First We Got the Bomb, and That Was Good


Slate reports that all the high end weaponry we're selling to our new bestest buddies in Pakistan is signally ill-suited for fighting the Taliban or other groups using guerilla tactics… but it sure would be handy in a conventional conflict with India. Meanwhile, Condi Rice says that AQ Khan, the "father" of Pakistan's nuclear bomb and apparently also the Wilt Chamberlain of rogue state fission on the side, has been sufficiently "punished" by national humiliation.

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  1. We’ll try to stay serene and calm /
    When Alabama gets the bomb.

  2. This is the first time that American companies have exhibited at IDEAS, and they have turned out in force. Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, United Defense, and several smaller companies are here.

    It would be one thing if US companies were selling arms to the Pakistani government, unassisted by our idiot government. But, no:

    And although Pakistan’s military is still overwhelmingly oriented toward India?hardly a major front in the “war on terror”?Washington has opened up its pocketbooks again. Over the next five years, Pakistan will get at least $1.5 billion in defense aid from the United States.

    It’s so easy for governments to engage in aggression when a separate government pays for that aggression. Haven’t we learned anything from the Hell that’s come our way from our taxes paying for the Israeli government’s occupation of Palestinian land? Will an India/Pakistan war be “Paid for by US taxpayers”? This is another hideous example of the “war on terror” being used by our government as a convenient pretext for actions which endanger civilians…how ironic.

  3. Condi is a master of realpolitik. She understands what a fine line we’re walking with the current Pakistani government. To ensure even the modicum of help we’re getting from them in Afghanistan, we must at least give the impression that we’re being “neutral” (if not nudging slightly their way) in the on-going Pakistan/India war of nerves and cross-border stare down. Her fear is that, if we insist on harsher punishment for Khan, the balance could be tipped — and Musharraf’s assistance (such as it is) jeopardized.

    Keep in mind the other dimension to this delicate balancing act. If Musarraf goes into the Kush with guns (and U.S.-supplied bombs) blazing, it might be effective in driving out the remaining Al-Qaeda there (bin Laden is probably already dead), but his own balance gets tipped when the radical Pakistani Muslims give him the ali Bhutto treatment.

  4. Haven’t we learned anything from the Hell that’s come our way from

    [blah blah Israel blah blah blah]

    The military dictatorship ruling Pakistan is the only thing standing between Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal and the Islamist fanatics who established the Taliban. That is why we support the Pakistani government. Obviously it would be nice if we could tell them to fuck off and demand that they hand over terrorist quislings like Khan. But we can’t do that, unfortunately. We have to work with what we have.

  5. Dan-

    Let’s keep in mind that Musharaf isn’t necessarily to be trusted in regard to the Islamists. It isn’t simply a matter of his hands being tied. I recall that in 2001 he referred to his decision to help the US invade Afghanistan as one of the most difficult of his life, because it meant turning his back on old friends.

    I don’t know which is scarier about him: The fact that the Taliban were his friends, or the fact that he helped kill his friends. I suppose one might wiggle by saying that he wasn’t actually friends with the hard-core religious fanatics, he was just friends with some of the warlords in that coalition.

    I also understand that Musharaf wasn’t terribly upset when Islamists took control of 2 Pakistani provinces in the latest elections. He apparently regards the Islamists as useful allies against the liberals who understandably despise Musharaf.

    In any case, Musharaf shouldn’t be trusted on ANYTHING, especially not where the Islamists are involved.

    Realpolitik might dictate that he must be treated as an ally, but the last thing we should be doing with an “ally” like Musharaf is help to arm him. If we absolutely must bribe him, let’s earmark that money toward comparatively benign “economic development” projects. Yes, I know, it’s wrong and dangerous to bribe foreign dictators with US tax money. Still, in the hierarchy of bad ideas, giving him cash for domestic programs is slightly less stupid than helping him acquire weaponry to use against the nuclear power on his southern border. In a choice between 2 really bad ideas, I’ll always choose the one that doesn’t involve arming a dictator with Islamist buddies.

  6. Condi is a master of realpolitik.

    Condi is the master of an enchanted kingdom that only exists in her head. Rather, it exists in her head, in the heads of her friends and in the fantasies of both the President and his lackeys, but that’s about it. I don’t see how you can apply the term “realpolitik” to a staunch defender of an enchanted kingdom.

  7. “Pakistani officials revealed that the United States is ready to reverse its longtime opposition to selling new F-16 fighter jets to Islamabad.”

    They were saying that before Musharraf met with Bush last year, but nothing panned out. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a reversal in policy, but I also wouldn’t count on it just yet. Keep in mind that the Pakistani Army needs to drum up the benefits of its alliance with the US whenever it can, given the relationship’s lukewarm public support.

    “navy surveillance planes”

    If they’re talking about the Orion, the US is selling that to India as well, albeit an older model.

    As far as heavy equipment goes, the bulk of the military aid to Pakistan has involved C-130 gunships and Cobra helicopters. Both of these can obviously be used in a conflict with India, but they’ve each already been used in operations in the Pakistani tribal regions.


