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Steevo

This war has brought out a rather remarkable revelation of a very sorry state in our own free West. We have undergone without conscience trendy dishonesty, self-denial and hypocrisy... the surface to an underlying hardness.

Whether optimism, pessimism or uncertainty anywhere inbetween... there is a burdon of responsibility that lies on all of us who sit in judgment. We cannot speak with any justification unless we winnow through the sources of information to properly obtain the facts. It is our obligation. And by and large this will be from the Iraqis, our Coalition forces and those reporting on the ground first hand.

John Andrews

It is amazing that people are actually taking these fighting words from Obama as meaning much. US is in no position to attack a country like Pakistan. Though Pakistan has 600,000 of one of the best trained military's in the world, she has over a million of equally well trained and motivated in reserve plus another 450,000 paramilitary, not to mention 70 Million men of fighting age. A single city of Pakistan houses almost the entire population of Iraq. Pakistan has one of the best trained air forces in the world, plus ballistic and cruise missible capability that can be capped with nukes and hit American bases all the way into Europe. Additionally she has advanced submarines that can sneak up to our coasts and unlesh nukes right at our borders. Furthermore I won't be suprised that in the next few months you'll see them lob off a few ICBM tests just to get the message out to us loud and clear.

Secondly talk of Musharraf being overthrow is crazy as well, since Musharraf himself will fight tooth and nail against any invasion. With the population of 170 million people, land mass equivalent to nearly the entire eastern seaboard of the USA, people in Pakistan literally laugh off such talk. Only us dumb Americans feel good about this talk, not knowing the seething hatred we are building in a Muslim nation of a 170 million people. How would we like it if someone said they'll bomb us. It is pure madness. Our media lulls us into a sleep by showing donkey carts and back streets of villages in Pakistan. It is like someone outside of the US seeing back-streets of Philly ghettos and equating that to representing the US of A.

So lets get off this false bravado, make friends and hope for the best. We have grown too accustomed to attacking small weak nations like Grenda, Panama, Iraq, Haiti, etc. Lets get with reality and build bridges rather than burn the few we have left.

atheling

"So lets get off this false bravado, make friends and hope for the best. We have grown too accustomed to attacking small weak nations like Grenda, Panama, Iraq, Haiti, etc. Lets get with reality and build bridges rather than burn the few we have left."

"Reality?" Talk about pie in the sky.

Simon Newman

According to this report on the last GOP debate, Giuliani is reported as (a) pointing out that Obama had a good point re Pakistan, and (b) being far more aware of the limits of democratisation than Romney:
http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2007/08/gop-debate-wr-1.html

Previous campaign reports I've seen have painted Giuliani as an unthinking Bushite invade-the-worlder (the Paleocons strongly dislike him, especially for his philandering). I find this very interesting, it's making me re-revise my opinion of Giuliani back to the more positive view I had from back when he refused to accept Saudi money after 9/11.

Simon Newman

"We have grown too accustomed to attacking small weak nations like Grenda, Panama, Iraq, Haiti, etc"

If you're going to invade anywhere, much better it be small weak close-by countries (Grenada, Panama, Haiti) than large faraway countries (Iraq, Iran). The exception is countries that attacked you first (Afghanistan, WW2 Japan), where great efforts are both required and warranted.

Simon Newman

James:
"Iraq is a democracy much like Afghanistan is a democracy. When we withdraw, they will cease to be democracies, and our current allies will likely be killed, exiled, or switch sides"

The Northern Alliance (Masoud especially) were fighting the Taleban for many years, before the US intervened and with air support enabled the NA to drive the Taleban out of Afghanistan. I don't see any reason not to make a permanent commitment to anti-Taleban forces in Afghanistan and provide continuing support against Taleban/Al-Qaeda reconquest of the country. Obviously it's unlikely that Afghanistan will ever be a liberal democracy, but we ought to be able to prevent it becoming an Al Qaeda base again. We ought to be able to prevent Waziristan being an AQ base likewise, but apparently that's not considered to be of much importance.

"Pakistan has 600,000 of one of the best trained military's in the world"

Who are apparently unable to secure large swathes of their own country. Look, no one is advocating the conquest of Pakistan. The point is that Pakistan should not be allowed to shelter AQ on its territory, just as Saudi Arabia should not be allowed to fund radical Islam in the West.

Simon Newman

By contrast, here's an unfortunately realistic appraisal of the negative consequences of trying to root Al Qaeda out of Pakistan:

http://d-n-i.net/fcs/elkus_pakistan.htm

I think the big problem is that in 2001/2 the USA had enough moral legitimacy post-9/11 that it could have followed AQ into Pakistan, but now after Iraq the USA's moral standing is much weaker, its military less capable, and there is less fear of the USA's righteous anger.

