There Is No Plan

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The Tet Offensive comes to Karachi. Impacts on US Foreign Policy.

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Dressed in black, a squad of six highly motivated Taliban insurgents broke into the heart of a Pakistani naval base and wreaked havoc. They killed twelve Pakistani personnel and held out for 17 hours before being killed or flushed out.  The Taliban called it revenge for the killing of Bin Laden, no doubt one of many examples of that revenge. But there’s more to it than that.

Combined with the attack a few years ago on the Pakistani military base at Rawalpindi, there’s a new rubric emerging. And it’s pretty simple. Whatever we in the US do, however much we pay, no matter how much we cajole, or use drones, or even kill the headline leaders of this movement, there’s one truth that flies in the face of our superpower status.

We will never win.

In 1968, Vietcong forces made a serious of daring and often suicidal attacks on US installations deep behind the so-called front lines of the Vietnam war. All these forces were roundly defeated and destroyed, but the point was made by the VC. Despite your reach, your numbers, your firepower, we can always attack. You don’t control the population.

You will never win.

And the lessons go deeper. For all its faults, Pakistan is a democracy, based on an adapted British model. It’s a system that the leaders of the “Arab Spring” dream of, and yet it’s irrelevant. Pakistan is one of the most corrupt, factionalized, tinderbox nations on Earth. In short, democracy is no guarantee of the stability we seek.

So what is a self-respecting superpower to do?

The answer is to focus on the first principle, which is simply this. What is the threat from within Pakistan that would most undermine US security? The answer is simple too. We need to stop Pakistani nuclear weapons from falling into militant hands. The attacks on Rawalpindi and Karachi, along with the lack of control over rogue elements of the ISI suggest that an inside job to take control of those weapons is not out of the realm of possibility.

All US resources in the region should be devoted to preventing that, whatever the cost. Nothing else is remotely important next to that threat. Our assaults on the militants are clearly fruitless. We should defend instead.

There are wider implications too.

America should be less involved in the Middle East in general. It’s another game we can’t win.

Our goals are straightforward. We simply need to make sure that the homeland is protected from existential threats (the occasional and unavoidable terror threat is not existential), that our trading relationships aren’t under threat, and that we’re reducing our oil habit so we can pressure the Saudis into changing their terror exporting ways.

None of these goals depends on our getting down and dirty in Middle East diplomacy.  Our only short-term interest should be making sure the only nuclear state in the region is our ally, Israel.  And we’ve been successful at that.  Iran has been stalled badly in its nuclear quest now the US/Israeli Stuxnet virus has done its work. Note  how little airtime is devoted to the Iranian nuclear situation. It’s off the boil.

America has more important issue at home to contend with.

If nuclear threats are off the table, the Middle East can handle itself.


Written by coolrebel

May 23, 2011 at 8:48 am

Posted in Washington

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