Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Endless American Addiction to Self-Serving Hype!

In his latest article, George Friedman demonstrates the addiction that the US suffers to self-serving hype.

He claims,

As we have discussed a number of times, the United States delivered a very clear ultimatum to Musharraf after 9/11: Unless Pakistan allowed U.S. forces to take control of Pakistani nuclear facilities, the United States would be left with no choice but to destroy those facilities, possibly with India's help. This was a fait accompli that Musharraf, for credibility reasons, had every reason to cover up and pretend never happened, and Washington was fully willing to keep things quiet.

This is complete news to me.

What I recall is that Stratfor claimed that Pakistan's nukes were safe and that India lacked the competence to execute surgical strikes to destroy them. Stratfor routinely reminded its readers that India's intelligence agencies were no good in Pakistan and that India should pursue the state department's lead and make peace with Pakistan. During the entire Parakram episode that followed the events of 9-11, the overall tone in Stratfor and elsewhere in Foggy Bottom or the Pentagon was one of disdain for India's conflict resolution capabilities inside Pakistan.

So I ask you, my gentle readers, would a US which had such a low opinion of the Indian military, this very same US which sent a Pentagon delegation to India only to discover flaking paint on the walls of Kashmir house and a "precariously hanging" light bulb outside the COAS's office.... turn around and ask India for help in dealing with the emergent threat of Pakistani nuclear weapons falling into Jihadi hands?

Or were they simply expecting us to "automatically" do their work for them - while they continued to badmouth us?

Quite honestly, Mr. Friedman, if you are thick enough to believe such rubbish, that is one thing, but assuming that Musharraf the Magnificent will be equally gullible is downright dangerous.

Since you seem to be in the "think tanking" business given the healthy fees you charge for peddling stuff I can overhear at any dinner conversation in D.C... you may want to take a few seconds of your valuable time to consider the following questions:

- What are the consequences of a direct threat to Pakistan's nuclear weapons?
- What will be the Pakistani response to that kind of thing be?
- Is there some reason why India never ever makes statements of that kind?

Then ofcourse, George Friedman's talent for self-contradiction shows up vividly in the next few lines of the article,

The timing of the New York Times article, then, is interesting -- we would not be surprised to find that certain opposition elements were involved in the publishing of this article in an attempt to throw another hand grenade at Musharraf.

The US obsession with visible appearances of democracy in its client states is well known. Clearly per Mr. Friedman's statements, the Pakistanis also know that the US is keen to push Benazir to the fore in Pakistan and that these disclosures regarding US led nuclear security measures inside Pakistan are embarassing to the Pakistani Army. Infact the public release of this information *now* is most likely the work of the "secular" Pakistani opposition to undermine Musharraf.

Ofcourse those of us that read Pakistani newspapers, recall that the Islamists themselves had made several such allegations in the 2002 period. At that time professional know-it-alls in D.C. like Stratfor had dismissed the allegations publicly as an Islamist ploy aimed at discreding Musharraf.

So which is it?

Is the US threat to Pakistan nuclear weapons real? or ..

Is it a figment of the anti-Musharraf opposition's imagination?

I find that after 9-11 the US was very keen to showcase Musharraf the Magnificent as a great ally of the West and to that end they overprojected his political longevity. Today for reasons best known to them, they are keen to reinvent Musharraf the Magnificent as a likely adversary of the US and to that end they are underestimating his political lifespan. Like the Najibullah government, Musharraf the Magnificent is likely to fall within seconds of the US withdrawing its support in the media - we are told.

Tiresome as it is, the changing tune that now dominates this exceedingly bizarre public diplomacy exercise, is key to feeding America's appetite for self-serving hype.

I have one small request to the know-it-all brigade - please leave India out of this.

A collapse in US-Pakistan relations is beyond India's ability to salvage. It may even be beyong Jesus' ability to salvage, and I don't know about Jesus, but I am quite sure India has absolutely no intentions of offending, Musharraf the Magnificent.

Musharraf be Praised!


At 8:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

All Hail Baadshah E Alam, Shahenshah Ka Shahenshah, El General Presidente King Emperor Musharraf the Magnificent !

After the obligatory and appropriate salutations neccesary for Musharraf the Magnificent, I think it is good to note publicly that segments of the US public and policy making profession seem to believe that India can somehow be made to do the US' dirty work in Pakistan, and miraculously contribute to American military efforts there. I think this is delusional, and it should be pointed out that India believes in the mantras of "Vasudiavaka Kutumbakam" and Peaceful Coexistence-especially as applied to Pakistanis as they are like our "younger brother" . Given these beliefs, it would be morally wrong and downright impolite for India to interfere in our Pakistani brothers' family quarrels :).

