War On Pakistan Now On Auto Mode
Gareth Porter does not believe that the U.S. will put boots on the ground in Pakistan:
The U.S. threat last week that "all options" are on the table if the Pakistani military doesn't cut its ties with the Haqqani network of anti-U.S. insurgents created the appearance of a crisis involving potential U.S. military escalation in Pakistan.
But there is much less substance to the administration's threatening rhetoric than was apparent. In fact, it was primarily an exercise in domestic political damage control, although compounded by an emotional response to recent major attacks by the Haqqani group on U.S.-NATO targets, according to two sources familiar with the policymaking process on Afghanistan and Pakistan.
On might think that this is right especially as some anonymous officials are now walking back Admiral Mullen's accusations that the Haqqani network is the prolonged arm of the Pakistani secret service ISI (which by the way the Taliban emphatically deny):
Adm. Mike Mullen’s assertion last week that an anti-American insurgent group in Afghanistan is a “veritable arm” of Pakistan’s spy service was overstated and contributed to overheated reactions in Pakistan and misperceptions in Washington, according to American officials involved in U.S. policy in the region.
The internal criticism by the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they did not want to challenge Mullen openly, reflects concern over the accuracy of Mullen’s characterizations at a time when Obama administration officials have been frustrated in their efforts to persuade Pakistan to break its ties to Afghan insurgent groups.
But the walking back may be temporary.
The Pakistani have reacted quite harsh to the recent accusations. They called back their Foreign Minister who was at the UN in New York. At a meeting with the Chinese minister for public security Pakistan's prime minister Gilani hailed the relation with China: "China’s enemy is our enemy, we will extend our full cooperation to China on security.” The Pakistani spy chief had an emergency meeting with his Saudi Arabian colleague. The ISI chief also told CIA head Petreaus that Pakistan would be forced to retaliate if American forces attempt to launch a unilateral strike on the country’s tribal belt. On can bet that China and Saudi Arabia will provide for Pakistan whatever Washington reduces in aid.
With its recent accusation, which do not seem to be based on real evidence anyway, the U.S. has lost all leverage it had with Pakistan. Having done so for mere domestic policy reason was another huge mistake by the Obama administration.
At least up the end of this year the U.S. military's logistics in Afghanistan still depend on Pakistan. The U.S. can not yet risk that line to be broken. But the point where the northern distribution network can take over the logistic burden is not far off.
The administration has now set itself a trap. With Republicans in the Senate already in "all options are on table" warmongering mode what will the administration do when (not if) the next highly visible attack by the Haqqani network occurs?
Will Obama just sit back and do nothing?
His priority is to get reelected and that is why he can't. Having accused Pakistan for direct influence on the Haqqani network the administration will have to again escalate after the next attack with a military strike now being the only option being left. This is now an automatism the Obama administration needlessly created in its attempts to overtake the Republicans on the right.
Posted by b on September 28, 2011 at 09:50 AM | Permalink
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