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Title: Full Text of the Iraq Study Group Report
Post by: Walter on 2006-12-07 02:50:12

Full Text of the Iraq Study Group Report

Title: Re:Full Text of the Iraq Study Group Report
Post by: Hermit on 2006-12-07 09:33:30

Having effectively acknowledged that "business as usual" is an escalating disaster, the Iraq Study Group seems to me to be suggesting more of the same, but also advocating the unheard of step of engaging in diplomacy by talking to Iraq's neighbors, rather than simply bombing them. Israel, and thus the Bush administration, seems adamantly opposed to this astoundingly novel innovation; but, even if they were falling over themselves in eagerness to save the money, the risk of blow-back and the tattered shards of whatever reputation they may have left, probably isn't going to help much while the neighbors have clarion ongoing examples of what we really mean when we say we are going to "help" somebody develop freedom and democracy, for example, in the Palestine; in the Lebanon; in Afghanistan; and in Iraq itself. Greater threats hath no man.

As I understand it, the Iraq Study Group's proposal rests upon the fallacy that as the number of trained Iraqi troops increases, the "insurgency" (which is incorrect use of language as an insurgency takes place against a legitimate government, rather than being resistance against occupation) will decline, and that this in turn will allow us to draw down American troop levels. Clearly this is fallacious, because despite ongoing repeated claims that the number of available Iraqi troops are increasing, to very close to the repeatedly mentioned "magical number" of 170,000 (initially projected as sufficient by a military that didn't pay nearly enough attention to the motivations for the scale of Saddam Hussein's forces), the number of "insurgency" attacks has increased dramatically, as has the need for additional, but unavailable, American troops. I say unavailable, because the current failed attempt to stabilize Baghdad (an action clearly driven by the desire to claim that we had managed to "reduce violence" prior to the elections, i.e. the deployment was driven by American political needs, rather than by any operational considerations) by "flooding" it with American troops, has taken place in the shadow of the unreported (because reporters no longer dare leave the "Green Zone" except under no longer available military protection) abandonment of large-scale areas of the rest of the country, just as was attempted in Afghanistan (another horrible failure, where the tip of the iceberg is beginning to come into sight through the bilge boards). This has, predictably enough, resulted in the establishment of local militia and the further weakening of already pathetically irrelevant central authority as well as the collapse of the pretense of local stability in Baghdad itself.

What has happened in Iraq is, in my opinion, a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of tribal mechanisms and the "stability" offered by local militia which the US sees and reacts against simply as a competitor for the meme and meat-space, rather than as a consequence and response to the chaos brought about by deliberate destruction of stability and civil mechanisms. At this point, I don't think that the situations are resolvable, or at least, probably not resolvable by us irrespective of the resources dedicated to the task. Unfortunately, Turkey was right. The one guarantee they asked for, and were given, prior to the US invasion of Iraq, was that Iraq would not be broken up, with the inevitable collapse of regional stability established by those masters of "divide-and-conquer" strategies, the Colonial British. The bad news is that I see a break-up as now being to all intents and purposes as inevitable, and that this will result in massive regional turmoil and the further loss of American ability to influence the Middle East. The wose news is that the alternatives are all probably worse. To my mind, Iraq already being destroyed, the real worry at this point has to be that, with full American complicity, the Kurds are already effectively permeated by Israeli operatives intent on establishing an insurgency in Iran, rather in the way that the US established an insurgency in Afghanistan. I am fairly sure that this is going to result in the eventual destabilization of Turkey (now accelerated by the stunningly poor grasp of their long-term interests demonstrated by Germany and France's blatantly near-term and domestically politically driven anti-Turk actions at the EU yesterday). What I think is that neither Europe nor the US is paying nearly enough attention to the massive stabilizing effect that Turkey's strategic location, size and realpolitik driven system has played for the past 80 years or so, or how our actions undermining this, by making it clear to the Turkish population that a moderate secular approach will not improve their lives, are making a massive swing towards a fundamentalist theocratic society probable rather than merely likely. The inevitable, but as always, unexpected, consequences for regional stability, which of course includes Russian and Chinese interests, are hugely significant and are in my opinion likely to be much more significant than the equally inevitable (but still apparently unexpected) rise of al Q'aeda from the wreckage of Afghanistan.

Would anyone like a nice slice of blow-back cake to go with their tea?

Kind Regards


Title: Re:Full Text of the Iraq Study Group Report
Post by: Macheeide on 2006-12-07 12:36:37

[quote author=Hermit link=board=67;threadid=37453;start=0#154962 date=1165502010]
...Would anyone like a nice slice of blow-back cake to go with their tea?...

