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June 14, 2006



The problem with Warner is much more profound than you describe. No rational person would look at the current world situation and posit that Iran is the biggest problem (within the false notion of WMDs or otherwise). The fundamental problem is that we've let the public discourse be defined in utterly dishonest ways. As long as people accept the conceptual framework of the current regime, we're locked in to a completely unproductive foreign policy. The world is an immeasurably more dangerous place today than it was 5 years ago and that's not Al Qaeda's doing. The Bush Administration has created a series of disasters (Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel/Palestine, North Korea) that will take decades of hard work and considerable good luck to undo. Not to mention their Nero approach to global warming.

Beautifully done, emptywheel. Please cross-post this, will you?

Rational Americans would like to stabilize Pakistan and clamp down on nuclear proliferation. Rational Americans can see the logic of going to the source of the proliferation rather than chasing down multiple rogue states. But we're talking about the Bush administration here. They use the threat of nuclear proliferation as a pretext for aggressive war, in fact using the rational fears of rational Americans to bamboozle us into signing on to aggression, regime change, and permanent bases in the heart of Middle Eastern oil country. If Bush et al cared about proliferation would they have made that deal with India, or so gratuitously outed Brewster Jennings?

I agree wholeheartedly with your strategy of insisting that Warner and anyone else hoping to be president abandon the fake discourse that has accompanied the Bushco bamboozlement. Certainly we can hope to set the frame for policy for the next president by pressing for realistic discussion from candidates now, but any hope of realizing a truly effective policy will have to wait until these criminals are booted out.

In the meantime, as you point out, we had all better pray for Musharraf's health and safety.

Added to the bookmarks folder.

Thanks, EW.

I'm with mamayaga, the American Problem ranks above the Iran Problem.

Crooks and Liars posted this video of Scott Ritter debunking a lot of the hysteria about Iran's nuclear program. I haven't see any of this information mentioned anywhere else.

(quicktime format)

Though I'm an emptywheel fan, I'd like to say to certain posters and bloggers out there, Good move!

Let's take Warner out as soon as possible for saying thise unbelievably dumb things. But just imagine if we had a candidate who claimed to, say, smoke marijuana and not inhale! We would truly be screwed with a mind like that occupying the oval office. A mind like that certainly couldn't win a Presidential race, especially in a tough partisan time. That's not what America needs.

Wow - this is an interesting post - I've always wondered the same thing about Pakistan, feeling that the situation there is more dire than Iran because of the bomb, but at the same time more hopeful because of what seems to be a more open civil society. I don't think it's just Warner's bad, Pakistan has confounded the logic of "Axis of Evil," "rogue states," etc. from many different people on both sides of the aisle.

crab, do you mean to equate the seriousness of a presidential candidate lying to avoid embarassment about smoking pot -- or, say, having extramarital sex -- with whether or not they're informed about matters of national security and nuclear proliferation and whether they'd possibly start or support a war based on their ignorance? Because that sure sounds like what you're saying.

In my mind, at least, there's a chasm between lying about personal matters that will harm no one and ignorance that could affect whether tens of thousands of people die (haven't we already gone down this road in recent years?). I know that's not how the Republicans see it, or they would have impeached Bush for the latter since they tried to do in Clinton for the former, but I don't see that happening.

Perhaps I'm just more pragmatic and less of a moral absolutist than you are. But that's just the liberal in me talking.


I agree with you that the military dictatorship of Pakistan is a greater WMD threat than Iran. After all, it was AQ Khan’s network that provided nuclear technology to the Iranians. You are also right that “the best focus of efforts right now is Pakistan, not Iran”; and that “until the U.S. begin to address the Pakistan problem it’s never going to address the real threat in Iran or anywhere else”.

I’ve personally met AQ Khan on a few occasions in Islamabad, and can assure you that he is simply an employee of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission, a subsidiary of Pakistan’s Ministry of Defense (MOD). In 1998, soon after Pakistan conducted six nuclear tests, Congress enacted the Pressler Amendment and imposed economic and military sanctions on Pakistan.

Due to financial constraints, MOD decided to sell nuclear technology to anyone who was willing to pay top dollar. Khan simply followed the orders of his bosses in uniform, and was given full military cover to conduct nuclear proliferation. He’s only the scapegoat; the real culprit is the Pakistani MOD, and as you’ve already heard that Khan’s rogue network is still operational. No wonder why Pakistani military regime is reluctant to allow Khan to be interrogated by the U.S. authorities.

I have strong reservations about your assertion that “if Musharraf fell, Al Qaeda could have the bomb within weeks”. For your information, it’s safe to assume that Al Qaeda is already in possession of WMD, and Hamas (supported by Iran) will soon have access to such weapons.

