I regret being quiet for so long. (I have the nerve to presume here, perhaps wrongly, that my silence was not welcomed.) Anyway, I have posted almost all of the comments in the que and will get to the rest this weekend.
So much has happened since I last wrote that I thought I would post a few bullet points and then follow-up next week with fuller pieces.
- The death of Osama bin Laden is great news for the United States, and it is much better that he was killed rather than captured. The U.S. Navy Seals and the Intelligence Community — especially CIA — deserve high marks for their courage and accomplishments. Those entities clearly know they scored a terrific tactical victory that is a solid step on the road toward final victory. They also know their success did not yield anything close to final victory, notwithstanding the triumphalism of the pathetic young children and addled adults who were this week in the streets to celebrate bin Laden’s death. These are the same folks who, three years ago, formed the “non-partisan peace movement” and were in the same streets to protest the work of U.S. military personnel and CIA officers as that of murderers and torturers.
- The political aftermath of our military success could have been handled better by the Marx Brothers than by the White House and the Republicans and Democrats in Congress. They have leaked very sensitive information for partisan purposes, and have made future military and intelligence operations in Pakistan more dangerous and difficult. And their story of the attack changed so often that some doubted the veracity of the claim that bin Laden is dead. We ended up in the absurd position of having al-Qaeda today confirm bin Laden’s death and thereby validate the accuracy of the U.S. government’s claims
- As discussed here before, Pakistan’s interests and those of the United States in regard to Afghanistan, the Taliban, and al-Qaeda/bin Laden are not and have never been congruent, and U.S. politicians have known that since 9/11. This is a war that we will win or lose based on what we ourselves do. No proxy — not Pakistan, not Yemen, not any other country — is going to do our dirty work. Let us hope that Sunday’s killing of bin Laden is a sign that both parties are aspiring toward adulthood and henceforth will not delegate the protection of the United States to foreigners who sensibly have no intention of sacrificing their interests for ours.
- Both houses of Congress are blowing hot air when it comes to the threat to cutoff aid to Pakistan. Why? Because we have given Pakistan the whip hand in the bilateral relationship. The reality is that our last two presidents and those popularly regarded as military geniuses — McChrystal and Petreaus — have marooned a 150,000 strong U.S.-NATO military force in Afghanistan. The supply needs of that force are absolutely dependent on Pakistan’s permission to use Karachi port to bring in supplies by ship and then unload and truck them through Pakistani territory to Afghanistan. We could not bring in enough supplies via cargo aircraft and the overland routes through the Former Soviet Union to Kabul are frequently closed by winter’s snow. Bottom line: U.S. aid must flow to Pakistan as long as the U.S.-NATO force is in Afghanistan — unless the Congress wants to see that force starve, lose mobility, and slowly run out of fuel and ammunition.