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Bush’s Pakistan Paradox

Posted on Jul 10, 2007
AP Photo / George Herbert

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf strolls into a 2006 news conference at the White House with President Bush.

By Robert Scheer

As Iraq continues to disintegrate, and our top generals and in-country ambassador predict that U.S. troops will need to die there for decades in order to prevent a full-scale regional blood bath, it is important to recall the reasons why we got into this mess. The marker of what will go down in history as “Bush’s folly” is that this idiot of a president invaded a country that had absolutely nothing to do with terrorist attacks on the United States or WMD threats to America while coddling the military junta in Pakistan, which was guilty on both counts.

(For newspaper editors inclined to strike my reference in this syndicated column to our “idiot president” as excessively pejorative, I refer them to one definition of idiot in Webster’s New Riverside University Dictionary: “being unable to guard against common dangers and being incapable of learning connected speech.”)

Two news stories this week underscore the extreme irrationality and utter moral depravity of the Bush administration in exploiting the 9/11 attack to justify the invasion of Iraq. They both concern Pakistan, the close ally of the Taliban government when Afghanistan hosted Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaida terrorist network. And, as opposed to Iraq, Pakistan did have weapons of mass destruction and facilitated their proliferation to “rogue nations.” Both examples provide damning evidence that Bush cared not a whit about WMD or about preventing another 9/11-style attack, because the danger of both existed in Pakistan, which he befriended, rather than in Iraq, which he invaded.

The first report details that Pakistan has effectively lifted the minimal house arrest restraints imposed on A.Q. Khan, the father of the “Islamic bomb,” who presided over the transfer of nuclear technology to North Korea, Libya and Iran. The second is a devastating New York Times report that the United States failed to attack an important al-Qaida gathering in Afghanistan at which top terrorist leaders were present, out of fear of alienating Pakistan’s dictator, Gen. Pervez Musharraf.

Recall that Bush boasted in his 2004 presidential debate with Democratic candidate John Kerry that “we busted the A.Q. Khan network,” when, in fact, neither Khan nor any of the top ringleaders of his nukes-for-sale operation have ever been brought to trial. Some had to hold high positions in the Pakistani government in order for the shipment of Pakistan’s most highly valued nuclear technology to go unimpeded. Perhaps it is for that reason U.S. agents have never been allowed to interview Khan, let alone subject him to the waterboarding torture reserved for those who wouldn’t know a nuke if it hit them upside the head.


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While American agents still aren’t allowed to talk to Khan, an AP reporter had no difficulty interviewing him this week, reporting that the minimal restraints of his house arrest have been lifted. Thus, he is now, echoing that Southwest Airlines commercial, free to move about the country—if not the world. So, Bush did not bust Khan’s network, but on the contrary he allowed it to function for years out of fear of embarrassing Musharraf at a time when Bush was cozying up to the dictator who had quickly pardoned Khan of all possible crimes.

Not offending Musharraf also led the Bush administration in 2005 to jettison a planned attack on a high-level al-Qaida gathering in Pakistan that U.S. intelligence had learned of. Bin Laden’s No. 2, Ayman al-Zawahiri, was in attendance, and the capture of the man thought to be actually running al-Qaida would have allowed Bush to begin making good on his promise to get the perpetrators of 9/11 “dead or alive.”

Instead, as The New York Times reported, the mission was abandoned in the final moments, as Navy SEALs in parachute gear sat on C-130 cargo planes, because “it could jeopardize relations with Pakistan.” The Times quoted Bruce Hoffman, a terrorism expert at Georgetown University, as saying, “The reluctance to take risk or jeopardize our political relationship with Musharraf may well account for the fact that five-and-a-half years after 9/11, we are still trying to run bin Laden and Zawahiri to ground.”

No wonder that top U.S. officials charged with defeating al-Qaida feel frustrated. As the Times reported, “Their frustration has only grown over the past two years, they said, as Al Qaeda has improved its ability to plan global attacks and build new training compounds in Pakistan’s tribal areas, which have become virtual havens for the terrorist network.”

Heckuva job, Bushie.

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By Bryan Wilmot, July 11, 2007 at 7:42 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I disagree with this analysis. “War on Terror” (whatever it be) aside, Pakistan is a very important country to have as a friend and an ally in that part of the world. Pakistan on its part has trained the Afghan Mujahedeen to fight the Soviets (with US help) and this act more than any other brought the collapse of the Evil Empire. This must never be overlooked. It was not Ronald Reagan saying “Mr. Gorbachev, bring this war down.” It was the Afghan Mujahid who dared to take up the Red Army, literally, single handed.

