July 26, 2010

Some leaked documents a breath of fresh air

Admiral Mike Mullen with Pakistani ISI Officers

In all the furor of the leaked documents posted on the leftist anti-war website Wikileaks, there is some information now in the public domain that actually might do some good. Finally, we are able to see documentary evidence that the United States actually knows, or at least believes, that the Pakistanis may not be part of the solution in Afghanistan, but are in reality a major part of the problem, and that the Iranians are supporting the Taliban in their operations against American forces. While many of us have suspected this all along, it is good to see it in real government documents.

America's relationship with Pakistan has had its ups and downs over the years, much of influenced by how much they could do for us in furthering our national interests. That is, after all, what foreign policy is all about. During the Soviet invasion and occupation of Afghanistan, Pakistan's intelligence service, the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI) was the conduit for virtually all American weapons and money to the Aghfan

Any one who knows Pakistan or the Pakistanis realizes that not all of the money nor weapons reached their intended recipients. The CIA officers responsible for the operation knew that there was going to be a certain amount of corruption, but that it was the price of doing business - there was no viable alternative to dealing with the ISI. The more important mission was getting weapons to the fighters in Afghanistan.

The weapons provided to the mujahidin included, as glamorized in the movie Charlie Wilson's War (see
my comments on Charlie and "his" war), the FIM-92 Stinger shoulder-launched heat-seeking air defense missile system, to this day arguably the finest shoulder-fired system in existence.

As feared by many officers at the Pentagon when Representative Wilson basically forced the U.S. Army to provide Stingers to the ISI for the mujahidin, some of the missiles ended up in the hands of people we did not want to have them. In September 1987, while the CIA was still sending Stingers to the ISI, the U.S. Navy found Stingers on board the Iranian mine-laying ship Iran Ajr in the Persian Gulf. The serial numbers indicated that they had been shipped to the ISI for delivery to the mujahidin. A gift to the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from our "allies."

After the Soviets were driven out of Afghanistan in 1988, our assistance to the mujahidin stopped almost overnight. The mujahidin were disappointed that we did not continue our support, but our operation in Afghanistan were not about them, it was about the Soviets. Once the Soviets left, our foreign policy objective was achieved and we turned to other matters.

No longer needing the cooperation of the Pakistanis, the U.S. Congress began scrutinizing Pakistan's nascent nuclear weapons and missile programs. In 1990, once it was assessed that Pakistan was in fact developing a nuclear weapon, the United States halted delivery of additional F-16 fighter aircraft (that had already been paid for) under the terms of the Pressler Amendment. Relations between Islamabad and Washington chilled.

In the early 1990's, the ISI was involved in the creation of the fundamentalist Taliban - its charter members were drawn from the millions of Afghan refugees in northern Pakistan. When the Taliban took over in Afghanistan, they were supported by the ISI, and diplomatically recognized by Pakistan. There is more to the relationship between the ISI and Taliban than than Pakistani national interest.

As with many countries in the Middle East and South Asia, ethnic and tribal loyalties trump almost everything else. Many of the ISI are ethnic Pushtuns, as are most of the Taliban. It is the Pushtun tribesmen in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (especially in North and South Waziristan, the semi-autonomous regions along the Afghanistan border) that have extended protection to al-Qa'idah leaders Usmah bin Ladin and Ayman al-Zawahiri, and Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar. There is also a large Pushtun contingent in the Pakistani armed forces.

The thought that the ISI and many in the Pakistani army are going to be fully supportive of the Pakistani government's efforts to move against their fellow tribesman in the Waziristans is wishful thinking. In fact, the exact opposite seems to be the case - the ISI, or at least some officers in the ISI, along with some Pakistani army officers are actively supporting the Taliban in their operations against American and coalition forces.

Regardless of what Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs would have you believe - and the documents tend to make him out as less than truthful - the Pakistanis are not serious about helping us eradicate an organization that they created. To think otherwise defies logic.

The Iranians likewise are much more involved in supporting the Taliban in its operations against American and coalition forces than the administration would have us believe. The Iranians, as they did with the Iraqi Shi'a militias such as the jaysh al-mahdi (JAM) of Muqtada al-Sadr, have been providing weapons and other support to the Taliban. Although the Taliban and the Iranians have many ideological differences, their mutual hatred of the United States supersedes any reluctance to cooperate with each other.

There are also the much-touted Obama outreach efforts to Iran - all of which have been rebuffed by the Iranians and have been a dismal failure. Could a desire to not offend the Ahmadinejad regime have played into the downplaying of Iran's support for the Taliban? I have my suspicions.

Last words
Julian Assange, the self-righteous arrogant co-founder of Wikileaks is joined by Amnesty International in its condemnation of American involvement in Afghanistan and what they believe is a high level of civilian casualties. Why don't they spend as much time condemning the Taliban and its murderous activities? They act like the Taliban is a legitimate entity rather than a bunch of murdering jihadist fanatics.

Finally, if U.S. Army intelligence analyst Specialist Bradley Manning turns out to be the source of the leaked documents, I urge the Secretary of Defense to pursue treason charges and seek the death penalty. Release of these classified documents when American troops are involved in combat operations rises to that level - if he did it, he deserves to die.