Friday, May 13, 2011

Leaks confirm the obvious: ISI met with Mullah Omar, and Pak Military trained Afghan Taliban fighters.

From Long War Journal


I know. Shocking isn't it?

From the 'You've got to be freaking kidding me?" department, Pakistan cubicle:

Via the Time Mag website, special blood-boiling edition: The PAK PM tells us WE have to work to regain HIS trust. We just don't know what HE's up against.

Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, in an exclusive interview with TIME — his first since the U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden — warned on Wednesday that continuing to work with the U.S. could imperil his government, unless Washington takes drastic steps to restore trust and win over 180 million Pakistanis. Despite the clamor of criticism in Washington alleging Pakistani duplicity over the fact that the al-Qaeda leader had been hiding out in the sleepy garrison town of Abbottabad, Gilani claimed the role of the aggrieved party in a deteriorating relationship. He complained repeatedly throughout the 45-minute breakfast interview about the widening "trust deficit" between the two allies...

Gilani warned that his government was accountable to an electorate that is increasingly ("increasingly"? are your serious???? ed) hostile to the U.S. "I am not an army dictator; I'm a public figure," the Prime Minister told TIME, speaking at his palatial hilltop residence in Islamabad. "If public opinion is against you [referring to his U.S. allies], then I cannot resist it to stand with you. I have to go with public opinion."

[Bangs head against wall. Veins popping. Blood pressure up...need to step away from the computer...must...control...urge...to...hurl objects..hurl epithets..at work..wouldn't be prudent...]

Pakistan: A Bush Doctrine syllogism:

Well, sort of...

This set of short opinion pieces on the way forward with our erstwhile friends the Paks makes for interesting reading. My take? All of them suggest we continue to put too much trust in the Pakistanis, largely for prudential reasons. OK. So what would I suggest? A serious application of the Bush Doctrine with an admixture of Sherman’s doctrine, if you will. Cowboy diplomacy with teeth:

This formally simple argument captures President Bush’s intent back in 2001:

1. Those who knowingly give material support and safe haven to our barbarian enemy will be made to feel significant and sustained negative consequences for giving that support unless and until the material support ceases. The means we will utilize and the intensity of negative consequences inflicted will be determined by our estimation of the likelihood the means under consideration will attain their ends; cessation of material support. We reserve the right to wage war as one such means. What is more, we are morally and legally permitted to do so, as long as we honor the tradition with regard to killing civilian populations and non-combatant immunity.

2. When attacked in 2001 we had already been aware that OBL/AQ was being given support and safe haven by Taliban Afghanistan. The attacks made apparent to us the Taliban led Afghan government had knowingly been aiding him while he planned and carried out attacks on our country.


3. Therefore: The Taliban government was made to feel significant consequences for their material support of the barbarian until the material support ceased. We waged war upon them because no other option offered realistic prospects of ending the material support. (We continue to wage war upon them. Their hold on the reigns of state ceased. Their ability to provide material support to groups that are our enemies has been degraded but still exists. The possibility still exists that they could regain the reins of power in Afghanistan. If we were to precipitously leave, that probability would increase to a degree unacceptable. We continue to diminish that ability through continued military action and other means. We will not leave Afghanistan until we deem it either impossible or very unlikely that conditions will revert to the 2001 state of affairs with regard to Afghan aid to the barbarian.)


This is a simple argument, roughly following the valid form modus ponens, or in the Aristotelian tradition, one can shoe-horn its content into the syllogism form “Barbara.”

One can construct an analogous argument in regard to Pakistan circa 2011:

1. Those who knowingly give material support and safe haven to our barbarian enemy will be made to feel significant and sustained negative consequences for giving that support unless and until the material support ceases. The means we will utilize and the intensity of negative consequences inflicted will be determined by our estimation of the likelihood the means under consideration will attain their ends; cessation of material support. We reserve the right to wage war as one such means. What is more, we are morally and legally permitted to do so, as long as we honor the tradition with regard to civilian populations and non-combatant immunity.

