Seymour Hersh, with his usual uncanny inside access,writes in the New Yorker on the current state of the US-Pakistani alliance in light of concerns about the security of the Pakistani nuclear arsenal. Hersh feels that the Pakistanis’ apparent cooperation is a case of telling the Americans what they think they want to hear in return for coveted American bankrolling. By and large, he says, the Pakistanis distrust and dislike the Americans, fearing that anything they shared with the US in candor would find its way to Indian intelligence. Hersh hopes the Obama regime is not naive enough to believe the lines that the Pakistanis are feeding them, including their assurances that their nuclear arsenal is secure.
The US is stuck propping up the extremely unpopular Zardari regime, garnering the enmity of important segments of Pakistani society. The antipathy within the military is bolstered by the perception that they have been coopted as proxies in the US war on terror, turning their guns on their own people (local villagers, rather than the Taliban, were certainly the main victims of the bloodbath in Swat) from their traditional self-defined role defending their country against India. And it is upon this cooptation that the US’s “Af-Pak” strategy depends.
Hersh reviews evidence that the military has indeed turned far more fundamentalist in the past decade and that there are significant jihadist elements. A number of scenarios in which an internal mutiny could occur, and place a nuclear device in renegade hands, seem plausible. Secret US commando units will almost surely jump into a Pakistani crisis to seize and secure their nuclear weapons, but the outcome is not likely to be welcomed by Pakistan whether it succeeds or fails.
Andrew Sullivan: “The Beltway’s conventional wisdom has long been that the war in Iraq is over. According to the partisan GOP blogs, Bush won the war last year. And yet, for all the many reports of a new calm in Iraq, and on the day that Tom Friedman buys into Maliki’s hope that a new non-sectarian future is imminent, two massive car bombs reveal that security still needs a city divided by huge, concrete barriers, and American troops for investigation and clean-up. It’s worth recalling that this is still happening even as over 120,000 US troops remain in the country. If this can happen when they are there in such vast numbers, what are the odds that Iraq will remain half-way peaceful and unified when/if the US leaves?” (The Atlantic)
““The zombie genre is at its heart a progressive one, a writer argues. After all, to defeat the flesh-eating hordes, it often takes a multicultural village.” (The American Prospect)
Under George W. Bush, America's Arab/Muslim report card was an F-minus. U.S. standing in the Middle East and among the world's Muslims sank to an all-time low, terrorist attacks greatly increased, violent extremists gained power, moderate and pro-U.S. regimes were weakened, the crucial Israeli-Palestinian conflict grew ever more intractable, Iraq sank into a hell from which it has only now begun to emerge, and the Taliban surged back in Afghanistan and threatened Pakistan. Bush's policies were directly responsible for many of these calamitous outcomes, and exacerbated others. In his Cairo speech, Obama's most pressing need is thus to make it unequivocally clear to the world's 1.5 billion Muslims and 325 million Arabs that the U.S. has decisively rejected Bush's failed ideology and policies, and intends to chart a completely new path. We can expect Obama to invoke his own background, reject the idea of a “clash of civilizations” and make an inspiring appeal to shared values. Those oratorical flourishes will count for something, but unless he supports them with tough, realistic language and actual policy changes, they will just go down as pretty words. What follows is a list of Bush's five cardinal Middle East errors, and what Obama can do in his speech and in his subsequent actions to correct them.” — Gary Kamiya (Salon )
Did Obama apologize explicitly and forcefully for the idiocy and criminality of Bush and make it clear how US action and policy will depart from that of his predecessor? Did he make it clear that we are not a Christian nation? that our policy is no longer to be “guided by voices”? A preliminary reading of the Cairo speech sugests he fell short.
“A simple note having now read the former vice-president’s despicable and disgraceful speech. It confirms the very worst of him, and reveals just how callow, just how arrogant, and just how reckless and unrepentant this man is and has long been. There was not a whisper of regret or reflection; there was a series of lies and distortions, a reckless attack on a graceful successor, inheriting a world of intractable problems, and a reminder that while serious men and women will indeed move on, Cheney never will. He remains a threat to this country’s constitution as he remains a stain on its honor and moral standing. I never believed I would hear a vice-president of the United States not simply defend torture but insist on pride in it, insist on its honor. But that is what he said, with that sly grin insisting that fear always beats reason, that violence always beats dialogue, and that torture is always an American value.” Read the entire column (The Atlantic).
‘A frequent attack on the closure of Guantanamo is the claim that no one in the U.S. wants detainees housed in their backyard. Last Sunday, Dick Cheney remarked, “I don’t know a single congressional district in this country that is going to say, gee, great, they’re sending us 20 Al Qaida terrorists.” But Al Jazeera’s Rob Reynolds reports that the town of Hardin, MT is requesting that 100 detainees be sent to its empty prison…‘ (Think Progress)