Confusion on the Durand Line

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baitullah_mehsud.jpgThe news last week of the alleged killing of Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud has sparked a round of confused and contradictory messages from various parties.
American and Pakistani officials claim with more and more certainty that Mehsud is dead. Meanwhile, elements of the Pakistani Taliban admitted his death and announced a shura, or gathering, to decide a new Taliban leader, while others strongly asserted that Mehsud is alive, kicking, and making videos to prove it.
While there is at this writing no DNA proof that Mehsud is dead, the strong message from American and Pakistani officials, coupled with persistent reports of fighting between Taliban leaders Hakimullah Mehsud and Wali Ur-Rehman leads me to believe that Mehsud is either dead or out of commission.
Yet while apparently successful, strikes such as this show the potential benefits – as well as limitations – of targeted killings. New America Fellow Nicholas Schmidle explains that Mehsud has been “losing his mojo” of late, and that his killing might weaken the Taliban, but will not eliminate the organization or make Pakistan more willing to cooperate in bringing down other Taliban leaders with closer relationships to Pakistan’s military. So while killing Mehsud is a good step, more will be required to effectively diminish the threat from the Taliban, on both sides of the Durand Line.
For more on the news coming out of the region, today is the launch date for a new special project from Foreign Policy and the New America Foundation, the AfPak Channel. Edited and managed by Peter Bergen, the co-director of New America’s Counterterrorism Strategy Initiative, and Katherine Tiedemann, the policy analyst with the same program, as well as by Blake Hounshell and Susan Glasser at FP, the AfPak Channel carries original content and analysis from many of today’s top experts on Afghanistan, Pakistan, and terrorism.
— Andrew Lebovich

Comments

23 comments on “Confusion on the Durand Line

  1. Kathleen says:

    Why didn’t Obama vet Eric Holder for conflict of interest? Surely everyone in D.C. knew Holder was with a law firm that represented George w. Bush and the RNC….it was the same dimwitted leadership that failed to raise the issue of a conflict of interest with Harriet Miers’ nomination as personal attorney for George w. Bush, as well as his current WH Counsel. I joked a very long time ago on this site that obama’s torture policy was “Yes we can’. I would be more willing to take him at hius word about no torture if he were willing to prosecute those who tortured and ordered it…

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  2. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Seems to me, if this slimeball Holder refuses to prosecute, than he himself can be indicted under article four, because his refusal to prosecute may indeed meet the legal definition of “complicity”.

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  3. PissedOffAmerican says:

    http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2009/01/18/prosecutions/
    CONVENTION AGAINST TORTURE and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (signed by the U.S. under Ronald Reagan):
    Article 2
    1. Each State Party shall take effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent acts of torture in any territory under its jurisdiction.
    2. No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat or war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.
    3. An order from a superior officer or a public authority may not be invoked as a justification of torture. . . .
    Article 4
    1. Each State Party shall ensure that all acts of torture are offences under its criminal law. The same shall apply to an attempt to commit torture and to an act by any person which constitutes complicity or participation in torture.
    Article 7
    1. The State Party in territory under whose jurisdiction a person alleged to have committed any offence referred to in article 4 is found, shall in the cases contemplated in article 5, if it does not extradite him, submit the case to its competent authorities for the purpose of prosecution.
    Article 15
    Each State Party shall ensure that any statement which is established to have been made as a result of torture shall not be invoked as evidence in any proceedings, except against a person accused of torture as evidence that the statement was made.
    Ronald Reagan, 5/20/1988, transmitting Treaty to the U.S. Senate:
    The United States participated actively and effectively in the negotiation of the Convention. It marks a significant step in the development during this century of international measures against torture and other inhuman treatment or punishment. Ratification of the Convention by the United States will clearly express United States opposition to torture, an abhorrent practice unfortunately still prevalent in the world today.
    U.S. Constitution, Article VI:
    This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.

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  4. Kathleen says:

    POA…this article is a bombshell on why AG Eric Holder has a conflict of interest in prosecuting Dopey/Darth.et al… http://legalschnauzer.blogspot.com/2009/08/are-holders-gop-ties-subverting-justice.html

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  5. Hans Suter says:

    McClatchy writes:
    “The U.S. military commander in Afghanistan is considering
    pulling American troops out of some remote outposts on the
    country’s mountainous eastern border with Pakistan, where local
    guerrillas are allied with the Taliban and al Qaida, U.S. officials
    told McClatchy.
    Abandoning U.S. forward outposts, and possibly turning them
    over to Afghan forces, would be a tacit admission that the
    presence of American troops has fueled insecurity by embroiling
    them in local feuds and driving some local tribes to align with
    the Taliban.
    “These (outposts) are costly and dangerous and not doing much
    to bring security to the people or connect the people to their
    government,” said a U.S. official who’s familiar with the region.
    “The terrain is too rugged, the infrastructure and especially
    roads do not exist and couldn’t be built on short order, and the
    population is too low and too dispersed.”
    American commanders had hoped that sending more troops to
    the border area, coupled with a new Pakistani drive against the
    militants on its side of the border, could deprive al Qaida and
    the Taliban of a sanctuary and end infiltration from Pakistan.”
    A good metaphor for the whole of AfPak.

