Thursday, December 27, 2007

Moving On

Bill Roggio notices that al-Qaeda has claimed credit for assassinating Benazir Bhutto.

Al Qaeda's central command is taking credit for today's successful assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. A senior al Qaeda military leader in Afghanistan has contacted Syed Saleem Shahzad, a Pakistani journalist for the Asia Times and Adnkronos International with close connections to the Taliban and al Qaeda, and bragged about killing Bhutto. "We terminated the most precious American asset which vowed to defeat [the] mujahadeen," Mustafa Abu al Yazid, al Qaeda's commander in Afghanistan, told Mr. Shazad. The attack was reportedly ordered at the highest levels of al Qaeda.

But that doesn't mean that no one in Pakistani uniform is involved. In Pakistan, al-Qaeda sympathizers are sometimes to be found in the ranks of the armed forces themselves. Roggio writes:

Based on the sophistication of the Bhutto assassination, al Qaeda and the Taliban were very likely assisted by infiltrators and sympathizers in the Pakistani military and Inter Services Intelligence agency.

Of course, al-Qaeda has also publicly claimed responsibility for attacking the World Trade Center on several occasions but that has not convinced those who believe the CIA, the Mossad or even unknown private parties are responsible. While it would be fair to say al-Qaeda was at least one of those who wanted Bhutto dead, her death presents a opportunity for those looking to push their own political agendas.

There have been calls to "redeploy from Iraq, switch our focus to Afghanistan, as well as the border to Pakistan" which more or less beg the question of how forces in Afghanistan can be supplied through Pakistan for the purpose of intervening in Pakistan itself. Afghanistan is bordered to the east and southeast by Pakistan, the west by Iran, and to the north by Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikstan. The nearest ocean is 275 due south. In November, 2007, the American Forces Press Service reported the existence contingency plans to supply coalition forces in Afghanistan if Pakistan is lost.

Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said ... the supply line issue “is a very real area of concern for our commanders in Afghanistan, because 75 percent of all of our supplies for our troops in Afghanistan flow either through or over Pakistan.” This includes about 40 percent of the fuel shipped to U.S. forces, which comes directly from Pakistani refineries. No ammunition goes through Pakistan, the press secretary said. “Supplies to our troops in Afghanistan continue to flow freely through Pakistan, and for that we are grateful,” he said. “But the U.S. is not taking the passage for granted. Planners are working on contingency supply lines to our troops if it becomes necessary to alter the way we now support our troops.”

One sure formula for creating a military disaster is to deploy large numbers of American troops at the end of a long supply line through Pakistan and then proceed to involve it in a Pakistani civil war. But I digress. There are other ways to commit suicide. Bill Richardson calls on his website for the US government to force President Musharraf to step down from office.

We must use our diplomatic leverage and force the enemies of democracy to yield: President Bush should press Musharraf to step aside, and a broad-based coalition government, consisting of all the democratic parties, should be formed immediately. Until this happens, we should suspend military aid to the Pakistani government. Free and fair elections must also be held as soon as possible.

It's hard to quarrel with Richardson's idea that a "broad-based coalition ... of all the democratic parties should be formed immediately" but saying so won't make it happen. And should the call to "force the enemies of democracy to yield" include the Taliban and al-Qaeda? Aren't they the ones who just claimed credit for the murder of Benazir Bhutto? See, we've forgotten that little possibility already?

Therefore what should we do? The first is to accept Jules Crittenden's common sense assertion that "this war is far from over. This war is no artificial Bush creation or figment of anyone’s imagination, and should still be very much part of our own election, wishful thinking notwithstanding." One of the real problems with the War On Terror is that unlike the Cold War of the late 20th century there is no bipartisan consensus on how to wage it. Even today -- even after the death of Benazir Bhutto -- events abroad are being weighed, not for the peril they represent in their own right, but as opportunities to score points in the 2008 elections. The second is to forge a broad national strategy around the idea that Pakistan, not Afghanistan, is now the major theater of operations in Southwest Asia. Such a strategy may require military components, but for the moment it requires mostly competent political, intelligence and information operations. It may require joint diplomacy with China, India and Russia; it will require adroit political maneuvering within Pakistan. But above all it will require that we remember the names of our enemies -- the same ones who attacked Manhattan on September 11 -- require we remember their connections eastward to the centers of Islamic radicalism and their addiction to totalitarian processes. But my guess is that many will simply find the mental challenge too hard. Why can't we just "move on"?


