Topic: War on Terror
Boy W. has really screwed the pooch, hasn't he? He's running the foreign policy of the United States just like he ran his oil companies -- right into the ground. Letting OBL and al-Qaeda escape into Pakistan and then the invading Iraq was bad enough, but his handling -- or lack thereof -- of the Pakistan dossier has really been an all around FUBR.The news coming out of Pakistan is pretty bad. It's like watching a car wreck in slow motion. Our good buddy Pervez Musharraf -- Bush is still calling him a "strong fighter against extremists and radicals" -- has suspended the Pakistani constitution, dismantled the supreme court, re-arrested Iftikhar Chaudry and sic'd his police on anyone involved in trying to preserve that country's civil society. Police have been tear gassing and beating lawyers with batons, the images of which he hasn't been able to prevent from getting out to the rest of the world despite his shutting down of the independent media, but all W. has to say is that he hopes Musharraf restores the courts and the constitution at some point in the future. And if Musharraf doesn't? Well, all W.'s got to say about that is, "I hope he takes my advice."
In other words, you brave Pakistani lawyers risking your freedom and lives: you're on your own. The great beacon of democracy is out of service for repairs.
Recently, Musharraf's heroic battle against extremists and radicals has involved releasing those very same extremists and radicals from jail in order to back some 200 Pakistani soldiers captured by a South Waziristani warlord named Baitullah Mehsud. Musharraf has made a deal with Mehsud to pull back his forces and leave the entire area in Mesud's control. The NYT reports today that Mesud has vowed to expel foreign fighters from the area by Jan. 1, "but he declined to promise not to dispatch fighters to Afghanistan." This sounds very much like the deal Musharraf made with "tribal leaders" (aka the Taliban) in September of last year which resulted in attacks against US forces in Eastern Afghanistan soaring by over 30%.
This sort of thing probably explains why a sizable faction of al-Qaeda is perfectly happy to see Musharraf remain alive and well -- and in power. NEWSWEEK reported in July about a rift that had developed within al-Qaeda between the "Egyptians" led by Ayman al-Zuwahiri and the Libyan faction led by Abu Yahya al-Libi, who escaped from the lock-up at Bagram Airbase in 2005. It seems al-Zuwahiri has it in his mind to kill Musharraf, whereas al-Libi, along with OBL, feels that trying to kill Musharraf might risk, as Sami Yousafzai and Ron Moreau write, "Inviting the Pakistani leader's wrath, prematurely opening up another battlefront before the jihadists have properly consolidated their position."
The Long War Journal reports, though, that "While there are certainly internal divisions within al Qaeda leadership over their policy on Pakistan and other theaters, the divisions are not as deep as the Newsweek article makes them appear." In a recent tape released by al-Libi he rejects any idea of a split in al-Qaeda over killing Musharraf. The raid of the Red Mosque might have changed his mind, although, I've got to figure the Libyans have probably prevailed in their argument.
Why knock off Musharraf when he's dedicating all his menageries to wiping out all the modernizing and secular elements they hate so much? All they have to do is bide their time and wait until Musharraf has decimated all the forces of sanity and democracy and then they can just roll into Islamabad unhindered.
Not that any of this has given W. & Co. any second thoughts about keeping the money flowing to prop up our Bastard in Islamabad. $10 billion down the drain since 9/11 and W. has precious little to show for his dogged support for Musharraf. But don't confuse him with the facts: Al-Qaeda is resurgent their safe havens in North and South Waziristan and the Taliban are not only giving an undermanned NATO force in the south of Afghanistan fits, but now they're operating more and more in the North. Today a teenage suicide bomber killed at least 40 people in Baghlan including five members of the parliament. [AP]
And the Talibs are threatening Kandahar. The NYT reported on the 31st that a sizable for of Talibs had moved into the Arghandab area north of Kandahar and were seen dancing on the roof of the house of pro-government district leader Mullah Naqibullah, who died of a heart attack three weeks ago. Sarah Cheyes, an American journalist who left NPR to live and write in Kandahar, says the take over of Naqibullah's house had been "devastating psychologically" for the local residents who had relied on Naqibullah to protect them from the return of the Talibs.
The rationale for the invading Iraq -- and the continuing cost in blood and treasure -- went from being about WMD, to regime change, to then being all about building a stable Western-style democracy in the heart of the Middle East. For a moment there Condi Rice was even implying the administration would support democracy over stability in countries like Egypt, until that is Hezbollah beat the bajeezes out of Israel in the summer of '06. Condi did say, after all, that:
"For 60 years, my country, the United States, pursued stability at the expense of democracy in this region here in the Middle East– and we achieved neither. Now, we are taking a different course. We are supporting the democratic aspirations of all people." [usinfo.gov]
But it looks like sacrificing the freedom and liberty that God Himself has bestowed on humanity for stability is the now the over-riding policy objective of the Bush administration. So much so, in fact, that W. barely batted an eyelash when Egypt's dictator Honsi Mubarak announced on October 29 that he was going to build a few nuclear reactors; only for peaceful purposes, of course. [NYT]
And that goes for Pakistan as well. It's all very bleak, but I'm sure it'll all work out. When you got the most experienced foreign policy team the world has ever seen running the show, there's no chance Pakistan is going to implode. Just look at the great success W.'s Surge in having in Iraq!