, I am still wary for the effects on Afghanistan and the lack of cohesive policy with NATO forces, the US and Afghan forces given the nature and readiness of Pakistani forces for performing Counter insurgency operations.

Pakistan appears to be seeking the realization of a cohesive strategy that addresses the cross border incursions both ways, and respects the sovereignty of both Afghanistan and Pakistan. If the government of Pakistan can keep their heads and elective office, the result there may well be the Afghan/Pakistani Surge. The methods may be different but the goal and the end result should be the same. The elimination of Terror as an option in the frontier zones and the elimination of Radical Islamists through the offering of choices in competition with the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

The process begun under Mushariff is being strengthened for eventual implementation by the newly elected Pakistani Government. the Ambassador states that there have been no agreements reached since the new government took office, only negotiations. The packages will require a cessation of hostilities, both in Pakistan and Afghanistan, as well as other items required by the Pakistani Government in order to deliver economic and other assistance.

It will take time.

6/13/2008 07:34:00 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

I've appreciated the insider postings of Niblas Kazimi on Basra. The general response to his writing at the time was, "Who are you going to believe, some blogger or the NYT?" He provided some good information.

Does anyone know of any good analysts of Pakistan that are available on the web?

We might recall, at the same time, that most of the insider blogs on Beirut guessed wrong on the outcome of the Hezbollah putsch. The cookie crumbled Hezbollah's way. At least this time.

6/13/2008 07:58:00 AM  
Blogger Pangloss said...

Since Guantanamo has been rendered useless by the Supreme Court the US will be forced to establish prisoner of war camps in the sovereign nations that are the site of conflicts. There will have to be highest-security war-criminal camps as well as mostly-empty normal POW camps.

If high value war criminals are taken they will no doubt be exploited for their intelligence, and then should be turned over to the sovereign government for trial and its own brand of rough justice.

related question: what is the standard of proof for conviction of a war criminal? a pirate chief?

6/13/2008 08:11:00 AM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

Pakistan and Afghanistan are only of significance because of their location in relation to oil pipeline routes from the old Soviet Stan Republics heading to the Arabian Peninsula. Oil production has not increased in 3 years and what we have, will very shortly start deteriorating in quality and quantity. We've hit Peak Oil. The only solution is to change the name of the game. There needs to be an aggressive push to redesign our urban space and lifestyle to be more energy efficient. There needs to be an aggressive push to grow build and trade things locally. There needs to be an aggressive push at decentralization, from electrical power to political power. And there needs to be an aggressive push away from fossil fuels and towards renewables (Solar, Wind, etc) and plugin vehicles.

In other words, the American Oil Empire is coming to an end, and we best start thinking ahead.

6/13/2008 10:02:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

I'm confused.

I thought part of the purpose of going into Iraq in the first place was to de-stabilize the Middle East. In that case wouldn't Pakistan imploding be a Way Good Thing in that it's the first domino to tip into definitive change from the bad old ways?

And if they burn and blow themselves up in their meltdown, doesn't that just save us the cost of an official USA nuclear bomb?

I'm also reading where not only the US but Europe's leaders are leaning hard on Karzai, telling him that Afghanistan's efforts at rebuilding are not sufficient. That the Afghans need to become proficient at more than magically making billions of dollars in aid disappear into a black hole of nothingness (because the Iraqi's have them beat all to hell at that particular game any way).

I wonder if we'd be so willing to throw Afghanistan over the side if we really cared what happened in Pakistan.

6/13/2008 10:13:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

.

6/13/2008 10:14:00 AM  
Blogger David M said...

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 06/13/2008 A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...so check back often.

6/13/2008 10:17:00 AM  
Blogger whiskey_199 said...

NanCee --

Losing in Afghanistan is like losing in Iraq, it will jump start Jihad, and is very dangerous since it will logically encourage all actors to aid in mass casualty attacks against the US.

Getting rid of Saddam induced fear in various governments and organizations, including but not limited to: the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt and Syria's ruling families, the Saudi ruling family, most of the Gulf princelings, and Khadaffi. All were afraid of provoking America like Saddam and getting hanged. The benefits of that are about over, as the lack of fear on the US side has led to fantasies of wars without killing, and talking our enemies into loving us.

The problem with Pakistan is that even short of collapse, it is quite possible for several nukes to be "loaned" to AQ or other groups for destination: NYC.

Debates about Gitmo or such will vanish when NYC does. Oh, Dems will still scream we had it coming, and we should "exploit" being a "beautiful victim" once again, but the reaction will be fairly rapid and devastating.

6/13/2008 10:28:00 AM  
Blogger eggplant said...

