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September 06, 2006

Comments

This would be an opportune time for Musharraf to quietly permit U.S. Special Forces into Waziristan, as well as the UN forces currently combating the Islamist militants in Afghanistan.

that'd be good for us... probably not so good for Musharraf.

At the time of the revelations of the AQ Khan nuclear proliferation network, my reaction was that if not taking further action against him was the price for cooperation against Al Qu'eda, it would have been reasonable to accept it. On the other hand, it looks like we now have the worst of both worlds -- letting the sale of nuclear technology to Iran and North Korea go unpunished and not getting any help against Al Qu'eda. Way to go, Bush Administration.

On the other hand,as I noted in another thread this morning, at least we now know who Rumsfeld was referring to as appeasing terroists and creating separate peace deals.

at least we now know who Rumsfeld was referring to as appeasing terroists and creating separate peace deals.

And which country is next up for a U.S. invasion, after Iran.

Ugh,

"And which country is next up for a U.S. invasion, after Iran."

Eep. A country with a larger population than Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran put together, with lots of difficult terrain for our soldiers to operate in, and lots of experience in terrorism, especially with regard to India, is not the task I want our armed forces contemplating now.

No oil or gas in Pakistan, Ugh.

A country with a larger population than Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran put together, with lots of difficult terrain for our soldiers to operate in, and lots of experience in terrorism, especially with regard to India, is not the task I want our armed forces contemplating now

You're forgetting "and has nuclear weapons"

Just remember: these are our "allies" in the war on terror...

Dantheman, don't be so reality-based. We just need to have will, and we'll make our own reality. Iraq is going fine (if you ignore those pesky media folks and other defeatists), so why shouldn't we take on a new challenge?

Wow, I'm sure glad Bill Roggio has access "to an anonymous intelligence source"; that meant you couldn't bring us news I posted at 5:28 p.m. last night; at least you brought us insights unavailable to that evil MSM in the traitorous NY Times.

Oh, wait, you didn't.

"This would be an opportune time for Musharraf to quietly permit U.S. Special Forces into Waziristan, as well as the UN forces currently combating the Islamist militants in Afghanistan. The Pakistani army can't and won't do it."

Charles, the reason Musharraf is in power because he is head of the Pakistani army; saying he should make something happen, and not the army, is gibberish. How would he make it happen? Through his control of the British Girl Scouts?

And while I have no objections to U.S. Special Forces operating in Pakistan, how would they do so, and take effective military action, without the Pakistani Army, and more importantly, the Waziristan jihadis knowing? And if they know, who is it being relevantly kept secret from?

(Maybe you're envisioning a Tom Clancy scenario where bombs mysteriously drop from the sky and are mistaken for car bombs, but that sort of thing actually happens rather infrequently, and if anyone is familiar by now with the results of how Special Forces operate, it's going to be the Afghan/Pakistani/Waziri jihadis.)

Here is what Bush said yesterday:

"Fourth, we're determined to deny terrorist networks control of any nation, or territory within a nation. So, along with our coalition and the Iraqi government, we'll stop the terrorists from taking control of Iraq, and establishing a new safe haven from which to attack America and the free world. And we're working with friends and allies to deny the terrorists the enclaves they seek to establish in ungoverned areas across the world. By helping governments reclaim full sovereign control over their territory, we make ourselves more secure."

And here is a section from his recently released "Strategy for Winning the War on Terror":

"Deny terrorists control of any nation they would use as a base and launching pad for terror. Our terrorist enemies are striving to claim a strategic country as a haven for terror. From this base, they could destabilize the Middle East and strike America and other free nations with ever-increasing violence. This we can never allow. Our enemies had established a sanctuary in Afghanistan prior to Operation Enduring Freedom, and today terrorists see Iraq as the central front of their fight against the United States. This is why success in helping the Afghan and Iraqi peoples forge effective democracies is vital. We will continue to prevent terrorists from exploiting ungoverned or under-governed areas as safehavens – secure spaces that allow our enemies to plan, organize, train, and prepare for operations. Ultimately, we will eliminate these havens altogether."

Here is a piece from a few days ago on the truce negotiations:

"The Pakistani regime of Gen. Pervez Musharraf has been negotiating truces - with the Bush administration's encouragement - with Islamic separatists in North Waziristan and South Waziristan, mountainous tribal areas along the Afghan border where U.S. officials think bin Laden may be hiding.

