Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Meanwhile, in Pakistan . . .

If you listened to the foreign policy debate of the Republican candidates, you might want to read something with real meat.  The source article is by, according to the blurb in the Asian Times, Indian career diplomat Ambassador M K Bhadrakumar whose assignments included the Soviet Union, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Germany, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Kuwait and Turkey.
The heart of the matter is that the Pakistani citadel has pulled back the bridges leading to it from across the surrounding crocodile-infested moat. This hunkering down is going to be Obama's key problem. Pakistan is boycotting the Bonn Conference II on December 2. This hunkering down should worry the US more than any Pakistani military response to the NATO strike.

The US would know from the Iranian experience that it has no answer for the sort of strategic defiance that an unfriendly nation resolute in its will to resist can put up against an 'enemy' it genuinely considers 'satanic'.

The Pakistani military leadership is traditionally cautious and it is not going to give a military response to the US's provocation. (Indeed, the Taliban are always there to keep bleeding the US and NATO troops.)

This is an Indian talking about US-Pakistani relations. Someone in a position to know a lot more about this sort of thing than most Americans, including most members of Congress and presidential candidates. He's also someone with skin in the game.  It does provide a lot of information to use to help assess other information (or lack of information) you read on this topic.  In discussing the Pakistani response to the NATO air raid which killed 28 Pakistani forces, Bhadrakumar writes:

Exactly what happened in the fateful night of Friday - whether the NATO blundered into a mindless retaliatory (or pre-emptive) act or ventured into a calculated act of high provocation - will remain a mystery. Maybe it is no more important to know, since blood has been drawn and innocence lost, which now becomes the central point.

At any rate, the DDC [Pakistan's Defence Committee of the Cabinet] simply proceeded on the basis that this was a calculated air strike - and by no means an accidental occurrence. Again, the DDC statement implies that in the Pakistan military's estimation, the NATO attack emanated from a US decision. Pakistan lodged a strong protest at the NATO Headquarters in Brussels but that was more for purpose of 'record', while the "operative" part is directed at Washington.

The GHQ in Rawalpindi would have made the assessment within hours of the Salala incident that the US is directly culpable. The GHQ obviously advised the DDC accordingly and recommended the range of measures Pakistan should take by way of what Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kiani publicly called an "effective response."

The DDC took the following decisions: a) to close NATO's transit routes through Pakistani territory with immediate effect; b) to ask the US to vacate Shamsi airbase within 15 days; c) to "revisit and undertake a complete review" of all "programs, activities and cooperative arrangements" with US, NATO and the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), including in "diplomatic, political and intelligence" areas; d) to announce shortly a whole range of further measures apropos Pakistan's future cooperation with US, NATO and ISAF.  [Read it all in the Asian Times.]

It makes me think of the advice Vaclav Havel gives in Power of the Powerless. I wrote about it earlier in the context of TSA.  Here it fits in the relation of one nation to another.  Of course, it's a form of civil disobedience as well.  Just say no.   Those who have power say everyone should fight like they do.  That's because they have all the weapons in that sort of battle.  But disobedience is the main  tool of those without power.  There is immense power in simply refusing to cooperate.  Ask the Occupiers.  Ask the Republicans in Congress. 

Thanks to my friend who alerted me to this article.

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