Monday, September 26, 2011

Central Asian Rocket Science

Of all the things that frustrate me about our current adventure in Afghanistan, perhaps the most frustrating is listening to the various D.C. talking heads bloviate about Pakistan.The latest was ADM Mullen, the outgoing Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, who laid stick on the Pakistani ISI for supposedly assisting in the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Kabul. But this has been a constant theme for years. Chris Hitchens gives us a taste of the 180-proof version of this rhetoric, the pure, undiluted, GOP-stillhuse hootch in his latest Slate column, and, yes, I know it's fucking Slate.

Still.

Why does this bug me?

Because I'm a relatively unlettered hairy-knuckled sergeant, a spearcarrying nobody from the Northwest. My entire first-hand geopolitical and global political experience consists of having watched Egyptian border cops and Israeli reservists make fist-pumping gestures at each other across the wire at Taba.

And I fucking know that the Pakistanis care more about their military position with India than any-fucking-thing else in Southwest Asia.Including "terrorism" and the damn Taliban.

The whole POINT behind their coziness with many of the people we're shooting in the hustings of central Asia is that the Taliban regime was anti-Indian, and their remnants are, too. The Karzaites we've installed in Kabul are not, and so the Pakis REAL problem, their single most crucial concern is ensuring that they have a lever to pressure Kabul into having their back if they get into another scrap with India.

So the rule of thumb is; don't bet on Pakistan Facebook-friending your Afghan proxy if that proxy shows signs of "friending" India.

For conventional wisdom that one ranks right up there with "never get involved in a land war in Asia."

Oh.

Anyway, the frustrating thing is that the rhetoric coming out of D.C. hits the same note; why, why, WHY are you so naughty, Pakistan? What can we do/what must we do to make you stop hugging these nasty terrorists? Why don't you give us more geopolitical love?

Well, duh.The Durand Rule is If You Let Your Afghan Proxy Get Close To India Don't Expect Much Cooperation From Pakistan.

I can figure this out.

Why can't all these highly paid people in D.C.?

I don't know, but every time I run across it it's really frustrating.

6 comments:

Ael said...

Some dead white guy once said: "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it."

FDChief said...

Ael: Good point.

But here's the thing; in the long run, India is WAY more important to the U.S. global interests than AfPak. Arm-twisting Karzai to make him get all lovey with the Pakis is a long-term loser for the U.S. if it ends up making things harder for us with the Indians.

But the consequence of NOT forcing an Afghan-Pakistan concordat is that the faction in Pakistan that sees everything through the India-war-beer-goggles is going to feel no hesitation in fucking with us and our Afghan proxy, and there really isn't anything we have to offer or threaten - they see the placement of an anti-India regime in Kabul as the single most important national interest they have.

So my sense is that people like Hitchens are just being dicks - they KNOW what the big-picture geopolitical stakes are, they're just so wrapped up in their little anti-Islamic jihad that they're hiding the facts to get their base stirred up.

But ISTM that if that base is allowed to do what Hitchens & Co. are suggesting it will fuck over our long-term interests in south Asia quite thoroughly, so you'd think SOMEone would trot out the explanation I've used.

All it takes to let douchebags succeed is for non-douchebags to do nothing, and that seems to be going on here...unless the real smart people are assuming that the Hitchens crowd doesn't have the power to effect actual changes in U.S. foreign policy...

rangeragainstwar said...

Chief,
We must throw Iran into the mix.
How do we justify empowering their position in Afgh, just as we did in Irq??!!
If Pak is being counter productive then isn't Iran actually a friend? Aren't the Karzai dudes in bed with Iran?
IMHO we should've backed the Rusn invasion rather than opposing them.
jim

rangeragainstwar said...

Chief,
BTW- the AK is a crummy parade rifle.
jim

Ael said...

Of course India is more important than Pakistan.

Of course we need Pakistan's help with Afghanistan.

Of course we will drop Pakistan the instant we don't need them.

Of course, Pakistan knows all this and is playing their own game.

Of course we can't honestly talk about this because it would expose our two-faced machinations.

Take another example: climate change! Changes to the climate would have profound effects on the world's food supply. This will ripple into the political/strategic realm once a country can no longer to feed its own people. Military planners have *got* to be taking this seriously.

And yet all I hear is crickets in the public realm. Even those lobbying for action don't talk much about the obvious political implications.

So, the take away is that nobody is paid to honestly inform the public of the issues of the day. *Everybody* has some sort of ulterior motive (be it commercial, ideological or partisan)

This motive is particularly strong for those who are paid to inform us (after all, being paid implies an organization behind the informer and that organization means overheads which must be covered)

Finally, these ulterior motives rarely have *anything* to do with the "national interest"

FDChief said...

Jim: Back in '02 my understanding is that the Iranians were more than willing to work with us in the 'Stan' they weren't pals of the Talibs and several anti-Iranian groups were based there. It wasn't until after we started making them the Boogeyman-of-the-Week that they started getting shirty.

Ael: True dat. Nobody seems to really work very hard to make the U.S. public any smarter about everything from science to politics. I wonder; could it be that there is profit to be had in an electorate that is gullible, badly informed, hysterical, and stupid..?