In return, Pakistani officials are promising to restrict the country's troops in the area to major bases and towns and to pour huge amounts of aid - much of it from the United States and other nations - into the destitute region, according to American officials.

But as the truces take hold, separatists have been crossing into Afghanistan to fight alongside Taliban and al-Qaida fighters, according to Western and Afghan officials." (Emphasis added.)

And here's a little more background:

"A U.S.-backed plan to defeat Islamist militants in Pakistan's autonomous tribal areas has backfired badly, and the Bush administration is working with Pakistan to come up with a new strategy to defuse the insurrection.

Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf "sees that what he was doing wasn't working," said one U.S. official who's familiar with the new plan. "He really has a mess."

Now Musharraf's government is attempting to negotiate truces in the areas, expand local police forces and introduce development projects to reward tribal leaders who break with the militants. The Bush administration has pledged millions of dollars to the new effort, said the official, who, like others familiar with the plan, spoke only if granted anonymity. (...)

Musharraf wanted to pull back the troops to their home bases on the eastern border with India. The Bush administration was opposed, concerned that without the Pakistani army's presence there would be less incentive for militant groups to negotiate with the government. "You will have to keep the army in the game for when it is time to take out serious militants," the U.S. official said.

So Musharraf opened truce negotiations with militant leaders. Under the truces, the army would pull back into garrisons and towns and act only to thwart major threats.

In its place, the Bush administration would provide millions of dollars for a massive expansion of the Frontier Corps, a paramilitary police force recruited from the tribes and led by regular army officers, and other tribal police units.

"What they will do is static border posts, static police posts. That gets us lots of jobs and puts them (tribesmen) in uniform," the U.S. official said.

The Pentagon also has secretly been training and equipping a new Pakistani special operations force to pursue al-Qaida fighters hiding in the tribal areas. The force is being provided with night-vision equipment and helicopters.

Musharraf also is working with Washington on a plan for a massive development program, including construction of clinics, schools and roads, to reward tribal leaders who agree to end ties with the militants.

An industrial zone on the Afghan-Pakistani border would be created from which Pakistani and Afghan firms would export wares such as textiles tax-free to the United States. President Bush unveiled the so-called Reconstruction Opportunity Zone during a brief visit to Pakistan in March.

It's hoped that such projects will create jobs and patronage for the region's new power brokers and the military regime. Musharraf is seeking $150 million annually over the next five years for the effort, the official said.

Some U.S. officials and independent experts doubt that the strategy will work.

They fear that Musharraf's regime will use it to squeeze more money out of Washington in the name of fighting terrorism while doing little to bring real change to the tribal areas."

So tell me again: which political party is it that thinks you can negotiate a separate peace with terrorists? Which party is pursuing a policy of appeasement? And who, exactly, is not serious about fighting al Qaeda?

Inquiring minds want to know.

This would be an opportune time for Musharraf to quietly permit U.S. Special Forces into Waziristan, as well as the UN forces currently combating the Islamist militants in Afghanistan.

This makes me think that you may not be aware of the political tensions in Pakistan. The most likely reason for this recent, uh, development is that Musharraf is trying to release a bit of pressure.

Bringing in US troops? He may as well put his own gun to his head.

Maybe, CB, we ought to be calling for full fledged independence of the IEW. Then the Afghan army can cross over the border in hot pursuit without invading Pakistan.

A number of us have been saying for several years now that it was grossly negligent to invade Iraq before having fully resolved matters with bin Laden and his senior staff. Criminally negligent even. Are you ready to come join us in this, CB?

Charles Bird wrote:

If what Mr. Roggio reported is accurate, then these events further reveal the weakness of the Musharraf goverment (a government with atomic bombs in its arsenal)

----------------

Hey, soldier of Liberty and Victory, that sounds like the Bush administration!

This would be an opportune time for Musharraf to quietly permit U.S. Special Forces into Waziristan, as well as the UN forces currently combating the Islamist militants in Afghanistan.

Apparently, http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060906/ap_on_re_as/afghan_pakistan>Musharraf doesn't agree with you:

"On our side of the border there will be a total uprising if a foreigner enters that area," he said at a joint news conference with Afghan President Hamid Karzai. "It's not possible at all. We will never allow any foreigners into that area. It's against the culture of the people there."