Off Topic:

Charles Krauthammer has written an article where he states that McCain needs to make the Iraq War the central issue of the presidential election. I have seen polls indicating that Americans concerned about our deteriorating economy are more likely to vote for B. Hussein rather than McCain. However (counter-intuitively) Americans following the Iraq War are more likely to vote for McCain. The MSM has been successful in pushing the Iraq War's recent success onto the back pages (the MSM knows that McCain can use this issue). B. Hussein has painted himself into a corner concerning the war (he can not suddenly announce that he supports it). The collapsing economy is like a 10 ton weight hanging over McCain's head. I think McCain should follow Krauthammer's advice and make the Iraq War the central issue and shift the economy into the background.

I've also read comments from the MSM that McCain should not "Swift Boat" B. Hussain. There must be something really juicy out there about B. Hussein that the MSM is worried about. By all means, McCain should "Swift Boat" B. Hussain if it'll deliver a confirmed kill.

6/13/2008 10:41:00 AM  
Blogger Alexis said...

Spain could not control its side of the border between the United States and Spanish Florida. An army led by General Jackson was sent on a cross-border raid into Florida and succeeded in conquering Spanish Florida. This caused an international crisis.

John Quincy Adams, America's Secretary of State, saved the day. He argued that since Spain was unable to control Florida, it had forfeited its right to control it. This argument convinced foreign capitals of America's benign intentions and led to negotiations for Spain's cession of Florida to the United States.

Although General Jackson received political credit for the conquest of Florida, one should not forget the wisdom of Secretary Adams to use a novel diplomatic argument that saved America from diplomatic isolation and possible invasion from a concert of European powers.

The argument of John Quincy Adams is as important today as it was nearly two centuries ago. If Pakistan is unable or unwilling to extend its sovereignty over its northwest frontier, it forfeits its claim to a state that can legitimately establish its authority. Given that Afghanistan has never relinquished its claim over the Northwest Frontier Provinces, any Pakistani unwillingness to assert its authority over its northwestern frontier effectively forfeits its legitimate claim of sovereignty over that territory to a state such as Afghanistan that would be willing to take responsibility for its security.

6/13/2008 10:48:00 AM  
Blogger eggplant said...

Pangloss said:

"If high value war criminals are taken they will no doubt be exploited for their intelligence, and then should be turned over to the sovereign government for trial and its own brand of rough justice."

That is the conclusion that we are left with along with summary treatment on the battlefield. It's ironic that Gitmo was considered less moral.

6/13/2008 10:49:00 AM  
Blogger chachapoya said...

Just a 'glass half full' opinion, but I think closing Gitmo because it has been rendered useless by liberal ideology may not be such a bad thing. It has become a distraction not worth the cost anyway. Battlefield combatants can now be dealt with on the battlefield or imprisoned in war zones where perhaps all the comforts of America will not be available to them. That has potential for increased success from interrogation at lower overhead and liberals everywhere can feel real good about themselves. It's a win win for everyone.

6/13/2008 11:08:00 AM  
Blogger Charles said...

It's a win win for everyone.
///////////
Except for the poor state that gets stuck warehousing these toxic combatants.

my guess is there won't be many takers

6/13/2008 02:11:00 PM  
Blogger Wadeusaf said...

Perhaps the Supremes have found a solution to the Baghdad grave diggers dilemma. I'm sure the ruling will result in plenty of work for them.

Lets hope they don't require outsourcing.

I have listened to the arguments I have read the passages, I do not understand for the life of me how this is in any way logical, legal or ever in the best interest of any of the parties involved. It is madness, utter madness.

May God help us all, including the detainees, who will need it most of all.

6/13/2008 02:21:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

Eggplant: The reason you are hearing that McCain should not "Swift Boat" Obama is not because there is no Swift Boat full of damaging information about Obama - there is in fact a friggin' Montana Class Battleship load of bad info on Obama. Rev Wright alone would fill up a battlewagon.

What Obama wants is total refusal to focus on his record. Not just Rev Wright, not just his first book, not just criminal associates, not even his voting record, but the whole sorry package.

In other words, a debate based on what he says Today and that is all. Given his way, he won't have to Pivot on Iraq because what he said about it should not be brought up at all.

And getting back to the point Wretchard brought up, that way lies defeat. If we take the Obama approach each little disaster in Pakistan will be considered in its own light, for the political impact of the moment, and that's all. We won't think that fighting the magazine fire enabled the crew to escape, or the rest of the fleet to get safely away by giving the enemy an alternative target, or even that if the fire had been put out the ship was so badly damaged that the escorting destroyers would have had to torpedo it anyway.

Obama's "now and only now" approach is reflective of not just an urgent necessity but a basic philosophical approach. The Sound Bite matters, long term strategy does not. The Islamofacists have no strategy except to focus on the Sound Bite and hope that it eventually produces a pile of crap they can lay claim to. And that's pretty much Obama's approach as well.

