America’s past and emergent counterterrorism strategies frequently raise
concerns about unilateralism, the multilateral and cooperative aspects remain
relatively low in visibility. Actual or merely perceived unilateral acts, such
as JSOC direct action raids and drone strikes capture much of America’s
attention, while the role of host governments, proxies, and third parties of
all kinds retains a relative background role. In reality, the inclusion of a
wide variety of consenting foreign actors, ranging from militias to militaries,
play a supporting and prerequisite role that is as troubling as it is vital.
Take, for example, the cases of drone strikes in Pakistan. As the infamous Drunken Predator Drone explains in this excellent post, the covert and lightly-publicized quid pro quo between Washington and Islamabad over American counterterrorism efforts in South and Central Asia complicates the policies of both. Noting the wide ranging problems within Pakistan, he notes:
The Pakistani political class is much happier to instead see the nation’s outrage, ink and airtime dedicated to a safer topic. Like sovereignty violations.
And by cooperating with our counterterrorism efforts (including drone strikes,) the influential Pakistani military gets access to some of the choicest American defense hardware...
As has been obvious for 10 years, U.S. counterterrorism assistance represents a golden opportunity for Pakistan’s armed forces to gear up for war with India. Ending drone strikes would derail a $4.3-billion gravy train. And that’s far from the only American aid in the mix; development groups receive billions of dollars for education, shelter and basic nutrition in Pakistan. (Of course, many Pakistanis have no idea. American markings are often removed from aid shipments out of fear that they will become targets for militants.)
The elected, legitimate government of Pakistan has weighed costs and benefits, and made a clear decision. Granting permission (however grudging or tacit it may be) for drone strikes represents a better option than risking a strategic break with America.
from being a simple trampling of Pakistan’s will, the U.S. and Pakistan play a
delicate - and relatively obscure - game which buys permission for America’s
counterterrorism initiatives while bolstering some of the core objectives of
the Pakistani deep state. Unfortunately, for too long American policymakers and
publics have assumed American aid will engender a more comprehensive confluence
of moral values, political principles, and strategic interests between them.
Rather than simply presenting tactical and pragmatic ways to mitigate U.S.
coercive potential, cash in on its immense political-military resources, and
use them to advance prior objectives, America has for too long relied on a
notion that America could strongly influence or control a country’s political
will without actually exerting control.
The political benefits of such an indirect approach are as apparent in the American public arena as they are in Pakistan. While the consequences of dysfunctional clientelism are made more and more apparent with each insider attack in Afghanistan, where America’s force posture puts conventional boots on the ground and lives on the line, the clandestine assets in Pakistan elicit no such public attention or outcry because they create no similar degree of risk. Yet this basic crack in the policy assumptions of clientelism-enabled counterterrorism remains. C. Christine Fair has outlined a plausible way forward: acknowledging the two countries will sometimes have irreconcilable aims and mitigating the negative effects accordingly. But Pakistan is hardly the only country where we see the same problems.
In Yemen, the elite units which received U.S. military aid were redirected to regime preservation rather than counterterrorism. But aid to the Yemeni regime was the cost of political acquiescence to U.S. strikes, helping to foster a Yemeni deep state (even if Saleh is gone) with interests that may tolerate anti-American radicalization, so long as its existence and internal power remains secure.
While U.S. aid has had varying degrees of success in making military forces more organizationally cohesive, operational proficient, and generally professional, it has faltered when it comes to changing the policy objectives that guide the militaries and the regimes they serve themselves. Just as many rightly call for more scrutiny of the consequences of drone strikes, they are just the latest privilege the U.S. has purchased from regimes and militaries in exchange for enhancing their military power and political longevity. Distressingly, many alternatives proposed to drone strikes fail to solve this deeper problem. An effective capture program nearing the scale of the drone program would require similar, if not greater U.S. concessions to local regimes, while a policy of promoting partnership, training, and advisory roles for the U.S. necessitates capacity building for regimes even if their intentions remain in many respects malignant towards U.S. interests.
