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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Prescient on Pakistan, Too

posted by on September 11 at 11:15 AM

Remember this supposed gaffe from a year ago?

During a major foreign policy speech on Wednesday Senator Barack Obama promised that as president he would consider military strikes against terrorists in Pakistan if the country refused to root them out. Those comments drew a sharp response from Pakistani officials as well as the Bush administration today.


President Bush, who telephoned Pakistani president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf today said that “the United States fully respected Pakistan’s sovereignty and appreciated Pakistan’s resolve in fighting Al-Qaeda and other terrorist elements,” according to a statement issued by the Pakistani foreign ministry. It added that Mr. Bush said statements regarding future United States military action inside Pakistan “were unsavory and often prompted by political considerations in an environment of electioneering. He agreed that such statements did not serve the interests of either country.”

Yeah, well, dissembling about U.S. foreign policy is kind of unsavory. (And Bush’s intervention in a primary foreign policy debate had a whiff of electioneering about it too.) Today’s headline news:

President Bush secretly approved orders in July that for the first time allow American Special Operations forces to carry out ground assaults inside Pakistan without the prior approval of the Pakistani government, according to senior American officials.

The classified orders signal a watershed for the Bush administration after nearly seven years of trying to work with Pakistan to combat the Taliban and Al Qaeda, and after months of high-level stalemate about how to challenge the militants’ increasingly secure base in Pakistan’s tribal areas.

American officials say that they will notify Pakistan when they conduct limited ground attacks like the Special Operations raid last Wednesday in a Pakistani village near the Afghanistan border, but that they will not ask for its permission.

“The situation in the tribal areas is not tolerable,” said a senior American official who, like others interviewed for this article, spoke on condition of anonymity because of the delicate nature of the missions. “We have to be more assertive. Orders have been issued.”

See also the NYT magazine article from last weekend on how Pakistan deals with—or rather, politely ignores—its tribal areas.

UPDATE: McCain’s response to Obama’s original statements on Pakistan were even more contemptuous:

McCAIN: A self-important bully in Venezuela threatens to cut off oil shipments to our country at a time of skyrocketing gas prices. Each event poses a challenge and an opportunity. Will the next president have the experience, the judgment experience informs, and the strength of purpose to respond to each of these developments in ways that strengthen our security and advance the global progress of our ideals?

Or will we risk the confused leadership of an inexperienced candidate who once suggested bombing our ally, Pakistan, and suggested sitting down without preconditions or clear purpose with enemies who support terrorists and are intent on destabilizing the world by acquiring nuclear weapons?

I think you know the answer to that question.

Yes, the answer is: McCain has been lying about Obama’s statements and ridiculing his most forward-thinking policies since the beginning of this campaign.

RSS icon Comments


Obama should run an ad talking about how George Bush is trying his ideas in foriegn policy. Bush certianly is not listening to McCain..

Posted by Cato the Younger Younger | September 11, 2008 11:16 AM

Where the fuck is the press on all this? The American memory may be short, but I'm sure a little background can jog our memories.

Posted by Ziggity | September 11, 2008 11:26 AM

what number one said. mccain is doing it for the surge. well, that was before his focus on pigs.

Posted by cochise. | September 11, 2008 11:31 AM

We certainly didn't give a fuck about the sovereignty of Afghanistan or Iraq.

Posted by keshmeshi | September 11, 2008 11:53 AM

@2: where the fuck is the press? humping palin's leg.

Posted by max solomon | September 11, 2008 12:11 PM

Not that anyone cares, but isn't bombing another country's citizens an act of war?

Posted by Original Andrew | September 11, 2008 12:13 PM

Sounds to me like we could be looking at "Shock And Awe II: The Fracas In Caracas" if McSame has his way.

Posted by COMTE | September 11, 2008 12:16 PM

@6: McCain wildly misrepresented Obama's views when he said Obama wanted to bomb Pakistan. In fact, he was suggesting Special Ops actions of the type that the Bush administration is now pursuing.

Posted by annie | September 11, 2008 1:49 PM

annie @ 8,

Yes, but doesn't that make bombing the citizens of one of our allies--without even notifying their sovereign, democratically elected government--an even more reckless, illegal move? Especially in light of widespread reports that innocent civilians have been killed?

Posted by Original Andrew | September 11, 2008 3:19 PM

The problem is the word "bomb." Obama won't; Bush isn't.

Missile strikes have been happening for a long time. What they're doing now is putting some Special Ops people on the ground. Pakistan knows very well this is a consequence of Pakistan failing to take the same actions against their supposed enemies (some of whom, yes, are citizens, though most are FATA citizens--they didn't even get the right to vote until 1997 and still don't enjoy the full rights and protections of other Pakistanis).

Posted by annie | September 12, 2008 8:20 AM

The last time the US-backed Pakistani military attempted a takeover of Waziristan, it lost hundreds of soldiers in an offensive that ultimately failed. The failure was so catastrophic that it forced the government into a September 2006 cease-fire agreement with the frontier tribes, all the while fanning the flames of anti-Western resentment within both the general population and the national security forces. Continuing to pressure the demoralized Pakistani military into killing their own people on behalf of a foreign power is a recipe for disaster, and a roadmap to an eventual anti-US Islamist coup inside a country armed with nuclear weapons.

Of course Bush and McCain lied about Obama. It's in their genetic code to lie, steal (the Keating Five, anyone?), and suck hard in general. But that doesn't make Obama's plan to escalate a destabilizing and unwinnable war in south Asia a good idea. And I would hate to see so many good-natured liberals openly defend such madness in an effort to score political points against McCain, his lunacy notwithstanding.

Posted by Keith | September 13, 2008 5:26 PM

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