Really, we should give Musharraf the Magnificent his freedom to perform his duties-Magnificently, for the greater good of Pakistan and the Ummah.

At 6:26 AM, Blogger maverick said...

Dear Anamak,

The braves of Stratfor and other places have long called us impotent and incompetent when it comes to dealing with Pakistan. To suddenly expect us now to join them in hunting Musharraf the Magnificient is a bit bewildering.

At the very least there is a complete ignorance of reality in places like Strafor and where their friends hang out.

But it doesn't stop at ignorance.
There is a "comprehension gap" - even things they know - they have themselves been told - they appear to forget.

Stratfor should know that Musharraf the Magnificent set his "nuclear red line" - he told us that if India intevened in Pakistan's internal affairs, he would drop a nuclear bomb on India.

Even today, even the "Starving" Imran Khan agrees that Musharraf the Magnificent still holds the nuclear trigger. In such a situation, any "red line" he set still holds.

Why would we do something to undermine Musharraf the Magnificient and invite a nuclear strike on ourselves.

Someone needs to come out and openly tell the Strafors of this world that we in India do not want co-authorship on this mess they are making in Pakistan.

At 6:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


And suddenly we have a deluge of loose commentary from our American friends. Oh the Americans have threatened Musharraf with pre-emptive strikes/intervention, no special forces will extract the weapona and ship them to Los Alamos, no to remote redoubts, and moderate Pakistanis will help them, and now oh Indians will help too. Suddenly, everyone will rise to the occasion and help.

I just replied to a friend on email as to why India is unlikely to want to be part of this kind of talk. This kind of talk is unnecessary. This kind of talk might even force the foreign secretary to do more of the 'Pakistani government is not exporting terrorism' routine. How else to reassure The One and The Only One?

So I'm glad to see your comment: why are we going to cross red lines? People may come and people may go, but red lines last longer than mere humans. That said, but Musharraf is Magnificent!

At 10:37 AM, Blogger maverick said...

Hi Nitin,

This comprehension gap with the US is getting very tiresome.

Imran or BB, showboys and showgirls of Pakistan are powerless to cause any instability inside Pakistan. Their only purpose is to identify fissures inside the PA.

I know there are quite a few that seem apparent inside the PA right now but whatever damage these fissures are likely to cause cannot be fixed by these showboys and showgirls.

A far greater instability is likely when the US botches up a transition away from Musharraf.

Musharraf the Magnificent in 2001 told India that it was either him or chaos. He is telling the Americans the exact same thing. The Americans are having a hard time swallowing it - more than anyone else they actually believed that Musharraf the Magnificient, was "their sonovabitch".

Did you see the suggested threat to cut military aid not connected to the counter terrorism operations? This is more of the comprehension gap issue I raised earlier.

If the US cuts any direct military aid to Pakistan - then it will face two consequences. Firstly the Pakistanis will simply slacken cooperation in counter terrorism operations. They have been able to current move larger and larger numbers of their troops to the western border because they feel that American supplied weapons will be sufficient to maintain a defensive posture against India with fewer troops. You take the American weapons away, Pakistani troops on COIN in FATA etc... will simply walk away.

The US can try to compensate with air raids and hot pursuit etc... but frankly, antagonising hostile populations around your lines of communication is fantastically stupid. If it does that the US will have to watch its troops in Afghanistan get the same treatment that the Russians got. A few months later after a few hundred more US troops are dead inside Afghanistan, the posture will have to be reversed and aid will flow back to Pakistan.

There is issue that there is a group of fairly influential US based arms industry groups who are keen on shipping arms to Pakistan just to provoke India into buying American arms. I don't know how the US plans to keep them happy if they cut arms aid to Pakistan.

I told a bunch of these yahoos they should stay away from arms sales to Pakistan and give the Pakistanis desalination plants instead - but no one listened.

At 11:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Incidentally, now that you bring up desalination plants, do you have any idea what the current water situation is, in the land of the pure and the Magnificent Musharraf ? I remember that there were some pretty serious water disputes in the recent past?

At 2:07 PM, Blogger maverick said...

Hi Anamak,

Things are not good and there is little hope that they will get better.

When reading about these issues in the press, however, one must bear in mind that most of the people griping in public about water are feudals who find their expansion plans put on hold due to lack of water.

The Army's solution to the feudals complaining about lack of water is to take away their lands and give them to industrialists.

The Pakistan Army mantra appears to be that a calculated shift from agriculture to industry in Pakistan is the key to ensuring a more efficient usage of water.

