Trying to make sense of a meshuga planet

The US advice on Kashmir is lunacy

Got this from a friend. A revealing view on new utopia-based US foreign policy, this time unrelated to the Middle East, but is relevant nonetheless, because it is instructive on the mindset: The US advice on Kashmir is lunacy by M J Akbar (Times of India)

If you want to sell arsenic, the kindest way to do so is to disguise it as medicine heavily coated with sugar. There is nothing particularly new about the proposal of an interim balm for the wounds of Kashmir, demilitarization on both sides of the Line of Control. What is novel is the heavy Washington endorsement of this Pakistan-promoted option.

Self-interest may have blinded Washington to an obvious fallacy in this “reasonable” formulation. In all three major Kashmir conflicts – 1947, 1965 and Kargil – Pakistan has used a two-tier strategy. A surrogate force has served as a first line of offense. The Pakistani term for them has been consistent; they have come in the guise of “freedom fighters”. India called them “raiders” in 1947 and 1965, and defines them as terrorists now. This surrogate force has expanded its operations far beyond Kashmir, as the terrorist attacks on Mumbai confirmed.

DMZs (De-Militarized Zones) would guarantee the security of Pakistan and weaken India’s defences, since there is no suggestion that terrorist militias are going to be “demilitarized”. Should the Indian army leave the Kashmir valley to the mercy of well-organized, finely-trained, generously-financed indiscriminate organisations? India has no corresponding surrogate force, because it is a status-quo power; it makes no claims on any neighbour’s territory.

If America wants a DMZ (De-Militarized Zone) in India they will first have to ensure a DTZ (De-Terrorised Zone) in Pakistan.

India and Pakistan may have a common problem in terrorism, but they do not have terrorists in common. Those who have inflicted havoc already in India, and those who intend to do so in future, are safe in their havens in Lahore and Multan and Karachi.


June 21, 2009 Posted by | US foreign policy | , , | Leave a comment

Gen. Jones: “We can’t fight with one hand tied behind our back”

Tragically, civilians die in any war. Tragically, scores of Afghan civilians were killed in the NATO/U.S. airstrikes against Taliban. Of course, circumstances must be investigated, but as far as we know, NATO/U.S. forces do not intentionally target civilians. The blame should be put on those who fight from behind women’s skirts and those who deliberately target civilian population. And while “the Mayor of Kabul” Hamid Karzai tries to win favors with wanted warlords and to avert attention from the scourges of corruption, drug trafficking and Islamic radicalism in his own backyard, the U.S. showed estimable determination to keep fighting terrorists. NYT reports:

The security adviser, General James L. Jones, spoke six days after Afghans blamed United States airstrikes in western Afghanistan for the deaths of scores of civilians. American officials apologized for the deaths and said that they are investigating the incident. Still they say that reports of a death toll exceeding 100 were exaggerated and that Taliban militants who were being targeted might have forced civilians to serve as “human shields.”

“We’re going to take a look at trying to make sure we correct those things we can correct, but certainly to tie the hands of our commanders and say we’re not going to conduct airstrikes would be imprudent,” General Jones said on ABC’s “This Week.”

We can’t fight with one hand tied behind our back,” he said, without flatly ruling out the possibility of a change in approach.

The highlight is mine. Let’s remember this phrase, something tells me that one day we may find it handy.

May 12, 2009 Posted by | Af-Pak | , , | Leave a comment

An unlearnt lesson of appeasement

Chamberlain and Daladier said hello.

Pakistan deal with Taliban emboldens militants:

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Pakistan’s strategy of trying to appease Taliban militants is showing signs of backfiring, as extremists move within 60 miles of the capital and threaten to spread their influence throughout the country.

In the Middle East, unconditional concessions signal weakness

April 23, 2009 Posted by | Af-Pak | , | Leave a comment

Good luck, Mr. President. Seriously.

Obama Will Be Judged on Outcome in Afghanistan and Pakistan by Judith Miller

Max Boot, a conservative analyst at the Council on Foreign Relations, concluded that President Obama’s strategy was “pretty much all that supporters of the war effort could have asked for, and probably pretty similar to what a President McCain would have decided on.” James S. Robbins, a former Pentagon official with the American Foreign Policy Council in Washington, noted that the Obama strategy was remarkably similar to what former President Bush had proposed in 2004. … Team Obama also chose not to clarify how they will reconcile the sometimes contradictory goals Obama endorsed with the realities of the region. For instance, how will they reconcile their determination to work closely with Pakistan with their knowledge that elements in the Pakistani security services are aiding and abetting the Taliban inside Afghanistan?

The emphasis is mine.
Meanwhile, Pakistan is busy putting forward UN resolutions stifling criticism of One True Religion.

March 28, 2009 Posted by | Af-Pak, US | , | Leave a comment