Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
September 28, 2011

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 13:50 UTC | Permalink


It's not up to Obama. He's merely the Sock Puppet in this equation. He will cheer lead any decision his Creators have made, or will make. Elections are Kabuki Theater, and anything of truly strategic import doesn't let the onerous nuisance of elections, or re-elections, get in its way.

Posted by: Morocco Bama | Sep 28 2011 14:37 utc | 1

Cornered himself, b. I agree. It was immediately apparent to me that the Haqqani are next in line to be our bogeyman, and excuse to go to war again. Why in hell can't we stop this shit! (*sarcasm*)

Posted by: Jake | Sep 28 2011 15:53 utc | 2

To borrow a few lines from Pepe Escobar's recent article

"Washington is visibly on the decline, oscillating wildly between a lame populism and a stale orthodoxy, and shilling for casino capitalism on a side street in its spare time."

This is where the problem lies. What we see in this post are just symptoms

Posted by: amar | Sep 28 2011 16:47 utc | 3

US bombers could blitz areas in Pakistan

WASHINGTON: Support is growing in the U.S. Congress for expanding American military action in Pakistan beyond drone strikes already used to target militants in Pakistani territory, a senior Republican U.S. senator says.

The comments by Senator Lindsey Graham, an influential Republican voice on foreign policy and military affairs, follow remarks by the top U.S. military officer, Admiral Mike Mullen, accusing Pakistan last week of supporting the militant Haqqani network's September 13 attack on the U.S. embassy in Kabul.

Graham said in an interview on Tuesday that U.S. lawmakers might support military options beyond the drone strikes that have been going on for years inside Pakistani territory.
Those options may include using U.S. bomber planes within Pakistan.
Graham said U.S. lawmakers will think about stepping up the military pressure. "If people believe it's gotten to the point that that is the only way really to protect our interests I think there would be a lot of support," Graham said.

Posted by: b | Sep 29 2011 4:32 utc | 4

"This is now an automatism the Obama administration needlessly created in its attempts to overtake the Republicans on the right."

That's certainly the way it looks.
It's probably the result of the Americans believing too much of their own hogwash. And believing their own hogwash is probably the result of blustering incessantly instead of pausing to listen occasionally.

On Senator Graham (R, Tel Aviv),
The Yankees are out of their depth with 30 million angry Afghans. I'm mildly curious to hear what benefits Sen Graham expects the US to derive by making 170 million Pakis angry?

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Sep 29 2011 6:04 utc | 5

it's gotten to the point that that is the only way really to protect our interests

scraping fingernails on chalkboard

Posted by: annie | Sep 30 2011 13:33 utc | 6

U.S. and Uzbekistan Discuss More Supply Routes

President Obama and Uzbekistan’s president, Islam Karimov, discussed expanding use of the Central Asian country as a route to supply troops in Afghanistan, a United States official said Thursday, amid growing concern about the viability of Pakistan as a transit route. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton also met with her Uzbek counterpart on Thursday, and Congress is considering legislative changes that would allow more military aid to Uzbekistan despite its poor human rights record.
"poor human rights record" includes, according to Craig Murray, boiling prisoners to death.

Posted by: b | Sep 30 2011 15:43 utc | 7

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