Complicating this matter, few of the local regimes where the U.S. wages its counterterrorism campaigns (and assists in the counterinsurgency campaigns of others) have Huntingtonian security forces. The evolution of the “deep state” in many of our former Third World partners gave security forces and their partners and proxies a political, social, and economic role alien to the Weberian ideal or the misleading state/non-state typology. Given the known and possible radicalizing and destabilizing roles of harsh imprisonment regimes, brutal local security forces, and the political machinations of rentier states and their proxy forces, devising a policy that tackles the essential principal-agent problem in current U.S. counterterrorism operations is as essential a task as finding alternatives to the strategies such as targeted killing themselves. Even if the targeted killing strategy were to give way, the dangerous game that enabled it may yet persist.
Kelsey Atherton, who blogs at Plastic Manzikert, writes in to examine the tradeoff between the military and diplomatic sources of national power from a historical perspective. Kelsey's opinions are his own.
The essence of a good political intrigue is secrecy
and division of power among people ostensibly working towards the same goal.
This is what made Tyrion's scenes in the second series of Game of Thrones so
engaging, as he adroitly maneuvered around the shortsighted plots of others in
an attempt to save his city. As fiction, it is hard to do better. When it comes
to operating a foreign policy from abroad, however, such divisions both in
purpose and shared intelligence lead instead to counterproductive power
Before WWII, there was little institutional conflict in how the US executed foreign policy, as the State Department was the only executive branch agency with a significant presence outside our borders, except for U.S. military units that were in Latin America from the 1880s until World War II, and in the Philippines from 1898. After the war, and during the Cold War, the presence of other agencies abroad expanded significantly, with more than 30 agencies currently having some representation overseas. As can perhaps be expected, a plethora of agencies pursuing different agendas without clear coordination can be chaotic and counterproductive. To minimize these conflicts, the modern system was based on a clear line of command. Or, a pair of clear lines: in a country at peace, the Chief of Mission (always the Ambassador) would have the authority and ability to coordinate all US executive branch agencies operating in their country. In warzones, the Combatant Commander would fulfill this role. This is a division that works, provided warzones like to be clear-cut, and conflicts never spill over in strange ways or through irregular war. Which is funny, given the origin story of the present order.
At the beginning of the current system is America’s involvement by proxy in the Greek Civil War. Following an awkward post-war realization that maybe arming every faction fighting against the Nazi occupation was not the wisest run in the long term, the Allied powers (initially the United Kingdom) decided to disarm as many partisans as they could in the immediate outbreak of peace, while shoring up support for the royalist government. Not all partisans were agreeable to being disarmed or towards the ancien regime, and Greece developed a communist insurgency. In 1947, the UK decided they could no longer afford their investment in the Greek government, and in their stead Truman decided to shoulder the task of providing military assistance in their stead. He did this through the American Mission for Aid to Greece "outside and independent of the embassy at Athens and of Ambassador Lincoln MacVeagh.” Inevitably, the Greeks observed that Griswold controlled the resources, so they bypassed the Ambassador and dealt directly with him. The Ambassador’s authority diminished, and a conflict within the Embassy emerged.
This aid mission was quasi-military in nature, but it fell into that grey nexus between clean-cut military operations and usual peacetime intelligence operations, and in the ensuing confusion both the ambassador and the chief of the aid mission were recalled for ineffectiveness. Following this frustration, Truman began the long process of clarifying how embassies coordinate foreign policy, first in the Clay Paper memorandum from 1951, later under Eisenhower through executive orders, by Kennedy in his “Leadership and Supervisory Responsibility of the Ambassador” memorandum, and finally by Congress in the Foreign Service Act of 1980. While there have been occasional challenges to the unity of command under a Chief of Mission, it is important to remember the reason for their existence: “to ensure that the political objectives took precedence over those of the military.”
During the Greek Civil War, the problem was not that we had an Aid Mission, or that it was supporting a military objective; the problem was that the Greek government sidestepped the ambassador to go straight to the chief of the aid mission, and in doing so undermined American policy. When our strongest relationship with a foreign government is through the coordinator specifically supplying them with arms, it is in that government’s interest to make sure the money & gun spigot never runs dry. Our relationship with Greece risked being one where we sponsoring a praetorian state against their own insurgents indefinitely in the name of a broad ideological war. Subordinating the aid mission to the overall mission of the Ambassador to Greece allowed us to control the dynamic of the relationship, and let the aid mission be a temporary project in service of our greater mission, which was a reliable & stable non-communist Greek ally.
