Changing the Course in Afghanistan and Pakistan

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pakistan military.jpg
My friend and New America Foundation colleague Nicholas Schmidle has just published an extensive profile of Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari titled “The Black Widower“.
The piece got me thinking about what a successful strategic shift in our eroding situation in Pakistan and Afghanistan would look like. I’m not convinced Zardari matters in the overall equation of achieving a strategic shift in the future.
While most realists — even Bob Gates — have been saying that there is no military solution to the AfPak problem, it seems that most of what is being deployed there are military approaches, including the deployment of a new 17,000 U.S. troops — this before the “strategic review” that Obama has requested has been completed.
A former top strategic adviser to an American president told me that our engagement in Afghanistan has more complexity than the Soviet invasion, which didn’t set one combat foot into Pakistan. He told me that ultimately the U.S. has a very, very difficult choice to make in Pakistan regarding Afghanistan, its regional neighbors, and our other allies.
He said that one possible way to stabilize both countries is to make a deal with the devil and engineer a very strong, close military alliance with the Pakistan military and its intelligence operation. That means we choose Pakistan over its other regional rivals — and that we cede Afghanistan to satellite status under Pakistan.
The implications of this course would be profound and potentially disrupt our improving relationship with India. I haven’t thought through other implications of this strategy and am not convinced such a plan would even work.
But what is missing in much of our discussion about the AfPak mess is a discussion of serious alternatives and a clear-headed comparison of hard choice scenarios.
This may be one of them.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

43 comments on “Changing the Course in Afghanistan and Pakistan

  1. sensetti says:

    The reason the US is in and will stay in Iraq and the region is oil. Iraq has the largest proven and undeveloped oil field in the world. The US has a large air base sitting on top of it, accident, I think not. And the new President has admitted the US will leave 50,000 troops permanently. More food for thought, the US has up and to this point, prosecuted the war in Iraq and Afghanistan as a police action, limiting civilian casualties. When the time comes and the full force of the US military is turned loose, the world will be astonished at the speed, efficiency, and complete devastation that will fall in its wake. For example. How many days would it take the US Air Force to level every city, take out every major bridge and road in Iraq? Flying twenty four hours a day, maybe two weeks. In fourteen days there would be no Iraq, this is with conventional weapons, using the in country airbase. As the world financial crisis plays out, and geopolitical tensions mount, a continued police action may become impractical. I fear a terrible war is at hand and we may very well come to understand how restrained the US military has been. I neither condemn nor defend the actions of the US, I am simply making an observation that sometimes gets lost.

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  2. Jacob says:

    Who is this guy Zardari. He is a nothing. He has no power to guide Pakistan.
    Some of you have rightly pointed out that strengthening Pakistan by aligning with it is going to make Afghans mad. Then what about my country – India. Imagining such an outcome makes me mad as hell.
    Then again, whose money is this? The American people and indirectly of the global public which invests in their economy. And where do they intend to spend it – Pakistan, its Army, the Taliban and more importantly on the ultimate devil from an American perspective – AQ.
    What did they get in return for all that investment – 9/11, Rough Nuke Scientists, Broken promises and a bankrupt economy. I guess someone is going to ask these fundamental questions and Obama will just look like Bush and worse.
    It would be better the Americans do themselves a favor and leave. Just imagine the resentment that they are going to face in India if they choose to move closed to Pakistan which fundamental problems of their own making.
    No amount of money and military support is ever going to address the fundamental problem in Pakistan – sectarian divide. The Punjabis used to rule, now, the Pakhtuns, the Baluchis and the Sindis want their share of power. Let the Punjabis step aside – starting with the Army. Things will stabilize.
    I have not seen any specific reports of people other than Punjabis and Kashmiris engaging in terrorist operations in India.
    I guess we now need to do a Bangladesh on Pakistan this time over and things will settle down for the better, but not with war, but with an economic and social blockade. Who looses most in this game – The Chinese and to some extend the Punjabis. Who gains – Americans, Indians, Iranians, Pakhtuns, Sindhis, Baluchis and to a certain extend the Taliban.
    Either way, the Talibans only have more to gain. And who are they – nothing but AQ. To solve this problem, we just need to ensure that they are routed in Afganistan itself.

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  3. JohnH says:

    I agree that AfPak is probably of vital strategic interest to the United States. But I can only imagine what that vital strategic interest might be, since no one is saying boo. Hopefully it centers around nuclear non-proliferation and Kashmir’s potential for triggering nuclear war. Of course, it could just as well be for domination of oil and gas pipeline routes from Asia. Or it could simply be to establish a divisive presence by controling the routes Alexander the Great and the Moghuls used to invade to India and Pakistan. Or it could be some darker project conjured up by imperial minds.
    As in Iraq, US ambitions are intentionally NOT being discussed by anyone in official Washington. After all Bush’s reasons for going to war were found to be BS, they just didn’t bother to provide justifications for their pretty little Occupation. The same is now true Afghanistan and of their plans for Iran. At some point you have to conclude that they have a hidden agenda too dark and sinister for the American people to know about–the care and feeding of Halliburton and the military complex? Domination of opium?
    Until they logically justify their actions, you just don’t know, and you have to assume the worst because of the intensity of their efforts to stonewall any calls for accountability.

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  4. varanasi says:

    JohnH:
    i agree with you. good leaders must educate their polity and bush/cheney just spent 8 years doing the opposite.
    I also agree with you and “…” that the world’s MIC is a serious threat to peace and the cause of many conflicts and much suffering. there must have been a good reason why eisenhower warned the country about it in his last speech from office. he was certainly in a position to know.
    but, i also think it is fairly obvious – and thouroughly documented – why AfPak (i hate to use that acronym, but it’s in every article and memo that i’m reading lately) is of vital strategic interest to the US, india, china, russia, EU, ME states, etc.
    nonetheless, i agree that objectives need to be clarified, missions redefined and goals restated by your new administration. my understanding is that BO has commissioned a comprehensive AfPak(India) policy review which should be completed very soon.
    we are all anxiously waiting to read it.

