Today we can read Gov Palin’s willingness to wage war in Pakistan and Stratfor’s report that Bush has commanded the military to “Make it so!” This is the second post about Palin’s interview on ABC; part one was “Before we reignite the cold war, what happened in Georgia?”
First, the news… “Pakistan and the US – The Crisis Begins”, Stratfor, 12 September 2008 — Excerpt:
The Taliban are a military organization, operating as guerrillas. They maintain base camps in Pakistan that are not detected and destroyed by the Pakistanis. In the past, their level of activity was insufficient to warrant destabilizing American relations with Pakistan. That is no longer the case. The Taliban have grown much stronger, and U.S. and NATO forces are under pressure from them. Reinforcements are being sent to them. But the base camps and the lines of supply that go into Pakistan are the center of gravity of the Taliban. The United States is no longer in a position to ignore this. The Taliban are too strong.
Therefore, the United States and Pakistan are on a collision course. The Taliban have roots in Pakistan and sympathizers in the military. Attacking the Taliban’s bases and cutting off the flow of supplies is difficult politically for Pakistan. The United States, on the other hand, is not doing well in Afghanistan. It needs the Taliban in Pakistan to be destroyed, and it is saying that if the Pakistanis don’t do it, the United States will have to — and this will take more than Special Operations forces to achieve.
This moment was bound to come. The United States could not manage Afghanistan so long as the Taliban had sanctuary in Pakistan. The Pakistanis were not going to fight a war in Pakistan to solve the American problem. So we are now down to the final crisis of the war that began seven years ago. Iraq is under control. Afghanistan is coming apart. The key to Afghanistan is Pakistan. Pakistan is unable, by itself, to deal with the Taliban. The United States has little choice but to abandon Afghanistan or go into Pakistan.
Next Gov Palin’s views… Excerpt from transcript of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s interview with ABC News’ Charles Gibson, 11 September 2008 (provided by Fox News) — It seems clear that she did not know about the “Bush doctrine”, but eventually comes around to supporting war in Pakistan.
GIBSON: Do you agree with the Bush doctrine?
PALIN: In what respect, Charlie?
GIBSON: The Bush – well, what do you interpret it to be?
PALIN: His world view?
GIBSON: No, the Bush doctrine, annunciated September 2002, before the Iraq War.
PALIN: I believe that what President Bush has attempted to do is rid this world of Islamic extremism, terrorists who are hell-bent on destroying our nation. There have been blunders along the way, though. There have been mistakes made, and with new leadership, and that’s the beauty of American elections, of course, and democracy, is with new leadership comes opportunity to do things better.
GIBSON: The Bush doctrine as I understand it is that we have the right of anticipatory self-defense, that we have the right to a preemptive strike against any country that we think is going to attack us. Do you agree with us?
PALIN: Charlie, if there is legitimate and enough intelligent and legitimate evidence that tells us that a strike is imminent against American people, we have every right to defend our country.
GIBSON: Do we have the right to be making cross-border attacks into Pakistan, from Afghanistan, with or without the approval of the Pakistani government?
PALIN: As for our right to invade, we’re going to work with these countries, building new relationships, working with existing allies, but forging new also, in order to, Charlie, get to a point in this world, where war is not going to be a first option. In fact, war has got to be and military strike a last option.
GIBSON: But governor, I am asking you, do we have the right, in your mind, to go across the border, with or without the approval of the Pakistani government?
PALIN: In order to stop Islamic extremists, those terrorists who would seek to destroy America, and our allies, we must do whatever it takes, and we must not blink, Charlie. In making those tough decisions of where we go, and even who we target.
GIBSON: And let me finish with this. I got lost in a blizzard of words there. Is that a yes, that you think we have the right to go across the border, with or without the approval of the Pakistani government? To go after terrorists who are in the Waziristan area?
PALIN: I believe that America has to exercise all options in order to stop the terrorists who are hell-bent on destroying America, and our allies. We have got to have all options out there on the table.
Please share your comments by posting below. Please make them brief (250 words max), civil, and relevant to this post. Or email me at fabmaximus at hotmail dot com (note the spam-protected spelling).
Other Posts about the Candidates
1. How the Iraq and Vietnam wars are mirror images of each other, 7 February 2008 — Now we have McCain, the leading Republican Presidential candidate, talking of an open-ended commitment to victory in Iraq.
2. A look at the next phase of the Iraq War: 2009-2012, 1 March 2008 — What is next in Iraq? None of the leading candidates have expressed any intention of leaving Iraq – except in the distant and vague future. McCain intends to fight so long as (or until) we suffer few casualties, then stay for a long time (perhaps a hundred years, as McCain said here and here) ). On the other hand, Obama has been quite explicit…
3. Our metastable Empire, built on a foundation of clay, 3 March 2008 — We can elect leaders with vast ambitions (foreign for McCain, domestic for Obama), but can no longer afford them.
