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Friday, January 12, 2007

Psst. There's a WAR Going on...

A bi-partisan study group recommends we talk to Iran and Syria -- make them our friends, garner their cooperation. And yet, we find our own already-established allegiances questionable and unsure in this unstable region.

Is Pakistan our friend?

Perhaps this is a major victory for our soldiers in Afghanistan. Perhaps some real enemies have been stopped, eliminated, before they could wreak more havoc. But, as the tenuous situation unfolds, I have to ask: Can we trust the Pakistani government? Or, are they harboring the Taliban?

All governments are made of individuals. If the Pakistani government is harboring the Taliban, I suspect it is a matter of the right hand not knowing what the left is doing...or however that cliche goes. I doubt the entire Pakistani government is intentionally deceiving both us and the Afghani government. And yet... I find it hard to believe that the entire government is innocent here, either.

I'll put it to you this way. Our government doesn't necessary work cooperatively with the drug lords on our southern border, but they do give them a bit of a thumbs up when they tell our troops they cannot fire on invaders in our own backyard. Our government is responsible for the militant infiltrators, whether they work cooperatively with them or not. In this same sense, the Pakistani government is responsible for the Taliban infiltrators, whether they work cooperatively with them or not.

With that parallel in mind, I would say that Karzai's frustration and accusations are completely understandable. I'm none too happy with our own government's near-cooperative lack-of-effort; having your neighbor and supposed friend making empty promises when you're in the middle of an acknowledged war has got to be all that and more.

More disturbing still is the lack of national attention this is getting. Mostly, I just skim head-lines. As frequent readers know, I'm neither a newshound, nor someone with an excess of time on my hands. So, I find it incredibly frustrating that I have to search around and hunt for news about an on-going war we're in. I mean, really...that's just idiotic. (Maybe one of these days I'll have to figure out that whole RS thing...or whatever it is...the news line services.)

So, while Rice and Gates are supporting the President in his futile bid to build up to nothing in Iraq, we have a major battle in Afghanistan that's apparently too unimportant for their time. So, I've got to ask...shouldn't supporting the troops, which our President claims to do, mean supporting the troops in both wars?

12 Comments:

At 1/16/2007 3:00 PM, Blogger Praguetwin said...

A bi-partisan study group recommends we talk to Iran and Syria -- make them our friends, garner their cooperation.

If you are talking about the ISG, that isn't exactly accurate. Baker says, "you must talk to your enemies as well as your friends."

Iran has cooperated in Afghanistan despite being maligned with the U.S. The idea is to find common interests, even with your enemies, and work with them to the greatest extent possible.

The same goes for Pakistan. Certainly it is less than perfect, but the more I read, the more respect I have for Musharraf. He walks a fine line and has had two serious attempts on his life.

Considering his constituancy, I'd say we are lucky to have him around.

Don't go too hard on him. :)

 
At 1/20/2007 6:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great site, I am bookmarking it!Keep it up!
With the best regards!
David

 
At 1/23/2007 2:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great resource. keep it up!!Thanks a lot for interesting discussion, I found a lot of useful information!With the best regards!
Jimmy

 
At 1/23/2007 2:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great resource. keep it up!!Thanks a lot for interesting discussion, I found a lot of useful information!With the best regards!
Jimmy

 
At 1/23/2007 5:15 PM, Blogger Stephanie said...

PT,

Sorry it's taken me so long. Crisis = situation-normal in my life.

"The idea is to find common interests, even with your enemies, and work with them to the greatest extent possible."

While I agree with those sentiments, as soon as you label the "other" as an enemy, accurately or inaccurately, you hinder that to the point that it's nearly impossible. There's a difference between friend, associate, and foe. Once you recognize someone as a foe, and label them thus, you break down the line of communication.

Blaming Bush for this is not entirely accurate, either. Back when the Iraq war was just getting started I couldn't count how many people critized Bush not for attacking, but for attacking Iraq instead of Iran. The mindset that Iran is our enemy, which extends way beyond Bush, is going to make it nearly impossible to open a positive, cooperative discourse with the Iranians over the fate of the Middle East.

While both may want "stability," the shape and form of stability for the U.S., Iran and Syria are very different. Our goals are not the same, and the "stability" we wish to achieve is not the same "stability" either of them would wish.

As for Musharraf, is the fine line he's walking the one we assume it is (i.e. in our favor) or is it merely a way to hide covert assistance to our enemies without reprisals? We don't know. The more I read, the more I worry that we're being duped. I don't know if that's the case, and if it is Musharraf may not be responsible, but it's something that should be considered.

