Monday, December 31, 2007

Special Forces in Pakistan

The Diane Rehm show on Friday did an hour on Pakistan which I listened to on Friday night. It's worth a listen. And interestingly to me the subject of US Special Forces in Pakistan came up because of questions about a. turning up the heat on Musharaff and b. the US going in if Pakistan becomes more unstable.

Some highlights

  • Dr. Marvin Weinbaum, Afghanistan and Pakistan analyst and scholar at Middle East Institute – on turning up the heat on Musaraff – (at about 35:00) I want to stress that the US has to be very careful at this point. A very visible set of conditions on Pakistan might very well backfire. Any suggestion that the US may be violating the territorial sovereignty would be surely an explosive issue in Pakistan. At this stage, because of the low stock of the US, everything we do is misconstrued.
  • Shuja Nawaz, Pakistani journalist and author of the forthcoming book, "Crossed Swords: Pakistan, its Army, and the Wars Within" – Assertion: Efforts to work with, prop up Musharaff, has not led to progress to any of the avenues the US is pursuing. He agreed. The emphasis was on military aid and giving money to the Pakistan army, without sitting down and determining benchmarks and objectives. To transform and increase the capacity of the frontier corp, who have trouble fighting their own people. In that area the key issue is not military – it’s political and economic. That’s where the solution is.
  • Anthony Cordesman, senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies said in response to a question should “swat teams” be poised to go in, if the situation deteriorates and becomes more unstable? Cordesman answered it wouldn’t be a swat team, that is a specialized police force. Sending in Special Forces would be an absolute nightmare (40:45) First, there’s no way you can do this covertly…If the United States would do that, there’s no way to know how the military would react to an incursion that deep into Pakistan’s sovereignty. How would Pakistan react over the months and years to come, there's very little chance of last success. Re, Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal – he said people keep raising the issue because nuclear weapons are so dangerous, not because Pakistan has shown any negligence or failed to organize it’s forces to provide effective protection.
Okay - I just have to say the name A.Q. Kahn. See The Wrath of Kahn by William Langewiesche or this New York Times review of his book, The Atomic Bazaar.

And I guess they'd not seen the blog I'd seen last week. I wrote about it here. And on the Chris Matthews Show on Sunday, Joe Klein reported the same thing - in the segment at the end - out of the reporters notebook, "tell me something I don't know" - Klein said that Special Forces were primed to go in. The transcript is not yet available. When it is, I'll link it.

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