2. When attacked in 2001 we had already been aware that OBL/AQ was being given support and safe haven by Pakistani Taliban and elements of the Pakistani government (military, the ISI). Subsequent intelligence, arrests and CIA led actions have made it apparent to us the Pakistani government has for at least 6 year knowingly been aiding OBL/AQ while he planned and carried out attacks on our country.

3. The Pakistani government will be made to feel significant and sustained consequences for their material support of the barbarian until the material support ceases. We reserve the right to wage war if no other option offers realistic prospects of ending the material support. In any event, they will be made to feel significant and sustained consequences of their actions until their ability to provide material support to groups that are our enemies has been eliminated or seriously degraded. We will not cease until we deem it either impossible or very unlikely that conditions will revert to the 2011 state of affairs with regard to aid to the barbarian.

___________________________________________________________________________

Notice; the second argument, like the Afghan version ‘reserves the right’ to wage war. This indicates that war is not the option of first resort. As with the Afghans of 2001, the argument states that alternatives methods will first be implemented, and if they fail to produce, war can be initiated. What non-war options exist? The traditional sorts are explored in the NYT pieces. (And we cannot move forward without a reminder that some of them have been tried, and failed):

A first, and non-starter, is to conduct business as usual with Pakistan, tolerating the odd sacrificial lamb offered us, in fear that a complete severance of relationship would somehow leave us worse off than if we knowingly continue to go along with their double game.

Such toleration in the past was morally problematic. Such toleration today would be morally odious. Such tolerance today would indicate to the Pakistanis that the people of the United States are willing to continue in tolerance of the double game in full knowledge that all along Pakistan had been hiding OBL while protesting they had no idea where he was. This is simply unacceptable. To coin a phrase; it is to play the “weak horse” in a part of the world that despises the weak horse.

All worry about control of nukes and cutting off supposedly valuable intel and military aid, and hand wringing about the Pakistani government falling into the hands of Islamists simply doesn’t wash in the face of this glaring insult. We already have a Pakistani government that, if not in the hands of Islamists, is at least partially in control of sympathizers. At best, we get partial and cherry-picked intel and military aid. No doubt they provide similar aid to our barbarian enemy. They play both sides. We cannot be perceived as accepting this any longer. This is what a decade of increased ‘welfare’ payments has wrought. Those that advocated we knowingly play the PAK game and throw more money at them were wrong then, and would be doubly wrong going forward. A radical departure from business as usual is in order.

We have tolerated a double dealing partner that takes about 2 to 3 billion from us each year. There is not now, nor have we ever had a regime of robust accountability concerning use of these funds, nor have we any real idea how or to whom the funds are distributed. We open our coffers, and dump the money into their coffers. We trust them, or tolerate them. We do not check.

It is likely if not certain that we have funded the double game. This means we gave funding for the killing of our own people in Afghanistan. This should not continue.

What is more, we cannot assure ourselves that any well intentioned (soft power) aid we gave or will give for civil or humanitarian purposes in Pakistan will actually be used for those purposes. What is more, even if it is so used, this frees up Pakistani domestic funds for the double game. If they are not paying for schools and libraries because we are, they can use their own money elsewhere.

Also, consider this: Even if our funding does produce schools and other civilian infrastructure, we cannot expect that the Pakistani government will conspicuously give us credit for the aid. Rather, we can expect that it will continue to feed its deeply conspiratorial populace anti-American propaganda from its left hand as it takes our money with its open right hand.

It is obvious from the track record that we cannot rely on the Pakistanis to police themselves with regard to use of our aid. It is evident that we cannot rely on Pakistani promises, verbal or written. If we are to continue to give such aid, we will have to police them.

Therefore: we cannot continue to give aid unless we are given a legitimate accountability. Not vague promises, but actual accountability that we can verify beyond any reasonable doubt.

So; the proper reaction to the present state of affairs is to curtail aid until this level of reassurance is given, and a compliance regime is in place to provide it. I would suspect that this would require that we have people in the country that can vigorously pursue verification, without any hindrance.