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  5. JohnH says:

    Varanasi writes, “there is simply too much geopolitical and socioeconomic interconnection and interdependence to allow any government the luxury of isolationism.”
    That may be true. But it’s hard to know what US vital strategic interests are if our leaders don’t bother to explain them to us. Exactly what are those exceedingly vital strategic interests in Afghanistan, one of the remotest places on earth? Or is the term “vital strategic interest” just a cover for Uncle Sam to “feed its military complex,” as … suggests?
    Since the foreign policy mob never bothers to even try to explain America’s ambitions in Afghanistan, maybe it time for Obama to try. If he can explain the stimulus package, I’m sure he can explain exactly what it is we are trying to achieve in there. Or not, since an honest reckoning of American goals might just result in the foreign policy mob holding an empty “defense” bag…

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  6. ... says:

    thanks varanasi.. i would tend to agree with most of your commentary.. a historical perspective on others cultures is valuable, especially if one wants to be directly involved in foreign policy.. it seems the usa is driven by a need to feed its military complex more then anything else.. i hope i am wrong on that, but i have my doubts.. how much of what the usa does internationally is of benefit? if i’m correct in the assumption that military spending reflects american priorities more then not, it is not questionable..
    some will say continue in this same path, but i say try something different.. things can’t continue in the way they have.. the present financial meltdown might ultimately pave the way for alternative views and approaches that have been ignored for too long..

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  7. varanasi says:

    “…,” i get where you’re coming from.
    i guess that the whole issue is HOW a nation chooses to engage with others, rather than IF it does.
    I’d argue that “if” really isn’t an option in this day and age. there is simply too much geopolitical and socioeconomic interconnection and interdependence to allow any government the luxury of isolationism. i can understand the impulse, but i don’t think it’s an option in a hyper globalized world where the stakes are so high. in fact, more often than not, the outcomes of state-craft are zero sum, particularly as the world confronts the escalating crisis in AfPak.
    but the “how” is completely fair game. in fact, that is the primary focus of TWN and every other outlet for foreign policy analysis and debate.
    however, i do maintain that before any person can engage in a serious and productive exploration of the “how,” they should spend a lot of time studying the specifics of “what” and “where” (i know this is turning into a laurel and hardy routine!)
    again, i find that many westerners, particularly americans (and i’m not directing this at you personally), have little to no understanding of the history and cultural/political forces and nuances at play in south and central asia, or even the ME for that matter. imo, bush and cheney embodied this ignorance/arrogance and we all see what their actions engendered.

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  8. ... says:

    varanasi – thanks for your thoughts..you’re correct in that i am advocating for a more isolationist pov… my belief is that the rise of an organization, or religion (al qaeda, taliban etc) is in direct relation to the interference received from outside forces that have no business being in others countries with that agenda in the first place… raping and pillaging ought to be outlawed.. if a ‘so called’ civilized country in the 21st century think they can do that with the help of some good pr and propaganda, i think they are mistaken..

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  9. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Wow. Varanasi can punctuate!!!!

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  10. Varanasi says:

    I’d argue, …, that the strategy you suggest would constitute
    isolationism – and that is arguably the worst idea for the U.S.
    Not to mention the fact that America’s vital national security
    interests are inexorably tied to south/central Asia.
    Pakistan is a nuclear country teetering on the verge of a full
    scale fundamentalist slamic revolution. Keep in mind the swat
    valley is only 100 miles from Islamabad. This isn’t some
    historically lawless area – it was the favorite vacation spot of
    many secular pakistanis. And now it’s officially controlled by the
    Taliban and governed by sharia law. This is a HUGE
    development with ominous implications for the rest of the world,
    including the west, India, china, Russia, Iran and the Arab ME.
    U.S disengagement from the region would be a complete
    disaster.
    And, oh yeah, Bin laden, zwahiri and their crew are most likely
    just to the west of swat in the NWFP

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  11. ... says:

    dons – lol..
    steve clemons quote.. “But what is missing in much of our discussion about the AfPak mess is a discussion of serious alternatives and a clear-headed comparison of hard choice scenarios.”
    steve is it possible for the usa to stop meddling in the whole region? it that possible? would it be better for the usa to go back home with it’s tail between it’s legs as russia did after it’s intrusion into afgan in the 80’s?
    the reason i think this option isn’t on the table is military analysts and contractors are pushing for something that isn’t in the ordinary american citizens best interests..

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  12. DonS says:

    I frankly don’t understand all the who shot John about connecting dots between national, ethnic/cultural stress in the ME/Caucasus/ Central Asia/Pakistan and India. Whew.
    Haven’t there always been stresses.?
    Analogizing how these groups handle stress to how a dysfunctional family handles stress, an increase in stress usually results in increased dysfunction.
    And why all the focus on Isr/Pal? Because it is a huge stressor that engages related actors.
    But mostly, in keeping with out family analogy, because it involves dysfunctional Papa Bear who just happens to have a favorite child (rebellious though she is) who gets all the best goodies and enjoys triangulating Papa Bear against all the other kids.
    Guess who’s who?

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  13. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “i am surprised by the efforts of some to blame israel for the dire situation in south/central asia”
    Its a suprise to me too, you jackass. Perhaps you’ll show us an example.