[Blunderov] Something that seeems to have stayed underneath the radar is the potentially volatile situation that exists in Pakistan. Ruled by a military dictator who was pretty much forced to cast his lot in with the Americans, he is deeply resented by a great many fundamentalist inclined Pakistani's. I gather that the tribal areas in the mountains are very wild and woolly and are mostly a no-go area even for the Pakistani military. Never mind Iran, if the lid comes off, Pakistan could conceivably become the first nuclear armed Islamic fundamentalist state.

Title: Re:Full Text of the Iraq Study Group Report
Post by: Hermit on 2006-12-07 16:00:02

[Blunderov] Something that seeems to have stayed underneath the radar is the potentially volatile situation that exists in Pakistan. Ruled by a military dictator who was pretty much forced to cast his lot in with the Americans, he is deeply resented by a great many fundamentalist inclined Pakistani's. I gather that the tribal areas in the mountains are very wild and woolly and are mostly a no-go area even for the Pakistani military. Never mind Iran, if the lid comes off, Pakistan could conceivably become the first nuclear armed Islamic fundamentalist state.

[Hermit] I agree that we are pushing Pakistan further into fundamentalism. While this is short sighted and masochistic given that the tribes of Afghanistan and Pakistan are one and the same and pay no attention to borders drawn up elsewhere - or governments that are not of their tribes, still it has major cost implications in the money, time and lives we are squandering to no effect in Afghanistan.

[Hermit, Still, I do not think it will matter all that much should it come to pass.

[Hermit] Nuclear device custodianship tends to make leaders aware of their responsibilities - and vulnerabilities. During the "cold war" the Russians and Americans both regarded the other side as being in league with the Devil, and on many occasions might have liked to deploy nuclear devices against their opponents. Fortunately, the horrible equation of mutually assured destruction, as well, I think, the knowledge that the possibilities of nuclear devices being deployed meant there was nothing constraining anyone from disposing of politicians as if they were no more than ordinary foot soldiers if the the fragile equilibrium was disturbed, ensured their non-use. While the motivation not to own nuclear devices in order to prevent NPT device owning members from deploying them against you has been eliminated by Bush, the use of them, except possibly by the US or Israel, will almost certainly bring a nuclear retribution upon the deployer's head. India, having little to worry about when it comes to population replacement, and a religion which promises further opportunities to enjoy this life to its believers might use nuclear devices preemptively and live with the consequences. For anyone outside of these three, I see nuclear weapons as a Samsonite option. An opportunity to take as many of your enemies out with you as possible even if it kills you too. Even the US or Israel might hesitate to deploy nuclear devices, given the International Court's declaration that the use of nuclear weapons would form a prima fascia crime against humanity and peace, meaning that even when used against a toothless opponent, the consequences would quite probably be economically devastating and personally dangerous to the leadership ordering a nuclear strike. I don't think the leadership is unaware of this.

Kind Regards


Title: Pakistan pressure cooker about to blow?
Post by: Macheeide on 2007-05-14 03:25:54

[quote author=Blunderov link=board=67;threadid=37453;start=#154965 date=1165512997]
[quote author=Hermit link=board=67;threadid=37453;start=0#154962 date=1165502010]
...Would anyone like a nice slice of blow-back cake to go with their tea?...

[Blunderov] Something that seeems to have stayed underneath the radar is the potentially volatile situation that exists in Pakistan. Ruled by a military dictator who was pretty much forced to cast his lot in with the Americans, he is deeply resented by a great many fundamentalist inclined Pakistani's. I gather that the tribal areas in the mountains are very wild and woolly and are mostly a no-go area even for the Pakistani military. Never mind Iran, if the lid comes off, Pakistan could conceivably become the first nuclear armed Islamic fundamentalist state.

[Blunderov] Musharraf appears to be taking a very big risk. Can he stuff the Genie back in the lamp when he needs to?

More things that make you go hmmm...

(The pictures at the link give serious pause for thought. "How religion poisons everything" indeed.) (

What next after Karachi's carnage?
by Pervez Hoodbhoy

General Pervez Musharraf is now a desperate man. Dozens were left dead in the horrific carnage on May 12, initiated by his violent political allies in Karachi, the MQM, in an attempt to stem the popular protests against Musharraf's dismissal of the chief justice of Pakistan. But this may still not buy him enough strength. Protests will continue. His "million man rally" in Islamabad, held on the same day, blatantly used the state's full organizational machinery and was widely ridiculed. It was seen as a sign of his weakness rather than strength.