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  6. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “When you add in the fact that Obama and his AG think actions can be excused, if you were only following orders….Very spooky…when did we overturn the Nuremburg Trial Judgement that “following orders” is not an acceptable excuse?”
    Kathleen, a headache seems to be blocking my recollection of the name of the treaty, that we signed, where we actually swear to prosecute ALL the parties to torture, even the sick sodomizin’ perverts in the field claiming “we were only following orders”. But sign it we did, and Obama is just basically telling the world that we don’t honor jack shit, and the only good treaty is a broken treaty.
    I gotta be honest, I detest this crimninal piece of crap as much as I detested the last one. Maybe even more, because Bush came across as an ignorant redneck, so we knew what we were getting. But this oily posturing con man is just too smooth and slick for his own good. But he sure has a shitload of people hoodwinked.

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  7. bob h says:

    The $7.5 billion promised for Pakistan should be held up until the ISI delivers on OBL, Mullah Omar, and Al Zawahir. We are being taken for a ride by these guys.

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  8. Kathleen says:

    Wow guys…you are all so right on target!!!No one is looking for OBL…he’s in the witness protection program…they only pull him out of a hat from time to time to re-inforce their Pavlovian conditioning…Drool, baby drool…POA & downtown….bingo….the whole introduction of video games was to produce a whole crop of inductees who had conditioned themselves to push that button as fast as possible without regard to “conscience” and to relish the destruction. It’s just a game…and to the moguls of money, it is a game.
    When you add in the fact that Obama and his AG think actions can be excused, if you were only following orders….Very spooky…when did we overturn the Nuremburg Trial Judgement that “following orders” is not an acceptable excuse?

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  9. downtown says:

    “So, with the Air Force currently training more drone pilots than manned aircraft pilots…”
    Killing and destruction reduced to a video game. No maimed,bloody bodies to distract from the fun of incinerating humans.The new Air Force Commercials look like scenes from an Electronic Arts Game.

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    Reply

  11. ... says:

    apparently the ISI knew about 9-11 before it happened too… funny how this stuff never gets addressed… it would implicate more the present stereotypes allow and probably more then the american public could possibly stomach… just be happy the usa is on endless bombing and military campaigns and they are (cough) “”””””””””looking after ya””””””””””…

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  12. bob h says:

    If Pakistan can lead the Predators to Mehsud, it can do so with bin Laden, Mullah Omar, et. al.
    The ISI knows where they are. The $7.5 billion aid package should be held up until they give us the quid pro quo for Mehsud.

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  13. Outraged American says:

    What’s this new creation “AfPak”? My Dad grew-up partially in what
    is now Pakistan. I’ll have to ask him about what he thinks of making
    Afghanistan and Pakistan into one country.
    Or rather, one target.
    I’ll report back, but since my Dad’s now a Faux “News” watching
    dittohead, it will probably be distorted by whatever Sean or Bill
    have said on the subject as opposed to what he really experienced
    there back in the 1940s.

    Reply

  14. PissedOffAmerican says:

    So, with the Air Force currently training more drone pilots than manned aircraft pilots, we are entering the “terminator” realm of warfare. Impersonally distant, and unburdened by the rigors of the field, our warriors can now sit in air conditioned comfort in Nevada, and dispense death with the click of a mouse.
    They parade the occassional dead “terrorist” before us like a cat proudly showing the farmer his dead and mutilated mouse. What the cat doesn’t show the farmer is the more common victim of the cat’s claws, the doves, the quail, and the harmless sparrow, slaughtered at the bird bath.
    I wonder, for every successful “kill” of these alleged terrorists, how many fresh terrorists are created through the unfortunate reality of “collatoral damage”? How would YOU feel about the United States if they just succeeded in erasing everyone that was in attendence at your daughter’s wedding party?

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  15. easy e says:

    Posted by Outraged American, Aug 10 2009, 12:55PM
    Cheney was negotiating with the Taliban for the oil
    routes in May of 2001.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Indeed. The U.S. military industrial complex was dealing with the Taliban back in the ‘90’s, http://www.counterpunch.org/tomenron.html . Think Unocal, Karzai, Rice, Khalilzad. The origins of 9/11 lies somewhere in this conundrum but will never be exposed because………………………

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  16. Tramadol says:

    Have we forgotten the number one reason UbL gave for his attacks on the Twin Towers was THAT callous disregard for the life of innocent Muslin children.

