July 16, 2008

NYT Wonders: Why Didn't Bush Invade Pakistan, As We All Urged?

Hatched by Dafydd

The New York Times, in the first of an expected 632 installments, explains to us why al-Qaeda is much more powerful now than it was in 2000... and all because President George W. Bush neglected to do what the elite media now claim they repeatedly urged him to do: Send American "commandos" in "ground raids inside the tribal areas" of Pakistan, instead of fighting the thousands of open members of al-Qaeda in Iraq, in the country that al-Qaeda itself declared the core of their jihad.

I have never before been so convinced of the existence of alternative realities.

Here, on a nutshell, is how the Times perceives the buildup of Taliban and al-Qaeda forces in Pakistan to be Bush's fault:

After the Sept. 11 attacks, President Bush committed the nation to a “war on terrorism” and made the destruction of Mr. bin Laden’s network the top priority of his presidency. But it is increasingly clear that the Bush administration will leave office with Al Qaeda having successfully relocated its base from Afghanistan to Pakistan’s tribal areas, where it has rebuilt much of its ability to attack from the region and broadcast its messages to militants across the world....

The story of how Al Qaeda, whose name is Arabic for “the base,” has gained a new haven is in part a story of American accommodation to President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan, whose advisers played down the terrorist threat. It is also a story of how the White House shifted its sights, beginning in 2002, from counterterrorism efforts in Afghanistan and Pakistan to preparations for the war in Iraq.

This is a remarkable change of tone. The biggest Democratic rap on the Iraq invasion has always been that we acted on the basis of ambiguous intelligence, rather than waiting until we had achieved perfect knowledge of exactly what stockpiles of WMD Saddam Hussein had. But now, the New York Times whines that President Bush hasn't even yet sent massive numbers of Special Forces (SF) into our ally Pakistan... against its will, enflaming the very tribal areas where we would have to work, and possibly driving Pakistan further into the arms of Taliban-style radical Islamism. "What's the matter with that Bush guy, anyway?"

Maybe it's just I; but honestly, I can't quite recollect all those Times editorials urging us to violate Pakistan's sovereignty, sending in hundreds of SF even after the president of Pakistan had already rejected such operations... and all on the basis of disputed intelligence:

The militants’ flight [post Tora Bora from Afghanistan to Pakistan] did not go unnoticed by American intelligence agencies, which began to report beginning in the spring of 2002 that large numbers of foreigners appeared to be hiding in South Waziristan and neighboring North Waziristan.

But Gen. Ali Mohammad Jan Aurakzai, the commander of Pakistani forces in northwestern Pakistan, was skeptical. In an interview this year, General Aurakzai recalled that he regarded the warnings as “guesswork,” and said that his soldiers “found nothing,” even when they pushed into dozens of square miles of territory that neither Pakistani nor British forces had ever entered....

Former American intelligence officials said General Aurakzai’s sweeps were slow-moving and easily avoided by militants. Robert L. Grenier, the C.I.A. station chief in Islamabad from 1999 to 2002, said that General Aurakzai was dismissive of the reports because he and other Pakistani officials feared the kind of tribal uprising that could have been touched off by more intrusive military operations. “Aurakzai and others didn’t want to believe it because it would have been an inconvenient fact,” Mr. Grenier recalled.

So the same intelligence agencies that the Democrats -- led by the Times -- were busily hounding off the stage as serial exaggerators anent Iraq were also saying that al-Qaeda and the Taliban were massing in Pakistan, and the drive-by media were lapping it up. In more clinical terms, the Times now insists that we should have incorporated CIA intelligence about Pakistan, while at the same time rejecting CIA intelligence about Iraq.

So why, demands the elite media, didn't we simply set up SF bases in Pakistan and finish the job?

When American military officials proposed in 2002 that Special Operations forces be allowed to establish bases in the tribal areas, Pakistan flatly refused. Instead, a small number of “black” Special Operations forces -- Army Delta Force and Navy Seal units -- were allowed to accompany Pakistani forces on raids in the tribal areas in 2002 and early 2003.

That arrangement only angered both sides. American forces used to operating on their own felt that the Pakistanis were limiting their movements. And while Pakistani officials publicly denied the presence of Americans, local tribesmen spotted the Americans and protested.

Under pressure from Pakistan, the Bush administration decided in 2003 to end the American military presence on the ground.

Liberals attack Bush for "going it alone" against Iraq, ignoring what our allies said (though most agreed to join us). And then they castigate Bush for refusing to actually invade one of our most important allies, clumsily thrashing around in the barely controlled tribal areas without even the support of Pakistan itself. I think I need to lie down with a wet towel on my forehead.