4. How long will all American Presidents be War Presidents?, 21 March 2008 — The Presidential campaign rolls on in the seventh year since 9/11, with the only debate about the Long War being in which nations America should fight. We see this even the speeches of the most “liberal” candidate, Senator Barack Obama.
5. American history changes direction as the baton passes between our political parties (18 May 2008) – Importance of the November 2008 political landslide.
6. President Obama, an Muslim apostate?, 2 June 2008 — Nope.
7. Is Obama running for the office of Chief Shaman?, 6 June 2008 — Weirdness from our next President.
8. Does America need a charismatic President?, 15 july 2008
9. More about charisma, by Don Vandergriff…(#2 in the “getting ready for Obama” series), 16 July 2008 — About charisma: know it before you buy it!
10. Obama might be the shaman that America needs, 17 July 2008 — At what point does criticism of Obama’s charisma and rhetoric become criticism of leadership itself — and blind faith in technocratic solutions so loved by policy nerds? Michael Knox Beran crosses that line in “Obama, Shaman“, City Journal, Summer 2008.
11. Obama describes the first step to America’s renewal, 8 August 2008 — Obama’s statement about America may be the simple truth; this may be why so many find it disturbing.
12. A powerful perspective on the candidates for President of the US, 28 August 2008 — John Derbyshire expresses what I have said about the candidates dreams of saving the world.
13. McCain believes we are stupid. Is he correct?, 30 August 2008
14. Alaska is near Russia, and Gov Palin’s other foreign policy experience, 1 September 2008
15. It’s is not just McCain who believes we’re dumb – it’s a crowd, 3 September 2008
16. Governor Palin as an archetype for our time, 9 September 2008
For interesting articles about the candidates from other sources, see About the candidates for President of the United States.
13 thoughts on “Stratfor says that our war in Pakistan grows hotter; Palin seems OK with that”
I see no “yes” in her answer — but certainly no “no”, and everything affirmative but.
What is Obama’s position on this question? If we don’t know, doesn’t that show media bias?
Fabius Maximus replies: She gave a broad, expansive answer that went beyond “yes.” Nice rhetoric, but does she understand the implications of her words? Do the American people?
If Obama has not yet been asked about Pakistan, I expect that he soon will be. His media Q&A’s are quite frequent; it will be interesting to see how frequent are Gov Palin’s.
“Abandon Afghanistan or go into Pakistan”
What kind of nonsense is this? Pakistan has nuclear weapons and has long been held to be the country most likely to use them. Moreover aid to them was in the form of forgiving debt so the US has no financial lever. Nothing is going to happen as the neocons running McCain’s foreign policy are are relatively uninterested in Afghanistan. I expect the war there will rumble on as before; with estimates of 250 Taliban fighters killed for 1 wounded as the UK has just claimed.
Iran on the other hand makes the neocons light up and say tilt.
Unless somebody has a plan to take out the ISI, there is essentially nothing we can do about Pakistan.
Fabius Maximus replies: Not true! There are many things we can do. Unfortunately all of these will probably make things worse.
That was, of course, your point. But black humor is all we have these days, so let’s make the most of it.
Palin is so ignorant it hurts to think about her answers. Does the Taliban “threaten Ameerica”? Is “do what it takes” a strategy or a half-time pep-talk?
Obama, so far, seems to be very interested in “going into Afghanistan.” Stratfor’s analysis of the issue reminds me of the justifications for bombing North Vietnam forty years ago. Zardari has been promised the usual bribe and will make a show of supporting the rear-guard action in Pakistan. But Barry’s point is correct: Pakistant has a formidable deterrent.
Since the American electorate has no grasp at all of these complexities, candidates are free to say anything they want and stick to platitudes which, if taken seriously, would lead to catastrophe.
Didn’t Obama say a similar thing last year? He said indicated he would attack targets in Pakistan which caused a bit of a furor with President Musharraf. “Obama Delivers Bold Speech About War on Terror“, ABC, 7 August 2007.
Fabius Maximus replies: Yes. I wrote a post about this general phenomenon in March: “How long will all American Presidents be War Presidents?“. A follow-up will go up soon.
Obama wanted to invade Pakistan back in July. He said “If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won’t act, we will,”. From “Tough talk on Pakistan from Obama“, Reuters, 1 August 2007.
Fabius Maximus replies: Yes. See reply to the previous comment.
I think Palin’s comments must be considered in context with her religious views. From what I have seen and heard , she is your basic evangelical/pentecostal Christian. They believe that they are born again in Christ and that Christ guides their moves and thoughts. Many believe in the idea of American exceptionalism and that God has chosen USA to lead the way for 2nd coming of Christ. Some of these people even go farther, believing that we must do all we can to hasten the 2nd coming of Christ. We must start those wars and use up those resources. That will make Christ come all that much sooner. Jerry Falwell was one of that school. Whether Palin believes that remains to be seen. She is on the ticket to bring in the P/E vote. Her views on Pakistan appear to be in line with her religious views. To understand Palin, we must understand her religious beliefs.