If this was done with the encouragement, or even the knowledge of the US this is one of the biggest foreign policy screw ups I can remember.

Thanks, hilzoy: the additional background info was interesting: but it still leaves a BIG question unanswered: Is Pakistan's Waziristan "deal" really a craven surrender to Islamist terrorists, or some sort of Fiendishly Clever Ploy designed to set them up for an ass-kicking not too far down the road (just before Election Day is my guess)?

If this was done with the encouragement, or even the knowledge of the US this is one of the biggest foreign policy screw ups I can remember.

I can well believe that the US administration is in favor of this if the alternative is the likely collapse of the Musharraf dictatorship and it's repleacenet with a Taliban/al Qaeda regime. A regime with nuclear codes.

The cry of the right wing three years ago in response to fears that the region would become destabilized by the Iraq invasion was "Destabilized? Good! It needs destabilization!" I wonder if it's destabilized enough yet, because I think it's only about a 6 on a scale of 10. And it may go to 11.

Maybe, CB, we ought to be calling for full fledged independence of the IEW. Then the Afghan army can cross over the border in hot pursuit without invading Pakistan.

It would be nice if Musharraf allowed that to happen, Charley.

Hank, interesting quote from Musharraf: "We will never allow any foreigners into that area. It's against the culture of the people there." Yet, al Qaeda and the Taliban and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan are there.

"The cry of the right wing three years ago in response to fears that the region would become destabilized by the Iraq invasion was 'Destabilized? Good! It needs destabilization!'"

It seems relevant to note that, right or wrong, this was said of the Mideast, not of Southwest Asia. So this seems rather irrelevant when discussing Pakistan. It's not as if it's in "the region" of the Mideast, after all.

"We will never allow any foreigners into that area. It's against the culture of the people there."

I think the General was trying to be polite here, CB: his/their definition of "foreigners" is likely to be quite different than yours or mine.

I think there is an implicit "uninvited" there, Charles.

"Yet, al Qaeda and the Taliban and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan are there."

Charles, the Taliban aren't foreigners there; the tribes are the same on both sides of the British-created border, if you haven't noticed, which I take it you haven't, and don't know the history, which I take it you don't (or you wouldn't say such a thing).

Nevertheless, Gary, whether the borders were articially created or not, Talibaners of Afghan citizenship would still be foreigners in Pakistan. Yes, I am aware that the Pushtun tribes are in Afghanistan and Pakistan, so thanks for the patronizing insult.

Jay C and Gromit got it, and this is truly bizarre development. If you're worried about Iran, a strong central government who may develop nuclear weapons, how about Pakistan, with what appears to be a weak central government and known nuclear weapons? Will we start hearing "Who lost Pakistan?"

It's so ironic that now, while the Bush administration makes the foreign policy errors which could easily lead to a dirty bomb attack agsinst the US in the future, ABC is collaborating with rightwing extremists to air a dishonest and inaccurate "history" of the events leading up to 911, making it all Clinton's fault.

I'm really sick of Republicans. I don't feel like being nice about it.

Charles, I think you're missing it. Gary's talking about "foreigners" from a tribal perspective, not a national perspective.

So this seems rather irrelevant when discussing Pakistan. It's not as if it's in "the region" of the Mideast, after all.

I should have said "Greater Middle East" then

And, hey, I said "region" and not the MidEast.

"Nevertheless, Gary, whether the borders were articially created or not, Talibaners of Afghan citizenship would still be foreigners in Pakistan."

Charles, the entire reason this is going on is that the Waziri tribes don't give a damn about "Pakistan," and don't regard the laws or borders of Pakistan as real or relevant.

So pointing out that they're not living up to your opinions of who they should regard as foreigners is as useful in understanding their worldview, as any other sort of indignation that they don't work by the standards and worldview of Charles Paul Bird.

"Yes, I am aware that the Pushtun tribes are in Afghanistan and Pakistan,"

But you don't seem to think it's relevant. And it's not that they "are in" both countries, but that the border set by people thousands of miles away, or over a hundred years ago and even more thousands of miles away, are utterly irrelevant, and non-existent, to them.

"...so thanks for the patronizing insult."