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  14. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Thats not your “initial comment”, you dissembling jackass.
    Here is your “initial comment”….
    “doubtless, some here at TWN will write about AIPAC and conflate the Israeli/palestinian issue with what is happening in AfPak, but the two have nothing whatsoever to do with each other”
    And where the hell do you see anyone “blaming israel for the deteriorating situation in pakistan and afghanistan”? It cracks me up the way you jackasses create these straw arguments to rebut. It is so despicably slimey and disingenuous that it really underscores what a characterless little worm you can be. No one on this thread has “blamed israel for the deteriorating situation in pakistan and afghanistan”.
    I have, however, demonstrated clearly that Israel, and how the United States deals with Israel, is inextricably woven into ALL of our interactions with Muslim countries.
    Don’t you jackasses have a clue? Don’t you realize that when you lie, or create straw arguments to rebut, like you did above, (and Wig-wag and Sweetness do CONSTANTLY), you only destroy your own credibility? Its almost as though you WANT to make an ass of yourself.

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  15. varanasi says:

    regardless of the links and the long winded filibustering on this thread, the fact remains that my initial comment is TRUE!
    here it is again:
    “and sorry, but try as you might, the ongoing conflict between india and pakistan has NO historical roots with the arabs or certainly with the israelis.”
    nothing that has been posted thus far demonstrates anything to the contrary. in fact, the truth of my comment is so self evident that even i am surprised by the efforts of some to blame israel for the dire situation in south/central asia.
    and kathleen G: your challenge and effort seems a bit pointless. try looking up the word “anecdotal” for starters.
    and secondly, this a thread about south and central asia, not the israeli/arab dispute.
    right now, some are in the process of blaming israel for the deteriorating situation in pakistan and afghanistan. and again, this is pure folly and indicative of a far more insidious anti-israel bias.

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  16. Kathleen G says:

    I encourage all here to do their own personal interviews on college campuses or in your communities. I have asked several hundred international students studying here at Ohio University from Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and ask “how quickly would things change in the middle east if the U.S. were to demand that Israel get out of the West Bank take down the Wall that is on Palestinian lands and abide by the Internationally recognized border” Every EVERY single student I have asked answers “tomorrow, next week, quickly” Every answer has fallen into the immediate change category.
    I have also asked how would this effect the hatred that people feel towards the U.S. Every answer has been very similar. All have felt that this would change people’s attitudes towards the U.S. immediately .
    THE ISRAELI PALESTINIAN CONFLICT IS A PERSISTENT THORN IN THE SIDE OF MANY COUNTRIES IN THIS PART OF THE WORLD
    DO YOUR OWN SURVEY…START ASKING
    Nir Rosen thanks for your perspective

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  17. JohnH says:

    Bhadrakumar said, “Pakistan is in no way threatening Israel’s security directly or in league with a third country, and Pakistan expects Israel to reciprocate. Coming from one soldier-turned-politician to another, that is not too much to ask. Barak would have understood.”
    But only if Barak wanted to understand it…
    And, if Barak accepted it, he would have to get busy and invent some other existential threats.

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  18. PissedOffAmerican says:

    An important excerpt from the above article….
    “But with progress now on a new diplomatic initiative aimed at settling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which has always been at the heart of Pakistan’s refusal to normalize ties with Israel, it is easier for Musharraf to publicly broach the issue”
    varanasi, once again, has made a total ass of himself, while accusing others here of being “ignorant”. It seems varanasi has traveled the world to no avail, as all it has just taught him is to be the ultimate rube.

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  19. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Israel cautious over Pakistan’s overtures
    By Peter Hirschberg
    JERUSALEM – When Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf declared last month that the time had come for his country to consider diplomatic relations with Israel, it caused only a minor stir among the Israeli public and in the media. The focus then was on the Palestinians and whether they would halt their intifada.
    Some officials also dismissed the comment, made on the eve of Musharraf’s trip to the United States, as an attempt by the Pakistan leader to smooth his meeting with President George W Bush. “The Pakistanis attribute a lot of power to the American Jewish lobby, often greater than it is in reality,” said one Israeli observer.
    But then Musharraf came home and repeated his call, with even greater gusto. “I have said again and again: do we have to be more Catholic than the Pope or more Palestinian than the Palestinians themselves?” he asked in an interview with the private Geo Television in Pakistan. “Is that the correct attitude? Or should we make a change? We must reach a national consensus on the subject, rather than leaving it to the emotionalism of the extremists.”
    Now some in Israel are pointing to the very public nature of Musharraf’s remarks – and the fact that he reiterated them – as a sign of change. There has already been a quiet, hesitant, dialogue between Israeli and Pakistani diplomats since the 1980s. Military officials from the two sides have met at advanced study centers around the world.
    “What is new is the fact that Musharraf made these comments publicly,” said Professor Yaacov Vertzberger, an expert in international relations at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
    At the Israeli Foreign Ministry, the tone is understated. “We have no diplomatic or border problems with Pakistan,” the ministry’s deputy director-general Zvi Gabay said. “We have no reason for any hostility. We would be happy to have relations with Pakistan.”
    Vertzberger says that Musharraf’s willingness to go public on the controversial issue of ties with Israel is a sign that a strategic decision has been made by the Pakistan leadership. “Musharraf must have the backing of the senior military echelon on this,” he says. “He wouldn’t have made the remarks otherwise. Now it’s a matter of time and timing [until relations are established].”
    Relations with Pakistan are important for Israel. Pakistan is one of the most populous Muslim countries, and establishing ties could soften enmity towards the Jewish state in other Muslim countries. Israeli officials also believe that relations with Pakistan could set off a chain reaction in the region, with countries like Indonesia, Malaysia and Bangladesh following suit.
    In the past, Israel’s interest – or fear – has often focused on the fact that Pakistan is the only Muslim country with a nuclear capability. Israeli leaders were concerned that weapons or technology might find their way into Arab countries. Israel watched with consternation when Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi helped fund Pakistan’s nuclear program in the 1970s.
    A key factor propelling the present leadership in Pakistan is the growing strategic relationship between the Jewish state and India. Israel has become a major arms supplier to India. In late May, it was reported that the US had lifted its objection to Israel selling its Phalcon airborne radar system to India in a billion-dollar deal. The radar, which is mounted on a cargo plane, will significantly extend the range of the Indian air force.
    India is also said to have expressed interest in the Arrow, a defense system developed by Israel against ballistic missiles. “Israel does not view its relationship with India as a step against Pakistan, and proceeds very cautiously in this sphere,” Ze’ev Schiff, defense editor of the daily Haaretz newspaper said in a recent comment.
    But Israel is aware that Pakistan is concerned over its strategic ties with India. “What worries leaders in Pakistan is that India’s relationship with Israel has given it a type of strategic edge,” says Vertzberger. “There have even been press reports [in Pakistan] that Israel is going to help India undermine Pakistan’s nuclear capability. These are baseless.”
    Some in Israel suggest Musharraf’s comments might have been meant to gauge the reaction of the Muslim opposition in his country to such a move. Vertzberger believes that the Pakistan leader could not have raised the issue last year straight “after the success of the fundamentalist parties in elections”.
    But with progress now on a new diplomatic initiative aimed at settling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which has always been at the heart of Pakistan’s refusal to normalize ties with Israel, it is easier for Musharraf to publicly broach the issue.
    It was in this context that he asked why his country needed to be “more Palestinian than the Palestinians themselves”. The message was clear: if the Palestinian leadership was talking to Israel, so can Pakistan.
    Vertzberger believes that full Israel-Pakistan relations are a matter of time. But he believes that the way Israel conducts itself will have an impact on whether they come about sooner or later. “If Israel hugs Musharraf too tightly, that will not be good,” he says. “But not to react at all to his statements is also not a good thing. There should be a reaction, but not one that draws too much attention.”
    (Inter Press Service)