    “The military dictatorship ruling Pakistan is the only thing standing between Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal and the Islamist fanatics who established the Taliban.”

    If the military dictatorship was to fall on a national level, it would come from a push for democratic reform, not from a Khomeinei-like revolution. The policies of such a government would probably have a more Islamist tinge to them, and would doubtlessly be more anti-American, but it’s unlikely that they would come close to resembling the Taliban.

    Of Pakistan’s four provinces, hard-core Islamists only have widespread public support in the NWFP and its adjacent tribal regions – the places where Osama & Friends are believed to be hiding out. They have meaningful level of support in the province of Balochistan, but unlikely a majority; tensions there have more to do with ethnicity and tribalism than religion. And in the two largest and most populous provinces, the Sindh and the Punjab, they probably don’t have more than 15% support.

    However, the Islamists have deeply infiltrated the Army and the ISI over the last quarter-century, starting in the Zia-ul-Haq/Afghan-Soviet years. And Musharraf can’t step on their toes too much if he doesn’t want trouble. If their anger towards him leads to an assassination, the result would probably be another Army strongman in control, only one who’s a little more willing to coddle the Islamists, and a little less willing to support the US.

    Basically, Musharraf is a self-serving Army careerist who rose to power during a time when the Islamists were on an upswing and found it better to ride the wave rather than fight it. Following 9/11, he found that it was in his personal interests to change course, and thus did so. I think there is a part of him that wants to be remembered as a Pakistani Attaturk who led his country into the modern age, but not if he thinks that it will turn him into another Sadat. Or another Ferdinand Marcos, for that matter.

  8. Condolezza Rice needs to be sufficiently punished by public humiliation for wanking about over China while the bad guys were putting together September 11.

    Yeah, pick her, the one that doesn’t make you feel like an idiot. That’s a good way of protecting the national security. Christ on a crutch.

    thoreau, what would the Donald say?

  9. “Condi is the master of an enchanted kingdom that only exists in her head.”



  10. Dan:

    “blah blah Israel blah blah blah”

    If I may make your critique of my comments more accurate, it should have been:

    “blah blah Israeli government blah blah blah” 😉

    But seriously, the evidence from the 9/11 commission report is that we were attacked specifically for our government’s support of the Israeli occupation. Note that the commission findings reveal:

    Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the man who conceived and directed the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, was motivated by his strong disagreement with American support for Israel, said the final report of the Sept. 11 commission.


    The military dictatorship ruling Pakistan is the only thing standing between Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal and the Islamist fanatics who established the Taliban.

    Even if that analysis is true, surely our government has better options than to arm the Musharaf regime, that has at least as hostile an attitude toward India as the fanatics his dictatorship make accommodation with have toward us. Don’t you think that if our government gives weapons to Musharaf, the purpose of which is to slaughter Indians and/or enforce land grabs, and they wind up being used for their intended purpose, that this might well engender some hate on the part of Indians toward us for these actions of our government? And, that this hate might manifest itself in the form of terrorism against us?

    Those who will not stop their government from making the same mistake repeatedly will suffer the consequences of those mistakes repeatedly.

  11. Musharraf will be lucky to be alive a year from now. Then what happens?

  12. ‘The military dictatorship ruling Pakistan is the only thing standing between Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal and the Islamist fanatics who established the Taliban’

    This is a meme that Musharaff has successfuly spread around — it enhances his status in the West greatly, but its not really correct.

    Pakistan has had numerous assasinations and coups: Yahya Khan, Bhutto, Zia-Ul-Haq, Benzair Bhutto, Nawaz Sharif and has always managed to remain reasonably stable. I see no reason to assume that Pakistan could not survive without Musharaff and no reason to assume it would fall prey to Taliban style islamist parties.

    And Musharaff is not exactly a babe-in-the-woods. In 1999, he initiated the Kargil attack on India, thus leading to the only war to date between 2 nuclear armed nations. It was folly on a grand scale, and this is the man we’re supposed to trust ?

  13. DOUBLE STANDARDS: Hey Mr. Bush, Isnt it time you give an ultimatum to Pakistan, Get out within 24 hours or face the consequences. If Ukraine elections were flawed, then the Pak’s General elections are a total fraud. What does a DICTATOR do, does his own elections and who does he stand against himself. Cmon this is hippocracy on a grand scale. Can you just tell your friend Gen. Musharraf to start some sort of democracy. U americans use the same yardstick, ditto the media, CNN and BBC. Yes Bin Laden is in Pakistan. Oh yes, americans shouldnt die in Iraq, Why dont U all just outsource this to some third world country cmon cmon now dont be shy? RU saying democracy doesnt work in the middle east, do U wanna find out the hard way, guys. Comments please, proponents of Iraq war and why Indians should suffer just cos we were close to Russia, we are equidistant.

  14. America is Israel, and Israel is America, the two are inseperable, so the US will be attacked but isnt this a case using a tank to kill a mosquito, poor saddam, now it is poor marines.

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