Blogger tckurd said...

To move on, Wretchard, requires obliteration of the enemy, something the US will not do, even if the People of the US think we should do it.

12/27/2007 01:07:00 PM  
Blogger Doc99 said...

The only acceptable outcome is Ronald Reagan's "We win, They lose." Anything less would be suicidal.

12/27/2007 01:51:00 PM  
Blogger Skip said...

It's hard to believe that at least some parts of the ISI aren't complicit in this. If you look on the photos taken right before the assassination that are on you'll see that she's in an open topped car, with throngs of people right on there. There's no security.

That almost certainly had to be intentional. And if it was always like that then it was only a matter of time before this happened.

12/27/2007 01:53:00 PM  
Blogger samuel_el said...

Let's hope that in the future we will look on this day for the supreme irony that it may represent. That Al-Qaeda and Islamic extremists, who use martyrdom as a tool both for combat and propoganda, may have created the first muslim martyr for freedom, who could be embraced by the silent muslim majority who've been waiting to see how this struggle will play out.

The wonderful thing about martyrs, is despite any flaws they may have had during life, their martyrdom acquires a mythic standing that cannot be destroyed with bullets or bombs. The media spin machine is already in high gear in the west, will it be joined by similar tones in the muslim media? It's going to be interesting to see how this one plays out.

In the end, how it plays on the Muslim street may determine the future of this entire conflict.

12/27/2007 02:11:00 PM  
Blogger hdgreene said...

I think this Afghan Arab Commander may have screwed the pooch for AQ. Everyone wants to be clever enough to blame this one on Musharraf but now you got to be that clever and explain why old Mustafa would go step in the cow pie this way. Remember, those who blame the CIA for 9/11 also admire Bin Laden for doing it. So it's in their interest to so believe (or pretend they do).

Working on the theory that even Pakistanis don't want live in a country consumed by the fires of revolution and civil war (for the betterment of radical Arabs?), I suspect it's in everyone's interest to take old Mustafa at his word.

Since everyone thinks "elements" of the ISI is involved with AQ, I'd look for the arrest, timely trial and prompt execution of a few ISI types. Call it a cynical show of house cleaning if you will (that's what it will be). But it's also a "warning to the others." Also, look for deals to be struck in the tribal areas that results in a lot of the "outsiders" -- if not the big two themselves -- coughed up like hair balls.

As for Bill Richardson, he's running for Vice President and this is his way of saying he's no Dick Cheney.

Of course maybe the Pakistanis want their streets to run with blood. I haven't been there so I must admit that it's possible. I just think it is in their interest to let AQ take the blame, and stop beating up on each other and start beating up on them. They can beat up on each other later.

12/27/2007 02:17:00 PM  
Blogger El Jefe Maximo said...

If Pakistan goes totally south, supplying US/NATO forces in Afghanistan would be even more interesting given the hostility of Iran, and the unwillingness of Russia and China to assist in any way at pulling American chestnuts out of the fire.

Anybody got a copy of the Anabasis lying around, or remember the First Afghan War ?

12/27/2007 02:20:00 PM  
Blogger Lucky Pierre said...

Samuel_el: The wonderful thing about martyrs, is despite any flaws they may have had during life, their martyrdom acquires a mythic standing that cannot be destroyed with bullets or bombs.

And the irony is that the martyr this time is a woman. A Muslim woman killed by a Muslim man committing suicide. Which one does Allah reward?

12/27/2007 02:32:00 PM  
Blogger Whiskey said...

AQ is not stupid. They are close to pushing out Musharraf and getting control of nukes. Nothing the US can do about it given political paralysis except wait for US cities to be nuked.

Then and only then, will America finally respond. With a terrible resolve to make Total War against Muslims, all Muslims, everywhere.

This is a terrible tragedy. But now unstoppable.

12/27/2007 03:17:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

The problem in Pakistan is that it is allowed to exist. There are many peoples in Pakistan. Peoples that do not want to be part of Pakistan. The solution is in granting these peoples their autonomy and independence from Pakistan. Unfortunately, the imperialist swine that sit in Moscow, Beijing, Washington, Brussels, Karachi, etc, would rather the world go through a nuclear holocaust than give up their imperial ambitions.