If the parallels in that last paragraph were
heavy-handed, it is because I keep seeing 1947 Greece in 2012 Pakistan. As the Washington Post reported on
June 20th, the US Ambassador to
Pakistan has been recalled after losing a debate over “whether the ambassador,
as chief of mission, had the authority to veto CIA operations he thought would
harm long-term relations.” Regardless of agreement with his views on signature
strikes, it is of primary importance that the ambassador be allowed to act in
the interest of long-term relations. The administration, of course, is free to
recall ambassadors executing policy differently than intended, but given that
there are stories highlighting the rift between Munter and the CIA station chief from throughout their cohabitation in
Pakistan, it’s clear that this was a problem not of disagreement with the
administration but of confusion on the ground.
The Chief of Mission’s supremacy in coordinating policy is not designed as a hindrance on other agencies, but is instead about making sure that our intelligence and military actions are productive in the long run for American interests in the country. As Adam Elkus frequently points out, this is simple Clausewitz: our military objectives are not separate from but are instead in service of our political aims. The Chief of Mission’s focus on the long-term political is what enables them to eliminate the kind of confusion that Truman encountered in 1947, that our Chief of Mission struggled with in South Vietnam, that Munter faced in Pakistan, and that Game of Thrones so expertly depicts. This is a confusion we should confine to history and fiction.
On a recent plane ride home from Germany, I finished Steve Inskeep's Instant City: Life and Death in Karachi, which I can recommend to all of you with confidence. I was, as I mention in my interview with Steve, happily surprised by this book. It's a really great introduction to both the mess that is Pakistan and the greatness that is the Pakistani people. It's also an interesting reflection on urban planning and the rise of mega-cities. Interviewing Steve bleeping Inskeep of all people can be an intimidating experience, but as with all of these things, I just posed some questions and let the man himself take it away.
I was happily surprised by this book. It's multidimensional: on the one hand, it tells the story of Karachi, but on the other hand, it also succeeds in telling that story within two broader contexts. First, it places Karachi within the context of Pakistan's history and politics. Second, it treats the development of Karachi as one example of what you see as a global trend: the rise of "instant cities." (I'm married to a woman who works on development in South Asia, so this is that rare book that we can read together.) Explain to the blog, though: what is an instant city?
Thanks for your generous comments. An instant city is a metropolis that’s grown so swiftly that a person who knew it at the end of World War II would scarcely recognize it today. I keep this definition impressionistic, because I’m not sure I fully trust all the statistics I’ve seen. But to be a little more precise, I define an instant city as one whose population has grown since the war at a substantially higher rate than the country to which it belongs. Those cities tend to be destinations of the greatest mass migration in human history, the worldwide move to cities in recent decades. As different kinds of people concentrate on a city, they mix together, trade ideas, or clash.
In an instant city, the new overshadows the old—as in Karachi, which has at least 30 residents today for every resident at war’s end. In historic terms, the city has appeared in an instant. It can change in an instant. Or turn deadly in an instant. In these respects, Karachi is normal in the developing world, as you both know from experience.
For American policymakers, our swift evolution into a mostly urban species affects everything from economic plans to foreign aid strategies to the battlegrounds of future wars. Or current wars: see Baghdad, ten times larger than in 1950 and a nightmarishly complex killing field for several years. Yet for all the horrors of such swiftly changing places, they’re also expressions of hope. People moved there seeking better lives.
The story of Karachi, meanwhile, as told in the book, is in many ways the story of the state of Pakistan. For an American audience, what does Karachi tell us about Pakistan today?
Pakistanis call Karachi a microcosm of their country, and they’re right. People have migrated from all over the country, as well as every other part of South Asia, to form Pakistan’s most diverse city. And so you see microcosms of Pakistan’s great conflicts between different ethnic groups who speak different languages, between religious groups, between rich and poor, between the military and everybody else. The military’s economic power is spectacularly on display along the waterfront, where they own many square miles of land near the beach, and have been developing luxury apartment towers, a “six-star” club, and a golf course. At the same time, far-flung neighborhoods have hardly any electricity or other services, and the real estate market thrives on unauthorized development on government land. It’s an impossibly complicated and stressful place. Yet there is a certain endurance in the people that keeps things moving, as does an eye on the main chance—you can make money in a growing city. Karachi still functions as the economic heart of Pakistan, which is one reason I don’t agree with those who describe Pakistan as a failed state. When I think failed state, I think Afghanistan in late 2001: little armies wandering around, burned-out tanks along bomb-cratered roads, scarecrow men trying to hand-crank the last dregs of fuel out of a gas-station pump. Pakistan is not that bad yet, although in all fairness the electricity does go out daily, and citizens use words like “crazy” or “mafia” to describe their government, and I do think large swaths of Karachi have evolved beyond conventional government control.
