Pakistan, Seeing New Pressure from the West, Moves Against a Militant Group: Saeed Shah, Ian Talley and Dion Nissenbaum, Wall Street Journal, Feb. 14, 2018
Can the United States Change Pakistan’s Behaviour?: Brahma Chellaney, Globe and Mail, Jan. 31, 2018— U.S. President Donald Trump’s recent decision to freeze some $2-billion (U.S.) in security assistance to Pakistan as punishment for the country’s refusal to crack down on transnational terrorist groups is a step in the right direction.
Rescinding Aid to Pakistan: Rachel Bovard, Real Clear World, Jan. 19, 2018— Since the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, multiple administrations have insisted upon recognizing Pakistan as a crucial ally in U.S.-led counterterrorism efforts.
The U.S. Needs to Rethink What Winning in Afghanistan Looks Like: Nicholas Grossman, National Review, Feb. 7, 2018— Americans want foreign military campaigns to go smoothly…
Protecting Afghan Women Is a National Security Issue: Abigail R. Esman, IPT News, Feb. 23, 2018— There was the woman whose husband sliced off her genitalia, and then reached inside her with his hand, damaging her inner organs.
On Topic Links
Pakistan, Seeing New Pressure from the West, Moves Against a Militant Group: Saeed Shah, Ian Talley and Dion Nissenbaum, Wall Street Journal, Feb. 14, 2018
Pressure Pays: Trump’s Threats to Pakistan: Meira Svirsky, Clarion Project, Feb. 21, 2018
Pakistani Islamism Flourishes in America: Sam Westrop, National Review, Jan. 24, 2018
On Afghanistan, There’s No Way Out: Bret Stephens, New York Times, Aug. 24, 2017
CAN THE UNITED STATES CHANGE PAKISTAN’S BEHAVIOUR?
Globe and Mail, Jan. 31, 2018
U.S. President Donald Trump’s recent decision to freeze some $2-billion (U.S.) in security assistance to Pakistan as punishment for the country’s refusal to crack down on transnational terrorist groups is a step in the right direction. But more steps are needed.
The United States has plenty of incentive to put pressure on Pakistan, a country that has long pretended to be an ally, even as it continues to aid the militant groups fighting and killing U.S. soldiers in neighbouring Afghanistan. In fact, it is partly because of that aid Afghanistan is a failing state, leaving the United States mired in the longest war in its history. More than 16 years after the United States invaded Afghanistan, its capital, Kabul, has come under siege, exemplified by the recent terrorist attack on Kabul’s Intercontinental Hotel and the suicide bombing, using an explosives-laden ambulance, in the city centre. In recent months, the United States has launched a major air offensive to halt the rapid advance of the Afghan Taliban. The United States has now carried out more air strikes since last August than in 2015 and 2016 combined.
Yet neither the air blitz nor the Trump administration’s deployment of 3,000 additional U.S. troops can reverse the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan. To achieve that, Pakistan would have to dismantle the cross-border sanctuaries used by the Taliban and its affiliate, the Haqqani network, as well as their command-and-control operations, which are in Pakistani territory. The problem is that Pakistan’s powerful military, whose generals dictate terms to a largely impotent civilian government, seems committed to protecting, and even nurturing, terrorists on Pakistani soil. Only those militants who threaten Pakistan are targeted by the country’s rogue Inter-Services Intelligence agency.
Far from holding Pakistan’s generals accountable for the American blood on their hands, the United States has provided them large amounts of funding – so much, in fact, that Pakistan has been one of the United States’ largest aid recipients. Even when the United States found Osama bin Laden, after a 10-year hunt, holed up in a compound next to Pakistan’s main military academy, it did not meaningfully alter its carrot-only strategy. This has enabled the military to tighten its grip on Pakistan further, frustrating domestic efforts to bring about a genuine democratic transition. Making matters worse, the United States has dissuaded its ally India – a major target of Pakistan-supported terrorists – from imposing any sanctions on the country. Instead, successive U.S. administrations have pressured India to engage diplomatically with Pakistan.