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  20. PissedOffAmerican says:

    http://www.atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/JA31Df03.html
    Jan 31, 2008
    US plays matchmaker to Pakistan, Israel
    By M K Bhadrakumar
    Geopolitics around Pakistan are taking dramatic turns. Details are emerging of a meeting between Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf and Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
    A spin has been given that Musharraf and Barak had a “chance encounter” in a hotel lobby in Paris. It stretches credulity. Israeli media since revealed that Musharraf placed his hand on Barak’s shoulder as the latter praised the Pakistani leader for his role in the “war on terror”. The following day, Barak had an hour-long meeting with Musharraf at the latter’s invitation.
    In all probability, Israel’s close ally on Capitol Hill in Washington DC, the resourceful US Senator Joseph Lieberman, who visited
    Pakistan as a state guest in early January, put together the Musharraf-Barak meeting.
    Lieberman’s native ingenuity is legion. Recently, the conservative Democratic Connecticut senator explained to the Jerusalem Post newspaper his unorthodox decision to endorse the Republican presidential candidate John McCain. By using a very orthodox metaphor, the one-time Democratic vice presidential nominee apparently explained: “The rabbis say in the Talmud that a lot of rabbinic law is to put a fence around the Torah so you don’t get near to violating it.”
    Pakistan’s threat perceptions
    Both Pakistan and Israel have reason to upgrade the level of their interaction. A good clue is available from Lieberman’s itinerary in Islamabad, which included two unusual appointments for a visiting US senator. Lieberman had separate meetings with Pakistani army chief General Parvez Kiani and the director general of the Strategic Planning Division (SPD) , Lieutenant General (retired) Khalid Ahmad Kidwai.
    Following these meetings on January 9, Lieberman paid handsome compliment to the SPD’s professional capability in managing the command and control system for the security of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal. “I am deeply impressed by the professionalism of the team headed by the general [Kidwai] to secure the nuclear assets of Pakistan,” he said. The SPD went out of the way to give a detailed briefing to Lieberman.
    The Pakistani intention was clear – Lieberman would transmit the impressions of his visit to Israel. Islamabad has been visibly edgy about the orchestrated media campaign in recent weeks that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal might fall into the hands of jihadi elements. Anyone could tell from a mile that the campaign stank. Pakistan was being threatened that it was about to be stripped of its crown jewels. It was hardly justified and was manifestly an attempt at blackmail.
    First of all, as a BBC analyst put it in a commentary on this theater of the absurd, “Few believe Islamists could take power in Pakistan.” Second, Pakistan’s nuclear potential poses no more serious risks than the nuclear potentials of India or Israel or Russia or the US. Besides, Pakistan hasn’t been tardy at all in constantly improving the security of its nuclear weapons. Finally, unless some superior foreign power succeeds in systematically degrading the Pakistani army, its capacity to be the custodian of the country’s national security is never in doubt.
    But Islamabad has felt the need to factor in what has come to be known as the “Osirak contingency”. In their masterly work Deception: Pakistan, the United States and the Global Nuclear Weapons Conspiracy, authors Adrian Levy and Catherine Scott-Clark have named top-level Indian sources, who previously served in key positions in the government, as admitting that Delhi closely worked with Israel on more than one occasion over plans to attack Pakistan’s nuclear installations.
    Of course, an apocalyptic conflagration of such a kind is simply unthinkable in today’s circumstances when all three – Israel, Pakistan and India – are full nuclear powers, but like any military establishment would do, Rawalpindi, the site of the headquarters of the Pakistan armed forces, is bound to plan against a worst-case scenario. Furthermore, there is always a new angle in a future context – Israel could harbor misgivings that fissile materials out of Pakistan’s nuclear facilities might find their way to Iran.
    Evidently, Islamabad decided it was useful to level with Israel so that misconceptions did not arise. In diplomatic parlance, Musharraf’s meeting with Barak has been a timely CBM (confidence-building measure).
    India-Pakistan strategic parity
    But that is only the tip of the iceberg. It underscores the geopolitical turbulence that is steadily enveloping the South Asian region. Much of the turbulence is being commonly attributed to the concerns of the international community over radical Islam and terrorism in the region or over the safety of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons or of the specter of the Pakistani state withering away into anarchy under the sheer weight of its current political difficulties. But the factors underlying the volatility go deeper than that.
    What is becoming apparent is that a series of maneuvers by regional powers is gradually building up in the coming period. Arguably, the heightened tensions around Pakistan are as much a symptom of these geopolitical maneuvers as of an intrinsic nature. Democracy deficit, political assassination, ruling elites, misgovernance, corruption, popular alienation, poverty and economic disparity, religious fanaticism – these are common to almost all countries of the South Asian region. Pakistan is certainly not an exception.
    At the epicenter of the geopolitical turbulence in the region lies the rapidly expanding strategic partnership between the United States and India. The developing US-India strategic axis is triggering a large-scale realignment among regional powers, especially involving Pakistan.
    As a leading commentator of the official Russian news agency put it recently, “Not without help from the great powers, India has gone so far ahead in the sphere of arms that it is pursuing its national interests from the Persian Gulf to the Malacca archipelago. Islamabad justifiably believes that the United States is ready to support India’s claims to the status of a world power in exchange for its efforts to deter China and Iran … [while] Pakistan still remains the main partner of the United States and Western Europe in the region’s anti-terrorist coalition.”
