Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Ignatius on Waziristan
David Ignatius is one of the smarter foreign policy writers around and his column in today's WP
is well worth a read. The piece is centered around a National Intelligence Estimate released July 17.Igantius
notes that the NIE
"put the problem plainly enough: Al-Qaeda
has "regenerated key elements of its Homeland attack capability" using a new haven in the lawless frontier area of northwest Pakistan
known as Waziristan
He goes on to ask a very important question:
"What should the United States do about al
new haven in Pakistan, from which it may already be plotting attacks that could kill thousands of Americans?"
and seems to suggest an approach that is light on force (perhaps using counter insurgency tactics) and heavy on economic aid.
While there is some merit to this idea, I wish that Igantius
had also sought to tackle the political dimensions of this problem. I strongly believe that dealing with Waziristan
/Pakistan cannot be done in isolation but must be looked at as part of a broader regional strategy including Afghanistan, India and Iran -- essentially the eastern piece of NEASFram
Monday, July 30, 2007
MI5 Relationship with CIA in Question RE: Torture Flights
The Guardian ran an interesting article on Sunday that once again highlighted and called into question the relationship between MI5 and the CIA over torture flights. In this case they interviewed Bisher al-Rawi, an Iraqi living in the UK who claims he was tortured at Gitmo and at Bagram airforce base. While many of the facts he lays out seem to fit into the broad construct of the rendition program, there are a couple of pieces that are more unusual and that, if true, really could hurt MI5.
First Bisher claims to have been an informer for MI5 and alleges that they betrayed him by telling the CIA he had a timing device for a bomb with him when he was flying to The Gambia. As readers of this blog may have come to anticipate, there was no timer at all. In fact he had a battery charger with him and several years and much pain and suffering later he is free.
Like many freed survivors of the CIA program, he claims to be speaking out to help an innocent friend who is still at Gitmo. This type of exceptionalism continues to harm U.S. interests globally. When will it all end?
Thursday, July 26, 2007
Reaction to Executive Order
Today's Washington Post carries an important OP-ED
by Gen. P. X. Kelley (commandant of the Marine Corp from 1983-1987) and Robert F. Turner (co-founder of the UVA
Center for National Security Law) in which they react to the White House executive order from last Friday in which the President seeks to interpret Common Article 3. It is fair to say they are not convinced - here is the key section:
"In other words, as long as the intent of the abuse is to gather intelligence or to prevent future attacks, and the abuse is not "done for the purpose of humiliating or degrading the individual" -- even if that is an inevitable consequence -- the president has given the CIA carte blanche
to engage in "willful and outrageous acts of personal abuse.""
I am glad that these two individuals weighed in and that the Post gave them the space to make their case - it is vitally important to note the rising tide of outrage directed at the Administrations continued bad faith approach to dealing with the issue of torture. We are a long way from ensuring that the United States respects international law in this area.
Thursday, July 12, 2007
The Times (UK) OP-ED on Musharraf's Moment
It is time for Pakistan to take steps towards the restoration of democracy....check out this OP-ED
from the Times (UK).
Monday, July 09, 2007
Worrying Development From the Turkish-Iraqi Border
Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari has been quoted as saying that Turkey has amassed 140,000 troops on its border with Kurdish Northern Iraq. This move seems to be a sign of increased Turkish frustration with guerrilla groups based in the Kurdish Iraqi north. Reading a report on the issue, it seems clear once again that a comprehensive NEASFram type approach is the only way to ensure an end to this type of politically triggered insecurity.
Tuesday, July 03, 2007
The latest set of crises to hit Pakistan are the clashes
at the Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) in Islamabad, where fundamentalist students continue to push for the imposition of Sharia law, and the hundreds of thousands of people displaced by flooding
Despite some arguments
that tackling root causes and foreign policy challenges will not ease tensions throughout the NEASFram region, we believe that there is a need for the United States and the U.K. in particular to assist Pakistanis as they respond to the recent natural disasters; both because it is the right thing to do and because it shows a more supportive side of their foreign policy.