This approach has emboldened Pakistan-based terrorists to carry out cross-border attacks on targets from Mumbai to Kashmir. As for the United States, the White House’s new National Security Strategy confirms that the United States “continues to face threats from transnational terrorists and militants operating from within Pakistan.” This conclusion echoes then-secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s warning in 2009 that Pakistan “poses a mortal threat to the security and safety of our country and the world.”
Against this background, the Trump administration’s acknowledgment of U.S. policy failure in Pakistan is good news. But history suggests that simply suspending security aid – economic assistance and military training are set to continue – will not be enough to bring about meaningful change in Pakistan. Another step the United States could take would be to label Pakistan as a state sponsor of terrorism. If the United States prefers not to do so, it should at least strip Pakistan of its status as a major non-North Atlantic Treaty Organization ally, ending its preferential access to U.S. weapons and technologies. Moreover, the United States should impose targeted sanctions, including asset freezes, on senior military officers who maintain particularly close ties to terrorists.
Finally, the United States should take advantage of its enduring position as Pakistan’s largest export market to tighten the economic screws on the cash-strapped country. Since 2013, Pakistan has attempted to offset the sharp decline in its foreign-exchange reserves by raising billions of dollars in dollar-denominated debt with 10-year bonds. Pakistan’s efforts to stave off default create leverage that the United States should use. Likewise, Pakistan agreed to privatize 68 state-run companies, in exchange for $6.7-billion in credit from the International Monetary Fund. If the United States extended financial and trade sanctions to multilateral lending, and suspended supplies of military spare parts, it would gain another effective means of bringing Pakistan to heel.
To be sure, Pakistan could respond to such sanctions by blocking America’s overland access to Afghanistan, thereby increasing the cost of resupplying U.S. forces by up to 50 per cent. But, as Pakistan learned in 2011-12, such a move would hurt its own economy, especially its military-dominated trucking industry. Meanwhile, the added cost to the United States would be lower than U.S. military reimbursements to Pakistan in the last year.
If Pakistan is going to abandon its double game of claiming to be a U.S. ally while harbouring terrorists, the United States will need to stop rewarding it for offering, as Mr. Trump put it, “nothing but lies & deceit.” More than that, the United States will need to punish Pakistan for its duplicity. And U.S. policy makers must act soon, or an increasingly fragile Pakistan could well be transformed from a state sponsor of terrorism into a state sponsored by terrorists.
RESCINDING AID TO PAKISTAN
Real Clear World, Jan. 19, 2018
Since the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, multiple administrations have insisted upon recognizing Pakistan as a crucial ally in U.S.-led counterterrorism efforts. Yet 16 years later, the United States has very little to show for it. Instead, Pakistan has continued to undermine U.S. interests in the region and around the world in almost every conceivable way.
The list of their failures is long. Osama bin Laden, for years the most hunted man in the world, was killed by U.S. Navy Seals almost right next door to the Pakistani military academy, and Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour was killed in a U.S. airstrike on Pakistani soil in May of 2016. Since late last year, Pakistan has repeatedly refused to grant the U.S. access to a Haqqani network operative — one reportedly with information about U.S. hostages. Pakistani support for the Taliban is enabling the expansion of the Islamic State and al Qaeda militants across Afghanistan. Moreover, Pakistan continues to bankroll insurgents across the region, even as it receives around $1 billion a year from U.S. taxpayers for supposedly combatting those same militants.
Meanwhile, Washington has forked over approximately $20 billion in military aid and equipment to Pakistan, and for what? Pakistan has cashed that American money to arm, fund, and protect the very same militants who have killed thousands of American soldiers, contractors, and civilians in Iraq. In a hearing before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, former top Bush diplomat Zalmay Khalilzad called Pakistan’s actions a “perfidious and dangerous double game,” with the country “portray[ing] itself as a U.S. partner, yet support[ing] the Taliban and al-Qaeda-linked Haqqani network.”
Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.) summed up the situation thusly: “Billions of dollars have been spent, and far too little change has occurred in Pakistan. It seems like paying the mafia.” This is particularly true when one considers how this aid has enriched the Pakistani military at the expense of the rest of the country. Pakistan’s powerful military plays a massive role in domestic affairs, where, in addition to military installments, they own hotels, shopping centers, shipping center, insurance companies, banks, farms, and an airline. According to Pakistani journalist Ayesha Siddiqa, the military is worth more than $20 billion.
It’s little wonder how the Pakistani military became so wealthy on America’s dime. A 2008 assessment from American officials in Islamabad revealed that as much as 70 percent of the $5.4 billion in U.S. assistance to Pakistan had been “misspent.” Pakistan, for its part, continues to perpetuate the myth that it is “too dangerous to fail,” arguing that repercussions of cutting off aid could be severe. In a recent article in Foreign Affairs, C. Christine Fair and Sumit Ganguly challenge these assumptions, particularly that Pakistan lacks the ability to rein in the various terrorist organizations operating within their borders.
This is nonsense, as the authors point out. Not only does the Pakistani military know these organizations inside and out, having spawned and organized many of them, it has previously shown its willingness to crush insurgents with efficiency. “There is no reason,” the authors argue, “to believe that Islamabad could not do so again were it so inclined.” Furthermore, even if Pakistan fails to cooperate after a cutoff of aid, the U.S. has other, more drastic points of leverage it can utilize. Rescinding Pakistan’s designation as a “major non-NATO ally” would strip it of even more financial and military benefits, not to mention diplomatic prestige. Increased sanctions like those contemplated by the White House this summer are also an option.
For years, the U.S. has provided Pakistan with billions of dollars in a vain effort to gain cooperation. That naiveté—assuming Islamabad would act against its own perceived vital interests for billions in U.S. taxpayer dollars—has resulted in thwarted military endeavors and lost American lives. It is long past time for Washington elites to recognize the central role interests play in how other countries behave. President Trump’s recent announcement that his administration will cut off $255 million in aid is a welcome start. Members of Congress are also engaging on this important issue: Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who has long supported the elimination of aid to duplicitous allies like Pakistan, has introduced a bill to do so.
The U.S. relationship with Pakistan must improve if it is going to be maintained. The United States can ill afford to send billions of dollars to a country which actively undermines our interests. Shrewd diplomacy should replace bribery. In wrapping up his testimony before the Foreign Affairs Committee examining the U.S. policy toward Paskistan in 2016, former U.N. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad was asked if he believed the U.S. had been manipulated in its decades long relationship with Pakistan. “To use an undiplomatic term,” he said, “we have been patsies.”
THE U.S. NEEDS TO RETHINK WHAT
WINNING IN AFGHANISTAN LOOKS LIKE
National Review, Feb. 7, 2018
Americans want foreign military campaigns to go smoothly: Deploy, sacrifice, win, leave. And if winning isn’t in the cards, then what’s the sacrifice for? Leave as soon as possible. By that logic, the United States is losing in Afghanistan — or at least not winning — and should abandon the effort. But a simple win–loss dynamic is the wrong way to think about that 16-year-old war. America’s not in Afghanistan to win. It’s there to hold the line.
For many Americans, especially older ones, the win–loss dichotomy boils down to World War II vs. Vietnam. World War II was the good war: well-defined, righteous goals, ending in clear, unambiguous victory. After winning, most Americans came home. Those who stayed to oversee reconstruction in Germany and Japan faced minimal violence. Vietnam was the bad war: ambiguous goals of uncertain importance, dragging on at considerable cost before withdrawal. The United States sacrificed immense blood and treasure, but the Communists took over anyway.