But, at this point, I mostly wish we were getting more news about Afghanistan. It seems so much like Afghanistan has been forgotten because there's less cause for criticism, thus it's less newsworthy.

 
At 1/23/2007 5:16 PM, Blogger Stephanie said...

David & Jimmy,

My war commentary is rare, but I try to take a closer look at the wars we've got going on once in a while. Thank you for your encouragement!

 
At 1/27/2007 1:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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With the best regards!

 
At 1/30/2007 11:08 AM, Blogger Praguetwin said...

Stephanie,

No problem, I understand.

Your point about labeling Iran as an enemy is well taken. It is a hinderance.

The only point I was really trying to make is that one should talk to all the players involved: friend, foe, or otherwise. To simply disregard Iraq's neighbors in the negotiating process is foolish.

With Musharraf, to a certain extent we are being "duped" if you want to call it that. If we think that he is a gung-ho American supporter, then yes we are being duped. He is nothing of the sort, but he is a realist. He realizes that America is powerful, and to shun us is bad for him and his country. He also realizes that the majority of people in his country don't like America, so he has to retain at least a guise of independence from the will of America. This is the fine line I speak of.

He is mostly concerned with keeping Pakistan stable, defended, and staying in power.

So far, that has been consistent with limited cooperation with the U.S.

Should he fall from power, you will see what a great asset he really was, even if he duped us from time to time.

 
At 1/30/2007 11:16 PM, Blogger Stephanie said...

PT,

"To simply disregard Iraq's neighbors in the negotiating process is foolish."

Admitably, it is. Talking over the differences in the Middle East should have happened to a much greater extent a long, long time ago. More diplomats and civilian (i.e., not government employees/representatives) negotiators would possibly be able to have a more positive impact over there than more troops. The difficulty with that is that keeping them safe is also a problem.

"He also realizes that the majority of people in his country don't like America, so he has to retain at least a guise of independence from the will of America."

I guess, to that, I have to wonder what it is that bothers them so much. Is it American culture? Or, is it the actions of American businesses? Or, is it the actions of the American government? I've heard many explanations, but it's hard to know which are accurate. Understanding that seems like a very important issue when considering long-term relations with the Middle East. Some people say they just don't like our beliefs in freedom. Some people say it's our business practices, or our government's interference. Having a better understanding of the nature of the clashing would make the situation more resolvable. I fear there are too many assumptions being made in that regard, making it more difficult to act in a less threatening/offensive way.

"Should he fall from power, you will see what a great asset he really was, even if he duped us from time to time."

With that I certainly agree. A stable, if not so friendly, Pakistan is certainly better (for us) than a unstable Pakistan, no matter how friendly (which would be quite unlikely). Then again, I have to wonder if Musharraf is actually good for Pakistan (something Americans tend not to consider, another possible reason people don't like us), which I don't know enough to comment about.

 
At 2/01/2007 5:39 PM, Blogger Praguetwin said...

Good points all around.

Why do they not like us? I don't really know, but I think it is a combination of what you say. Why do the Brittish hate the Pakistanis? It is all relative. We can't be friends with everyone. Oh, one reason perhaps is our undying support for India.

There are plenty of reasons, but suffice to say, they are never going to be our best friends and I think all policy decisions must keep that well in mind.

Is Musarraff good for Pakistan? In that he maintains stabillity, and considering the alternatives, I'd have to say yes.

 
At 2/02/2007 12:24 PM, Blogger Stephanie said...

PT,

"We can't be friends with everyone."

As a whole, no we can't. But, we don't have to be enemies either. It seems highly unlikely (though not completely impossible) that we have nobody in this country that could be felt to be trustworthy by both our country and any other country. I'm not talking in the government, I'm talking about everyday people. Someone has to understand Pakistan well enough to be able to converse with Pakistanis, while still retaining loyalty to the American people if not the interests of the government/businesses. A scholar, a diplomat, a history enthusiast, somebody. The same is true for Syria and Iran. If we had the wherewithall to access the totality of our resources, we'd almost certainly be able to find a decent negotiator that could help us come to a more amicable situation, even if it wasn't perfect for either side. However, while knowing it would be possible to do so, I still highly doubt our government (under any contemporary representative) would go through the trouble to pull it off. The elitist "you're one of us or you don't count" attitude extends beyond the neo-cons. I think our voters would have to pull off some considerable changes before anyone's going to look past the think-tanks and politics-as-usual people for answers.

 
At 2/05/2007 11:54 AM, Blogger Praguetwin said...

Really good points.

That is why things don't really change.

 

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