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  • What happened in Pakistan?

    I have been out of the news for a few days, but I was wondering what ever happened in that battle surrounding the top al-Queda man. I just ran across this piece below.

    JD, lazy, Reggie, and other clear-thinking brothers, I respect Lind's opinion, and this doesn't sound good.

    The Battle That Wasn’t
    by William S. Lind

    About two weeks ago, the world’s attention suddenly turned to a dramatic battle in Pakistan. The Pakistani Army, we were told, had trapped a large force of al Qaeda, including a "high-value target," possibly Ayman Zawahiri. The Pakis brought in artillery and air power. The fate of the al Qaeda fighters was sealed.

    Then the whole thing evaporated into thin air. First, Zawahiri wasn’t there. Then no other "high-value target" was there either. The Pakistani Army invited local tribal elders to mediate, declaring a cease-fire while they did so – not the sort of thing you do when you are winning. Pakistani Army units elsewhere in the tribal territories came under attack. Finally the whole business just dropped out of sight, ending not with a bang but a whimper.

    What really happened? At this point, if anyone knows they are not telling. But that is not the important question. The important question is, what didn’t happen?

    What did not happen is that a force of irregulars – maybe al Qaeda, maybe Taliban, certainly local tribal fighters – was trapped by a state military and beaten. That is a very significant non-event. Normally, non-state irregulars cannot stand against state armed forces. Once they are located and pinned down, the state armed forces can use their vastly superior firepower to win an easy and guaranteed victory. They just keep up the bombardment until those left alive have little if any fight left in them (remember, these irregulars are not exactly the German Army at the Somme).

    Here, the firepower was employed. The Pakistani Army used both artillery and attack helicopters. But it did not win. If it had won, you can be certain Islamabad would be trumpeting the victory. The fact that the battle became a non-event says that the forces of the state of Pakistan did not win.

    What does this failure mean? The Washington Post quoted a retired Pakistani Army general as saying, "The state has to win this battle or its credibility will be destroyed." I suspect the general is correct. In fact, I will go further: I think the failure of the Pakistani Army to win this battle marks the beginning of the end for Pakistan’s current President, General Musharraf. The defensive victory of the tribal fighters will turn into an offensive victory, giving courage and a sense of inevitable victory to Musharraf’s enemies while causing near-revolt in Musharraf’s base, the army itself. Before the year is out, I suspect we will see General Musharraf’s head impaled on a pike and surging Pashtun crowds proclaiming Osama as their leader.

    At that point the American strategic failures that are the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will have transformed themselves into an American strategic disaster. As I have said before in On War, Iraq and Afghanistan themselves mean little. The centers of gravity in this war are Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. What is important about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is how they affect these other countries and their pro-American governments.

    Our friends in the Middle East have warned us that the spillover effects are not likely to be positive. That has now proven to be the case. The Pakistani Army went into the Tribal Territories – something it has long known is not a good idea – under American pressure, as part of the current American "big push" in Afghanistan. In effect, the American generals in command in Afghanistan made the typical German mistake: they sacrificed the strategic situation to benefit their operational plan. As did the Germans, we will find that blunder tends to win the campaign at the price of losing the war.

    Meanwhile, adding insult to injury, the putative first target in this failed operation, al Qaeda’s Mr. Zawahiri, issued an audiotape in which he cocked a snook at General Musharraf, damned him for sending his "miserable" army against the tribesmen and called on the humiliated Pakistani Army to revolt. I suspect the bad fairy of militant Islam will grant him that wish. Al Qaeda’s strategic victory in Spain will be followed by a vastly more significant strategic victory in Pakistan, while the U.S. contents itself with bombing an occasional Afghan orphanage from 20,000 feet.

    Am I the only one who can see where this is all going? But perhaps it helps to be a German military historian…

    March 30, 2004

    William Lind is Director of the Center for Cultural Conservatism at the Free Congress Foundation.

  • #2
    Good article King.

    Our friends in the Middle East have warned us that the spillover effects are not likely to be positive. That has now proven to be the case.
    So the Bush administration isn't doing very well at predicting how the Muslims will respond to our actions? Who woulda guessed? Well, most of the other countries in the UN perhaps, but we don't want to give them Veto power over our plans to shoot ourselves in the foot, do we?
    2005 Mandatory Loyalty Oath: I love America, our troops, baseball, Moms, and certain pies. I want no harm to come to any of those institutions, nor do I take any glee in their demise.

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    • #3
      You're right, Trig.

      We should act like the hostages that we are.
      When you say to your neighbor, "We're having a loud party on Saturday night if that's alright with you," what you really mean is, "We're having a loud party on Saturday night."

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      • #4
        king,

        To me it reinforces the decision not to invest significant troop strength in the afghanistan arena. This battle ground has long proven elusive and dangerous for foreign militaries.

        I am not sure the validity of the claim, but my understanding is that most of the al-qaeda personnel originally thought to be there fled through a 3 mile tunnel. The mountainous and unregulated border area is famous for these "passages".

        Now, I am no expert, but the war on terror does not hinge on any one battle or any one person. It will hinge on the will and action of states to reign in those that provide sanctuary for "terrorists". Obviously the more success in the beginning the more confidence inspired.

        Our friends in the Middle East have warned us that the spillover effects are not likely to be positive. That has now proven to be the case.
        I noticed this quote, and see many like it. If it was not so tragic, it would make me giggle. I mean, it’s not like we went and changed an already working strategy. The "spillover effects" previous to any action resulted in 2 bombings on the WTC, 4 embassies, the Cole, The pentagon, etc... The "spill over" effects resulted in an OBL declaring war against private american citizens.

