02 May 2011

Bin Laden in Pakistan

It's not in the least original or a remarkable insight on my part, but it's still worth saying. It seems to me that one little remarked upon element of the Bin Laden decapitation operation is the obvious fact that the Pakistani military and intelligence apparatus has almost certainly been complicit in hiding him. If not, then their level of sheer incompetence simply beggars belief. But almost everyone, inside and outside the US military and diplomatic services in the area, and whether in public or only in private, acknowledges the truth: the Pakistanis have been playing us for decades, and almost everything they say to us is lies.

The Arab Spring, the Hammas/Fatah rapprochement, this Bin Laden event, the unfortunate unraveling of the effort to support the "rebels" in Libya, the shift in leadership at the CIA and Pentagon... all of these factors point to an opportunity to make some major shifts in foreign policy in this region in the near future. Our Bush and Post Bush foreign policy has been incoherent and lacking in any clearly defined goals. I hope one of the elements of a new approach is to cease any reliance on Pakistan as an ally, and to take it as a given that the regime there, until they prove otherwise, is duplicitous, essentially inimical to our interests, and unreliable in anything they do or say.

UPDATE: From Slate: 
BBC News says the compound "lies well within Abbottabad's military cantonment, and it is likely the area would have had a constant and significant military presence and checkpoints," which further suggests Pakistani complicity.)
This same article notes that Pres. Obama's giving credit to Pakistan for cooperation when it's pretty clear that not only was there none, but the Pakis were complicit in hiding Bin Laden, is actually a clever ploy: it makes it more likely the Pakis will cooperate in the future, knowing we didn't tell them about this but pretended they were on our side anyway. Maybe. But I'd bet that no one in the administration, and hardly anyone in the U.S. military command or diplomatic corps, advocates trusting Pakistani intelligence or government assurances at all in the future. Their record is just abominable, from lying about developing nuclear weapons in the 70s and 80s to actively supporting people who are fighting against US forces in Afghanistan. My hope is that all these factors, together with the clear lack of real cooperation or support from the Karzai regime, will lead the president to decide on ending the engagement in Afghanistan as soon as it's feasible to do so.

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