It is not up to us to suggest a compliance regime for the Pakistanis. It is up to them to offer one. If it looks to be practicable for us, we can consider provisional reinstatement of a significantly smaller amount of aid than we presently give. If after a trial period, the accountability regime satisfies us, we can increase aid after a 2 year period, along with a requisite increased level of accountability. If, on the other hand, after that provisional period, the accountability regime does not satisfy us, we will permanently discontinue aid.

If the Pakistanis choose to forgo the aid, we will not protest. However, we will maintain a significant presence in Afghanistan, and will be positioned to take military action if the material aid to the barbarian continues. We reserve the right to undertake such actions at any time, and without notice.

In that circumstance, we will also enforce the Afghan Pakistan border in a more vigorous fashion, in a way similar to how Iraq was treated during the 1990s. Any attacks on our aircraft or personnel will be considered an act of war. We will respond, and not in a piecemeal fashion.

We will also cultivate our significantly more reciprocal relationship with India, a country not only politically and economically more congenial, but more ideologically akin. We will leverage that partnership vigorously. We will make this very apparent to the Pakistanis. Any attack on India will be considered an attack on an ally.

We will make apparent to the Pakistanis, in regard to use of nuclear weapons against allies or ourselves, that a policy of overwhelming response will be followed. We will also make contingency plans to secure the nuclear weapons if the Pakistani state fails.

With regard to any AQ enemy within the borders of Pakistan, we will, in any eventuality, reserve the right to military action against them at any time. Any resistance offered by the Pakistani military will be firmly met.

Lastly: the argument has focused, as it should, on the Pakistani state, which, troublingly, like all states, is a reflection of the Pakistani people.

We can well imagine W.T. Sherman asking this exit question: Given the deeply ingrained anti-Americanism in Pakistan and the propensity to cheer from the safe confines of the "sidelines" is the Pakistani population not unlike the well-heeled Southern gentry of my day, who needed to feel the hardships of war before a general will to surrender came into being? If so, then we need to break the broader cultural context, we need to break the will to tolerate cheer or support the barbarians fighting the West, and America in particular.

Will long term extirpation of this will to tolerate, cheer and support require us to (in the phrasing of the argument)"inflict significant and sustained negative consequences" on the Pakistani people more broadly construed?

No doubt, Sherman would hasten to add this does not entail killing civilians as we did in Japan and Germany. No. And he would hasten to add that he didn’t kill civilians. He did destroy property, and severely inconvenience the southern landed class while he also destroyed materials of war, and vital economic commodities and infrastructure needed for the war effort. Similarly, he may say it may eventuate that the Pakistani populace will need to be made uncomfortable, distressed, and burdened by their continued moral support for our barbarian enemy. I say “may eventuate” purposefully, for that broad targeting may not have to be the action of first resort.

We may begin, as Sherman did, by making the influential uncomfortable. They are the ones playing the game, and creating the climate in Pakistan. That would mean we target all the usual suspects (the Pak government, the ISI, and army). We can do this by way of traditional means (cutting off money, diplomatic contacts, and impositions of sanctions) but can include newer means (cyber attacks on critical governmental information and communications infrastructure, covert actions, etc...)  The plan should also include concerted efforts to similarly inconvenience the propagandists (media and religious leaders that regularly preach the anti-Americanism).   However exactly it is to be done, constant and regular pressure inconvenience and discomfiture must typify their lives.

Sherman might say this would be enough to do the trick, especially if the army simply could not afford to do its job.   

Are we willing to do this? And how exactly would we do this? What is more, how would this approach square with the 'hearts and minds' approach? Indeed, can they be applied concurrently? I suspect the answer is yes.

Islamabad Ike double-dog dares us.




This NYT story concerning General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the guy presently at the head of the Pak military, says it all. You see, our old buddy Arsefaq…er...Ashfaq…


“..seems unlikely to respond to American demands to root out other militant leaders, according to people who have met with him in the last 10 days.

While the general does not want to abandon the alliance completely, he is more likely to pursue a strategy of decreasing Pakistan’s reliance on the United States, and continuing to offer just enough cooperation to keep the billions of dollars in American aid flowing, said a confidant of the general who has spoken with him recently.”