The chief way you drive me crazy, Charles, isn't so much your politics as that you consistently write about topics you know little about, just because they're politically fashionable. No, I have no respect for that. Write about subjects you have some expertise in, and I'll respect that. Write about something that you don't know much about, and say foolish thing after foolish thing, and I won't. Sorry. You have the power to change this.

I am feeling cranky and sleep-deprived, so I'll probably regret this, but: add to what Gary said the fact that (as indicated in the CAIR thread, and others) Charles often doesn't seem to do even basic research before posting. That's the one that has always puzzled me.

To be fair, at least Charles is posting. Many others of a similar political bent are either not doing so because they're too depressed by reality, or are only posting on loony sites that restrict their commentariate to the loyal and delusional. Charles has the courage to continually post here despite regular savagings.

d+u: true.

Note to self: When you suspect you might regret something, pay attention.

"Charles has the courage to continually post here despite regular savagings."

Yes, I have some respect for that, and that he's willing to argue up to a point.

But I'll stand by my point that I'm not all that bothered by Charles' politics, but his choices to opine at length, and from the prominence of a blog post, about endless things that he clearly doesn't know much about, in topic after topic after topic, whether it's the history of Haiti or wire services or Pashtun trives or whathaveyou.

Naturally, he has the freedom and right to do so, but I don't find it inappropriate, when he makes that choice, to respond disrespectfully, because I do not, in fact, respect that choice.

Respecting his courage in making a public fool of himself so frequently is another matter.

Me, though, I have a lot more respect for people who have the sense to write about what they know, and who have something useful to contribute, rather than people who talk for the sake of emjoying their mouth moving.

I don't know where Charles' fields of expertise lie, but I assume he has some, and I'd encourage him to write about those areas of knowledge, instead of the right-wing cause du jour.

Charles seems like an informed citizen. Trying to work out this thing we call politics.

He's just been so very wrong...and he votes accordingly.

It would be nice if Musharraf allowed that to happen, Charley.

Yeah, Musharraf, the guy who's weathered at least three serious assassination attempts that I'm aware of, the guy who can't go a block without a regiment of security types clearing the streets. He's obviously in "control" of the basketcase that is Pakistan. Plainly the guy who signs off on the Pakistani version of TransDniester is really an authority on what's "allowed" and what isn't.

Sheesh. Again, I gotta ask -- what the hell does this Charles Bird have to offer that rates a byline on this blog? Is it some kind of subtle ploy, designed to reveal how vacuous right-wing thinking has become. Hell, we already have plenty of examples of that, don't we?

Nevertheless, Gary, whether the borders were articially created or not, Talibaners of Afghan citizenship would still be foreigners in Pakistan. Yes, I am aware that the Pushtun tribes are in Afghanistan and Pakistan, so thanks for the patronizing insult.

This seems to miss the entire point of Gary's post. Are you so set in your worldview that you cannot see how others view the world? And that how others see the world has implications for their politics? Pointing that out is not patronizing or an insult if you refuse to consider the implications of it.

lordy, why is it only now that the people on the right discover Pakistan to be the crucial factor in the whole game? without fixing Pakistan the whole Afghan war will have been totally useless - but for some reason the US has shown incredible ineptitude in dealing with Pakistan at least since Carter (if you really want get depressed cf. Steve Coll's "Ghostwars")

"Charles seems like an informed citizen. Trying to work out this thing we call politics."

I don't find the musings of other random citizens "trying to work out this thing we call politics," based on reading a few newspaper articles, and a couple of blog posts from partisan loudmouths, on as subject, of interest, as a rule, either.

I'm all for people trying to work out their politics and views. That doesn't mean I necessarily want to read them doing so in public.

I find the musings of people with a lot of background, knowledge of, and insight into, a subject -- or at least of people of great wit and brilliance -- of interest.

But maybe, as Charles likes to say, that's just me.

if you really want get depressed cf. Steve Coll's "Ghostwars"

I second that depression.

"without fixing Pakistan the whole Afghan war will have been totally useless"

It's looking as if it will have been useless, in any case.

Note also the conversation with Seymour M. Hersh, Jon Lee Anderson, and George Packer "about Iraq, Afghanistan, the war on terror, and whether America is stronger now" I linked here.

"But maybe, as Charles likes to say, that's just me."

It is. Most of us read some experts, and spend a lot of time around the watercooler discussing these subjects with our fellow ignoramuses and idiots, because, well, however ill-informed we still have judgements and decisions to make. And I ain't trusting you or Condi or Arkin or Yglesias to make the decision for me.