    That a Moscow commentator should have made such a sharp, pithy observation becomes extraordinary by itself. He adds, “What should Pakistan do in this situation? … Pakistan is using its potentialities to the utmost. In the past, its nuclear potential was a major deterrent, but today it is no longer playing this role. A contribution to the change was made by the United States – its nuclear romance with India is more than obvious.”
    Last Friday, Pakistan test-launched its medium-range Shaheen-1 rail-based solid fuel ballistic missile, which can deliver nuclear warheads at a distance of up to 700 kilometers. Indian experts say it is a modification of the Chinese M9 solid fuel tactical missile. They allege China may have helped Pakistan develop Shaheen-1 missiles.
    This has been Pakistan’s second test of tactical missiles in the past month and a half. On December 11, it test-launched its Babur cruise missile, a land-based liquid fuel missile with a range of up to 700km. Indeed, Pakistan is strictly observing the schedule of tests it has agreed with India within the framework of a bilateral agreement, and there has been no deviation in the type or range of missiles.
    India is aware that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons are aimed against it, but it doesn’t make any ruckus about it, as that might needlessly draw international attention to the region as a “nuclear flashpoint”, which it isn’t. On the contrary, both India and Pakistan are equally busy developing their missile potentials and have in place bilateral agreement preventing the risk of accidents with nuclear weapons.
    Curiously, at times it even seems there is an almost tacit bilateral commitment between the two countries to the principle of parallel testing. But, having said that, there is no doubt that India is pulling incrementally ahead of Pakistan in regard of the missile systems’ characteristics.
    US-India military ties
    India is embarking on a massive armament program in cooperation with the US. The Times of India newspaper reported on Tuesday, “After joint combat exercises to develop ‘interoperability’, the Indo-US military tango is now firmly waltzing into the arms purchase arena as well.” India has just concluded a billion-dollar deal for the purchase of six C-130J Super Hercules aircraft from the US. Negotiations are reportedly in an advanced stage with Boeing company for a US$2 billion deal for the purchase of eight P-8i long-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft with anti-submarine warfare capabilities.
    On the horizon, as the Indian daily put it, “The US is obviously desperate to grab a big piece of action” out of India’s projected $30 billion worth arms purchases in the 2007-2012 period. Actually, there is no need for Washington to be so “desperate”. Delhi is more than willing to play its designated role as a pivotal country in the US’s global strategy.
    It has scheduled “at least five joint combat exercises” with the US for 2008. For the first time, India will also be jointly exercising with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is scheduled to visit India on February 25-26. The American ambassador in India publicly reaffirmed on Monday that there is a “definite desire” in Washington to conclude the nuclear cooperation agreement with India on George W Bush’s watch.
    It is symptomatic of the strategic equations shaping up in the region that Gates will be skipping Pakistan during his tour of the region. Yet, it was only last week that Gates devoted an entire press conference, lasting over an hour, to “the emergence of this fairly considerable security challenge” in Pakistan, while offering, “We [US ] remain ready, willing and capable to assist the Pakistanis and to partner with them, to provide additional training, to conduct joint operations, should they desire to do so.”
    From Islamabad’s perspective, the “de-hyphenated” policy on the part of the US toward Pakistan and India has virtually come to mean that Washington is focusing on the Pakistani military role as an efficient, well-trained and well-equipped border militia in the tribal tracts with Afghanistan. On top of it, despite robust refusal by Islamabad, Washington is pressing hard for the deployment of US troops on Pakistani soil and for beefing up the American intelligence presence within Pakistan.
    On any single day, Pakistani media reflect a bitter sense of betrayal. Ahmed Quraishi, a top TV commentator, wrote recently in The News: “After 9/11, Pakistan’s crucial assistance helped the United States secure a huge American footprint in Central Asia. That was a dream come true for American strategic planners. In return, Pakistan got nothing but instability, derision and broken promises. A feasible Pakistan-American cooperation in the region has to work both ways, securing the interests of both parties. Yet it never did after 9/11 despite every reason it should have.”
    In this situation, we may expect Pakistan will begin to seek support in its relations with India from other countries with modern weapons, apart from China or the US. It may happen that Pakistan may turn to Russia for this purpose. In fact, a strong likelihood is that Pakistan-Russia relations may be getting ready for an historic makeover. The desperate US efforts to kiss and make up with Uzbekistan suggest that Washington apprehends a Russian thrust toward Afghanistan and Pakistan.
    Moscow will also be watching with uneasiness that India in its zest to consolidate an elevated status in the US’s regional policy has shown readiness to calibrate its traditional policies with regard to Russia and Central Asia.
    As India gives formal shape to its contacts with NATO and openly participates in the US’s missile defense program, the trajectory of US-India strategic cooperation will begin to impact on Russian interests, unless, of course, Delhi takes corrective measures, for which, however, political will becomes necessary. Washington is, in any case, resolute in steering its strategic cooperation with India precisely in such a direction that it leads to an all-round rollback of Russian influence in South Asia.
    All this adds up to mean that the US-India strategic partnership need not be the end of the world for Pakistan. An altogether new strategic equation may develop in the region between Russia, China and Pakistan. With the regional security environment in such a flux, Musharraf’s message to Barak would have been direct: Pakistan is in no way threatening Israel’s security directly or in league with a third country, and Pakistan expects Israel to reciprocate. Coming from one soldier-turned-politician to another, that is not too much to ask. Barak would have understood.
    M K Bhadrakumar served as a career diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service for over 29 years, with postings including India’s ambassador to Uzbekistan (1995-1998) and to Turkey (1998-2001).