Middle Easterners and South Asians often tell me they "love Americans but don't very much like the United States." I sometimes feel the same about Pakistan -- a nation that has, at the very least, sheltered so many enemies of the United States over the past decade and has frustrated our efforts in Afghanistan. But I have so many wonderful Pakistani friends, and there are so many great Pakistani heroes in your book. The Edhi family -- "passionate, witty, resilient, and gloriously strange" in your words -- stands out in particular. At the nadir in U.S.-Pakistani relations, who are some other Pakistani heroes Americans should know about?
Let me call your attention to Dr. Seemin Jamali, a woman who for years has run the emergency department of a major public hospital in Karachi. On February 5, 2010, her emergency department was flooded with victims of a bombing and their families. A Shia procession had been struck—an attack on a religious minority, which is normal in Pakistan. And then a second bomb exploded at the entrance to the emergency department. Many people were killed, the windows were blown out, and the medical equipment was looted in the panic that followed—yet Dr. Jamali and her colleagues had the emergency department running again the next day. (Note: this fairly incredible story of courage and duty is told at greater length in the book.)
She told me afterward that she believed in treating every person the same, regardless of color, caste, or creed. It was a statement echoing an old speech by the founder of Pakistan. For all the awful things that some people have done over the years in Pakistan, the country also has a different and more honorable tradition. Some people struggle to uphold that tradition, even though many have been beaten, intimidated, silenced, driven into exile, or killed. This book will be worth the time and effort if I manage nothing other than to introduce Americans to a few such people.
My wife and I, like many thousands of other Americans, wake up to your dulcet voice every morning. Which begs the question: how the hell did you find the time to research and write this book while fulfilling your duties at NPR?
Thanks for listening. The short answer is that I missed a little work, lost a lot of sleep, and will forever be grateful for the forbearance of my family and friends. The longer answer is that I first reported Karachi in 2002, and did a series of reports on the city in 2008, so I had some history with the place. Then I took a series of trips expressly for the book in 2010, burning vacation time I had accumulated. Between trips I was gathering archival information from the Library of Congress and several other archives. And of course Pakistan has been constantly in the news, so I was regularly covering and learning about the country for my day job.
You report mostly from Washington. Does this book -- and the reporting from Pakistan that inspired it -- make you want to report more from abroad? Do you, like some think tankers I could name, sometimes feel chained to your office in the 202 area code?
I try not to be. Just before taking host jobs at NPR, I reported from Afghanistan and Pakistan, and knew I needed that to continue. I would not have accepted the Morning Edition job had it not included the freedom to travel and see things for myself. NPR embraced that idea and didn’t want it any other way. So I’ve been over the years to Iraq, Iran, Nigeria, and many other places at home and abroad. Every trip abroad informs interviews I do later from the studio. It’s true that I never travel as much as I think I should, and that I have to keep my trips very focused and hurry back to the show. Sometimes it kills me – I was in Egypt last spring, for example, but never made it to Libya. But there is some compensation. I work a job where, in the course of a few months, I might talk with a general, a novelist, an economist, the President, the governor of my home state, a poor laborer in a Cairo cement factory, voters in Ohio, and a widow outside New Orleans. It’s this wonderfully broad education. If you feel that I ended up writing a “multidimensional” book, maybe it grows out of my multidimensional job. It encourages broad thinking, and seeing the connections between seemingly unrelated stories, and feeling the sweep of history.
And here I was, thinking I had a pretty sweet gig myself. I end each of these things with a question on food and drink. What are the top three restaurants in Karachi, and why?
I’m delighted that you asked. If you visit friends in Karachi you will almost certainly be taken to Barbecue Tonight whether you ask to go or not. Nor should you mind. If you arrive early for dinner—and by early, I mean Pakistan early, about 10:00—you can get a table on the rooftop, looking across the harbor toward the central business district. Everything on the menu is outstanding. The restaurant is several floors high, and as you walk downstairs to leave at midnight you will notice that every table is filled and there is a line of people at the door.
