Today’s broadsheet from the FM website pressroom with three sections of hot news.
- Links to interesting news and analysis
- Exciting but probably fake story for today: the General says “No one can separate Islam and Pakistan”
- Feature article: another advocate of the war whitewashes himself, preparing for defeat
- Plus an Afterword
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(1) Today’s links
- “A key British official reminds us of the forgotten anthrax attack“, 29 November 2009 — A flashback to our forgotten past.
- “The Pentagon’s Most Expensive Weapon“, Jim Arkedis (director of PPI’s National Security Project), 30 November 2009 — An interesting perspective on the Pentagon’s budget.
- “The face of rotted Washington“, Glenn Greenwald, Salon, 30 November 2009 — A wonderful portrait of a statesman in our Versailles-on-the-Potomac.
- “Tajik Grip on Afghan Army Signals New Ethnic War“, Gareth Porter, Inter Press Service, 28 November 2009
(2) Exciting story for today: the General says “No one can separate Islam and Pakistan”
It’s all over the Internet, so it must be true! Today’s text is “US stalls as Pakistan drifts”, Syed Saleem Shahzad, Asia Times, 1 December 2009:
Three developments over the past few days have dealt a severe setback to the designs of the United States in the South Asian theater of war.
… Then, as war rages against Muslim militants in Pakistan’s tribal areas, the chief of army staff, General Ashfaq Parvez Kiani shocked secular elements in the country by saying that “no one can separate Islam and Pakistan” and that the goal was to turn the country into a true Islamic state.
Note the quote from General Kiani. It gives the article an air of specificity. Like so much on Asia Times, it may be fake. No source or link is given. Google shows many similar versions, but none give a quote. No news service mentions the army’s goal to turn the country “into a true Islamic state.”
The International News (by Jang Group, Pakistan’s largest newspaper chain) says: “No one can separate Islam and Pakistan: General Kayani“, 25 November 2009 — The last line is important; red emphasis added. Excerpt:
Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has said that Pakistan was achieved in the name of Islam and the religion can never be expelled from the country. Addressing a gathering at Police Line Peshawar here, the COAS said that no one can separate Islam from Pakistan as the country was achieved in its name. He said that Pakistan Army will succeed in its bid to root out extremism from the country in cooperation with the nation and the media.
The Pakistan News Service says “No one can separate Islam and Pakistan: General Kayani“, 25 November 2009 — Red emphasis added:
Addressing a gathering at Police Line Peshawar here, the COAS said that no one can separate Islam from Pakistan as the country was achieved in its name. He said that Pakistan Army will succeed in its bid to root out extremism from the country in cooperation with the nation and the media.
(3) Feature article: another advocate of the war whitewashes himself, preparing for defeat
“Confessions of an Uncertain Columnist – My mixed feelings about the war in Afghanistan“, Fred Kaplan, Slate, 30 November 2009 — More pro-war nonsense by the war’s advocates, as they pre-emptively whitewash themselves for the coming debacle. It’s the mantra of 21st century America: “it’s not my fault.” It’s not worth reading, except as an example of the folly that passes for geopolitical reasoning in America today.
Two brief excerpts, as illustrations.
And the stakes are much higher: Communists ruling South Vietnam was never a serious threat to our security; al-Qaida controlling a huge swath of South Asia is.
Total nonsense. Even if the Taliban conquers Afghanistan (hardly a certainly), the Taliban is not al Qaeda. Nor has any expert made a strong case that the Taliban can conquer Pakistan.
Petraeus is very agile at this sort of enterprise, as he demonstrated in 2003 in Mosul as commander of the 101st Airborne Division, and in 2007, with the “Sunni Awakening,” as commander of all U.S. forces in Iraq.
The end result of paying off the Sunni Arab militia has yet to be seen. But Petraeus’ record in Mosul is a matter of record, about which Kaplan makes up a pretty story (the Dec 2003 article to which he links provides no support for this assertion about Mosul). For one of the many more objective reports, see this excerpt from “The Surge“, Peter W. Galbraith, New York Review of Books, 15 March 2007:
Petraeus, on whom so much now rests, served two previous tours in Iraq. As the American commander in Mosul in 2003 and 2004, he earned adulatory press coverage—including a Newsweek cover story captioned “Can This Man Save Iraq?“—for taming the Sunni-majority city.
Petraeus ignored warnings from America’s Kurdish allies that he was appointing the wrong people to key positions in Mosul’s local government and police. A few months after he left the city, the Petraeus-appointed local police commander defected to the insurgency while the Sunni Arab police handed their weapons and uniforms over en masse to the insurgents. (In a coordinated assault in November 2004, Sunni insurgents overran all of Mosul’s Sunni-led police stations, while every Kurdish police station successfully defended itself.)
Neither this episode nor the evident failure of the training programs for the Iraqi army and police which he ran in his next assignment seemed to have damaged the general’s reputation.
— Galbraith was Ambassador to Croatia, now Senior Diplomatic Fellow at the Center for Arms Control and a principal at the Windham Resources Group, which has worked in Iraq. He wrote Unintended Consequences: How War in Iraq Strengthened America’s Enemies (October 2008).
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