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  21. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Here you will find the results of a search of AIPAC’s website, using “Afghanistan” as a keyword.
    http://tinyurl.com/akgsny
    The most glaring example of AIPAC engagement in the debate about how to procede in Afghanistan is their constant stream of accusation, claiming that Iran is feeding arms and munitions to the region. Also, Israel is providing drones and weaponry to our forces in Afghanistan, as well as providing logistical support. As you can see, by visiting the AIPAC website, Israel is portrayed as a coalitional strategic partner in our efforts in Afghanistan. And you will note there is no small mention of Afghanistan at the website. For example, here is one link heading…
    “The US–Israel Strategic Partnership … The American military routinely deploys Israeli-developed unmanned aerial vehicles,
    which have logged thousands of hours in Iraq and Afghanistan….”
    Here is another….
    “AIPAC – Iran … the radar. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) arms, funds and
    trains terrorist networks from Gaza to Afghanistan.”
    And here’s this, from a Pakistani website…
    Evil designs of Delhi lobbies working with AIPAC & AJCommittee
    Posted on January 29, 2009 by Moin Ansari
    Vijay Prashad, obviously a good human being of Indian origins has written this article exposing the machinations of the Indian lobby and providing some action items for good people all over the US to do.
    On January 27, 2009, a newly formed task force of Indian American organizations is set to overrun Capitol Hill. The Indian American Task Force will take their message to Congress and to the new administration, asking them to be much tougher on Pakistan. The impetus for this new combine and its lobbying is the Mumbai attacks of December 2008. But this is not just about justice for the victims of Mumbai. There is another dynamic involved, which is to walk the Jewish American road, to create a “India Lobby” that resembles the “Israel Lobby.” The investment among these Indian Americans is to follow the remarkable success of the Israel Lobby, which has been able to leverage its relatively small numbers (7 million, only 2.5% of the U. S. population) into considerable political power. An even more impressive story is that of the Cuban Americans (1.6 million; 0.5% of the U. S. population), but these Indian Americans are less enthused by them. After the Bay of Pigs and a few isolated terrorist acts, the Cubans have been rather unimpressive, the Embargo notwithstanding. The Jewish American dominated Israel Lobby, on the other hand, has made the United States into “Israel’s attorney” (according to former U. S. State Department official Aaron David Miller). This is what impresses the new Indian American Task Force.
    Islamic Terrorism.
    To prepare for the January 27 day of action, the Task Force released its “information document.” The primary author of the document is the US India Political Action Committee (USINPAC), a group founded in the aftermath of 911 with the close support and encouragement of the American Jewish Committee (AJCommittee) and the American Israel Political Action Committee (AIPAC). At a meeting of Jewish American and Indian American partisans of the right, Charles Brooks of the AJCommittee said, “We’re fighting the same extremist enemy. We want to help [the new Indian group] become more effective in communicating their political will.” Who is this “enemy”? Sue Ghosh Stricklett, who was then with USINPAC, told a conservative publication in 2003, “the terrorism directed against India is the same as that directed against the United States and Israel. We would like to see closer ties between the United States and Israel [with India].” Stricklett urges this alliance to deal with what these organizations often call “Islamic militancy” or “Islamic extremism,” or what the late Congressman Tom Lantos called it at an Indo-Jewish forum, “mindless, vicious, fanatic Islamic terrorism.” The USINPAC document on the Mumbai attacks argues, “We believe the problem of Islamic terrorism is global and requires an urgent global approach and solution.”
    continues….
    http://pakistanledger.wordpress.com/2009/01/29/countering-the-machinations-of-the-delhi-lobby-working-with-aipac-ajcommittee/
    a further excerpt….
    “Ackerman helped coordinate the links between AIPAC and the AJCommittee and the USINPAC. Israel, he said, is “surrounded by 120 million Muslims” whereas “India has 120 million” Muslims within. In 1999, Ackerman was in Atlanta at an Indian American event, where he celebrated the “ancient civilizations” of Hindus and Jews, pointing out that “Strong India-Israel relations is very critical to ensuring peace and stability in a part of the world that is characterized by instability, fundamentalist religious bigotry, hatred toward the West and its values and murder and mayhem spawned by acts of cross-border terrorism.” Ackerman is not only one of those who believes that Israel is the 51st state of the United States, but he is also one of the major proponents of the Indo-US nuclear deal. In 2001, Ackerman’s legislative aide, Narayan Keshavan (who was otherwise a journalist, and who died very young, at 53, in 2003), said, “There are scores of congressmen and dozens of senators who clearly equate the growing Indian American political influence to the ‘Hindu Lobby’ – very much akin to the famed ‘Jewish Lobby.’” The aspiration to become like AIPAC and to move India in the direction of Israel is strong among many of those who want to build this India (or Hindu) Lobby, geared as it is against Pakistan and without deference to the fact that the 120 Indian Muslims are Indians too and not simply Muslims. A senior Democratic Senator said in 2003, “All of us here are members of Likud now.” In 2009, if USINPAC succeeds, they’d say, “We’re also members of the Hindu Right now.”