It was Pakistan’s spy agency, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) that created the Talibans in Pakistan and then sent them across its borders into Afghanistan. And, the ISI also facilitated the creation of Al Qaeda in the Pakistani city of Peshawar. To this day, ISI is providing logistic, training and weapons to these two terrorist organizations along with other Islamic terrorists groups, especially ones that have terrorized Kashmir region in India. Also, the world’s top three terrorists, Bin Laden, Al Zawahri, and Mullah Omar, are living in Pakistan under state protection. Arresting low-level operatives to appease Washington is only a poly to be considered “an ally in the war against terrorism” and con military aid of about $650 million per year from U.S taxpayers.

During President Bush’s recent visit to Afghanistan, the Afghan President Hamid Karzai provided him with conclusive proof of ISI’s involvement in destabilizing Afghanistan. This is a very serious allegation because it means that any attack on U.S. and Coalition forces in Afghanistan by Al Qaeda and Taliban operatives is done with the consent and support of the Pakistani military regime. In other words, Pakistanis have waged a proxy war against the U.S. (Check article in the Investor’s Business Daily)

The British chief of staff for southern Afghanistan, Colonel Chris Vernon, added his voice to charges often made by Afghan officials that the Taliban leadership is coordinating its campaign from the Pakistani city of Quetta near the Afghan border.

"The thinking piece of the Taliban is out of Quetta in Pakistan. It's the major headquarters," he told the Guardian newspaper. "They use it to run a series of networks in Afghanistan."

By the way, there was no reason for the Pakistanis to succumb to U.S. pressure because of some textile deal! On January 2005, the World Trade Organization (WTO) was already going to abolish the textile quota regime, which restricted textile exports from Pakistan to the U.S. market. Hence, it was not in anyone’s interest to make such deals.

The truth of the matter is that the Pakistani military dictator Pervez Musharraf did not agree to cooperate with the U.S. after the tragic incident of 9/11. Only when President Bush challenged him to either face the U.S. military might, or join the U.S. and oust the Talibans, did Musharraf pragmatically teamed up with the Coalition forces and pretended to turn his back to the Talibans.

The wooing is not as much between Iran and Pakistan as it is between China and Pakistan. China has built listening posts at the Gwadar Port to monitor shipping lanes (and U.S. naval activities) at the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf. There are over 2,000 Chinese working on various civilian and military projects throughout Pakistan worth over $5 billion. China has constructed highways through Pakistan to connect with the Arabian Sea. The Chinese are fortifying their positions in Pakistan while the U.S. is engaged in fighting a proxy war with Pakistani trained Al Qaeda and Taliban forces in Afghanistan.

In short, Pakistan has played the Americans into believing that they are pro-American, while they were busy solidifying their position with China and supporting the Al Qaeda and Taliban to kill American soldiers.

Congress must realize that the most dangerous terrorist organization in the world is the Pakistani military regime that has ruled Pakistan (directly and indirectly) since 1947. All military assistance and economic aid to this rogue country must cease immediately. The most dangerous threat to U.S. national security now is how to dismantle and destroy Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal.

Mir Azaad Khan Baloch
General Secretary
The Government of Balochistan in Exile

Darrel, no, I'm an absolute pragmatist when it comes to winning elections.

I just heard Jonathan Alter talk on the radio about his new FDR book. JKenneth Galbreth (sp) met with FDR and said he was economically illiterate. FDR was NOT an intellectual.

It just doesn't matter that Warner may or may not be brilliant at foreign policy at this stage of the game. It just doesn't matter. And yes, I agree with you that it's arguably the most important area...but it doesn't matter that much in elections because voters don't pay that much attention, except in overt crises...and even then, positions can be changed if done thoughtfully.

Winning political races is more about overall political talent than anything else. I think that right now we have only two potential '08 candidates that in my view have real messaging talent, and they are Warner and Edwards. Everyone else is two tiers below (about where Kerry was last time). We need top tier talent to win.


Lemme also add, that I'm not making that equation you refer to; what a Presidential candidate says about foreign policy is more forgotten than positions in any other issue area. That's an observation; I bet it would stand up to research. It's because voters don't know and don't pay much attention to nuances like whether a given statement indicates a degree of proclivity to begin a war or not.

crab, what good is having someone who doesn't know what they're doing win an election for President? Personally, I'm kind of tired of that.

You did make the equation between pot smoking and national security, despite your protestation. You remarked that we would be "truly screwed" with someone who claimed to smoke marijuana and didn't inhale. I'm assuming you sarcastically meant by that remark that you think Clinton didn't do such a bad job. If you have some coherent explanation otherwise, perhaps you could be a little less obtuse.

EW -- I agree with much of what Mir Azaad Khan Baloch has written above. The state of play for Pakistan is alliance with China in service of Pakistan's India circumstance that has existed since Partition. Just this week one of the major English Language Pakistani papers had a long detailed editorial regarding this -- I think it was the Tribune, but am not certain.