So what is Musharraf likely to do next?

Military generals and fanatical clerics have been symbiotically linked in Pakistan's politics for decades. They have often needed and helped the other attain their respective goals. And they may soon need each other again - this time to set Islamabad ablaze. An engineered bloodbath that leads to the army's intervention, and the declaration of a national emergency, could serve as excellent reason for postponing the October 2007 elections. Although Musharraf denies that he wants a postponement, a lengthy martial law may now be his only chance for a continuation of his dictatorial rule into its eighth year - and perhaps beyond.

This perverse strategy sounds almost unbelievable. A man who President George W. Bush describes as his "buddy" in the war against terror, and the celebrated author of an "enlightened moderate" version of Islam, Musharraf wears the two close assassination attempts on his life by religious extremists as a badge of honour. But his secret reliance upon the Taliban card - one that he has been accused of playing for years - increases as his authority and judgment weaken.

The signs of government engineered chaos are manifest. For many months now, here in the heart of Pakistan's capital, vigilante groups from a government funded mosque, the Lal Masjid, have roamed the streets and bazaars as they impose Islamic morality and terrorize citizens in full view of the police. Openly sympathetic to the Taliban and tribal militants fighting the Pakistan army, the two cleric brothers who head Lal Masjid, Maulana Abdul Aziz and Maulana Abdur Rashid Ghazi, have attracted a core of banned militant organizations around them. These include the Jaish-e-Muhammad, considered to be the pioneer of suicide bombings in the region.

The clerics openly defy the state. Since Jan 21, 2007, baton wielding burqa-clad students of the Jamia Hafsa, the women's Islamic university located next to Lal Masjid, have forcibly occupied a government building, the Children's Library. In one of their many forays outside the seminary, this burqa brigade swooped upon a house, which they claimed was a brothel, and kidnapped 3 women and a baby.


Victory for the Burqa Brigade

The male students of Islamabad's many madrassas are even more active. They terrorize video shop owners, who they accuse of spreading pornography and vice. Newspapers have carried pictures of grand bonfires made with seized cassettes and CDs. Most video stores in Islamabad have now closed down. Their owners duly repented after a fresh campaign by militants on May 4 bombed a dozen music and video stores, barber shops and a girls school in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP).


The Pakistani state has shown astonishing patience. It showed its displeasure in Karachi with bullets, while other challengers have been hit with air and artillery power. But the Lal Masjid clerics operate with impunity. No attempt has been made to cut off their electricity, gas, phone, or website - or even to shut down their illegal FM radio station. The chief negotiator appointed by Musharraf, Chaudhry Shujaat Husain, described the burqa brigade kidnappers as "our daughters", with whom negotiations would continue and against whom "no operation could be contemplated".

Soon after they went on the warpath, the clerics realized that the government wanted to play ball. Their initial demand - the rebuilding of 8 illegally constructed mosques that had been knocked down by Islamabad's civic administration - transformed into a demand for enforcing the Shariah in Pakistan. At a meeting held in the mosque on April 6, over 100 guest religious leaders from across the country pledged to die for the cause of Islam and Shariah. On April 12, (also reported in The News, Islamabad, April 24) in an FM broadcast from the Lal Masjid's illegal FM station, the clerics issued a threat: "There will be suicide blasts in the nook and cranny of the country. We have weapons, grenades and we are expert in manufacturing bombs. We are not afraid of death".


The Lal Masjid head cleric, a former student of my university in Islamabad, added the following chilling message for our women students in the same broadcast:

The government should abolish co-education. Quaid-e-Azam University has become a brothel. Its female professors and students roam in objectionable dresses. I think I will have to send my daughters of Jamia Hafsa to these immoral women. They will have to hide themselves in hijab otherwise they will be punished according to Islam. Our female students have not issued the threat of throwing acid on the uncovered faces of women. However, such a threat could be used for creating the fear of Islam among sinful women. There is no harm in it. There are far more horrible punishments in the hereafter for such women.

If the truth be told, QAU resembles a city of walking double-holed tents rather than the brothel of a sick mullah's imagination. The last few bare-faced women are finding it more difficult by the day to resist. But then, that is precisely the aim of the Islamists. On May 7, a female teacher in the QAU history department was physically assaulted in her office by a bearded, Taliban-looking man who screamed that he had instructions from Allah. President Musharraf - who is the chancellor of QAU and often chooses to be involved in rather petty university administrative affairs - has made no comment on the recent developments.