    Reply

  22. varanasi says:

    thanks for the meaningful contribution, poa.
    it’s too bad that you don’t know as much about south and central asian geopolitics as you do about profane and inane internet grandstanding.
    i suggest you play to your strength and stick to the later.

    Reply

  23. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Residual” must not be a word that is in varanasi’s vocabulary. But what do you expect from an accomplished world traveler that is too fuckin’ lazy to even bother to punctuate? The world wise varanasi uses the computerese of a teenager in heat texting the girl that sits behind him at after school detention.

    Reply

  24. alan says:

    “former top strategic adviser”: pity we don’t have the name of this fool. What idiocy: we help Pakistan ISI and Army work with us to maintain Afghanistan as a Pakistan protectorate. No wonder we are in such a mess.

    Reply

  25. PissedOffAmerican says:

    With the Afghani foreign minister encouraging Iran/United States discourse as an important aspect of achieving any progress in stabilizing Afghanistan, and Israel strongly discouraging any such discourse…..
    But the world wise and superior intelligence of varanasi, (who’s intelligence has been brilliantly exhibited by his attacks on where I live and what I do for a living), tells us that “afghanistan is another sad story, but also one which has nothing to do with israel”.
    varanasi, may I start your day by telling you to go conduct intimate relations with yourself? And I don’t “hate to be rude” at all. In fact, as far as I am concerned, your presence here demands it. You’re as big an asshole as has ever landed here. You’re the real deal. Congrats.

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  26. JohnH says:

    This string of comments begs some interesting questions.
    First, though we all know that Pakistan is not in the Middle East, is that fact commonly understand by Americans and the corporate media? The Bush administration made a serious disinformation effort to conflate Iraq/Iran/Israel/Palestinine/Afghanistan and now Pakistan into a single “Middle Eastern” war on terrorism.
    AIPAC and the Israeli government were clearly complicit in this effort. Because of its own need for victimization,bogeymen need to be omnipresent and, if need be, manufactured. An Iranian problem would have been manufactured, even if there were none. And it makes you wonder how much a nuclear Pakistan factors into their cynical calculus.

    Reply

  27. varanasi says:

    and sorry, but try as you might, the ongoing conflict between india, pakistan and now afghanistan HAS no historical roots with the arabs or certainly with the israelis.
    I was born in Uttar Pradesh, I’ve studied south asian history my entire life and i’d be happy to post a reading list if anyone is really interested in learning more about the region.
    you really need to go back to the era of the sultanate and mughal rule to trace the origin of the current conflict. throw in a couple centuries of colonial RAJ, the political machinations of nehru, jinnah, maharaja hari singh, the incompetence/crminiality of lord mountbatten, the largest refugee transfer in modern history and its inherent religious violence, and only then do you have the recipe for ongoing the hindustani conflict.
    of course, afghanistan is another sad story, but also one which has nothing to do with israel.
    i hate to say it, and i don’t mean to be rude, but the discussion of south asian history in this thread betrays quite a bit of ignorance on the part of a few regulars
    but, of course, poa remains pitch perfect: he’s still an expert on everything.

    Reply

  28. varanasi says:

    POA wrote:
    “yes, in varanasi’s sage opinion, the Israel/Palestinian issaue has nothing to do with residual Middle Eastern affairs.”
    uh, poa, i’m afraid you betray some ignorance with this comment. neither india, pakistan or afghanistan are part of the ME.

    Reply

  29. Syed Qamar Afzal Rizvi says:

    The US AfPak policy needs to have a prudence-based orientation commanding and attracting the far-sighted dynamics of political syncreticism welcoming a patch-up of multilateral groups, yet any move to revise a military-base strategy would fail the US’s envisaged-peace and stability plan in the Pak- Afghan region.

    Reply

  30. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Here we see the Afghani foreign minister tying our interaction with Iran with our efforts in Afghanistan.
    In light of this, consider varanasi’s asinine comment; “doubtless, some here at TWN will write about AIPAC and conflate the Israeli/palestinian issue with what is happening in AfPak, but the two have nothing whatsoever to do with each other”.
    Israel, attempting, successfully, to dictate the extent of our diplomatic discourse with Iran has EVERYTHING to do with our ability to find success in our efforts in Afghanistan and Pakistan. One need only peruse the AIPAC website to see how strongly Israel objects to any diplomatic relations or constructive discourse between Iran and the United States.
    http://wire.antiwar.com/2009/02/27/afghan-fm-urges-us-to-engage-with-iran-on-conflict/
    Afghan FM urges US to engage with Iran on conflict
    REUTERS
    Reuters North American News Service
    Feb 27, 2009 12:37 EST
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States should engage Iran as an “important regional player” on Afghan security and reconstruction issues, Afghanistan’s foreign minister said Friday.
    “I hope that with the new administration here in Washington come some changes in the bilateral relations between Tehran and Washington,” Foreign Minister Rangeen Dadfar Spanta said.
    “Iran is an important regional player and to engage the neighboring countries of Afghanistan in the anti-terror war and anti-drug campaign … this is in the vital interest of Afghanistan and stability in our region,” he told reporters.
    continues…

    Reply

  31. ... says:

    ..including…, this one…

    Reply

  32. ... says:

    sweetness, pulling one liners from others comments while using them as a means to beat them over the head must be why wigwag likes you! unlike you, i have articulated a few things that are worthy of consideration… perhaps you’d like to do likewise, but it’s unlikely given what you’ve offered here today…
    and… my aipac comment is relevant as i see it.. whenever a special interest group gains a large degree of influence on a country it is fair to question what their motive is on all topics, this one… these freaks have had an undue influence on the american political class and things aren’t changing fast enough as i see it…

    Reply

  33. PissedOffAmerican says:

    varanasi…
    “doubtless, some here at TWN will write about AIPAC and conflate the Israeli/palestinian issue with what is happening in AfPak, but the two have nothing whatsoever to do with each other”
    PissedOffAmerican….
    “Yes, in varanasi’s sage opinion, the Israel/Palestinian issaue has nothing to do with residual Middle Eastern affairs, and how we deal with the Israeli’s is irrelevant to how the various Muslim countries will react to our overtures, diplomatic efforts, and military interventions”
    Sweetness…
    “But, of course, to anyone who reads and understands English that is NOT what V was saying at all”
    Sure, Sweetness. We know how YOUR grasp of English works.