In regards to attacking targets in Pakistan, I came across this article which reports the Pakistani military might forcibly oppose our troops pursuing militants. If true this would be a major setback to say the least.
“KEY corps commanders of Pakistan’s 600,000-strong army issued orders last night to retaliate against “invading” US forces that enter the country to attack militant targets.”
If the U.S. would attempt to crush Pakistan(which itself seems to be financially unrealizable), India with official nukes, not future nukes, will assert itself like Iran did after Iraq. That’s how the strategic ecosystem works. Would it be a gain? No.
Update: One of the best analysises yet of Palin’s interview on ABC.
“The Sorrow and the Pity“, Fred Kaplan, 12 September 2008 — “When it comes to foreign policy, Sarah Palin doesn’t know what she’s talking about.” Excerpt:
“Judging from the excerpts shown Thursday on ABC’s World News and Nightline, there are several appropriate responses to watching Sarah Palin answer Charlie Gibson’s questions on foreign policy and national security—sorrow, pity, incredulity, fear.
“Gov. Palin was obviously briefed by Sen. John McCain’s advisers, and briefed fairly well. She recited what were plainly the main points of these tutorials with an assertive confidence familiar to those who engaged in high-school debate competitions.
“But it was painfully obvious—from the rote nature of her responses, the repetitions of hammered-home phrases, and the non sequiturs that leapt up when she found herself led around an unfamiliar bend—that there is not a millimeter of depth undergirding those recitations, that she had never given a moment’s thought to these matters before two weeks ago.
“…Palin also, in passing, described Russia’s invasion of Georgia as “unprovoked.” Gibson interrupted her: “You believe unprovoked?” She affirmed, “I do believe unprovoked.” This was an eyebrow-raiser. Almost everyone, even Russia’s harshest critics, acknowledges that Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili did, in fact, provoke Putin—even if Putin might have been hoping for a provocation—by attacking South Ossetia first.”
Yes, both R and D’s are calling for escalation into Pakistan. And US special forces and others have been attacking in there recently. So both current and both new administrations will continue, i.e. there is no difference between all three in terms of opening new front. All three say same things about Georgia and NATO. This is not a co-incidence. Anyone who thinks that Presidents alone determine foreign policy and solely steer the rudder of the military-industrial-congressional complex’s ship of state is being willfully naive.
Ike’s original speech notes had ‘military-industrial-congressional complex’. He edited out the congressional when he gave the speech. He shouldn’t have!
According to the Australian:
KEY corps commanders of Pakistan’s 600,000-strong army issued orders last night to retaliate against “invading” US forces that enter the country to attack militant targets.
The move has plunged relations between Islamabad and Washington into deep crisis over how to deal with al-Qa’ida and the Taliban
What amounts to a dramatic order to “kill the invaders”, as one senior officer put it last night, was disclosed after the commanders – who control the army’s deployments at divisional level – met at their headquarters in the garrison city of Rawalpindi under the chairmanship of army chief and former ISI spy agency boss Ashfaq Kayani.
This whole dicussion seems very shallow to me. I see almost all the concerns of the United States deriving out of the Pak/Afghan nexus from my perspective on American historical tendencies to cycle between aggressive support and near abandonement of nations and cultures that are on the fringe of our strategic concern. This is what has happened particularly to Pakistan ever since it came out of the colonial era. And in their view I’m sure the initial attack on afghanistan then distraction to Iraq meant to them they were just in another cycle.
They initially coopted the Taliban as part of a strategy to gain further control of the potential 360 degree threats they had near the end of the cold war. Why should they give up that influence without confidence the US won’t again get distracted from the concerns of their corner of the world? We haven’t even stayed focused long enough to keep pressure on them to abandon the Taliban. What we can do about Pakistan and therefore help the Afghanistan problem is commit to a decade or more of attention to their concerns. This means persistent military, economic and diplomatic presence in Afghanistan in a meaningful way consistent with stability operations rather than hit and run antiterrorist actions. Then persistent carrots and sticks statesmanship with Pakistan based on strategic goals. I’ve seen no sign of this from the current “mission accomplished, now let me restructure social security, immigration,etc.” Pres. Unless we can do the whole strategy any tactic will be nothing but a short term solution to hold down the fort until the enemy comes up with a new twist or finds a new cave by hopping back and forth between Pak. and Afg. “Abandon or go” and similar simplifications ignore 2000 accumulated years of anti-insurgency strategy history. So does Palins sound bite statements.