What next? As Islamabad heads the way of Pakistan's tribal towns, the next targets will be girls schools, internet cafes, bookshops and western clothing stores, followed by shops selling toilet paper, tampons, underwear, mannequins, and other un-Islamic goods.

In a sense, the inevitable is coming to pass. Until a few years ago, Islamabad was a quiet, orderly, modern city different from all others in Pakistan. Still earlier it was largely the abode of Pakistan's hyper-elite and foreign diplomats. But the rapid transformation of its demography brought with it hundreds of mosques with multi-barrelled audio-cannons mounted on minarets, as well as scores of madrassas illegally constructed in what used to be public parks and green areas. Now, tens of thousands of their students with little prayer caps dutifully chant the Quran all day. In the evenings they roam in packs through the city's streets and bazaars, gaping at store windows and lustfully ogling bare-faced women.

The stage for transforming Islamabad into a Taliban stronghold is being set. If at all it is to be prevented, resolute opposition from its citizens will be needed to prevent more Lal Masjids from creating their own shariah squads.

The responsibility for the current bout of religious terrorism in Islamabad falls squarely on General Musharraf's government, which has clearly chosen to secretly sanction it. It is a desperate stratagem but it will not work. Musharraf is already a lame duck. His three principal intelligence agencies are split among themselves on many issues, as is his political party. The Americans have finally wearied of his cleverness in fighting for their dollars while secretly supporting the Taliban. When he exits - which may be sooner rather than later - Musharraf will have left a legacy that will last for generations. All this for a little more taste of power.

The author teaches physics at Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad. Pictures courtesy of Ishaque Choudhry.

Posted by Abbas Raza at 12:04 AM | Permalink

Title: Re:Full Text of the Iraq Study Group Report
Post by: Macheeide on 2007-07-10 04:56:13

[Blunderov] Nuclear armed states do not get harrassed by the USA. (Oddly enough, Iran has noticed this.) That being the case, it is necessary for the USA to pretend that Pakistan is a bosom buddy. In the immortal words of Private Eye,"nothing could be further from the truth".

The USA's connivance with Pakistan betrays (yet again) it's true motives in the region. It does not really care about Islamic fundamentalists (there will always be plenty of those available for putting the frighteners on the voters) or for the WOT (me worry?). It is the oil of course. It always has been. And if push comes to shove, the price of American citizens dying on their own home soil is a price which will be considered "well worth paying" for it.

It would be odd if the Kurds hadn't noticed that the USA is fixated on oil. Or that there are 140,000 Turkish soldiers lined up on the border. Or that oil rich countries are likely to be made more welcome in EEC than countries who formerly didn't haver any oil. Like Turkey for instance. Hmm.

As some of us predicted a long time ago, Pandora's Box has been opened in no uncertain terms and the original point of the myth, that some prices are never worth paying, is becoming clearer every day. But I suppose C students can't be expected to know that sort of thing.

Back to brass tacks: see Spot support the troops.

Bush's Shielding of Musharraf at Risk

by Gareth Porter

The growing crisis over Islamic extremism in Pakistan is drawing attention to the complicity of that country's military government in the rise of the biggest haven for Islamic terrorism in the world.

The issue, which is also linked to the threat to U.S. troops in Afghanistan from Taliban bases in Pakistan, is likely to push aside the George W. Bush administration's campaign to portray Iran as the primary external source of instability and violence against U.S. troops in the region.

The serious impacts of the policy of accommodation practiced by Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf toward the Taliban and its extremist supporters in Pakistan has been dramatized this week by the clashes between security forces and Islamic extremists at the Red Mosque in Islamabad.

That crisis came only a few days after a report in the New York Times June 28 that the Pakistani Interior Ministry had warned Musharraf earlier in June that a "general policy of appeasement towards the Taliban" had " further emboldened" the Islamic extremist forces.

But despite these indications that the news from Pakistan is likely to shed a harsh light on its Pakistan policy, the Bush administration has continued to offer unqualified endorsement of Musharraf's policy toward terrorism. Efforts by journalists to elicit an expression of concern about the implications of the violence in Islamabad from State Department spokesman Sean McCormack produced only reassuring phrases that there is "still a lot more to do" in regard to Islamic extremists in Pakistan and that "we support [Musharraf] in those efforts."

The Bush administration knows that Musharraf has been playing a double game over al-Qaeda and Taliban networks. Four months earlier, it had tried to exert quiet pressure on Musharraf over the issue, but had also continued its policy of portraying Musharraf as a loyal ally in the "war against terror," even after he signaled his rejection of any pressure.