I recommend the surreal experience of eating at Shaikh Abdul Ghaffar’s Kabab House, which is on a pier at the harbor known as the Native Jetty, now rebranded as “Port Grand,” a heavily guarded row of upscale shops. The meat here is so finely ground as to be almost creamy, but the real reason to go is the craziness of the setting. In one direction you see the harbor cranes; in the other, a waterside Hindu temple.
You will find some middlebrow choices if you venture through the chaotic traffic on Burns Road, or out in the industrial zone called SITE Town, where a gigantic madrassa makes some extra money running a rather clean and formal restaurant. But if you have a basic faith in the safety of cooked food, then I suggest that you bypass these choices and pick out one of many simple restaurants that are open to the street, with no front wall. They may serve only two or three dishes, cooked in metal pots by the entrance. The restaurant you want is probably not spiffy: a certain level of dilapidation often signals comfort food, sort of like when you arrive at an older American diner. In the book I feature one such restaurant called the Delhi Darbar, near the old city hall. The menu does not include much beyond soft drinks and biryani, hunks of meat and other ingredients mixed into rice. I have always found it to be excellent, although it is so powerfully spiced that in all honesty, if it wasn’t any good, I would never know.
Two things to start your week:
1. Nick Blanford and Bilal Saab have a great article in Foreign Policy about the next war between Israel and Lebanon. I have read the paper from which this article was adapted and will be moderating a public discussion of the paper in early September at the Brookings Institution. For now, read the shorter article.
2. Nick Schmidle, the son and brother of steely-eyed Marines, has a must-read article in the New Yorker on the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. This is excellent long-form journalism. I only ding Nick twice: First, for using the cliche "an eerie calm" in the first page of the article. (Are we sure it wasn't a "preternatural calm"? Or maybe it was just quiet and there was nothing "eerie" about it?) Second, Nick is a first-class analyst of Pakistani politics, and I would have loved to have seen more of his analytical reporting than what I read at the end. Overall, though, brilliant stuff.
Genius CNAS research assistant Mirv "Matt" Irvine, who knows more about Pakistani militant groups than most, has written a review of my friend Steve Tankel's new book on Lashkar-e Taiba. Enjoy.
Multiple bombings tore through downtown Mumbai last week, killing 17 people. Though attributed to domestic Indian Mujadhedin, these attacks revived painful memories of the devastating 2008 raid launched by 10 Lashkar-e-Taiba fighters in the same city. Last week’s attack did not amass near the casualties as LeT’s 2008 spectacle, but it comes at a critical juncture in the still tenuous security environment of South Asia.
With U.S.-Pakistani relations approaching near complete dysfunction over the bin Laden raid, the latest attacks brought further suspicion of Pakistan and its ability and willingness to control its cadre of state-sponsored militant groups. A new book, Storming the World Stage: The Story of Lashkar-e-Taiba (Columbia University Press, 2011), by Stephen Tankel shines a new light on the murky world of Pakistan’s premiere militant group and its rise to become one of the world’s most dangerous non-state actors (a term used very loosely).
The 2008 attacks marked a turning point for Lashkar-e-Taiba and for Pakistan's infamous ISI: the Mumbai raid signaled the arrival of Lashkar as a globally capable terrorist organization and was a clear example of the explosive danger of Pakistan and its military and intelligence services' active support for terrorist proxies against India. According to Tankel, the Pakistani "army and ISI essentially built Lashkar's military apparatus from the mid-1990s onward specifically for use against India."
In discussing Pakistan's calculus following the 9/11 attacks, Tankel argues that the Musharraf regime and ISI divided the country's militants into good and bad jihadis. Lashkar won out over other terrorist groups because it "was the most reliable in Islamabad's eyes and fared the best." Lashkar would occupy an increasingly prominent role in the India-Pakistan conflict as the two nuclear powers sought to avoid conventional clashes due to the risk of escalation.
Pakistan resisted eliminating its proxies throughout the last decade to preserve what the ISI viewed as "a necessary auxiliary force in the event of a war with India, which they continued to view as an existential threat." Following the 2008 Mumbai attacks, according to Tankel, "the security services made no attempt to dismantle the military apparatus that produced Lashkar's militants and which made the Mumbai attacks possible."