6/13/2008 05:32:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Taliban Free 1,200 in Attack on Afghan Prison

In a brazen attack, Taliban fighters assaulted the main prison in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar on Friday night, blowing up the mud walls, killing 15 guards and freeing around 1,200 inmates. Among the escapees were about 350 Taliban members, including commanders, would-be suicide bombers and assassins, said Ahmed Wali Karzai, the head of Kandahar’s provincial council and a brother of President Hamid Karzai.

“It is very dangerous for security. They are the most experienced killers and they all managed to escape,” he said by telephone from Kandahar.

A Taliban spokesman, Qari Yousuf Ahmadi, said that the attack was carried out by 30 insurgents on motorbikes and two suicide bombers, and that they had freed about 400 Taliban members, The Associated Press reported.

6/13/2008 07:24:00 PM  
Blogger Mike Sylwester said...

What is the possibility of continuing to supply and support our Afghanistan activities from the north -- through Russia, Uzbekistan and Tadzikistan?

6/13/2008 08:28:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

'I'm Not Anti-Islam;Islam is Anti-Me'
VIDEO:
Ayaan Hirsi Ali explains why she left Islam and became an atheist.
(took awhile for page to load for me)

6/14/2008 05:06:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

...attack was carried out by 30 insurgents on motorbikes and two suicide bombers...

Can anyone explain to me how Pakistan police managed to get themselves killed in this event without inside help?

I think increasingly we need to assume that there is no such thing as an honest Pakistan policeman, that they are *all* terrorists, and we can proceed blithely with killing anyone carrying a gun in the whole country of Pakistan, including Musharref.

Also, the more I think about it, the better it seems to me that this "escape" is because that means all those prisoners are outside and on the run where they can be dealt with in a final sort of way, rather than tucked away safely inside a prison protected by our allies Musharref and Khan.

6/14/2008 08:39:00 AM  
Blogger Annoymouse said...

errr Nahncee,
Kandahar is in Afghanistan.

6/14/2008 09:11:00 AM  
Blogger dla said...

Tension from the US and tension from Islamo-facists. Always a tension. That is what the Pakistani government faces constantly.

Pakistan is sortof (work with me here) like Mexico. Mexican government has given up the Northern states to the drug cartel. The cartel has made some of the people very happy by providing high-paying jobs. Yes the people hate the drugs, but they like the money. And Mexicans have a crappy 3rd-world government to begin with (read their constitution for a laugh), so who's to say that the people like the government better than the cartels.

So shocked as we are, a portion of the Pakistani population likes the Taliban, just like a portion of the US likes Nancy Pelosi. It is silly to think that everyone, everywhere hates the Taliban or Al-Qaeda, after all Al-Qaeda punched the great satan in the nose - which is source of Muslim pride. Probably the first "victory" the Muslims have had in 400years".

Just like the Demo-Dummy loons gained power in the 2006 mid-term elections, so the hard-liner Muslims gained power and momentum from the 1979 over-through of Iran. America has it's "Al-Qaeda" headed by Pelosi and Reid, and part of America supports it. So too Pakistan has part of it's population supporting the Taliban.

Tension, tension.

6/14/2008 09:15:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Anonymouse -- really?

Well it's a *really* dark frontier and hard to see!

My bad.

6/14/2008 09:19:00 AM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

How do you transport 1500 people on motorcycles, that's what I'd like to know.

6/14/2008 09:53:00 AM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

or 1,200 or 350

6/14/2008 09:57:00 AM  
Blogger Charles said...

OT: a poster at freerepublic makes the comment that leftist seem to value knowledge over wisdom. then he asks why is that? an interesting thread ensues.

6/14/2008 11:24:00 AM  
Blogger davod said...

One problem with handing rat bags to a third party if caught by US forces. The JAG lawyer will say it is illegal to hand anyone over to a country who may torture the rat bag.

As no one in that part of the world can be trusted to be nice to ratbags (Except for the ones who just let them go) then the US will have to keep them.

6/14/2008 01:38:00 PM  
Blogger davod said...

PS:

I foresee a massive increase in the combat deployed division of the JAG Corps, logically, followed by the appointment of a five star JAG as the next Chairman of the Joint Chiefs.

6/14/2008 01:41:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

This may be the scariest thing I've ever read.
(What don't people get about someone that votes left of the one Socialist in the Senate?)
---
Dismayed Republicans emerge as Barack Obama supporters -

WHAT do the daughter of Richard Nixon, a speechwriter for Ronald Reagan and the son of Milton Friedman, the monetarist economist, have in common? They are all Obamacons: conservatives, Republicans and free market champions who support Barack Obama, the Democratic party nominee, for president.