Hence we cannot go and start dropping bombs on Pakistani villages hoping that one may hit our favourite terrorist. Other than than failing to hit Zwahiri, it will certainly infuriate 150 million Pakistanis not only inside Pakistan, but those spread out all across the world as well.

But most importantly, we have long passed the stage that the killing of Osama or some other “al qaida” operative would do the trick. This fury against US actions is not under any one leadership and so it cannot be stopped by killing of individual terrorists.

We can only win by our carefully reviewing our foreign policy in the Islamic world—a policy that has been hypocritical, immoral and insane.

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By Expat, July 11, 2007 at 4:42 am Link to this comment

#85846 by farmertx on 7/11 at 3:32 am
(15 comments total)

“Regardless of the cause, our country, our military and our political sysytem will be reeling for years to come from this one, basically insignificant, loser.”

Good and true words.

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By terry, July 11, 2007 at 4:41 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I don’t agree with the name calling. But, in this case - if the ‘glove fits’ you must NOT acquit -.
I disagree mostly with this idea that we should invade and kill in places that we have no jurisdiction. In reference to WMD, which most of our Allies are guilty of having including ourselves, we should be advocating peace by disposal of these illegal weapons. We should be setting examples of humanitarian missions, peace & peaceful negotiation with the same determination that has been displayed in “Bush’s Foley”. To promote these little assassination invasions where we are supposedly wiping out terrorist is only causing them to multiply in great numbers. There are millions ready to take the lead if you kill off the suspects. It is the same kind of folly that you label our president “Idiot” when you, Mr. Scheer, advocate the attack of known terrorist in foreign lands in this article. Most of these attacks leave massive amounts of innocent victims which is an act of terrorism that we commit when we try to get these terrorist. With this kind of thinking what do you label yourself?

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By Expat, July 11, 2007 at 4:35 am Link to this comment

While this article is basically true and correct and anti-pro-politically correct…Mr. Scheer is rehashing old news…yawn.

We don’t need more facts; we don’t need more ranting; we don’t even need more talking…what we need is action on all of the known, provable crimes committed by the murderer in chief, liar in chief, traitor in chief, war criminal in chief, fascist in chief and present President of the United States.

This is like the “Ever-ready Bunny” just keeps going and going and going…

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farmertx's avatar

By farmertx, July 11, 2007 at 4:32 am Link to this comment

I wonder if we will ever know, with any certainty, what motivated the Shrub? Was it the desire to show his daddy that he could do something that daddy couldn’t/wouldn’t?
Was it the desire to add to Exxon Mobils’ bottom line?
This is the problem in trying to analyze someone so dumb. Rational thinking can’t be applied.
Just as Der Karl makes no apology for foisting an incompetent individual on the American Public, I can not apologise for my contempt of this brand of Republican’s.
I say this brand, because I have talked to many Republican’s who are finally ashamed of what they had supported.
Never before has America been led by such a total ninny. Who could have thought that an American President would lie so blatantly, and insist that others in his administration do the same?
I respect General Colin Powell. He understands Duty, Honor and Country. I am sure that he could not conceive of being used as the Shrub used him.
American Presidents, Nixon included, had been made of sterner stuff.
Nixon was a paranoid. While the Shrub is an egotistical, underachiever with delusions of grandeur.
Regardless of the cause, our country, our military and our political sysytem will be reeling for years to come from this one, basically insignificant, loser.

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By Uberkoen, July 11, 2007 at 3:22 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Lets not forget that the U.S helped paid and provided weapons to set up the Taliban government in Afghanistan. Shouldn’t one be looking at their own foreign policy before attacking other nations on the notion that they MIGHT be allied to Al-Qaeda?

As far as Musharraf goes he has been helping the U.S hunt down Al-Qaeda and Taliban ever since the “War On Terror” started. He’s even attacked regions within his own country. Killing his own people in the process.

I will not deny the fact that Taliban and Al-Qaeda members are living in the tribal areas of the Pakistan but to say that they have grown stronger now then they were in Afghanistan is absurd.

The crack down on them continues but you need to be aware that waging a war against his own people is not an easy job for him. He’s doing what he can.

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