… take Dana Rohrabacher, Republican congressman from California’s 46th District, for example.
Rohrabacher has set off a storm of anti-American protests in Pakistan — like we need more of that — by deciding that now is a good time to call for Baluchistanis to have their chance at independence.
In addition to the riots reported in the U.S. press, Pakistani news reports — here, here and here — imply that Rohrabacher’s resolution, which has absolutely no chance of being passed by Congress, is being used by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) to further fuel anti-American sentiment:
Also present at the rally was DPC member Hamid Gul, who headed Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency during the 1980s Pakistani-sponsored war against Soviet troops in Afghanistan that gave rise to al Qaeda and the Taliban.
His membership has fuelled suspicions that Pakistan’s security establishment is backing the coalition as a means of exerting pressure on the weak government and whipping up rhetoric against the unpopular US alliance.
The ISI are the folks who are constantly undermining our efforts to support a stable Afghanistan, because they consider it less a country than “strategic depth” protecting Pakistan from invaders.
Rohrabacher isn’t just picking a fight with Pakistan, though: as seen in the map above borrowed from Wikipedia’s “Balochistan” page, ethnic Baluchis are found in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran. Three countries we don’t need any more trouble with right now.
Rohrabacher has long been known for being to the very far right of the Republican Party. Uninformed resolutions like this one, and statements like this one on clearcutting the rain forests, make it obvious that his ascension to the chairmanship of a House Foreign Affairs Committee subcommittee is based entirely on seniority, and not brainpower. The man’s an idiot.
The Huffington Post, via a story this morning from Reuters, has one of those great quotes from Middle Eastern/South Asian government officials that we run into periodically. In this country, we call them lies. In the region, they are something undefinably different from that.
“I can confirm 100 percent that he is dead,” Interior Minister Rehman Malik told reporters on Monday. “I got this information this morning.”
The individual in question, Al Qaeda militant Ilyas Kashmiri, may or may not have died in a U.S. drone missile attack in Pakistan. The U.S. government isn’t convinced, despite the “100 percent” assurance from Minister Malik.
Leaving aside the supposed fact that no one in Pakistan knew that Osama bin Laden was living in plain sight in Abbottabad for years, two episodes come to might that might explain the U.S. skepticism:
- Hosni Mubarak and the Achille Lauro: After negotiating the release of the Achille Lauro and its passengers (excepting Leon Klinghoffer, who had been murdered), Hosni Mubarak lied to the U.S. Government and to television reporters calling out questions to him, saying that he had no idea where the hijackers were despite having them in Egyptian custody. Mubarak decided that it was better to lie to the U.S. than face the anger in the streets that would surely ensue from turning the PLO terrorists over to the U.S. Government.
- President Zia ul-Haq and George H.W. Bush: During a visit by then Vice-President Bush to Pakistan, President Zia lied to his face about Pakistan’s pursuit of a nuclear bomb, despite the massive evidence of their research being far more advanced than what was needed for peaceful nuclear power. Zia appeared to have reasoned that it was better to pretend that Pakistan wasn’t building a bomb, because then the U.S. and Pakistan could continue to cooperate on other issues, including the war in Afghanistan. Little could he have predicted, though, that it would be Bush — this being the Bush of ultimate politeness who hand-wrote thank-you notes to foreign leaders for their participation in the first war on Saddam Hussein — would be so offended by Zia’s statements that he would cut off all U.S. aid to Pakistan once he became President.
In South Asia, statements sometimes include truth, and sometimes they do not. Kashmiri’s early careeer, as his name suggests, included time as a fighter for the independence of Kashmir, something Pakistan desperately wants. It’s more likely he’s alive and hidden somewhere in Pakistan than dead.
Somehow the mainstream media still fails to get it. The ‘it,’ in this case, being why we don’t trust them any more.
My biggest complaint is that they fail to make ridiculously obvious connections. The New York Times had a November 5 front-page story on President Obama’s trip to India, stating that he will not raise the issue of India’s “Cold Start” program:
NEW DELHI — Senior American military commanders have sought to press India to formally disavow an obscure military doctrine that they contend is fueling tensions between India and Pakistan and hindering the American war effort in Afghanistan.
But with President Obama arriving in India on Saturday for a closely watched three-day visit, administration officials said they did not expect him to broach the subject of the doctrine, known informally as Cold Start. At the most, these officials predicted, Mr. Obama will quietly encourage India’s leaders to do what they can to cool tensions between these nuclear-armed neighbors.
Cold Start is a strategy India has developed in response to the Mumbai terrorist attack, after which it took almost a month to get Indian troops ready for a punitive strike across the Pakistani border. Not to start a war, just to teach the Pakistanis that letting terrorists operate off their soil would have consequences. By the time they got the troops organized, diplomacy had intervened and the military option was no longer viable.
Let’s start with the Times‘ decision to call Cold Start “obscure,” since Pakistani news sources — like this Islamabad Globe article, reprinted at this Pakistani defense website — are freaking out about the policy and Obama’s failure to bring it up.
But that’s a minor point. Skip to the business section, and the article, “Wealthy and Worried, India is Rich Arms Market“:
A big item on President Obama’s India to-do list this weekend is securing a $5 billion deal for Boeing to sell 10 of its C-17 cargo planes…. India, flush with new wealth but worried about its national security, is rapidly turning into one of the world’s most lucrative arms markets…. The White House is backing sales like the C-17s, which India would use to transport its rapid-response forces, to help make India a regional counterweight to China….
Am I missing something here? No, I think the Times is missing something. We’re upset about Cold Start, which is a rapid response team capable of invading Pakistan, so we sell them planes that are designed for carrying rapid response teams. Oops.
Did I mention that it’s a $5 billion deal? Maybe the planes can only fly East toward China, right?