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Friday, August 03, 2007

Pakistan & the Limits of the Bush Doctrine

U.S. government officials continue to limit the Bush Doctrine. Recently, some have pointed out that the U.S. would likely only attack Pakistan if the threat is nearly certain -- and if Islamabad agrees to the strike.

The Washington Post story of July 26 (by Walter Pincus and Joby Warrick) is illustrative:
R. Nicholas Burns, the State Department's undersecretary for political affairs, suggested that a unilateral strike would be a last resort.

"Given the primacy of the fight against al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, if we have in the future certainty of knowledge, then of course the United States would always have the option of taking action on its own," Burns said during questioning before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. "But we prefer to work with the Pakistani forces, and we, in most situations -- nearly every situation -- do work with them."
Pakistan's Foreign Ministry continues to be strongly opposed to an American military strike:
"We have stated in the clearest terms that any attack inside our territory would be unacceptable," the ministry said in a formal statement released Tuesday in Islamabad.
In a separate story from the July 31 Post, David Ignatius finds a former CIA officer who wants the CIA to mount a covert effort against Pakistan -- just as it previously did in Afghanistan.
[Henry Crumpton argues that] The right model for a Waziristan campaign is the CIA-led operation in Afghanistan, not the U.S. military invasion of Iraq. Teams of CIA officers and Special Forces soldiers are best suited to work with tribal leaders, providing them weapons and money to fight an al-Qaeda network that has implanted itself brutally in Waziristan through the assassination of more than 100 tribal leaders during the past six years. It would be better to conduct such operations jointly with Pakistan, but if the government of Gen. Pervez Musharraf can't or won't cooperate, the United States should be prepared to go it alone, Crumpton argues.

"The United States has an obligation to defend itself and its citizens," says Crumpton. "We either do it now, or we do it after the next attack."

Crumpton proposed a detailed plan last year for rolling up these sanctuaries, which he called the Regional Strategic Initiative. It would combine economic assistance and paramilitary operations in a broad counterinsurgency campaign. In Waziristan, U.S. and Pakistani operatives would give tribal warlords guns and money, to be sure, but they would coordinate this covert action with economic aid to help tribal leaders operate their local stone quarries more efficiently, say, or install windmills and solar panels to generate electricity for their remote mountain villages.
Ignatius wants to see a plan somewhat like JFK's "Alliance for Progress" in Latin America -- but he clearly wants to act now, rather than later.

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