12/27/2007 03:41:00 PM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...

This is a terrible tragedy. But now unstoppable.

I don't think all Muslims are bent on self-destruction. Look at the Jihadi prisoners there are. David Hicks in Australia says he can't function from nightmares the US military will pick him up again. He's no Bobby Sands. The entire al-Qaeda has proven less determined that the Princess Lily brigade of Japanese nurses on Okinawa.

And I think that's a good thing. Most Muslims want to live. This means there's an opportunity to make alliances in Pakistan, if we can rid ourselves of baggage, if we can be smart. Petraeus proved that muscle allied to intelligence can work wonders. The muscle is there. But is the intelligence?

12/27/2007 03:48:00 PM  
Blogger Lucky Pierre said...

Whiskey_199, what a sad man you are, that you look forward to total war.

12/27/2007 04:52:00 PM  
Blogger Peter Grynch said...

To some extent her death stemmed directly from her failure to grasp the nature of the enemy.

"I don’t believe that a true Muslim will make an attack on me... Islam forbids suicide bombings ... Anyone who attacks me would burn in hell," she said.

She said she wanted to create for the people of Pakistan a country "where they have opportunities for employment, economic well-being, the primacy of civilian rule and a society free of extremism".

How many American presidential candidates currently want only to address social issues and claim the War on Terror was made up by George W. Bush? Quite a few...

12/27/2007 06:02:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Francine, alternatively, what a pathetic creampuff you might be, to be in such a state of denial.

Personally, I'm wondering how to get India all riled up again, and ready to step on Pakistan's tail, just to see what would happen if Musharref was looking at NATO coming at him from Afghanistan, India coming at him from the other direction, and America sitting sternly with all outgoing airports covered if he tries to flee the mess he has created. I think it's gonna be fun.

And I *am* looking forward to him trying to pop off one of Khan's little outdated nukes, too, a la the Great Leader's experiment last summer.

12/27/2007 06:04:00 PM  
Blogger Lucky Pierre said...

Israel Paper Tiger, Says Syria

A senior Syrian official warned Israel on Thursday that its army had lost its aura of invincibility since its better-armed troops failed to overpower Hizbullah during the summer war of 2006.

Police are reportedly investigating whether the young men mauled by a tiger at the San Francisco Zoo taunted the animal, a possibility the father of one of the victims said Thursday he hoped wasn't true.

12/27/2007 06:28:00 PM  
Blogger Whiskey said...

Francine -- predicting a Tsunami is not the same as wanting it. It's certainly a horror. But probably now unstoppable.

I am frankly shocked at your massive delusion in apprehending reality. What, the good tooth fairy will wave her magic wand and make everything all right? You're guilty of magical thinking.

Wretchard -- Possession of a nuclear arsenal has been AQ's primary goal since it's inception. Nuclear weapons vault them into superpower status. At the most benign they can carry out actions under a nuclear umbrella, safe from ANY American sanction. Demand release of KSM, and other 9/11 Jihadis. David Hicks may fear the US military but rest assured a man like Ayman al-Zawhari does not.

Pakistan's nukes are a great big prize to whoever can seize them. Musharraf is weak and unable to hold power. Men with guns and bombs rule. They just made a point of the impotence of the old regime by ... well killing it's symbol.

That was the whole point. Not that Bhutto herself would "save" the country from the Jihadists/Islamists. But that in killing her a very public message was sent to everyone in Pakistan -- the Islamists and AQ in particular can kill ANYONE. Even Bhutto. The symbol of the old secularist order.

Who can stop them?

Only a brutal counter-terror on the order of the Dirty War in Argentina or Pinochet or Castro's Cuba can crush AQ and their Taliban-Pashtun allies. Musharraf lacks both the constitution and ability to carry that out.

Therefore, it is inevitable that he too will fall as Bhutto did, or be intimidated into exile and someone as an AQ figurehead will rule. Giving their master what they want -- nukes.

Imagine say, DC being nuked out of existence and Ayman al-Zawahari demanding on the internet a whole host of concessions amounting to surrender to save other US cities. Pakistan officially shrugs and looks away, puzzled.

