San Diego – There is a huge difference between being an “Isolationist” and someone who believes that it is not in our best or lasting interests to keep poking around in business or affairs of other countries. In this one thing, at least, i tend to agree with the words in King Barrack’s speech yesterday. That distinction appears to be lost on the media and also on the public for whom labels, especially simplistic ones, are needed to define their views of the world in the face of an utter lack of knowledge sufficient to make an informed and meaningful analysis.
The true isolationist wants to essentially build a wall around the country and become utterly self sufficient and apart from the rest of the world. Perhaps there was a time when that was possible, whether or not it was wise. Not even Switzerland, famed for its neutrality and avoidance of foreign entanglements, attempts that sort of isolation. But to be a good neighbor often means staying out of others’ business even when that business is confusing or abhorrent to you. Somewhere between true isolationism and wanting to be the policeman of the world is a wiser more sustainable approach.
Whether we like it or not, we are part of a larger world in which global economies and State politics have an impact on our lives and fortunes for good or for ill. So, inconvenient as it may be for us, we simply cannot pull out of the world as if we all lived on another planet and could simply watch and snicker at the interplay of ego and idiocy happening before us. Treading that extremely fine line between protecting true national interests and trying to impose our will on others, tracking wisely between an understanding of the needs and sensitivities of other states not as lucky as ours in terms of defense capabilities, and a complete dismissal of those other views seeing them as enemies or potential enemies when they do something we think is counter to our own interests, requires serious leadership and wisdom… neither of which seems to be available to us at the moment.
A major case in point is Pakistan and Afghanistan. One-dimensional pundits on both left and right want us to just get the heck out if we are not willing to fight to win. Well, to be fair, those in the left want us out period. And i have argued that we should never engage militarily ANYwhere unless we are willing to go all out to win. But the bottom line is the same. And further, many on the right want to somehow punish Pakistan for seeming to work against us in the war against the islamists and the Taliban. Once again, small minds see only the small picture and can get their minds around only the simplistic answers. If only the world were that simple and straight forward.
Below are several paragraphs excerpted from an Intel Report from Stratfor on the situation that explains the bind we and the Pakistanis have created for ourselves. (This was presented before the President’s speech on the drawdown.)
“Sept. 11, 2001, posed a profound threat to Pakistan. On one side, Pakistan faced a United States in a state of crisis, demanding Pakistani support against both al Qaeda and the Taliban. On the other side Pakistan had a massive Islamist movement hostile to the United States and intelligence services that had, for a generation, been intimately linked to Afghan Islamists, first with whole-hearted U.S. support, then with its benign indifference. The American demands involved shredding close relationships in Afghanistan, supporting an American occupation in Afghanistan and therefore facing internal resistance and threats in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.
“The Pakistani solution was the only one it could come up with to placate both the United States and the forces in Pakistan that did not want to cooperate with the United States. The Pakistanis lied. To be more precise and fair, they did as much as they could for the United States without completely destabilizing Pakistan while making it appear that they were being far more cooperative with the Americans and far less cooperative with their public. As in any such strategy, the ISI and Islamabad found themselves engaged in a massive balancing act.
“U.S. and Pakistani national interests widely diverged. The United States wanted to disrupt al Qaeda regardless of the cost. The Pakistanis wanted to avoid the collapse of their regime at any cost. These were not compatible goals. At the same time, the United States and Pakistan needed each other. The United States could not possibly operate in Afghanistan without some Pakistani support, ranging from the use of Karachi and the Karachi-Khyber and Karachi-Chaman lines of supply to at least some collaboration on intelligence sharing, at least on al Qaeda. The Pakistanis badly needed American support against India. If the United States simply became pro-Indian, the Pakistani position would be in severe jeopardy.
“The United States was always aware of the limits of Pakistani assistance. The United States accepted this publicly because it made Pakistan appear to be an ally at a time when the United States was under attack for unilateralism. It accepted it privately as well because it did not want to see Pakistan destabilize. The Pakistanis were aware of the limits of American tolerance, so a game was played out.
“That game is now breaking down, not because the United States raided Pakistan and killed bin Laden but because it is becoming apparent to Pakistan that the United States will, sooner or later, be dramatically drawing down its forces in Afghanistan. This drawdown creates three facts. First, Pakistan will be facing the future on its western border with Afghanistan without an American force to support it. Pakistan does not want to alienate the Taliban, and not just for ideological reasons. It also expects the Taliban to govern Afghanistan in due course. India aside, Pakistan needs to maintain its ties to the Taliban in order to maintain its influence in Afghanistan and guard its western flank. Being cooperative with the United States is less important. Second, Pakistan is aware that as the United States draws down, it will need Pakistan to cover its withdrawal strategically. Afghanistan is not Iraq, and as the U.S. force draws down, it will be in greater danger. The U.S. needs Pakistani influence. Finally, there will be a negotiation with the Taliban, and elements of Pakistan, particularly the ISI, will be the intermediary.