Just as Pakistan practices a double game with the United States and militant proxies today, Lashkar itself balances its state sponsor's interests with its own effort to support the jihad against America and the West. Tankel documents how Lashkar capitalized on its protected position within Pakistan by offering safe haven to other jihadi groups, fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan against American forces, recruiting and training al Qaeda fighters and participating in terrorist attacks in Pakistan and abroad.
U.S. policymakers are increasingly focusing on Lashkar as an emerging transnational threat that weighs heavily on not only U.S. counterterrorism objectives but also the broader U.S.-Pakistani relationship. As a parting component of Storming the World Stage, Tankel answers the question: Does Lashkar threaten the U.S. and its Western allies at home and abroad? Yes. According to him, the group's role in the war in Afghanistan, its targeting of foreign interests in India and elsewhere and its increasingly global operations make it a direct threat to U.S. interests. More alarmingly for Tankel, Lashkar's continued "work as part of a consortium" of militant actors working in concert makes it a key enabler for transnational terrorism, one that receives support and protection from the Pakistani government.
Lashkar is not going to fade from the world stage for the foreseeable future. Policymakers in the U.S. and throughout the world must increasingly plan for dealing with the group. However, it is also important to note that the group and its Pakistani sponsors are not unitary actors and, as Tankel notes, "unless something changes, arresting this tide will only grow more difficult with time."
Tankel has produced one of the definitive accounts of Lashkar’s rise as well as the 2008 Mumbai attacks, and his book should be the go-to-guide for those looking to understand Pakistan’s reliance on proxies against India and its attached baggage.
Suggested follow-on reading: Sebastian Rotella’s Pakistan and the Mumbai Attacks: The Untold Story and Bruce Riedel’s Deadly Embrace: Pakistan, America, and the Future of Global Jihad.
Matthew Irvine is a researcher at the Center for a New American Security and co-author of the report Beyond Afghanistan: A Regional Security Strategy for South and Central Asia.
CNAS is closed for the week, so I am at home catching up on my reading and workouts. A few random thoughts, though:
1. The Dutch are justifiably ashamed of what happened -- and what did not happen -- at Srebrenica, but someone explain to me how today's ruling is good for peacekeeping and humanitarian intervention. If you can be held responsible in a court of law for things you did or did not do in a peacekeeping operation, what incentive is there for top-flight military organizations such as those that belong to the NATO countries to participate in peacekeeping operations? Will you not be left with only those countries who need the money? I am not trying to say military organizations in peacekeeping operations should not be held accountable for their actions. I just see today's ruling unhelpful. When the United Nations next goes around looking for participants in peacekeeping operations, we might see fewer hands go up. Or rather, we might see fewer hands go up from among the better militaries.
2. 197 U.S. troops were killed in Afghanistan in the first six months of this year.* 195 were killed in the first six months of 2010. Does this mean anything? Well, not really. First off, let me start off by saying that those 197 men and women are "statistically significant" to the mothers, fathers, friends and other family they left behind in the United States. We Americans all mourn their passing and honor their sacrifice. But in terms of trying to wrap our heads around the conflict, an increase of two is statistically insignificant. Or maybe it is significant when you consider there were roughly 30,000 more U.S. troops in Afghanistan in the first six months of 2011 than there were in the first six months of 2010. So you have more troops in the country, contesting more areas, and the number of U.S. casualties more or less held steady. That might be good news, then? But we have a real problem with data in Afghanistan. Most of the data we do have actually tells us little about the direction of the conflict. And much of the data we want to have is uneven, unstandardized, and has massive gaps in it.
3. The security services of the Pakistani state are an annoyance to the United States. They are a hazard to the people of Afghanistan. And they are an absolute menace to the people of Pakistan itself.
*A number of readers pointed out that this figure is lower than the one tracked by iCasualties. That figure is 203, which I do not think changes anything. (Though, again, I realize every single one of these fallen soldiers is someone's son or daughter, so I am not trying to be insensitive here.)
