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the war on terror broadens « Previous | |Next »
July 23, 2007

The war on terror is not looking good for the US. The Bush administration's contention that Iraq constitutes the "central front in the 'war on terrorism' is undercut by the resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan. This has been made possible primarily by the "safe haven" it has enjoyed in the tribal areas of western Pakistan, and also by its association with al-Qaeda in Iraq. Pakistan is now a key military and political hub in the war on terrorism.

The Bush administration has long pressured President General Pervez Musharraf's government in Pakistan to attack suspected al-Qaeda bases in the tribal areas that border Afghanistan. The Pakistani army's recent military departure from this region after the peace agreement left the region in the control of the Pakistani Taliban, who have provided al-Qaeda the kind of safe haven it needed not only to rebuild its capabilities, but also to begin to exert its influence aggressively over neighboring territories and even into Islamabad.

The Bush administration is exerting more pressure on Musharraf in the effort to encourage him to send his troops into the border districts and attempt to take control at a time when Musharraf has domestic problems. Will he suspend the constitution and declare an emergency in the country?

Is Musharraf in a position to please Washington to carry out a full-fledged crackdown on Islamic militants?

The radical armed insurgency is dedicated to an Islamic revolution with the aim to establish a firm base in Pakistan from where it can fuel the Taliban-led insurgency in Afghanistan and ultimately announce a regional caliphate. Can Pakistan prevent this, given the attacks by radical Islamists on Pakistani army and government facilities in districts bordering Afghanistan districts after the siege of the radical Red Mosque in Islamabad? The Washington Post reports that the fighting intensifies between the Pakistani army and insurgents in a volatile tribal area near the Afghan border.

Washington is becoming ever more involved in western Pakistan as the Pakistan security forces find the going tough. The Americans are intervening by building a large US base on a mountaintop at Ghakhi Pass on the Pakistan-Afghanistan (Bajaur) border. As Paul Rogers at Open Democracy highlights, the US is also intervening in the form of automated warfare based on an armed pilotless drone.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 12:16 PM | | Comments (3)


there is delicious irony in the way dubya took his attention away from bin laden to jump into the honeypot of iraq. iraq turned out to be a tarbaby, the taliban are coming up like mushrooms, and alqaeda is spreading like starbucks.

it's maybe not fair to say his regime is the worst to date, nixon was a hard act to top.

but poor dubya can't take a trick, although he looks like stalling the pullout from iraq until a democrat president 'loses' the war.

makes you think the old greeks were onto something with that notion of 'hubris'. and it's pretty clear that no one in the bush cabinet read "the art of war".

but the real question is,how long are the yanks (and the rest of us) going to let a handful of crazies send a nation to war?

I've just struggled my way through Robert Kagan End of Dreams, Return of History published in the Hoover Instituion's Policy Review.

Kagan argues in favour of the U.S. being big boy on the international scene, and that the US can still kick around any bad guys when push come to shove. And this is the way it should be.

The context is this:

Nations remain as strong as ever, and so too the nationalist ambitions, the passions, and the competition among nations that have shaped history. The world is still “unipolar,” with the United States remaining the only superpower. But international competition among great powers has returned, with the United States, Russia, China, Europe, Japan, India, Iran, and others vying for regional predominance. Struggles for honor and status and influence in the world have once again become key features of the international scene. Ideologically, it is a time not of convergence but of divergence. The competition between liberalism and absolutism has reemerged, with the nations of the world increasingly lining up, as in the past, along ideological lines. Finally, there is the fault line between modernity and tradition, the violent struggle of Islamic fundamentalists against the modern powers and the secular cultures that, in their view, have penetrated and polluted their Islamic world.

What is rejected is the liberal understanding of international relations ie.,
Clinton’s grand strategy of building post-Cold War order around expanding markets, democracy, and institutions was the triumphant embodiment of the liberal vision of international order.

These grand liberal expectations of a new era for humankind are expressed in terms of globalization, whose common expectation was that:
the phenomenon of instantaneous global communications, the free flow of goods and services, the rapid transmission of ideas and information, and the intermingling and blending of cultures would further knit together a world that had already just patched up the great ideological and geopolitical tears of the previous century.

The reality is a Hobbesian world of conflict based on ideology, nationalism, and ambition that sees Russia, Islam, and China challenging Amercian hegemony.

Murdoch's Weekly Standard is not impressed with the Pakistani Presidents tough stand in the war on terrorism. Daveed Gartenstein-Ross says:

Though the raid on the Lal Masjid achieved Musharraf's objectives, it would be unwise to conclude that he is finally getting tough on militants. More than anything, Musharraf's handling of the affair highlights his weakness. He acted erratically and inconsistently, offering concessions precisely when he should have turned up the heat. Musharraf's negotiations with the mosque could most charitably be described as a carrot and stick approach lacking any apparent strategy for shifting between the two.

Musharraf needs to model himself more on Rambo. Will he be able to do so?

Gartenstein-Ross goes on to say that Musharraf's poor handling of the Lal Masjid raid indicates that he seems to be governing without a strategy--acting erratically and in a flatly contradictory fashion--makes many analysts fear that he is losing his grip on power.

Musharraf' has problems. More regime change coming up?

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