Through this lens, Afghanistan is Vietnam. Though responding to September 11 was righteous, the war’s goals were never especially clear and have long since become ambiguous. Within months of invading in October 2011, American-led forces defeated the Taliban government and dislodged al-Qaeda. Then the goals shifted. To prevent another transnational terrorist group from using Afghanistan as a base of operations, the United States — with support from allies and the broader international community — propped up the democratically elected Afghan government. The plan was for coalition troops to fight insurgents and train local forces, providing domestic security until the Afghans could take over.
It’s been 16 years, and that goal is nowhere in sight. The Taliban and other insurgent networks remain active, with an open physical presence in over two-thirds of Afghanistan, fully controlling about 4 percent. And ISIS recently gained a foothold. In the last two weeks, four attacks in the national capital, Kabul, killed over 130, including eleven at a military base. The Taliban claimed two of the attacks, and ISIS claimed the other two. This violence indicates the government is not in control of the country.
Meanwhile, Pakistan continues playing both sides. The Haqqani network, the Pakistani Taliban, and other insurgents operating in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) along the Afghan border, have killed thousands of Pakistanis. But while the Pakistani military fights those groups, elements of the ISI — the country’s powerful intelligence agency — support, or at least turn a blind eye to, FATA-based militants who focus on Afghanistan. Without a path to victory, many Americans wonder why the United States should keep spending money and risking lives. Perhaps it is time to withdraw.
It’s important to learn lessons from the past, but every war is different, and Afghanistan is not Vietnam. From a humanitarian perspective, the Taliban are worse than the North Vietnamese, especially regarding treatment of women. And the Taliban’s religious fundamentalism is less popular in Afghanistan than Communism was in 1960s and ’70s Vietnam.
However, using force abroad requires a compelling national interest. Vietnam did not threaten American security and, though it may not have been easy to see at the time, withdrawing did not put American interests in danger. The theory that Communism would sweep across southeast Asia proved incorrect. Though the Communist party remains in power today, Vietnam evolved with China into a sort of state-managed capitalism, rather than revolution-exporting Communism. And Vietnam is now one of the world’s most pro-American countries, with over 75 percent holding a favorable opinion of the United States.
As with the Vietcong, the Taliban and other Afghan insurgents do not directly threaten American security. But the similarities end there. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the Taliban willingly hosted al-Qaeda, which proved itself a threat to American security. If the Taliban retakes power, it could allow transnational jihadists to set up shop. After the U.S. withdrew from Vietnam, the Vietnamese Communist party took control and maintained internal security. But American withdrawal from Afghanistan could easily lead to prolonged civil war. The Soviet Union’s withdrawal in 1989 sparked a seven-year conflict the Taliban eventually won, leaving pockets of territory ungoverned. As in Syria, the chaos would play to ISIS’s advantage. And Vietnam didn’t have a neighbor like Pakistan.
Pakistan is the world’s least stable nuclear-armed country. In the 21st century, insurgents and terrorists have killed over 29,000 Pakistanis, mostly civilians. The country became a military dictatorship in a 1999 coup — a year after its first nuclear test — and then returned to democracy in 2008. But Yousaf Raza Gillani, the first post-dictatorship prime minister, lost his position because of contempt of court, and the second, Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, was banned from seeking reelection in 2017 because of corruption. The military owns businesses, which provide independent sources of funding that limit civilian control. And, most concerning, the father of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons, A. Q. Kahn, ran a black-market proliferation ring until 2004, selling information to North Korea, Iran, and Libya.
Pakistan’s stability is in America’s interest. If the government collapses, terrorists could steal a nuclear weapon or radioactive material that could be used in a dirty bomb. Because Afghan and Pakistani insurgent networks overlap, the war in Afghanistan is partially about denying sanctuary to militants that attack Pakistan…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
PROTECTING AFGHAN WOMEN IS A NATIONAL SECURITY ISSUE
Abigail R. Esman
IPT News, Feb. 23, 2018
There was the woman whose husband sliced off her genitalia, and then reached inside her with his hand, damaging her inner organs. There was the woman whose husband cut off her ear. More commonly, there are the rapes, the forced marriages, and the mob beatings, such as the one last December: video shows a woman dressed in a blue burqa, being beaten by crowds of men – including family members – as onlookers call out “Allahu Akbar!”
