August 1, 2007


Obama Might Send Troops Into Pakistan (NEDRA PICKLER, 8/01/07, Associated Press)

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said Wednesday that he would send troops into Pakistan to hunt down terrorists even without local permission if warranted—an attempt to show strength when his chief rival has described his foreign policy skills as naive.

Only melanin keeps people from shredding this boob. Let's give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that it's ignorance rather than an actual lack of intelligence that would prompt the notion of sending American troops to try and impose order on a remote region that has never had any. The only American options for the tribal areas that are consistent with pure national security concerns are to utterly depopulate it or establish a level of control and oppression sufficient to accomplish nearly the same thing. Neither is a fit task for the American soldier.

Simmering discord in the tribal badlands (Selig S. Harrison, August 1, 2007, Boston Globe)

THE ALARMING growth of Al Qaeda and the Taliban in the Pashtun tribal region of northwest Pakistan and southern Afghanistan is usually attributed to the popularity of their messianic brand of Islam and to covert help from Pakistani intelligence agencies. But another, more ominous reason also explains their success: their symbiotic relationship with a simmering Pashtun separatist movement that could lead to the unification of the estimated 41 million Pashtuns on both sides of the border, the breakup of Pakistan and Afghanistan, and the emergence of a new national entity, "Pashtunistan," under radical Islamist leadership. [...]

The radicalization of the Pashtun areas has intensified both Islamist zealotry and Pashtun nationalism. In the conventional wisdom, either Islamist or Pashtun identity will triumph, but a more plausible possibility is that the result could be what the former Pakistani diplomat Hussain Haqqani has called an "Islamic Pashtunistan."

At a Washington seminar March 1, convened by the Pakistan Embassy, the Pakistani ambassador, Mahmud Ali Durrani, a Pashtun, commented that "I hope the Taliban and Pashtun nationalism don't merge. If that happens, we've had it, and we're on the verge of that."

What should the United States do to defuse the "Pashtunistan" time bomb?

First, in both Afghanistan and the FATA, minimize airstrikes that risk civilian casualties, relying to a greater extent on commandos and special forces.

Second, encourage Karzai to put leading Pashtuns from the large Ghilzai tribes into key security posts in Kabul, replacing minority Tajiks. Ghilzais dominate the Taliban.

Third, press for a civilian government in Pakistan that will implement the 1973 constitution, which gives provincial autonomy to the Pashtun, Baluch, and Sindhi minorities. To offset Punjabi domination, Pashtuns want a consolidated Pashtun state that would link the FATA with the Pashtun-majority areas of the Northwest Frontier Province and Baluchistan. The FATA could then participate in Pakistani politics and secular Pashtun forces led by the National Awami Party would be strengthened.

An Islamist Pashtunistan is eminently desirable because it becomes fair game for the sort of treatment we adminstered to Japan.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 1, 2007 9:22 AM

There has never been any chance of the Dems nominating anyone but Hillary. Obama gets lots of attention because he's something to write about besides her.

For all the moaning from the right and crowing from the left about next year's elections, we should all remember the brutally one-sided Cheney-Edwards debate from 2004. Does anyone think that Hillary (or Obama, but there's zero chance of that) is going to be able to do any better one-on-one against Rudy or McCain (writing him off completely is silly, although it does look pretty bleak)?

Posted by: b at August 1, 2007 11:56 AM

The rules of the debate will be written to favor the dem. There will be no give and take and the media spin will be that the Republican lost big time.

Posted by: erp at August 1, 2007 1:08 PM

How's his statement that much different from, "We will make no distinction between terrorists and the nations that harbor them"?

Nations can assert control over their territory in a way that prevents terrorist groups from maintaining large training facilities, or the United States can take out those training facilities and cells without regard to borders or for the feelings of the government that can't/won't control its own territory.

That's not the same as saying we will occupy the country for many years, though. Waziristan does not seem like a particularly good place to occupy in order to impose democracy. :|

Posted by: kevin whited at August 1, 2007 2:24 PM