In other words, he’s going to attempt more of the same. The ball is now in our court. Are we going to tolerate this? The Paks are betting we will, and like good Washington lobbyists, are going to the press with their arguments. From the story:

With the United States eager to wind down in Afghanistan, Washington needs Pakistan more than ever, a factor that would play into the general’s next moves, said Gen. Javed Ashraf Qazi, a former director general of Pakistan’s chief spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, or ISI, who met with General Kayani recently.

“Without Pakistani support, the United States cannot win the battle in Afghanistan,” he said. “Now the Americans are saying, please bring the Taliban to the table.”

There are two elements to the bet being place here:

1 The Paks seem to be making the claim that they are best positioned to deliver Taliban negotiators to the table. They seem to be claiming we would not be able to negotiate with Taliban without their intercession. In earlier sections, the NYT story makes clear why:

The United States will now push harder than ever for General Kayani to break relations with other militant leaders who American officials believe are hiding in Pakistan, with the support of the military and intelligence service, a senior American official said.

These leaders include Mullah Muhammad Omar, the spiritual leader of the Afghan Taliban; the allied militant network of Sirajuddin Haqqani; and Lashkar-e-Taiba, the group that the United States holds responsible for the terrorist attack in Mumbai, India, in 2008, the American official said
.


Putting aside the considerable question of the practical or moral advisability of negotiating with the barbarian Talibs, one can certainly question the veracity of this Pakistani claim. Surely there are Taliban connected contacts within Afghanistan. We can get them to the table without Islamabad's help.

2. We need Pakistan’s continued cooperation for logistical reasons in our Afghan fight. To attempt insertion of men and material from any other place would be difficult, geographically politically, or both. In fact, things would be sufficiently difficult to assure our ultimate failure in Afghanistan. Consider the surrounding ‘Stans: Uzbeki.., Turkmeni.., and Tajiki... The Ruskies would have to be assuaged in order to move into these places, and that would be a tall order. ‘Add to that, forbidding geography, lack of access to the Arabian Sea, and you have a real disincentive to dump us Uncle Sam. You have no real options. You need our airspace. The only other bordering countries are Iran and China. We don’t have to remind you of that. So, just stick with us. We are your best bet.’

This is indeed, the best case the Paks have for our acquiescing in slimy business-as-usual. The response to this double-dog dare? Don’t blink:

The Paks need our aid more than we need theirs. Short term, what would the worst case scenario be for us? If the Pakistanis are right about this second claim, and we decide to cut off their welfare payments, we lose Afghanistan. We do not suffer a significant loss in terms of our world-wide military superiority and strength nor would this be devastating for national security. It would hurt. We would take a hit, but would not be debilitating. The U.S. would survive, and would be able to maintain an intimidating presence in that part of the world, Afghanistan or not.

Ok, now look at the other side. If we cut the Paks off what is the best case scenario for them? Vague answer from the story:

Since the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, the United States has granted more than $20 billion in military and development assistance, an amount that does not include covert aid, according to K. Alan Kronstadt , the South Asian Affairs specialist at the Congressional Research Service.

Cutting ties would be extremely costly for the Pakistani military, said Shuja Nawaz , head of the South Asia Center at the Atlantic Council in Washington.

Putting these numbers in perspective, that’s roughly 2 billion a year in above-the-table aid coming from the USG teat. The Pak military budget is roughly 5.5 to 6 billion a year. Now supposing we make no efforts to convince the French (Pak Air Force best friend) to cut off or severely curtail aid, but we do shut down the pump in Washington; that is still a sizeable chunk, a 33% reduction in budget. If we were to couple that move with a concomitant cutting off of the roughly 400 million a year in economic and diplomatic aid (soft power stuff) we provide, while redoubling friendship with that big bad thorn-in-the-side/bogie-man directly to Pakistan’s Southeast, India, well, things could get very interesting for Islamabad Ike and his buddies. Very interesting. Civil War perhaps. The elements they have played against each other might see an opening. The figure-head Pak government teeters. The populace grows restless; India gets nervous, builds up along its Pak border as precaution.

Like I said, the Paks need us more than we need them. I say, call the bluff. Triple dog dare them. By this point it would not amount to a “slight breech of etiquette.”