I will be traveling for the next few weeks, attending weddings, climbing, and generally not spending much time working. Here's a question to keep you busy while I'm gone:
Assumptions are necessary for strategic planning. One of the planning assumptions the U.S. government embraced while forming its strategy on Afghanistan and Pakistan in 2009 was that we would be able to build a partnership with the government of Pakistan that would allow us to degrade insurgent sanctuaries in Pakistan. Obviously, this assumption needs to change*, and we might even be better off considering elements within the Pakistani military and security services the enemy of U.S. and allied interests. What, though, would the new planning assumption be, and how would changing our assumption then force us to change our strategy?
*The assumption that we will be able to build a partnership with Pakistan's military and security services actually remains an assumption within the U.S. government, though of course many believe it should be amended.
I beat up on the House yesterday, so let me give credit where it is due today:
WASHINGTON (AP) — A House of Representatives panel presented on Tuesday a $649 billion defense spending bill for next year's Pentagon budget that would pay for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and wade into the long-running fight over a multibillion-dollar next-generation jet fighter.
The House Appropriations Committee bill would provide $119 billion for the two wars, $841 million more than President Barack Obama sought but $39 billion below the current amount. American combat forces are scheduled to leave Iraq at the end of the year and Obama is weighing the first round in the drawdown of the 100,000 troops in Afghanistan in July, with all combat forces scheduled to be out by 2014.
The legislation would provide $13 billion to train and equip Afghan security forces and $1.1 billion for the Pakistan Counterinsurgency Capability Fund, although 75 percent of the money would be withheld until the defense secretary reports to Congress on how the money would be spent in Pakistan.
I would crow that folks on Capitol Hill must be reading our new report (.pdf), but honestly, thinking more critically about the money we give to Pakistan's military and security services is just common sense. Anyway, well done.
Update: It has been called to my attention the language in this legislation borrows heavily from a very similar ammendment from the HASC.
LTG (Ret.) David Barno, Matt Irvine and I have published a new report (.pdf) with the Center for a New American Security that attempts to identify the components of a successful U.S. strategy for Central and South Asia. Our research began in the fall of 2010 and included research trips to both Afghanistan and Pakistan. We also assembled several working groups comprised of both area specialists as well as functional area specialists to help us identify planning assumptions, U.S. interests, and policy options. In the end, we recommend the United States:
UPDATE: Joshuas Kucera and Foust have written thoughtful critiques of the report worth your time. I want to thank both for taking the time to read the report and offer their own analysis. Both analysts lament, in their own ways, how little priority we give to Central Asia in this report. Let me briefly respond by assuring our readers this was a deliberate decision made after much thought and discussion about limited U.S. resources available as well as other, competing priorities. Within Central and South Asia, the U.S. relationship with India dominates our long-term interests, and the U.S. relationship with Afghanistan dominates our near-term interests. Pakistan, meanwhile, the central focus of our report, has the potential to decisively affect both. (This much, I think, is somewhat obvious, yes?) So again, given limited resources and competing priorities, we made a deliberate decision to de-emphasize the importance of Central Asia for U.S. policy makers. Every region of the globe is important, of course, and the United States has at least some interests everywhere. But in deciding where the United States should allot its limited resources and focus the energies of its policy-makers, departments and agencies, we make the case the United States should spend the most time thinking through the problems of Pakistan. Again, I think our logic makes sense even if you disagree. Just starting from an assumptions-and-interests analysis, we did not conclude Central Asia to be as important to the United States and its interests going forward as the three states -- Afghanistan, India, Pakistan -- to which we devote the most time in our report.
The Washington Post does not typically publish the names of intelligence officers working undercover.
Well! Can you hear that big sigh of relief coming from the direction of Langley?
In all seriousness, there is a lot of good stuff in this article, including the revelation that there was a QRF on the ground in Pakistan. The article ends with a conclusion that echos my own: Pakistan's civilian leaders will squander a rare opportunity to push back against the deep state.
Yet even some in the government express concern that Zardari and Gillani — who usually seem occupied with keeping their teetering coalition government afloat — have missed a chance to capitalize on the army’s failures. Some acknowledge that after three years of ceding the national security portfolio to the military, it is difficult for them to take a stance now.
“When you have an opening and an opportunity, you have to have someone willing to capitalize on it,” said Cyril Almeida, an editor at Dawn. “And I don’t know whether the present civilian government has the capacity or the will to do anything.”