Many of Blog Simple's posts link to articles in TomDispatch. Tom Engelhardt gets some (most?) of the best and most realistic thinkers on world affairs, articles that are so far above the claptrap we're normally fed by the 'distinguished' New York Times and Washington Post that the difference is almost absurd.
Once again, Tom has a must read article, this time by Tariq Ali, that looks at the apparent escalation of the excellent Afghan war into Pakistan. By all means, read the whole thing, but here is the conclusion:
The key in Pakistan, as always, is the army. If the already heightened U.S. raids inside the country continue to escalate, the much-vaunted unity of the military High Command might come under real strain. At a meeting of corps commanders in Rawalpindi on September 12th, Pakistani Chief of Staff General Ashfaq Kayani received unanimous support for his relatively mild public denunciation of the recent U.S. strikes inside Pakistan in which he said the country's borders and sovereignty would be defended "at all cost."
Saying, however, that the Army will safeguard the country's sovereignty is different from doing so in practice. This is the heart of the contradiction. Perhaps the attacks will cease on November 4th. Perhaps pigs (with or without lipstick) will fly. What is really required in the region is an American/NATO exit strategy from Afghanistan, which should entail a regional solution involving Pakistan, Iran, India, and Russia. These four states could guarantee a national government and massive social reconstruction in that country. No matter what, NATO and the Americans have failed abysmally.
Really required, unfortunately, is another way of saying, won't be done. Instead, we have the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mullen, jetting off to Islamabad for talks with the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Gilani, as well as the head of the Pakistan military, Kayani. Our 'do everything' military has pretty well cornered the market on diplomacy in Pakistan. Sending a military man to placate or armtwist our supposed allies makes one believe that armtwisting is the order of the day. Washington has been coy lately about the delivery of F16 fighters to Pakistan, might that be the carrot being offered? Certainly, to get Gilani and Kayani to sign off on the new cross-border US policy is a tall order. To get them to sign off publicly seems far fetched. If they do not sign off, Pakistan has a trump card to play, as explained in the conclusion to the NTY article linked to above:
On a visit to Britain on Tuesday, Pakistan’s newly elected president, Asif Ali Zardari, was quoted as saying after meeting with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown: “This situation doesn’t help democracy. “
When asked about future cross border attacks, Mr. Zardari said: “I don’t think there will be any more.”
In a meeting in Islamabad on Tuesday with Jack Straw, the British justice secretary, Mr. Gilani said that Pakistan’s sovereignty had to be respected.
According to a press statement by the Pakistani prime minister’s office, Mr. Straw said that he “hoped that Pakistan would continue providing passage to NATO convoys through its territory on their way to Afghanistan.”
You had better hope so, Mr. Straw, and you too, Adm. Mullen.