Thursday, March 19, 2009

The new plan

We have been told that decision time is approaching for the new plan for Afghanistan/Pakistan. Whatever that plan is, it will surely continue the process of unifying the two conflicts in terms of US policy, for better or for worse.

This article by Paul Rogers points out that we may be looking at a three front war, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan (let's leave out Iran now, just for sanity's sake), and two article at the Asia Times go over the possibilities. M K Bhadrakumar gives his usual excellent analysis, while Pepe Escobar gives a summation of what he thinks the plan will entail, and why it might extend the war into Pakistan proper:
The new mix will likely feature an ongoing wild goose chase for "good Taliban"; an expanded Central Intelligence Agency-operated drone war (a George W Bush policy decision); assorted CIA and special forces cross-border attacks (also a Bush policy decision); more carrots for the Pentagon-friendly Pakistani army (and Inter-Services Intelligence); more US troops in Afghanistan (starting with the announced 17,000 who will hit Helmand province before summer); and more training for the Afghan army.
The new "strategic" Petraeus front is in and around Quetta, a teeming urban center and the capital of the vast, mostly deserted Pakistani province of Balochistan. Quetta now happens to be historic Taliban Central, harboring, among others, according to US intelligence, none other than The Shadow, Taliban leader Mullah Omar himself.
The possibility of expanding the war into Balochistan was previewed in a NYT article that is wholly dependent on unnamed sources, that we can assume gives the view point of the Petraeus power center.

It really is mind-boggling that they are seriously discussing bombing a large, densely packed city in a country that is struggling to stabilize an extremely difficult political situation. Sure, they might get the leaders to allow it, the army wants more money so they can pretend they can go to war with India, the politicians want more money, well, because, but to permit bombing Quetta is political suicide. The politicos already sound like clowns when they bleatingly implore the US to restrain the current Predator attacks, attacks that leave from airfields in Pakistan.

Sovereignty is not a glass of water, you have it or you don't, and Pakistan's leaders seem unable to grasp the concept. That the US continues to abet their illusions will only lead to further instability, and possible disaster within the year.


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