Shouldn't Bush have just gone with the facts on the ground, as reported by the CIA stations in the region? Yet even the Times admits there were pitched battles about that very intelligence, fought between the CIA on the one hand, and the CIA on the other hand:

Along with the Afghan government, the C.I.A. officers in Afghanistan expressed alarm at what they saw as a growing threat from the tribal areas. But the C.I.A. officers in Pakistan played down the problem, to the extent that some colleagues in Kabul said their colleagues in Islamabad were “drinking the Kool-Aid,” as one former officer put it, by accepting Pakistani assurances that no one could control the tribal areas.

On several occasions, senior C.I.A. officials at agency headquarters had to intervene to dampen tensions between the dueling C.I.A. outposts.

Missing from this odd exhortation to destabilization is any recognition that Pakistan is special in any way. In fact, in one very big way: The New York Times completely ignores the fact that Pakistan is a nuclear nation. After 9/11, and possibly because of the successful attacks, which boosted the stock of radical Islamists everywhere ("strong horse"), the secularist president of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf, was on the ropes. Any major incursion by the United States into Pakistan, particularly in the face of Musharraf's flat rejection of such American SF operations, would make it appear to Pakistanis that the United States was treating their country like a servant.

Such an infuriating image could well have toppled Musharraf; and as we're seeing today, with Musharraf weakened (even though not yet out of the picture), Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has begun making overtures to the Taliban. Given that reality, the sudden collapse of Musharraf due to American intervention in his country could have brought to absolute power those like Sharif and Benazir Bhutto who are distinctly more friendly to the Talian and al-Qaeda. In fact, it was Bhutto herself who gave the Taliban its "start-up" money in the early 1990s, thus materially helping create that insane, theocratic, terrorist government.

It's true, as the Times notes, that the Pentagon and some CIA executives wanted a big strike in Pakistan to capture Ayman Zawahiri, bin Laden's number-one deputy and spiritual mentor; but the only intelligence indicating Zawahiri was to be in Pakistan for a terrorist conference was flakey... and President Bush decided, in the end, to listen to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and back off the mission (which had already crept up to a 100-man strong military assault). Maybe it would have worked; but if it didn't -- if it killed a lot of tribals and failed to net Ayman Zawahiri -- it would have been a strategic catastrophe.

With such high stakes, we want people making the decision who are not simply military; we have civilian control of the armed forces precisely because the latter often don't consider the political implications of military action: Had the tribes in the tribal lands risen up and rebelled against Islamabad, we would have lost all intel and all access altogether.

The Times article includes no consideration of the danger that excessive meddling by the United States in Pakistan could drive the Pakistani government away from us, and possibly into cooperation with the Taliban and al-Qaeda. In fact, there is not even a single mention of the undisputed fact that Pakistan has demonstrated a nuclear weapons capability... and has a shameful history of transferring nuclear technology to very bad actors (via the A.Q. Khan network).

Too, the elite media's obsessive focus on bin Laden, the person, missed the point of the response to 9/11. Per Douglas Feith's book War and Decision, the focus was not on punishing Osama bin Laden or al-Qaeda but on protecting America from further attacks. The Pentagon and CIA pulled off this miracle by aggressively confronting the attackers, if possible before they even launched their operation, even if that meant preemptive war -- but only as a last resort, not (as the Times seems to want) as a first option -- at least where our allies are concerned.

Simply put, the Times is still arguing, for the thousandth wearying time, that instead of invading our enemy Iraq, we should have invaded our ally Pakistan.

The closing dig by the Times against the administration is illuminating:

Leading terrorism experts have warned that it is only a matter of time before a major terrorist attack planned in the mountains of Pakistan is carried out on American soil.

“The United States faces a threat from Al Qaeda today that is comparable to what it faced on Sept. 11, 2001,” said Seth Jones, a Pentagon consultant and a terrorism expert at the RAND Corporation.

“The base of operations has moved only a short distance, roughly the difference from New York to Philadelphia.”

What does Jones mean by saying America faces a threat "that is comparable to what it faced on Sept. 11, 2001?" We were successfully hit on 9/11 because we did not yet realize we were at war with the Iran/al-Qaeda axis... rather, that they were at war with us. But now we know; and now we have been acting as we should to prevent terrorist attacks on American soil, territories, or military forces. And except for within the hot-war zones themselves, we have been 100% successful. Nothing succeeds like success; the Bush administration must have been doing something right since 2001.

To equate this with our eight years of somnambulism from 1993 through the first eight months of 2001 is not only tendentiously wrong... it's actually laughable. The elimination of Gorelick's Wall alone, along with the other changes wrought by the USA PATRIOT Act of 2001, render us far less vulnerable today than we were on that dreadful day in September... and if Seth Jones doesn't know that, then he damn well should.