I don't see much to stop it. And once American cities or a city vanishes, everything changes. Because only brutal responses will prevent further nuclear attacks. Like mobilization in June-July 1914.

12/27/2007 07:26:00 PM  
Blogger Cannoneer No. 4 said...

. . . forge a broad national strategy around the idea that Pakistan, not Afghanistan, is now the major theater of operations in Southwest Asia. Such a strategy may require military components, but for the moment it requires mostly competent political, intelligence and information operations.

wretchard, I don't see much evidence of American competence in any of those three areas. It is now too late in the game to generate expertise out of thin air. We need thousands of Top Secret-cleared Pashto-fluent field officers, interrogators, interviewers, Human Terrain Team analysts, combat anthropologists with bags of St. George's Cavalry and a high tolerance for tea. Six years later we still don't have them.

I've never been to Pakistan, but I have spent some time next door. Everything that is not flown in comes overland from the port of Karachi, or, in the case of petroleum, oil and lubricants, from the Islamabad region. Those fuel trucks get shot up. Banditos own stretches of highway and demand tribute. Warlords confiscate a truck or two as "taxes." And this is on the Pak side. When the fuel bladders go flat at the Tank Farm, the C-17's and Il-76's don't come in.

ISAF cannot be logistically supported by air alone.

jefe, the March Down Country has the potential to turn into an epic military retrograde. And this time Chesty Puller may be a Canadian.

12/27/2007 08:42:00 PM  
Blogger Cannoneer No. 4 said...

41,741 NATO troops in Afghanistan
15,038 US
7,753 GBR
1,730 CDN
892 AUS
74 NZ

12/27/2007 09:10:00 PM  
Blogger El Jefe Maximo said...

"St. George's Cavalry" eh ? Careful cannoneer, or the lefties will get the vapors over possible violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

"ISAF cannot be logistically supported by air alone." Indeed you are right, and it makes me think of somebody, not so long ago, who promised his boss he could supply a big army far from home totally by air over, to say the least, some hostile airspace.

The movement from Chosin Reservoir to Hungnam was indeed an "epic military retrograde." Pray God we don't wind up repeating it, but nobody ever sees that one coming.

12/27/2007 09:11:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Cannoneer No. 4,

You fundamentally misunderstand the situation. The "Talibanization" of Waziristan is a deliberate Pakistani scheme to prevent independence from Pakistan. AQ is a tool of the Pakistani Secret Service.

You want to put an end to AQ? End American financial and military support to Pakistan.

12/27/2007 09:14:00 PM  
Blogger Triton'sPolarTiger said...


I believe, unfortunately, that some kind of nuke on American soil is nearly inevitable... and I take no joy in thinking this.

Retribution will not be total, however, until a 2nd nuke... sorry, but I believe our elites are THAT stupid, i.e. thinking that a single WMD response like nuking Islamabad will put an end to nuclear terror here.

It's hard to believe that anyone can be THAT delusional, but when you consider where they stand on other issues that touch on national genocide like amnesty for illegals, it becomes much less of a mental stretch.

12/27/2007 09:25:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I would also add, if we're concerned with Pakistani atomic weapons and their proliferation, why not make US diplomatic support for Pakistan contingent on them giving up all such weapons and the scientists that worked on them?

12/27/2007 09:35:00 PM  
Blogger Mike H. said...

"why not make US diplomatic support for Pakistan contingent on them giving up all such weapons and the scientists that worked on them?"

Is there a Chinese term to the Pakistani equation?

12/27/2007 10:18:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...


12/27/2007 11:05:00 PM  
Blogger ledger said...

I am extremely troubled by Bhutto’s murder and I agree with Wretchard that democrat Bill Richardson is playing her murder like a partisan fiddle.

Let’s examine this situation from and intellectual point of view. Pakistan and Musharraf have aided the US in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

But, Paskistan and Musharraf have also worked both sides of street allowing murderous gangs such as al Qaeda to user their country as a base for terrorists’ attacks against our troops in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

The odor of radical Islamic jihad fills the air in Pakistan. There is very little resistance against these murderous groups.

In fact, Musharraf is barely hanging on by a thread. It is analogous to the Barney Fife trying to stop the Hell’s Angels. It’s time to liquidate these grotesque killers for our own good and good of the world.

Ms. Bhutto has been murdered in front of the world. People hate murders and they hate ineffectual sheriffs like Musharraf.