    Reply

  34. Sweetness says:

    POA misquoting Varanasi: “Yes, in varanasi’s sage opinion, the
    Israel/Palestinian issaue has nothing to do with residual Middle
    Eastern affairs, and how we deal with the Israeli’s is irrelevant to
    how the various Muslim countries will react to our overtures,
    diplomatic efforts, and military interventions.”
    But, of course, to anyone who reads and understands English that
    is NOT what V was saying at all. And even …., admits the
    “connection” was a bit of a joke and he’d just “toss it out there.”
    Why? Cause Steve Rosen posted on another thread. Amazing what
    passes for “analysis” here.

    Reply

  35. Kathleen G says:

    More on what is really going on in Iraq, Afghanistan, Gaza.
    Unembedded journalist
    http://lauraflanders.firedoglake.com/2009/02/26/grittv-live-at-noon-the-unembedded/

    Reply

  36. Kathleen G says:

    Steve/All check out what Andrew Bacivich has to say to Obama about Afghanistan (off to the right on this site)
    http://lauraflanders.firedoglake.com/

    Reply

  37. ... says:

    varanasi – my main point was to emphasize how powerful interest groups – aipac and the military industrial complex, both heavily active in usa politics have very narrow interests.. if there’s any way to make them more of a priority they will seek further support however they can for a certain line of action in keeping with their special interests… i admit it was a bit of a joke to mention aipac here, but since one of it’s most central figures (steve rosen) was commenting here at twn at another thread, i thought i’d toss it out..
    of interest to me is the 9-11 connection to the ISI and pakistan political figures in and around 9-11.. it seems to me using pakistan as a useful tool for various reasons serve more then just the potential for inflaming other regions, including india.. i question how much commerce and special interests are being put before the well being of ordinary citizens on the planet, whether they be in pakistan, the usa or where ever…
    i agree with poas comment just posted that some folks would like to describe this ongoing conflict as a conflict with islam in general with your comment “”the messy “reformation” of wahabbism and islam”” only strengthening this viewpoint…

    Reply

  38. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Yes, in varanasi’s sage opinion, the Israel/Palestinian issaue has nothing to do with residual Middle Eastern affairs, and how we deal with the Israeli’s is irrelevant to how the various Muslim countries will react to our overtures, diplomatic efforts, and military interventions.
    Yes folks, when the world’s Muslim communities sees us providing Israel with the funds and weaponry to commit war crimes against the Palestinian people, it has no effect on our relationship with Muslim countries, groups, sects, and organizations. Varanasi tells us so, so so be it.

    Reply

  39. varanasi says:

    make no mistake about it, AfPak is now the linchpin of american foreign policy. unfortunately, there are no easy answers in this part of the world. only lesser degrees of bad.
    zardari has no power. the ISI is pulling the strings and the military – let’s hope – retains firm control. sharif is currently entering into a coalition with the islamists and pakistan proper is shrinking by the day. the swat valley – never a part of the autonomous tribal regions, which are already a militant hotbed – is now suffering under sharia law and taliban rule. public beheadings take place weekly and girls are no longer educated under threat of death:
    http://video.nytimes.com/video/2009/02/22/world/asia/1194838044017/class-dismissed-in-swat-valley.html
    doubtless, some here at TWN will write about AIPAC and conflate the Israeli/palestinian issue with what is happening in AfPak, but the two have nothing whatsoever to do with each other.
    What we are witnessing now, God forbid, is the folly and the nightmare of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, and, God willing, the messy “reformation” of wahabbism and islam.

    Reply

  40. nir rosen says:

    some problems with the notion that “we” can “cede Afghanistan to satellite status under Pakistan” is that the afghan people might not be thrilled about it and it also presupposes that pakistan has that level of influence over afghanistan. this is strange because pakistan is clearly unable to control the taliban within its own borders, let alone those in afghanistan, though it does have influence over the leadership. moreover, pushtuns, who dominate the taliban, are only like forty percent of the population of afghanistan. the tajiks who still dominate much of the government and certainly the army, would not accept such status, and even some taliban i met in afghanistan disliked pakistan. this idea gives pakistan way too much credit and typically of american ideas, ignores completely the priorities of the actual people affected by it.

    Reply

  41. ... says:

    what would aipac like to see in all this? isn’t that important??? how does it address working everyone into a lather about iran???? how is the usa military industry going to profit off any change in the region?? i realize these are tough questions, but there will be people in positions of power asking the same thing….

    Reply

  42. JohnH says:

    Why not start the discussion by defining the stakes and spelling out the goals? All of this nonsense about “changing course” will remain that way until the US decides once and for all why it so desperately needs to do something or other in Afghanistan.
    As usual, the foreign policy mob is nothing more than the gang that couldn’t shoot straight–because they have no target to shoot at.
    But they sure do enjoy wasting gobs of taxpayer money on their mindless escapades.

    Reply

  43. erichwwk says:

    And hopefully, prior to jumping in with both feet to develop a menu of choices, and listing the pluses and minus of each choice, there will be a discussion of how to frame the problem, and exactly what one wishes to have manifest in the region. Ideally this would be done from a “politics without borders”, and a non nationalistic very long run perspective.

    Reply

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