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  17. WigWag says:

    Thanks, Katherine, I enjoy all of the bloggers at Foreign Policy and the New America Foundaton and I am sure that the AfPak channel will be a great addition.
    Anyone who has read “To Live or to Perish Forever” knows that Schmidle is an extraordinary young journalist who is going to have a phenomenally successful career. I look forward to reading his posts along with yours, Peter Begen’s and the rest of your line up.
    Best of luck with the new venture!

    Reply

  18. erichwwk says:

    “the usa has a history of thinking that in order to “”get rid of something””” it has to kill or incarcerate someone.”
    It has indeed have a long history. The “only good indian is a dead indian comes to mind.
    But for those who’s cause is not just, and that cannot win the support of the general population, genocide has often been resorted too.
    Gandhi’s take:
    “I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.”
    “There are many causes that I am prepared to die for but no causes that I am prepared to kill for.”
    In a May 12, 1996,Emmy-winning report, Lesley Stahl of 60 Minutes” threw CESR’s fanciful conclusions at Madeleine Albright, then the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
    “We have heard that a half million children have died,” Stahl said. “I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And — and you know, is the price worth it?” Albright replied, “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price — we think the price is worth it.”
    Have we forgotten the number one reason UbL gave for his attacks on the Twin Towers was THAT callous disregard for the life of innocent Muslin children.
    And would Usama bin Laden not be justified by that logic in responding with an attack on military targets in the US?

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  19. Katherine says:

    WigWag — yes, Nick is on board to be one of our regular contributors.
    Thanks for reading, Katherine

    Reply

  20. Outraged American says:

    I usually like Lebovich’s work but the basic premise here is
    flawed: Cheney was negotiating with the Taliban for the oil
    routes in May of 2001. He was also threatening them if they
    didn’t do what he wanted.
    Come that surprise (!) of September 11, which the Cheney
    administration was never warned about (well, except for that
    August 2001 report about Bin Laden, that dialysis-needing
    caveman/ former CIA asset wanting to crash planes into US
    buildings) and suddenly the Taliban is our new nefarious enemy.
    This also after the Taliban offered to give-up Bin Laden.
    This whole thing is a bunch of hooey, generated to exponentially
    increase the wealth of the Terrorism and Military Industrial
    Complex.
    Alternative energy. The sun shines in Phoenix something like
    300 days a year. California, Nevada and Arizona can solar power
    the entire west.
    But we’re chasing after a bunch of ragheads (and I mean that in
    the kindest possible way, who cares what they wear on their
    heads?) so that the rich get richer and the poor get REALLY,
    REALLY poor. And everyone over there, and our troops, get
    dead.
    PS if you buy anything on Amazon pls. buy it through
    AntiWar.com so they get a little cash. I have no affiliation with
    that sit, but it’s the best on the web (beyond TWN 😉
    Instructions on how to buy are at AntiWar.com.

    Reply

  21. ... says:

    the usa has a history of thinking that in order to “””get rid of something””” it has to kill or incarcerate someone… it would seem to me while this helps to perpetuate a military industrial complex (and a penal system – the 2 seem quite related), it does nothing to end the root cause of why so many people come along to replace what the usa is apparently trying to get rid of..
    perhaps we can drop a bomb on those who do drugs, or those who don’t share the same values as us and who we think are wrong for holding them too, while we are at it.. it is a cop out and an avoidance of the real issue – why do these folks hold these values and what has brought them to this position? i am thinking dropping a bomb on the headquarters of the businesses of those who make this shit would be a similar response… i am not sure it works to anyones benefit to adopt this strategy if one could call it a ‘strategy’.. it is more of a cop out…
    and of course these folks will use it to play games and make up all sorts of scenarios like the ones being described in the post itself…
    there is something really wonky with the usa mindset, if there is such a thing and articles like this just further my belief the usa is out to lunch when it comes to reality..

    Reply

  22. WigWag says:

    “Yet while apparently successful, strikes such as this show the potential benefits – as well as limitations – of targeted killings. New America Fellow Nicholas Schmidle explains that Mehsud has been “losing his mojo” of late, and that his killing might weaken the Taliban, but will not eliminate the organization or make Pakistan more willing to cooperate in bringing down other Taliban leaders with closer relationships to Pakistan’s military…”
    It would be great to get some guest commentary from Nicholas Schmidle at the Washington Note. It would also be great if Schmidle developed his own blog about AfPak.
    Is Schmidle going to do regular posts at the new Foreign Policy/New America Foundation AfPak channel?

    Reply

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