It is unclear if such a shift will work. If it does not or if the awam's thirst for water finds expression in public unrest. The Pakistan Army will find itself in hostile negotiations with us over the IWT.

In my discussions with the Americans I have always argued that a Pakistani confrontation with India over the IWT would lead to Pakistan's disintegration. I suggested that a careful optimisation of water resource utilisation would be more productive Pakistan and that desalination technology, even the relative crude variety currently used owned by Chevron would do wonders in Pakistan. I also pointed out that the Pakistan Army could control the desalination plants with its motley crew of retired Army officers, and in doing so gain an additional lever on Pakistani society.

I cannot tell if the Americans I talked to simply ignored me or if they made some note of my suggestions. It does appear from the balance of American public statements that such ideas do not figure in notions of aid to Pakistan. It is all soyabeans or F16s there.

At 7:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi maverick,

Posting after some time....
How u been?

I was reading JN Dixit's book where he goes in some detail about making of IWT.

Later when reading your above comment, it struck me as to why haven't the Indians used water as a leverage point in bringing Pakistanis to their senses.

Kind of "stop terrorism against us or we will play with your water supply". Pakistan's jeevandor is in the hands of Indians it would seem...

Maybe Paks can eat grass and make bombs but surely no maikalaal can survive without water.

Just a thought. Why do you think it hasnt been done?

At 9:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

cyclone nation,

Your question was to Maverick, but forgive me for jumping in.

It's one thing to hold the jeevan dor, and quite another to threaten to yank it. It's totally another to actually use it. One who understands that these are actually three different things, and one can have only one of them, is an adept.

At 3:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


It is not clear to me that India has the necessary hardware in place to actually control the flow of water ... this is why Baglihar etc generate so much angst in Isloo ...

it is flow dynamics 101 ... if you want to withhold water, you need a place to store it ... Cheers,


At 3:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

cyclone nation,
There has been much discussion of this very issue in certain places. This is a very risky gambit, even more so than the threat of nuclear options being exercised, and leads to all sorts of scenarios. It would be wise for any govt to refrain from the use of such threats as a matter of policy.
Having said all this, this possibility does weigh on the minds of the Pakistanis and is a factor in their calculations; There was also discussion of this possibility as a reason for unconventional conflict and the neccessity of control in J&K a while ago in Pakistani newspapers and "think tank" type fora.

Thanks for the response.

At 9:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Your point that they are three different things is valid. But I fail to understand how "one can only have one of them" (in this case). Please explain.


Agree with you when you mention that "This is a very risky gambit, even more so than the threat of nuclear options being exercised, and leads to all sorts of scenarios."

But, in any case, with the melting of Himalayan glaciers at current rate, the same instabilities are going to arise in Pak in the long/very long term.

Secondly, it seems that today we are hopelessly impotent to stop terrorist attacks. I mean, look at the co-ordination of blasts that occur every couple of months or so.
How much operational space the terrorists must be enjoying, is really not even a debating point anymore.

In the light of the latest attacks, one can say that, maybe we are not a soft state(whatever that is)and maybe we are following a policy that seemingly is in our best interest but whatever we are doing is not working for sure.

We need to change course. So this is something we should look at. Again this may not be our best option but are there any others? I for one would like to know very much. Please enlighten me.

Aside, GoI doesn't even bother with statements like "cowardly act" and "desperate act" and "perpetrators shall be brought to justice" anymore.


At 12:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This gem, in reference to the blast at GHQ a la villagers identifying noise of malfunctioning rotor....

"Hizer Hayat, the owner of a nearby grocery, said the blast occurred at 7:40 a.m. as he was opening the store. "After the explosion, I went out on the street and found the ignition switch for a car amid the debris (which) I later gave to an intelligence agent," he said.

These "Paki abduls are very resourceful.....

At 8:38 AM, Blogger maverick said...

Hi Cyclone Nation,

The damage that we could do by cutting water would be equivalent to dropping several thousand atomic bombs on Pakistan.

That is not a threat to be made lightly.

I have only heard one Indian make that kind of threat.

Bishma Pitamaha, K Sub, was interviewed by Defence Journal after the Pakistani nuclear tests of 1998. In that interview the Pakistani reporter asked K Sub if he felt that India would now think of Pakistan differently because Pakistan had nuclear weapons and because Pakistan's Ghauri missiles could target Indian cities at will.

K Sub responded with a very terse but succinct statement which said that most of Pakistan's dams were with minutes away from Indian airbases and that for such reasons Pakistanis should eschew talk of hitting Indian cities.

Ofcourse the above conversation is etched in the minds of old hands like me, the modern day Shikhandis have more .. shall we say... creative memories.


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