“The Pakistanis are preparing for the American drawdown. Publicly, it is important for them to appears independent and even hostile to the /united States in order to maintain their domestic credibility. Up to now, they have appeared to various factions in Pakistan as American lackeys. If the United States is leaving, the Pakistanis can’t afford to appear that way anymore. There are genuine issues separating the two countries, but in the end, the show is as important as the issues. U.S. accusations that the government has not cooperated with the United States in fighting Islamists are exactly what the Pakistani establishment needs in order to move to the next phase.”
Into this quagmire steps our benighted leader. True, he did not creat it, the hated Bush Demon created it by allowing the mission to creep beyond simply stopping Afghanistan from allowing Al Qaida and other islamist/jihadists a training ground and base from which to attack us and into a full blown campaign to stabilize a nation ruled by systemic corruption that would make the Mexican Authorities look like choir boys. He leads from a position of experiential ignorance and in opposition to the military’s assessment of what is needed. (The military wanted to at least complete the 2012 fighting season before drawing down but that extends into September and did not give the political impact needed by the President for his campaign.)
The pull out period, due to both the timing and the advanced notice to the enemy will be an extremely dangerous period for our troops and very much unlike Iraq where an agreement was reached with the Sunni insurgents. Unfortunately no such agreement currently exists with the Taliban. And without it, Pakistan is an incredibly important piece in the puzzle as the quickest routes of retreat for all of the heavy metal that cannot easily be airlifted out is over the Khyber Pass region and into their country.
This administration has continued and expanded the Bush Demon’s initial goals into ones clearly impossible and now added to the military problems by announcing when we were leaving so the enemy can simply prepare for it and as our force dwindles to some critical mass, pounce and show the world clearly an important symbolic message that (a) the U.S. once again ran with its tail between its legs when the going got touch, (b) they could deliver major blows to this paper tiger, and (c) send a message that no one in history has STILL managed to defeat and control that region.
Just as with our economic problems, the polarized factions in our own government have so muddied the water as to make any clean end-game impossible. Preferring going to the wall to maintain their own ideological views and seat at the table, no matter how shortsighted or counterproductive, they have been willing to sacrifice the well being of the country. There are no innocent parties here and no good sides to take anymore. Our dear leaders have sidestepped plans that might, at one point, have solved things with some but minimal pain and reached a point where there are no good solutions left only extremely painful ones for us all, and even the tentative steps being suggested are too often proposed for all the wrong reasons and to make sure it is “them” who suffers and not “us.” .
In a previous post asking whose side we were on, I provided the math to show what the real impact of this pull out will be on our economy if ALL military budgets now requested for the campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan were eliminated. Bottom line; it will not make even a small dent in the deficit, much less the debt.
We are no longer a country of Chess Players. indeed we are no longer a country of Checkers Players. In fact it would seem as if our “brilliant” leaders could not predictably win a game of Old Maid against the nearest potted plant. The only strategic game our dear leader seems competent at is national Russian Roulette. Thus far, Stratfor’s assessments have been spot on. in this instance if they are even close (I encourage you to read it all from the link below) then the speech our Dear Leader gave yesterday was simply delusional especially since his own intel people are telling pretty much the same story as Stratfor.
Here again, ideology trumps reality. And once again it adds fuel to my ugly conclusions that we are being slowly brought to our knees from within so we can be rebuilt in the Dear One’s image. He even said as much when he said we should not be Nation Building” elsewhere but needed to do “Nation Building” here. But we have a nation… oh wait, this is not the worker’s paradise of a nation into which King Barrack openly wishes to transform us. For that, we must build a NEW nation, right after we effectively destroy this one. Meantime, does that not run counter to Libya?
John Quincy Adams wrote that,
“… our task is to be the advocate for liberty everywhere, but the defender of ours alone.“
Jim Webb, Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of the Navy and now a Democrat Senator said, relative to the attack against Libya,
“Was our country under attack, or under the threat of imminent attack? Was a clearly vital national interest at stake? Were we invoking the inherent right of self-defense as outlined in the United Nations charter? Were we called upon by treaty commitments to come to the aid of an ally? Were we responding in kind to an attack on our forces elsewhere, as we did in the 1986 raids in Libya after American soldiers had been killed in a disco in Berlin? Were we rescuing Americans in distress, as we did in Grenada in 1983? No, we were not.”
i increasingly think we are under sttack. But it is not from the middle east!
Here is the link to the complete Stratfor intel report i quoted from above.
U.S. and Pakistan: Afghan Strategies is republished with permission of STRATFOR