        The new "spill over" effects I recognize include two regime changes, Pakistan and SA involved in military actions and a battle front in Iraq vs. Afghanistan.

        Of course there are negatives that coincide with the positives, but again, this squealing about the consequences of action (separate from raw political power) is somewhat naive.



        In short, pakistan was given intelligence that motivated them to move aggressively, unfortunately, the maneuverability of these groups was underestimated again.
        Un-Official Sponsor of Randy Choate and Kevin Siegrist

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        • #5
          Originally posted by lazydaze@Mar 30 2004, 03:25 PM
          I mean, it’s not like we went and changed an already working strategy. The "spillover effects" previous to any action resulted in 2 bombings on the WTC, 4 embassies, the Cole, The pentagon, etc... The "spill over" effects resulted in an OBL declaring war against private american citizens.
          None of the "previous spillover effects" you mention happened in a vaccum. Terror is a political strategy - and all of these events are a response to bad external politics by the US government.

          The only way the US can assume any sort of moral posture in the Middle East is to stop meddling in their affairs. Of course, this is impossible because of the implications for Israel.

          Instead, we have purchased an endless battle against an invisible enemy - and I am convinced that there are people who approve of it all for this very fact.

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          • #6
            King, I think you know, I don't disagree.

            But regardless, we cannot change our past mistakes. We certainly can transform the future. But I believe that as of today, immediate withdrawal of influence would be catastrophic. Not only for other countries, but struggle regimes resort to all kinds of tactics to stay in power.

            I think what we are seeing is the degradation of instable nation states that were propped up by either side during the cold war.




            Our security was threatened. The case is solid that our actions led to the hate. To me, that does not diminish the threat we face. We have been instrumental in world "stability" (I use that term loosely) for way to long to just disappear from the landscape. The resulting chaos could be devastating.

            I do not have the perfect answer, but hope for a dive towards stability, and then a change of direction.
            Un-Official Sponsor of Randy Choate and Kevin Siegrist

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            • #7
              King,

              So how is Bush doing on the War against Terror, and do you agree with Clarke that it is preposterous for Bush to be centering his campaign around 911 and the war on terror?

              I am all for completely getting the hell out of the Middle East in totality. Let Israel fend for itself. To some of us, it doesnt represent a "sacred, holy land" that needs to be blindly defended.
              “I’ve always stated, ‘I’m a Missouri Tiger,’” Anderson said March 13 after Arkansas fired John Pelphrey, adding, “I’m excited about what’s taking place here.”

              Asked then if he would talk to his players about the situation, he said, “They know me, and that’s where the trust comes in.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Razzy@Mar 30 2004, 03:54 PM
                King,

                So how is Bush doing on the War against Terror, and do you agree with Clarke that it is preposterous for Bush to be centering his campaign around 911 and the war on terror?

                I am all for completely getting the hell out of the Middle East in totality. Let Israel fend for itself. To some of us, it doesnt represent a "sacred, holy land" that needs to be blindly defended.
                Do you see a politician suggesting we let Israel fend for themselves anytime soon?
                Asked what he would do differently in Iraq, Kerry said, "Right now, what I would do differently is, I mean, look, I'm not the president, and I didn't create this mess so I don't want to acknowledge a mistake that I haven't made."

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                • #9
                  Even if you believe our past actions have brought on this terrorism, we cannot remove ourselves from Mid East affairs now. It's too late.

                  If we isolated ourselves now, it would be bad for the world and it would embolden terrorists even more.
                  "Need some wood?" -- George W. Bush, October 8, 2004

                  "Historians will judge if this war is just, not your punk ass." -- Dave Glover, December 8, 2004

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                  • #10
                    I too agree it is too late to pull out of the area. We can though change our foreign policies. First and foremost mediating a fair and final settlement between Israel and Palestine.

                    Changing an entire region to democracy will be impossible. Our projects in afghanistan and iraq will take years and years to complete, if we even do complete them. Spillover into other countries is a pipedream pushed by some analyst sitting behind a desk. In practice it has never occurred without total military intervention which is not feasible for the US.

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                    • #11
                      Pacey is what you call a single-issue voter.
                      When you say to your neighbor, "We're having a loud party on Saturday night if that's alright with you," what you really mean is, "We're having a loud party on Saturday night."

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by WinstonSmith@Mar 30 2004, 09:13 PM
                        Pacey is what you call a single-issue voter.
                        I don't see anything unreasonable in his assessment of the situation. The only chance this region has for peace is a fair settlement between Israel and Palestine.

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                        • #13
                          There is no doubt about that king.


                          I only wish fair was attainable. I don't believe either side is willing to settle for fair.
                          Un-Official Sponsor of Randy Choate and Kevin Siegrist

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by lazydaze@Mar 30 2004, 09:37 PM
                            There is no doubt about that king.


                            I only wish fair was attainable. I don't believe either side is willing to settle for fair.
                            I agree completely, lazy. In fact, I typed the exact same thing, but deleted it before sending. (I didn't think it would be appropriate to both compliment torch's assessment and state that it was impossible in the same post.)

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                            • #15
                              Of course there are negatives that coincide with the positives, but again, this squealing about the consequences of action (separate from raw political power) is somewhat naive.
                              Well said. Actions, as some may have heard, have consequences.

                              Years ago a friend of mine got DECIDE as his license plates. When I asked him why, he replied simply, "Some people can't." There was more wisdom in that than I knew.

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