I hate Charles' politics but like his posts.

Sorry, a bit asleep at the switch, here's your meta thread.

bob,

"Most of us read some experts, and spend a lot of time around the watercooler discussing these subjects with our fellow ignoramuses and idiots, because, well, however ill-informed we still have judgements and decisions to make."

But when I look for cogent analysis (as I do from a front page poster), I don't want any random citizen to provide it, but rather someone who will add information and reasoned opinions. As a result, I can respect Charles's opinions, but find nothing useful in his posts.

"but rather someone who will add information and reasoned opinions."

See, maybe that is the difference. Maybe I read too many blogs or FP posters. But people like Ledeen and Perle are massively informed and connected and experienced, much more so than Praktike or Eric Martin will ever dream of being.

I cannot in good faith say Ledeen and Perle are biased idiot jerks, and Praktike and Martin are informed objective sources. Feels like bias based on my preferences.

I also have to question therefore the actual usefulness and importance of knowledge and expertise etc. Why are Ladeen and Perle impervious to reality? If they are outright psychos, it is indeed a weird world we live in.

Like, umm, sphincters, everybody has opinions. Yup, everybody does, and few are immaculate. And the degree of odiferous offal is really quite narrow.

Charles often doesn't seem to do even basic research before posting

Oh, that is just the kind of thing I'd expect to hear from the snivelly reality-based community.

Who needs research, when you have will?

(And I third the Ghost Wars rec, the book that got me started being very depressed about Pakistan, among other things I was already depressed about. Still the best book I've read about how we got to 9/11.)

Read the post again, and tell me there is no useful information in it for someone less informed than Farber. There were holes and mistakes, and maybe Farber and hilzoy never have any. Goody for them. I read them too. And a thousand others, and I find CB not qualitively on a completely different scale than most.

But that is just me.

"Who needs research, when you have will?"

Truer words were never spoken. Used be Emma Goldman and Eugene Debs didn't worry as much about facts, and worried more about actually moving people. The speeches of FDR and Truman likely would get D's in this crowd. Republicans have been concerned about what really gets people to change positions and opinions and beliefs, and using those techniques to clean our clocks.

Course the reality-based community won't lower itself to mere rhetoric, demands accuracy under fact-checking, and considers dead kids in Iraq mere collateral damage of their dialectical rigour.

I am feeling cranky and sleep-deprived, so I'll probably regret this, but: add to what Gary said the fact that...

I'll join the hit parade, and add that in addition to cranky and sleep-deprived, I also ache from climbing Middle Palisade last weekend, and note the following.

CB clearly goofed with his comment about foreigners, and Gary's correction may have been a little more testy than necessary (so what). But CB's weakness is stubbornly refusing to acknowledge a basic error in his original point about "foreigners."
___________

It is a little childish to talk about Special Forces being invited to somehow fix this problem now. Perhaps the right moment for CB's sentiment would have been in 2001 somewhere around Tora Bora -- and not five years after the fact?

The Taliban was largely a creation of the Pakistani military -- they are the natural allies of Musharraf and his military. It is worth remembering this little tidbit:

...,as an ally[of the US], Musharraf has been an opportunist from the start who has continued to help the Taliban (just as he had done before 9/11 ) and who has gone after Al Qaeda cells in Pakistan only to the extent necessary to fend off U.S. and British pressure. [I always thought it fascinating that the mastermind of 911 was captured in an Islamibad villa of a Pakistani general.]

On Sept. 19, 2001, Musharraf made a revealing TV address in Urdu, not noticed at the time by most Americans, in which he reassured Pakistanis who sympathized with Al Qaeda and the Taliban that his decision to line up with the U.S. was a temporary expedient.

To Taliban sympathizers, Musharraf directed an explicit message, saying: "I have done everything for the … Taliban when the whole world was against them….We are trying our best to come out of this critical situation without any damage to Afghanistan and the Taliban."
___________

The Islamic Emirate of Wazirisan episode is a return to more of the same and just another footnote in the disasterously wrong policy of half-assing the job in Afghanistan in favor of the bogus Iraq adventure. Musharraf and the Pakistanis can see that -- they have apparently decided that the US is now so unlikely to do anything about it that they can return to openly backing the Taliban even though that results in recreating an enclave for Al Queda and bin Laden. Allegedly, 130,000 US troops are allegedly necessary to prevent that in Iraq rather than in Afghanistan.