Such is life for women in Afghanistan, where an estimated 87 percent of them have experienced physical or sexual abuse, or both. Their stories are part of what has made Afghanistan the worst country in the world for women. In the weeks following America’s first attacks in Afghanistan during the fall of 2001, images of burqa-clad women tearing off the imprisoning garments filled TV news reports. With tremendous satisfaction, Americans praised themselves for beating back the Taliban – the terror-supporting militia that not only ruled much of the country, but had harbored Osama bin Laden – and for liberating Afghan women. The images of them without their burqas were our proof: America had once more helped forge a victory for the oppressed. Except, as it turned out, we hadn’t.
While the Taliban no longer hold power over many of the regions it ruled before the American invasion, the group still maintains control over several rural areas of the country, as do other militia groups which impose similar constraints on women. Moreover, low female literacy rates have ranked Afghan fourth on the list of 10 worst places for girls’ education, according to a report from global anti-poverty group ONE. The other nine countries are all in Africa. In rural regions, 90 percent of women are illiterate, versus 63 percent of men – numbers that are deeply disturbing for both genders, since, as UNESCO and others have observed, literacy is directly related to political empowerment. But the problem particularly affects women, and is arguably a strategic measure: in the words of former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, “by acquiring literacy, women become more economically self-reliant and more actively engaged in their country’s social, political and cultural life.”
The refusal to educate women represents, in other words, not just a systemic oppression, but enslavement. Which is why the abuse of women includes depriving them of schooling – and why such abuse in Afghanistan and other war- torn countries like Iraq, the Congo, Somalia and Sudan, should be of profound concern to Americans and the West.
Researchers, particularly Valerie M. Hudson, director of the Womanstats project and George W. Bush Chair of the Bush School of Government at Texas A&M University, have shown definitive links between the societies that produce terrorists and the rate of domestic abuse and the oppression of women. As Hudson puts it in her book Sex And World Peace, “states characterized by norms of gender and ethnic inequality as well as human rights abuses are more likely to become involved in militarized interstate disputes, to be the aggressors in international disputes, and to rely on force when involved in an international dispute…. International security cannot be attained without gender equality.”…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
On Topic Links
Pakistan, Seeing New Pressure from the West, Moves Against a Militant Group: Saeed Shah, Ian Talley and Dion Nissenbaum, Wall Street Journal, Feb. 14, 2018 —Pakistan is hoping to head off an attempt by the Trump administration to exert further pressure over terrorism by putting the country on a global terror financing watch list, according to a senior Pakistani official.
Pressure Pays: Trump’s Threats to Pakistan: Meira Svirsky, Clarion Project, Feb. 21, 2018—Dear President Trump, Kudos on standing up to Pakistan and its support of terror. I’m sure you took notice of what just happened after you tweeted your first communique of 2018…
Pakistani Islamism Flourishes in America: Sam Westrop, National Review, Jan. 24, 2018—On January 1, President Trump tweeted that Pakistan gives “safe haven to the terrorists.” The State Department subsequently suspended over a billion dollars of security assistance and military funding to the country.
On Afghanistan, There’s No Way Out: Bret Stephens, New York Times, Aug. 24, 2017—When it comes to Afghanistan, we’ve tried everything. The lesson is: Nothing works. We’ve tried “light footprint.” From the initial defeat of the Taliban in 2001 until 2007, monthly U.S. troop numbers never exceeded 25,000. Result: a reconstituted Taliban, their leadership secure in Pakistan, made inroads into more than half of Afghanistan.