I still think though that a country with any claim to be a superpower can't allow a terrorist organisation to operate openly against it, kill 3,000 people, destroy its greatest financial centre, and not make every effort to destroy that terrorist organisation.

John Andrews

Simon I agree that Al-Qaeda in the mountains is a threat, but it is regional at best. Not international. Hamburg / London based cells are far more dangerous. Not some mud-hut tribals.

I also agree this regional threat also needs to be managed. Finally my point above is not taking any poisition regarding Al-Qaeda. It is purely meant to drive some reality into people that the invasion/attack on a country like Pakistan is not possible. We drink too much of our own cool-aid and watch way too much of the Military Channel. If we attack Pakistan, we should say goodbye to any leverage in Central Asia as well as Middle East for the next 100 years.

Also we'll drive Pakistan directly into the laps of China and Russia, and what the cold war was not able to do, (warm port access near the gulf) we'll do in one ill-conceived, dumb, false-bravado move.

Add to that the flames that will go up in the UK with nearly a million citizens of Pakistani decent, just the talk of attacking Pakistan is dumb to the core.

Simon Newman

John Andrews:
"Simon I agree that Al-Qaeda in the mountains is a threat, but it is regional at best. Not international. Hamburg / London based cells are far more dangerous. Not some mud-hut tribals. "

But Al Qaeda's core leadership and inspiration, Bin Laden and Zawahiri, are in those mountains, and via Pakistan's cities and the Internet they link to Pakistani, Arab, Somali and other Al Qaeda cells in London, Hamburg etc. I know they probably don't maintain direct operational control - although from reading Ron Suskind's "The One Percent Doctrine" it seems they do maintain tighter control of AQ operations than many people believe. But the most important thing is that they carried out an attack on the USA comparable to Pearl Harbor, and seem to have got away with it.

James

Simon, I don't doubt that amongst some Afghans the Taliban were unpopular, and that the NA were fighting against them prior to 9/11 - albeit with limited success (in fact their leader Masood was killed by al-Qaeda assassins on the 9th of September 2001.) I also know some - perhaps a majority - of Afghans appreciated the stability they bought to the country after decades of war. A permanant commitmant to stopping Afghanistan becoming an Islamist state and a potential base for al-Qaeda would mean considerable blood and treasure spent over many years, with a likely similar end-result: a Pashtun dominated Islamist government.

I don't see fighting al-Qaeda and propping up well-intentioned but doomed governments as the same thing.

Simon Newman

James - it seems to me that since the Northern Alliance were not defeated in years of war, even with no US support, they are viable and can defend against the Taleban, probably with full air support and very limited US ground support. That's not the same as creating a democratic & peaceful Iraq but it's doable and probably not very expensive. If the US were willing to take on the Taleban in the bordering Pakistani tribal area it wouldn't even be difficult.

I can understand the viewpoint that says the US (and Britain) should withdraw entirely from the Muslim world; I can even understand the Ann Coulter 'kill em all' viewpoint; what I can't understand is the current US policy of spending vast resources in Iraq, which never attacked the USA, while allowing the men who caused 9/11 to remain at liberty because it would be too difficult to go after them.

James

Well indeed, it's tricky. I would say that the NA were more or less totally defeated pior to 9/11, and the only thing that stopped this from happening sooner was that in the 1992-1994 civil war the U.S., the UN and the West generally backed the NA - giving them a short term boost that was unrelated to their actual support on the ground. Furthermore the NA is a Tajik and Uzbek dominated group. I can't forsee how they could long be expected to hold of the Taliban or some Pashtun-Islamist variant, even with outside aid.

I see your point and share your views vis-a-vis attacking/threatening countries that have nothing to do with al-Qaeda or the 9/11 attacks (Iraq and Iran). An urgent rethink of all our Middle Eastern policies needs to be conducted.

Simon Newman

James:
"Furthermore the NA is a Tajik and Uzbek dominated group. I can't forsee how they could long be expected to hold of the Taliban or some Pashtun-Islamist variant, even with outside aid. "

The Afghan Pashtun may be a particularly aggressive bunch, but they're hardly invincible, nor does the Taleban command universal support among them of course. To my knowledge they make up around 40% of Afghanistan's population; their big advantage has been support from Pakistani Pushtun and from the Pakistani government.

Obviously a successful strategy needs to be political as well as military; I don't think it's impossible to separate Arab-dominated Al Qaeda from the Pashtun clans.

Web designing Pakistan

Also the threatening approach will not be helpful for Britain in Afghanistan the strategy should get change and the issue could be resolve by the round table meetings...

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