One matter that has suprised me is the lack of attention to Bush's Nuclear deal with India, to which Pakistan responded by advocating greater cooperation with China. All for an agreement on trade in Mangos? come on -- where is the US market for more mangos?

darrel, I'm not the one being obtuse. Here it is, as clear as I can make it: There Is No Way On Earth anyone can tell what a person will do as President. Statements made during campaigns -- unless they are emphasized repeatedly and over long periods of time -- are meaningless.

Attempting to infer judgment and intelligence is easily misleading as well, witness my FDR example (by the way, if you're wondering, I think FDR was great, yet he was not an intellectual. Nobody knew he'd be great; I bet if I looked I might find campaign statements in 36 or 40 about him not wanting to go to war - horrors! He would have not entered WWII!!!! Don't vote for this guy!!!).

Yes, that was a joke about Clinton; it was a joke about divining intelligence and judgement from a single statement. You are parsing a Mark Warner's statement thinking you can find little itty bitty clues as to whether he will start a preemptive war. That is fantastic thinking. It's a waste of time. You have very unrealistic expectations about politicians and campaigns.

Pakistan is a more stable nation than one may think. If something were to happen to President Musharraf, there is already a successor chosen, which would be General Jehangir Karamat (The recent former Ambassador of Pakistan to the United States). If that doesn't happen, then constitutionally, the powers will go to the current Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mr. Shaukat Aziz. A.K Khan is not the man behind the network, but only one of the few men whose name went public. There are Americans, Indians, Britins and Russians involved as well in this network. It's a strong network because some key position holders throughout the world, including the current President of India were also part of this network. If you are going to go after Pakistan, you should go after India as well. A lot of these agents come from India. There are more Islamic Extremist Groups in India.

Pakistan's Nuclear technology is well guarded, and if anything is to happen to it, Israel and the United States have permission to take over it in case of a castrophic event. Though Pakistan does not have direct relations with Israel, it has indirect secret relations with Israel that has existed since their creation. The only way to make Pakistan go un-Nuclear is to pursue the same policy with India. India and Pakistan going Nuclear has actually boost the Peace Process between these two nations, and history is being made.

The Military in Pakistan is one of the strongest Militaries of the third world countries. They have an Army, Airforce and the Navy. There have been three assasination attempts on President Musharraf so they do have a Plan B and C if something is to happen to him.

crab, I'm not so sure you could find many statements from FDR about keeping out of a war in '36; open war in Europe was still several years away and there was no real advocacy for entering the Sino-Japanese conflict, despite a Japanese attack on an American gunboat in 1937 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panay_incident).

As for 1940, you're just wrong. Roosevelt's views on support for the UK and France were well-known. In 1937 he gave the relatively-famous "Quarantine" speech in Chicago (http://www.usconstitution.com/franklinroosevelt'squarantinespeech.htm) in which he said:

"The peace-loving nations must make a concerted effort in opposition to those violations of treaties and those ignorings of human instincts which today are creating a state of international anarchy and instability from which there is no escape through mere isolation or neutrality."

I'm surprised that you don't know this. The multi-year tension between Roosevelt's support for our European allies and the isolationist tendencies of Congress used to be a staple of American history classes.

crab said: You are parsing a Mark Warner's statement thinking you can find little itty bitty clues as to whether he will start a preemptive war.

There's nothing "itty bitty" about saying that a country is the greatest WMD threat when it's not. Nor did I claim in this or the previous thread on this subject that Warner's likely to start a pre-emptive war.

Now, if you'd said that I believe his ignorance of national security issues -- and that of many other Democrats -- provide cover for the Bush administration to play up Iran as the greatest threat to America in order to launch another front in the "war on terror" you'd have been right. That's exactly what happened in 2002 prior to the Iraq invasion, when most of the world opted out of the debacle in Mesopotamia. Any push to expand the war to Iran is going to happen before the 2008 elections. I doubt Bush will leave office without attempting to leave his mark on Iran as well as Iraq and Afghanistan. Any resulting mess is going to be the purview of whoever takes over in 2009, along with whatever has become of Iraq and Afghanistan by then.

You vastly underestimate the desire to "look strong" even if the position is untenable. Johnson and his advisors were heavily influenced by fears that they would be called Communist sympathizers if they pulled out of Vietnam in the mid-60s. They faced the same type of people who are calling Jack Murtha a coward and who call John Kerry a traitor.

Americans screwed up Iraq and Afghanistan. They are not capable of solving the problems of foreign countries, so just forget about the "Pakistan problem".

if usa backing india,russia and israel for their so called nuclear technology.. why not to PAKISTAN ,IRAN and other islamic contries..usa is biased

first usa pulled out from iraq by finding NO mass destruction weapons...now waht the hell they want from PAKISTAN ..usa better solve other issues like to eliminate poverery etc etc instead of proving thier superiorty over world

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