We're not perfectly secure; we never have been and never will be. And we may well need to step up our clandestine military activity in Pakistan. But if so, we must tread very softly; lest in our impatience at the pace we find ourselves sitting on a nuclear warhead, smoking a lit stick of dynamite.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, July 16, 2008, at the time of 2:56 PM

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Tracked on July 21, 2008 3:16 AM


The following hissed in response by: Karmi

Morons...them and the Democratic Party. The war would be over by now, if they had just shut up. Would-be Commander in Chiefs – the whole lot.

Where were they all during the Clinton years? Al Qaeda had already been attacking America and its citizens, interests, and property. Osama and al Qaeda were in Afghanistan…protected by the Taliban. Heck, Clinton could’ve just attacked Afghanistan, and then Pakistan…Saddam would’ve been saved from evil-Bush’s clutches.

This is probably their way of trying to give Barack some 'credentials', since he has also said that he would invade Pakistan.

The above hissed in response by: Karmi [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 16, 2008 5:24 PM

The following hissed in response by: Roy Lofquist

Dear Dafydd,

We are all gifted with 20/20 hindsight. At least that's what I was told.


The above hissed in response by: Roy Lofquist [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 16, 2008 5:53 PM

The following hissed in response by: Colin

Dafydd, one criticism, and sorry if it seem nagging. Sharif is not the PM, he's the former PM. That Gilani guy is the PM, and he's one weak sister compared to Musharraf as head of state.

The above hissed in response by: Colin [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 16, 2008 6:31 PM

The following hissed in response by: TerryeL

I agree with Karmi.

The above hissed in response by: TerryeL [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 16, 2008 7:05 PM

The following hissed in response by: Dishman

Combine the various statements with the willingness to let Wesley Clark near .. anything...
I'm starting to suspect that maybe a nuclear war is actually a desired outcome in some quarters.

The above hissed in response by: Dishman [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 16, 2008 11:06 PM

The following hissed in response by: BarbaraS

Well, we are not as vulnerable as we were awhile ago when the dims would not pass FISA. And the Slimes has made us less safe with their publishing our classified secrets to the whole world. But their mantra is that anything Bush does, the opposite would have been better. I think they are covering for the asinine statement of Obama made about invading Pakisstan. And their monotous carping about Mushareff not being a duly elected leader didn't help either. Never mind we needed him in office. Face it, the dims don't care if this country is safe or not. The only thing in they care about is acquiring power and they will do this anyway they have to up to allowing thousands of Americans to be killed to get it. I used to give them the benefit of the doubt but no more. They have shown themselves and their uglgness over the past 7 years I hated Clinton to the bottom of my soul but I recognized that he was the president. The dims today will not recognize the fact that Bush won. Their whole attitude is that they are divinely anointed to be in the WH and if they don't get it then it was stolen from them. The NYT has a history of lying and being in bed with communists. I hope everyday that they will go down the toilet where they belong.

The above hissed in response by: BarbaraS [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 17, 2008 12:17 AM

The following hissed in response by: k2aggie07

Don't forget, either, that by and large the decision of Pakistani and Afghan tribes to put the United States on their must-die to-do list lies on the back of President Clinton, who cut US funding and aid to Pakistan after they developed/announced their bomb. Most of the mujaheddin viewed the United States as an ally -- and rightly so, as we'd just helped them wallop the USSR with billions of dollars in military aid from the 50's to the 80's.

Clinton jerked the rug out from under our mujaheddin buddies and they retaliated with terrorism.

I'm not saying that militant Islam wouldn't be a problem anyway, but it is likely (in my opinion) that their angst may not be directed so much at us.

The above hissed in response by: k2aggie07 [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 17, 2008 7:15 AM

The following hissed in response by: David M

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 07/17/2008 A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...so check back often.

The above hissed in response by: David M [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 17, 2008 10:41 AM

The following hissed in response by: Andrew X

This is just another utterly disgraceful example of what I term "hypothetical heroism". Namely, the heroes and champions of democracy on the Left, herein repped by the NYT, will prove themselves the most ferocious and determined warriors.... wherever the battle is NOT. Where it IS... forget it. Anyone with the slightest nanoparticle of doubt here that, had Bush done EXACTLY what the NYT (and Obama) have advocated, had Pak gone ugly Islamist (highly likely) as a result, the blame would have been ALL on Bush??

Hypothetical heroism. Where no one gets hurt, no kids get in the way, nothing really bad happens, just like in 'Star Wars'.

New York Times, we salute your courage. As Elaine Benes once said to the weightlifters in the Jersey garage...."We're all REALLY REALLY impressed!"

The above hissed in response by: Andrew X [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 19, 2008 8:20 PM

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