In interviews in Islamabad and Washington, Bush administration and military officials said they believed that much of the American money was not making itsMusharraf, of course, denies such claims, causing an irritating he-said, she-said. And if that weren't galling enough, one American officer makes this comparison:
way to frontline Pakistani units. Money has been diverted to help finance weapons systems designed to counter India, not Al Qaeda or the Taliban, the officials said, adding that the United States has paid tens of millions of dollars in inflated Pakistani reimbursement claims for fuel, ammunition and other costs.
For years, how money from the Coalition Support Funds was disbursed to the Pakistani government was veiled in secrecy. The size and scope of the payments to Pakistan was held so closely that one senior American military officer in Afghanistan said that he did not know that the administration was spending $1 billion a year until he attended a meeting in Islamabad in 2006. “I was astounded,” said the officer, who would not speak for attribution because he now holds another senior military post. “On one side of the border we were paying a billion to get very little done. On the other side of the border — the Afghan side — we were scrambling to find the funds to train an army that actually wanted to get something done.”
Readers of this blog are well familiar with the travails of those training the Afghan National Army. One assumes that we'd all be ok with a little less money for the Pakistani armor corps facing New Delhi, and a little more for what could be a world-class training academy in Kabul.
WASHINGTON, Nov. 18 — A new and classified American military proposal outlines an intensified effort to enlist tribal leaders in the frontier areas of Pakistan in the fight against Al Qaeda and the Taliban, as part of a broader effort to bolster Pakistani forces against an expanding militancy, American military officials said.
If adopted, the proposal would join elements of a shift in strategy that would also be likely to expand the presence of American military trainers in Pakistan, directly finance a separate tribal paramilitary force that until now has proved largely ineffective and pay militias that agreed to fight Al Qaeda and foreign extremists, officials said. The United States now has only about 50 troops in Pakistan, a Pentagon spokesman said, a force that could grow by dozens under the new approach.First off, it's just a proposal. Second, this whole training-foreign-security-forces thing should have ceased to be controversial a long time ago. Like, in 1958 or thereabouts. The fact that the U.S. advisor presence in Pakistan might grow by mere dozens -- goodness me, an invasion! -- doesn't seem like it should be Page 1 news. We've probably got more economic advisors in some countries. What should be Page 1 news, though, is an analysis of whether or not the Pakistanis are up for what looks to be a long-term counterinsurgency fight in their back yard. Just before Abu Muqawama went to bed last night, he read a report announcing the Pakistani government was mobilizing more forces in the northwest to stop Sunni-Shia fighting.
What had in fact transpired, in my view, was a deft, successful psychological operations action by the Taliban. Their attack on Arghandab was designed to communicate, and it did -- eloquently. It said that they are here. It said that, despite the likelihood that they would attack after the death of Mullah Naqib, no obstacle was thrown up to oppose them, and they were able to walk into the district. The targeting of the mullah's house was a deliberate affront. It said: "You see, o men of no honor? You can't even protect his house. You are nothing now." The sum of these messages was aimed at the ordinary people who are the prize in any insurgency: Our encroachment is inevitable, the Taliban said. You should align yourselves with the inevitable.Bless. Sarah Chayes understands Clausewitz better than 90% of the officers in the U.S. Army. It's not about destroying the enemy -- it's about achieving your desired political aim, whether that means your act of violence kills 100 men or none. She also knows what it will take to "win" in Afghanistan:
Throughout the northwest, the war against the insurgents is unpopular. Many Pakistanis consider it America's war, though on either side, it's Pakistani blood that is spilled.
Analysts say they fear that while emergency rule may give Musharraf more power to use the army to put down the insurgency, it will backfire when it comes to changing minds.
"The mullahs' main slogan is enforcing sharia, and that is popular with the populace," said Ghulam Cheema, a retired army colonel. "The army, in their heart of hearts, can't fight such a slogan."Read the rest of this important article here.
Currently, U.S. Special Forces teams make occasional trips to Pakistan for about six weeks at a time to train different groups of Pakistani soldiers. Under the new plan, the 12-man teams would be stationed there for longer assignments, without gaps in between, and they would work consistently with the same set of local troops. The teams would step up their training of the Pakistani military's Special Services Group, a strike force for conducting raids against insurgent training camps and leaders.
Other trainers would teach basic skills to Pakistan's Frontier Corps, the tribally recruited paramilitary force that patrols the tribal regions. Training would include marksmanship as well as how to set up checkpoints and gather basic intelligence, while providing the force with helicopter support such as medical evacuation by the Pakistani army.