It’s time for “Dirty Harry” to do his thing or as the tag line goes: “You don't assign him to murder cases, You just turn him loose.”

People are disgusted with this type of brazen terror against people like Ms. Bhutto. Countries not survive with terrorists dictating who will live and who will die. It is time to unleash the special ops and turn “Dirty Harry” loose.

There is a list of High Value Targets in Pakistan. Let the special ops guys do their job. Do it while people are fed up – strike while the iron is hot.

12/28/2007 12:09:00 AM  
Blogger Shawn said...

Am I the only one here who read the discussion on an Indian military website about how to carve up Pakistan WHEN, not IF, it collapses?

NATO etc CAN pull out of the area, in the sense of physically leaving. It might not be the smart move but they can do it. India and China ARE STUCK with what the Indian military habitually call The Terrorist State of Pakistan and the Afghans as neighbours.

Pakistan only exists because the Indians calculation that swallowing it is more trouble than it is worth, particularly given the Pak's Chinese alliance.

But that alliance is pure geopolitics. How long will it last if they are suddenly stuck with a nuclear armed Talibanistan? Are we talking weeks, days, hours or picoseconds here?

12/28/2007 02:02:00 AM  
Blogger watimebeing said...

Al Qaeda, along with the Taliban and their Afghan/Arab/Pakistani/Persian connections to the NW Frontier, has made a statement. The statement is the same in Kabul as it is in Islamabad. It does not matter what the statement is, as it is beyond any anchor to sanity, out of touch, out of logical odor, or rational martial ardor. Lunacy has many chaotic faces and it does not matter what words those faces mouth. What matters it what the receivers make of the message.

President Mushariff, if he has not burned all his political capital can make a great jihad in Bhutto's name and raise up Bhutto supporters to help lead the charge to cripple the tali ban and extremists in the NW Frontier. It will require a blood letting that has not been seen in the region for a couple of centuries at least.

It will also entail dismantling of most of the ISI and a thorough vetting of the army. Pervez Musharif can oversee the end of the strongman, and the beginning of a democratic state or he will be remembered as supporting the kinds of irreverent and irrelevant behaviors that stop Pakistan from gaining a consensus and submit Pakistan's future to the will of the terrorists.

I don't think their are many options left. The patience of the civilian population is worn thin at Mushariffs and the army's inability to bring the frontier under control or complete a power sharing agreement, (despite Bhutto's neat sidestep the President is still seen as the bad guy and The press is not his friend, either.) It is going to get ugly.

12/28/2007 04:05:00 AM  
Blogger Coach Mark said...

If this thing links back to Musharaff it's going to get even uglier in Pakistan.

12/28/2007 07:14:00 AM  
Blogger Karensky said...

Long time, no post.
IMHO we are all not taking into account the Pak military. Sure the ISI is playing footsie with AQ and the Taliban but the real player, Musharaf or no Musharaf, is the military. Now the AQ has chosen for the electorate a dictatorship extension rather than a corrupt, incompetent democratic government the responsibility falls to the military. The ISI is no match and the big game is now being played inside the Pak ISI between the pro AQ and the pro Pak branches.
The Saudi's cannot sit on this fence for long now that the Indians and the Chineses are being forced to take greater action.
Whether the military keeps Musharaf or not it is still up to the last standing institution in Pakistan took take charge. Judging by their past actions there will also be some serious cans of Whupass being used.

12/28/2007 07:40:00 AM  
Blogger Zenster said...

Almost to the bottom of the page and finally someone gets the big message:


ledger: It’s time to liquidate these grotesque killers for our own good and good of the world.

Either we begin scraping away the top tiers of Islamic radicalism or face bloodletting on a massive scale. Anyone deluded enough to worry that by adopting jihadi techniques we will become them needs to remember something:


Every day in Iraq, we spend enough money to kill Islam's top 100 terrorists. Our squeamish political elite has such a guild mentality that they cannot stomach the idea of killing other leaders. This closed-shop attitude is going to see a lot of people die needlessly. Try to remember just who it was that put the prohibition upon taking out foreign leaders, JIMMY CARTER. This one individual stands as a root cause and enabler of so much modern terrorism that it defies imagination.

12/28/2007 10:34:00 AM  

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