Nov 10, 2009

Triggers & Fundies; Graft Save Us From The PackyMan

`Dis much we SMC hacks know: Received wisdom has it down as-- if da´shit hits the fan -- we have the knowledge and capability to secure Pakistan's nukes.

A new piece by Seymour Hersh questions this assumption.
Last year, the Washington Times ran an article about the Pressler Amendment, a 1985 law cutting off most military aid to Pakistan as long as it continued its nuclear program. The measure didn’t stop Pakistan from getting the bomb, or from buying certain weapons, but it did reduce the number of Pakistani officers who were permitted to train with American units. The article quoted Major General John Custer as saying, “The older military leaders love us. They understand American culture and they know we are not the enemy.” The General’s assessment provoked a barrage of e-mail among American officers with experience in Pakistan, and a former member of a Special Forces unit provided me with copies. “The fact that a two-star would make a statement [like] that . . . is at best naïve and actually pure bullshit,” a senior Special Forces officer on duty in Pakistan wrote. He went on:

"I have met and interacted with the entire military staff from General Kayani on down and all the general officers on their joint staff and in all the services, and I haven’t spoken to one that “loves us”—whatever that means. In fact, I have read most of the TS [top secret] assessments of all their General Officers and I haven’t read one that comes close to their “loving” us. They play us for everything they can get, and we trip over ourselves trying to give them everything they ask for, and cannot pay for."

Some military men who know Pakistan well believe that, whatever the officer corps’s personal views, the Pakistan Army remains reliable. “They cannot be described as pro-American, but this doesn’t mean they don’t know which side their bread is buttered on,” Brian Cloughley, who served six years as Australia’s defense attaché to Pakistan and is now a contributor to Jane’s Sentinel, told me. “The chance of mutiny is slim. Were this to happen, there would be the most severe reaction” by special security units in the Pakistani military, Cloughley said


Leslie H. Gelb, a president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations, said, “I don’t think there’s any kind of an agreement we can count on. The Pakistanis have learned how to deal with us, and they understand that if they don’t tell us what we want to hear we’ll cut off their goodies.” Gelb added, “In all these years, the C.I.A. never built up assets, but it talks as if there were ‘access.’ I don’t know if Obama understands that the Agency doesn’t know what it’s talking about.”

The former high-level Bush Administration official was just as blunt. “If a Pakistani general is talking to you about nuclear issues, and his lips are moving, he’s lying,” he said. “The Pakistanis wouldn’t share their secrets with anybody, and certainly not with a country that, from their point of view, used them like a Dixie cup and then threw them away.”


Jay@Soob said...

That Australian chap and the Bush fellow have it, IMHO, about right. Media reports on Pakistan's nukes falling into the hands of Islamic extremists seem to be dark fantasies of the Paki Taliban with a grubby thumb hovering above the red button. Doesn't make much sense to me. Additionally I've discussed this issue with people who point to a rise in fundamentalism within the lower ranks of Pak's officer corp. Okay, but this argument largely ignores the effects/pre-requisites of rising up through a bureaucracy. Rarely does bucking the system land a person in the seat of power. And i'll gander the ethos of Pak's military "deciders" isn't based on Pan-Islamism or some fire breathing, takfiri dream of an Islamic state. I'm betting it's vision looks a bit more like Ataturk's Turkey than a Sunni version of Khomeini's Iran.

It's certainly a worrying situation but I think the focus needs to shift away from "extremists getting the nukes" and toward the real issue of India-Pakistan and how the US approaches each in it's future geo-political dealings most especially in consideration of Afghanistan (which is a "flashpoint" between the two states and a pivot point for Indo-Pak relations.)

I went on a bit but it became a blog comment novella involving the relations of the US to India, Pakistan and China...

M1 said...

imho Jay@Soob, very well put! Thanks for affordingus your analytical and plenteous input.

mark said...

Pakistan is a rogue state. Period. And the rogues have stars on their shoulders.

That Pakistan accomodates the US when it absolutely has to do so simply means it has some degree of realism coupled with greedy self-interest among its' elite.

That said, I agree that the Army is not going to let either the state or the nukes slip from their grasp. Any attempt to seriously threaten their power, either by mountain hicks in turbans or junior officers will beget a mini-me version of West Pakistan, circa 1971.

M1 said...

Mark--Agree with near all...and dude, love the poetical "mountain hicks" reference.

"Rogue state" however--don't know if that particular terminology helps me out any in coming to grips with Pakyshit.

Bruce R. said...


A better substitute for the now-frowned upon Af-Pak in the nomenclature of international strategy would be difficult to envision.

M1 said...

Hate to admit it, but--point taken.

Anonymous said...

Wait - Af-Pak is frowned upon? Oh dear - I'd better let my boss know. That term still appears in official traffic regularly.