Vice President Dick Cheney visited Islamabad in late February, accompanied by Stephen R. Kappes, deputy director of the CIA, when unnamed U.S. officials told the Washington Post that there was evidence al-Qaeda operatives in camps in Pakistan had resumed training of foreign jihadists. Just hours after Cheney had reportedly delivered a warning that aid would be cut by Congress if something was not done, the Musharraf government issued a statement insisting that "Pakistan does not accept dictation from any side or any source."

That response suggested an unwillingness or inability on Musharraf's part to change his policy toward the Islamic terrorists. But back home the administration continued to issue statements aimed at minimizing the problem. Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher went so far as to deny that Cheney had delivered any warning to Musharraf and gave his government a pass, saying, "Steps have been taken, cooperation has improved."

U.S., NATO, and Afghan officials had already concluded that the Pakistani intelligence service had continued to collaborate with the Taliban and al-Qaeda operating from bases in North and South Waziristan. The confession of a captured Taliban spokesman, Muhammad Hanif, that Mullah Omar is living in Quetta, Pakistan, under the protection of its ISI intelligence agency had been videotaped by Afghan intelligence and distributed to journalists in January.

Dr. Barnett Rubin, a top academic specialist on Afghanistan from New York University, who travels frequently to that country, said in an interview for a PBS Frontline special last fall that U.S. military officials in Afghanistan believe Pakistan could seriously disrupt the Taliban by taking down its leadership body in Quetta.

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay demanded before the Canadian parliament's defense committee last November that Pakistan seek out and arrest senior Taliban officials, and prevent the exploitation by insurgents of refugee camps in Afghanistan.

The Musharraf government's deals with pro-Taliban groups in 2004 and 2006 in the border provinces of South and North Waziristan helped the Taliban generate increased manpower and logistics support for cross-border raids into Afghanistan by Taliban guerrillas based in those provinces.

According to a report by the International Crisis Group last December, after the September 2006 accord, the government "released militants, returned their weapons, disbanded security check posts and agreed to allow foreign terrorists to stay if they gave up violence." The new accommodation with the Taliban "facilitates the growth of militancy and attacks in Afghanistan by giving pro-Taliban elements a free hand to recruit, train, and arm," the report said.

When New York Times correspondent Carlotta Gall visited border towns without permission in January, she reported finding "signs that Pakistani authorities are encouraging the insurgents, if not sponsoring them."

The result of the policy of appeasement of the Taliban is that Pakistan has madrassas in the border provinces that churn out committed jihadists by the tens of thousands every year, and the number of active supporters of Islamic terrorism in Pakistan appears to be in the hundreds of thousands.

In testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that put the Bush administration's portrayal of al-Qaeda in Iraq as the main foreign terrorist threat in perspective, New York University's Rubin declared, "The main center of global terrorism is in Pakistan."

Al-Qaeda forces in Iraq, which Bush has highlighted in recent speeches as the central front in the administration's war against terrorism, have never been estimated at more than a few thousand.

Musharraf's failure to act against religious extremists and their madrassas is widely understood to be part of a fundamental strategy by the military regime of using political parties that embrace extreme Islamic ideology as a political base of support for the military dictatorship to ensure against the return of democratic forces seeking to reverse Musharraf's 1999 coup.

Musharraf helped the Jammat-e-Islami party, which has had ties with al-Qaeda leaders in the past, and five allied Islamic groups win state elections in October 2002 in the provinces bordering Afghanistan. After that electoral victory, officials of those parties began actively assisting the Taliban and al-Qaeda activities in the border provinces.

Administration officials have cited the arrest of several key al-Qaeda officials since 9/11 as evidence of Musharraf's bona fides. But New York Times correspondent James Risen shows in his book State of War that the Musharraf regime was far from fully cooperative in the U.S. effort to destroy the al-Qaeda network in Pakistan.

Risen writes that al-Qaeda operatives began to set up a new center of operations in Pakistan's South Waziristan province after fleeing from Afghanistan in early 2002, and the Pakistani military tenaciously fought to keep the U.S. forces in Afghanistan from crossing the border into Pakistan to pursue al-Qaeda operatives.

The CIA was later allowed to set up secret bases within Pakistan to try to locate bin Laden, according to Risen, but CIA personnel could only travel with Pakistani security escorts, which severely limited their ability to gather intelligence in Pakistan's northwest frontier.

The Bush administration has been protecting Musharraf's regime from the domestic U.S. consequences that would have followed any official acknowledgment of the truth, despite its awareness knowledge of Musharraf's bad faith. As the risk of political backlash at home over the issue increases, however, that policy is certain to come under severe pressure.

(Inter Press Service)

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