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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Afghanistan and Pakistan and nukes, oh my...

Obama, the anti-war president, is sending 17,000 troops to Afghanistan. If that news unsettles you, that you may want to read the most recent piece from AntiFascist (whose excellent I work I really must plug more often). More fighting in Pakistan will place greater strain on Pakistan -- and I'm not sure how much more strain they can take.

Not only are the Taliban regaining their muscles in Afghanistan, they also are also starting to take over Pakistan. There, they are known as the TTP -- the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, led by the mysterious Baitullah Mahsud (who may or may not be dead, depending on which report you believe). The CIA says that the TTP was behind the assassination of Benazir Bhutto.
President Zardari told CBS News' "60 Minutes" Sunday, "We are aware of the fact (the Taliban are) trying to take over the state of Pakistan. So, we're fighting for the survival of Pakistan." However, the government has responded by capitulating to the TTP's demands in NWFP's Malakand district that includes the Swat Valley.

A target of the CIA's February 14 missile strike, Baitullah Mehsud and Maulana Fazlullah, Pakistani veterans of America's anti-Soviet jihad of the 1980s, command a formidable army.

With links to elements within Pakistan's organized crime-tainted Inter Services Intelligence agency (ISI) and Army officers (serving and retired) who came to prominence during the reign of dictator General Zia ul-Haq, the TTP have been marching eastward from their redoubts in North and South Waziristan, the North-West Frontier Province and now threaten chaos within Pakistan's major population centers.

In the past year alone, TTP militants have launched more than 600 terrorist attacks, killing 2,000 people.
Since September, the situation has grown markedly worse. TTP and al-Qaeda fighters along with their Afghan Talib cousins, have virtually cut NATO's supply lines into Afghanistan through the Khyber Pass and now threaten Peshawar, the NWFP's capital, a sprawling city of three million people.

According to the latest reports in the Pakistani press, the TTP now control some eighty percent of the territory of the Swat Valley where Mehsud's local commander, Maulana Fazlullah has instituted a reign of terror under the banner of "Sharia Law."
Since the Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) affair in 2007, the TTP has challenged the state's writ and has spread sectarian medievalism across Pakistan, launching terrorist strikes in major cities, bombing girls' schools, burning down video shops, executing "immoral" women and beheading secular and leftist opponents. Along with the carnage, organized crime and the drug traffic has markedly increased.
Oh -- and do you recall A.Q. Khan, the Pakistani nuke expert who was caught distributing bombs as though they were breath mints? Remember the slap-on-the-hand treatment he received?
The release of nuclear proliferator Dr. A. Q. Khan from house arrest earlier this month, lifting restrictions imposed in 2004 when the scandal surrounding Pakistan's illicit black market in nuclear technology first broke, is another sign that Zardari is in deep trouble at home. Khan's release was a political decision intended to shore-up support on the president's right flank
Why am I suddenly flashing on that creepy remark Joe Biden made...the one about Obama being "tested" by some major event within six months?
While the Khan "chapter" may be "closed," the crisis may be far worse than imagined. Daily Times reported February 4 that the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Mohammed ElBaradei "has said Pakistan's nuclear weapons can fall into the hands of terrorists due to the prevailing instability in the South Asian country." Instability, I might add, that the United States and their NATO partners seem hell-bent on spreading far and wide.
Depression or no Depression, for A.Q. Khan, business is booming. (Incidentally, if you want to see a really unnerving blog about Khan, go here.)
Khan's case is baffling. Wheels within wheels. The treatment he has been given makes it look like he is on 'our' side and this is a big op. That or the cat came soooo far out of the bag instead of slitting his throat it is better to make it look like a big op. Either way my stomach doesn't feel very good.
When they finally arrest Clyde O'Connor and his silent business partner, my ex-brother-in-law for shipping huge amounts of cocaine, they ought to have them explain how many shipment flights of Nuclear Materials were made as well. Guess who is involved in this also?

Marty Didier
Borthbrook, IL
Despite what people may have inferred, Obama never said he was anti-war. He has always advocated for the Afghan war, and has said he does not oppose all wars, just stupid ones. He should wake up and realize that one is a stupid war as well.

He's not alone in his mistake, however. Plenty of people who figured out the Iraq war was bs continue to think there was some good reason to go to Afghanistan, when there was not.

it's worse than that (Munich anyone ?):

US: Pakistan-style truce in Afghanistan acceptable

KRAKOW, Poland – U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates says an agreement between the Afghan government and Taliban rebels along the lines of a truce concluded in neighboring Pakistan may be acceptable.

Gates says some sort of political reconciliation will have to be part of a long-term solution in Afghanistan.

Earlier this month, Pakistani authorities and pro-Taliban rebels in the Swat valley in northwestern Pakistan concluded a pact aimed at restoring peace. It allows the introduction of Islamic law in the area if militants lay down their arms.

The agreement sparked international concern. Richard Holbrooke, the new U.S envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, said he was worried the peace deal was tantamount to a surrender by the authorities.

A reporter from Pakistan's Geo Television brought up the Swat deal and Holbrooke's criticism of it.

The reporter asked whether, if Pakistan succeeds in pacifying militant activity in Swat, the United States would allow Afghans to make a similar type of agreement.

Gates replied: "If there is a reconciliation, if insurgents are willing to put down their arms, if the reconciliation is essentially on the terms being offered by the government then I think we would be very open to that.

"We have said all along that ultimately some sort of political reconciliation has to be part of the long-term solution in Afghanistan," Gates said.
XI: It should be pointed out that Obama was never really anti-Iraq-war, either:

- In 2004 (July 28th), he said that he and Bush had "pretty much the same view of the war," and that US troops should stay there as long as was needed to "complete the mission (i.e. complete Bush's mission);
- In campaign commercials he didn't say he/we would end the war but instead said "we can end the war" (i.e. he didn't promise to even try, but only said it was within the realm of possibility);
- In the campaign he called for keeping 60,000-80,000 troops there indefinitely (the numbers kept shifting, but that was the most-often-mentioned one);
- Even when he talked about getting all US military troops out, he still had no problem with keeping the 100,000 'private contractors (i.e. mercenaries) from Blackwater, etc, there indefinitely;
- Said Hillary was for the war based on her vote on the "AUMF". Since she stated her 'yes' vote was for continued inspections and against pre-emptive war (a view shared by UN weapons inspector Hans Blix as well as Ambassador Joe Wilson) - and since this was exactly what Obama said his position was in his much vaunted 2002 speech -then by his own reasoning he was for the war as well;
- (Relating to the above)When asked how he would have voted on the "AUMF" had he been in the Senate at the time, he replied he didn't know (since he was asked at a time when 67% of the public was against the war, speaking out against it would have had no electoral cost for him, yet he refused to, which clearly indicates he would have voted yes);
- When endorsed by Colin Powell, he referred to Powell as a "great statesman" i.e. he was either praising Powell for going up in front of the UN and lying his ass off to get the US public to support the Iraq War (in all fairness, it's possible he was praising Powell or for taking a week for his 'emergency' flight to Israel a few years back, giving their military just enough time to finish that round of Palestinian-slaughter - in this case including using bulldozers to bury hundreds of civilians alive - but if that's the case, he was saying this was such as great good as to overshadow any bad he did at the UN and elsewhere as regards the Iraq War, which is not exactly an anti-stupid-war statement either.).

Sergei Rostov
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