The Obama campaign has a sharp-eyed political operations team tasked with seeking out prominent endorsers “on both sides of the aisle”, according to a campaign official. It came tantalisingly close to securing one of the biggest names in politics when Colin Powell, secretary of state during President George W Bush’s first term in office, said last week that he might vote for Obama.

Powell said Obama and John McCain, his Republican opponent, “have the qualifications to be president, but both of them cannot be”. He added that he would neither vote for Obama because he was African-Ameri-can nor for McCain because of his military service but for the individual who “brings the best set of tools to the problems of 21st-century America . . . regardless of party”.

His argument was echoed by Peggy Noonan..

6/14/2008 07:17:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...


Uncle Barack's Cabin !

6/14/2008 07:24:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

I foresee a massive increase in the combat deployed division of the JAG Corps

Funny. I see foresee a massive increase in on-the-battlefield deaths, followed by a massive decrease in captured prisoners of war.

6/14/2008 09:50:00 PM  
Blogger JDM_Car said...

How come with the latest technology such as satellite image and gps us troops cant identify???...sad but true

GMC Yukon Denali

6/14/2008 11:02:00 PM  
Blogger Brian H said...

eggplant;
"A" Swiftboat? There are many separate ones. His Muslim brother is one. Then the zoo of Chicago backroom boyz. Then Ayre's program. Then the Wright goldmine. Then the Farrakhan BLT connections. Then the terrorist backers from FARQ to Hamas. Then dear Michelle's outpourings and connections. Then the Soros-Winfrey Axis. Etc.

There are people willing to object to his distortions from all those sources. There's so much it may be too much.

6/15/2008 02:12:00 AM  
Blogger davod said...

"Funny. I see foresee a massive increase in on-the-battlefield deaths, followed by a massive decrease in captured prisoners of war."

Then you do not understand the pervasiveness of lawfare.

6/15/2008 03:55:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

RE: satellite imagery, I'm sure it's working quite well. The hitch remains in the definition between "police person" and "terrorist", so that to an American if those entities are shooting at American soldiers, they are terrorists and deserve to be taken out. To an Afghan or Pakistan (or sometimes Iraqi) Muslim, the same entity is merely a hardworking local so let's call him a policeman and see if we can get some blood money.

* * *

Then you do not understand the pervasiveness of lawfare.

Ahhhh, Ambulance-Chasers of Tora Bora. Sounds like a concept, but the networks would probably pass it over because of the expense in mounting the production. Plus, no one would ever watch it because there'd be no one to root for -- no good guys. Except for the poor American soldier on trial for murder, that is.

6/15/2008 08:49:00 AM  
Blogger eggplant said...

Brian H said:

"A Swiftboat? There are many separate ones. His Muslim brother is one. Then the zoo of Chicago backroom boyz. Then Ayre's program..."

The secret to taking down B. Hussein is timing and scheduling. Supposably George McGovern's popularity was 42% shortly after he was nominated the Democratic candidate. Of course after McGovern's nomination, Nixon's operatives began their work and McGovern was eventually crushed in the general election.

The life cycle for a typical news story is about 3 weeks. It takes about a week for a story to percolate to national consciousness and then about 2 weeks to be forgotten. McCain's people will need to schedule the dirt they have on B. Hussein such that new scandal appears as old scandal is being forgotten. The level of scandal needs to be incremented to greater levels of shock until the worst appears about one to two weeks before the general election. No serious Swift Boating should begin until after B. Hussein was anointed as the presidential candidate (the Democratic leadership might swap in someone else if the process was started too early). I would start with criminal and drug related scandal for the first third of the election. Any sexual misconduct should come out early to get the public's attention properly focused. For the second third of the campaign, I would shift to stupid and treasonous comments made by Michelle. If I had any videos related to Michelle, I'd play them during the second third of the campaign. For the last third, I'd bring out stupid and treasonous material from B. Hussein himself and give his wife a rest. Anything I had that was an impeachable offense, I'd save for about three weeks before the general election.

6/15/2008 05:36:00 PM  
Blogger Yashmak said...

WHAT do the daughter of Richard Nixon, a speechwriter for Ronald Reagan and the son of Milton Friedman, the monetarist economist, have in common? They are all Obamacons: conservatives, Republicans and free market champions who support Barack Obama, the Democratic party nominee, for president.

Could it be that they also have the long view in common? Perhaps they realize that 4 years of Obama may result in large portions of the electorate ending up entirely disillusioned of the Democratic party program, allowing the election of a Republican Presidential candidate of a more conservative nature.

But then again, I don't really see many of our politicians taking the long view these days.

6/16/2008 11:51:00 AM  

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