About 400 U.S. military personnel currently work in Pakistan, and the total is expected to grow by dozens under the new initiative.... U.S. military officials said that [Ashfaq] Kiyani, Musharraf's possible replacement as head of the military, is supportive of the counterinsurgency plan in the tribal areas, which he visited within days of assuming his current post last month. Kiyani has also indicated an openness to having the Pakistani military focus on missions other than conventional operations aimed at the threat of India, which senior U.S. officers consider diminished. "He has a different view," said one senior military official. "I'd expect he will step up and be head of the army, and there will be some changes."
The idea for the plan to strengthen and increase the Frontier Corps, along with economic development in the tribal areas, was unexpectedly raised by Musharraf during his meeting with President Bush in March 2006.
Some initial funds for the efforts have been cobbled together -- relying in part on Pentagon counternarcotics funding -- but officials familiar with the plan say the goal is to redirect current military aid toward the counterinsurgency plan.The COIN model the U.S. is using in Pakistan -- light footprint, heavy on advisory missions -- seems to be the same COIN/CT model the U.S. has been using in places like Algeria, where we have been very cautious about letting our military aid and activity become too overt. Abu Muqawama likes it. It's not aggressive enough for some presidential candidates, probably, but it makes more sense than sending a division of light infantry into the FATA.* The Pakistani Army would revolt if the U.S. took direct military action, but using Special Forces teams in advisory roles allows the U.S. to "fight" in the FATA without actually getting into any two-way live fires themselves.
Now we've really got problems.Strong start. Glad we go that out of the way.
The state of emergency in Pakistan signals yet another low point in President George W. Bush's foreign policy—a stark demonstration of his paltry influence and his bankrupt principles. More than that, the crackdown locks us in a crisis—a potentially dangerous dynamic—from which there appears to be no escape route.No escape, huh? Paltry influence? Bankrupt principles? Come on, Fred, isn't Musharraf fighting Taliban and al Qaeda elements in the border areas?
Oh snap! (And did Kaplan just say "diddling"?) Ok, power grab, check. Crazy islamists are just a bogeyman.
Musharraf is portraying his suspension of the constitution as a necessary step to stabilize Pakistan and fend off Islamist terrorists. Yet the timing suggests it was, for the most part, a power grab. Pakistan's Supreme Court was about to rule that Musharraf's reign as both president and army chief of staff was unconstitutional. That meant the coming elections (which may or may not now be called off) would have ended his reign. And so he dissolved the court. He also arrested many democratic activists and shut down the nation's independent media.
It should now be clear, if it wasn't already, that Musharraf has been diddling Bush & Co. the past three years or longer.
The problem is that there's some truth to Musharraf's official reason for his crackdown. He has been going after al-Qaida jihadists, especially those inside his own country, though not so much Taliban fighters on the border of Afghanistan. And he is in a genuinely tight spot.Sucks to his tight spot. Let's just cut him off and be done with it.
If the United States were to respond to this power grab by cutting off aid to the Pakistani army, the army would turn elsewhere—and the Islamist factions would be strengthened. If the United States were to cut its links to Musharraf … well, Musharraf is the face of the Pakistani army. If he goes, probably some other strongman would take his place, but the tenuous coalition he has assembled could fall apart in the process, with unpredictable—but almost certainly unpleasant—results.Well goddammit, you're not making this easy, Fred! It's like the tail is wagging the dog here.
The fact is, the United States needs Musharraf more than Musharraf needs the United States. And the fact that he's rubbing our noses in it doesn't make it any less true.Well, then, look. This was just the inevitable result of getting into bed with dictators. It's unavoidable.
We can't do much about this now, but we might have been able to do something about it two years ago or six months ago. The fact that we didn't is a grave indictment of Bush's foreign policy, both its practices and its principles.But it's just an indictment of the Pakistan policy, right? Freedom is on the march!
Fred, I hope you're buying the next round. I need a drink. Any parting words?
The Bush foreign policy was neither shrewd enough to play self-interested power politics nor truly principled enough to enforce its ideals.
One consequence of this crisis is that Bush's "freedom agenda" is finally bankrupt. He will never again be able to invoke it, even as a rhetorical ploy, without evoking winces or laughter.
Musharraf's proclamation reveals that we are not the "sole superpower" that Bush and his associates thought we were; that sometimes the combination of vital interests and mediocre diplomacy put us all too desperately at the mercy of events.Make that two.