Saturday, April 19, 2008

Collision course with Pakistan
still imminent for next POTUS

I've said this many times... most recently in my March 31st 2008 post, "Pakistan Update: Trouble on the Horizon?". Prior to that, I lambasted the fools who bought, hook-line-and-sinker, the media demonization of Musharraf in "Hating Musharraf. Those chickens comin' home to roost" on Mar 25th.

During the run up to Pakistan's elections, there were few to no western media voices that credited Musharraf for his risky and bold stand, aiding the US against many Pakistan political power houses. The US electorate, dutiful little sheeple they tend to be, bought into the notion that Benazir's PPP party win would magically produce a more cooperative ally - ignoring the history of the party leaders and ministers (as well as Sharif's own sketchy past).

It's almost a month later, and it's becoming even more abundantly clear that the US media and electorate is now getting exactly what they asked for. And for that misplaced faith in the PPP, aided by a relentless piling-on of Musharraf, we're another step closer to the future collision course with the complacent PPP led Pakistani government and a weakened Musharraf. They just do not demonstrate the heart to do much more than talk... An approach that has yielded nothing but a trail of broken truces in the past.

From today's NYTs,
"U.S. Commanders Seeking to Widen Pakistan Attacks " by MARK MAZZETTI and ERIC SCHMITT, comes reports of a wisely cautious WH, bent on not riling the new Pakistani govt while simultaneously trying to dance around cleaning out the wasp nests of AQ and neo Taliban that have entrenched themselves in the tribal regions of that country.

American commanders in Afghanistan have in recent months urged a widening of the war that could include American attacks on indigenous Pakistani militants in the tribal areas inside Pakistan, according to United States officials.

The requests have been rebuffed for now, the officials said, after deliberations in Washington among senior Bush administration officials who fear that attacking Pakistani radicals may anger Pakistan’s new government, which is negotiating with the militants, and destabilize an already fragile security situation.

American commanders would prefer that Pakistani forces attack the militants, but Pakistani military operations in the tribal areas have slowed recently to avoid upsetting the negotiations.

Pakistan has given it's tacit nod to remote Predator drone strikes, but have made it abundantly clear they will not tolerate US boots on the ground, nor unsanctioned air strikes. Yet the US lives in a rock/hard place of facts. The areas with the highest threats are the very places the US is most restricted in actions by Pakistan. Instead, Pakistan insists on plodding thru with negotiating with their tribal militant factions... the very same who provide unmitigated aid to AQ and other Islamic jihad movements, as well as murdering the more peaceful tribal elders who do not cooperate.

The WH, however, knows the delicate line it walks. It has no choice but to let Pakistan learn it's lessons... one more time... the hard way.

Administration officials say the risk of angering the new government in Pakistan and stirring increased anti-American sentiment in the tribal areas outweighs the benefits of dismantling militant networks in the region.

“It’s certainly something we want to get to, but not yet,” said one Bush administration official. “If you do it now, you can expect to do it without Pakistani approval, and you can expect to do it only once because the Pakistanis will never help us again.”

This last line is one Cowboy Obama needs to remember, given his previous statements about Pakistan.

Back in August [2007], I said we should work with the Pakistani government, first of all to encourage democracy in Pakistan, and secondly, that we have to press them to do more to take on al Qaeda in their territory," the Illinois Democrat, who now threatens to strike at Senator Hillary Rodham Hillary in New Hampshire after a stunning performance in Iowa, said.

"What I said was, if they could not or would not do so, and we had actionable intelligence, then I would strike."

Obama's military swagger.. whether for show or for real... did not set with with the Pakistani's then. And it's unlikely it will go over any better with the new PPP led Parliament and PM Gilani in this post election era.

On the flip side, a GOP President McCain is in the same position as GWB. Without cooperation from the Pakistanis, and with Musharraf on the ropes, his hands are equally tied.

Either way, the next POTUS faces an uphill battle with the "kinder and gentler" approach the new Pak government has elected to take. Obama will either lose us an ally in the region with his unilaterial proposition, or McCain will find himself looking for incentives to use on Pakistan to get them more motivated in battling the jihad/militant elements.

One undeniable fact - Musharraf's maverick actions with the Pakistan army will be sorely missed.

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