Connect the dots CB.

Why are Ladeen and Perle impervious to reality? If they are outright psychos, it is indeed a weird world we live in.

I think it is a question of what kind of evidence it would take to change their minds (and my extension, CB's mind). Thus, this post would be a good starting point imo, if the writer were willing to take points made on board and revise their opinion. Yet we get a semantic parsing on what Musharraf means when he says foreigners. To be sure, CB has changed his mind (certainly more than Ledeen and Perle), and for his troubles, he gets hammered here, which is unfortunate. But I'm not too sure what evidence could be produced to have him change his mind.

bob,

"But people like Ledeen and Perle are massively informed and connected and experienced, much more so than Praktike or Eric Martin will ever dream of being."

They are, and I would read them keeping their agenda in mind if they had a blog, but would take their opinions with large quantities of salt, the same way I take the opinions of the Volokhs and Andrew Sullivans of the world (whose blogs I do read).

"Read the post again, and tell me there is no useful information in it for someone less informed than Farber. There were holes and mistakes, and maybe Farber and hilzoy never have any. Goody for them. I read them too. And a thousand others, and I find CB not qualitively on a completely different scale than most."

Since I had seen the article in question and linked to a Daily Kos diary on it in a different thread about 10 minutes before this post was made, I didn't add to my store of knowledge. There's nothing particularly wrong with being a collector and linker to news, with little analysis if one is reasonably able to avoid having ideological blinders. To me, if that were the role Charles is seeking, his posts don't typically do that, and his ideological blinders are far greater than the average person I read on the web.

If nothing else, the hornet swarm of information that flies up in response to Charles' posts is reason enough alone for me to appreciate his posts.

That evokes images, let me tell you. First: cowbirds feeding on bugs stirred up by grazing cattle.

That evokes images, let me tell you. First: cowbirds feeding on bugs stirred up by grazing cattle.

You think Charles' posts are cow dung?

You think Charles' posts are cow dung?

S'rooms!

the hornet swarm of information

...mindless, soulless, stinging information. grab your epi-pens ! run for your lives !

...mindless, soulless, stinging information. grab your epi-pens ! run for your lives !

Okay, then that would be two unfortunate metaphors...

I had to erase a lot of responses to that, so, in short: no.

Okay, then that would be two unfortunate metaphors.

i thought it was great, actually. very apt. that it's fun to play with is just a bonus.

I had to erase a lot of responses to that, so, in short: no.

So he's a grazing bovine? Help me out here. I'm pretty sure I'm a bug-eating cowbird...

I prefer to think of you as a graceful, snowy egret.

Whereas I am a graceless, snow-covered egress.

Which way to the egress, again?

bob writes: "But people like Ledeen and Perle are massively informed and connected and experienced, much more so than Praktike or Eric Martin will ever dream of being."

Much of that experience is in the art of lying believably, and (more importantly) using your knowledge of their connections to make molehills look like the mountains they describe.

"I prefer to think of you as a graceful, snowy egret."

Can I further the chain of unusual comparisons by proclaiming myself an alligator and sing "Egrets, I've had a few" (as was done on The Far Side)?

"Much of that experience is in the art of lying believably..."

American Footprints linked to this thread recommending the comments, possibly based on a name google, and maybe I should be embarrassed. Maybe not.

Here is a thread from Ezra's on modes of Political Discourse

A propos Ezra quoting Paul Waldman, my still-favorite summary of how politics really works is David Wong's Monkeysphere article.

Charles, I think you're missing it. Gary's talking about "foreigners" from a tribal perspective, not a national perspective.

The borders are what they are, Hank. That is today's reality, regardless of how much Gary wants to downplay it. It's a fact of life that the Kurds are a common group but not a common country, unwilling to freely cross borders. I almost left out the Taliban in my comment, but since there are 10 million Pushtun "non-foreigners" in Afghanistan, that is an unreasonbly large number of folks whom Musharraf would uncritically think OK to enter Waziristan without a second glance. But hey, it's just one big happy family of 10 million, so no complaints.

I don't know where Charles' fields of expertise lie, but I assume he has some, and I'd encourage him to write about those areas of knowledge, instead of the right-wing cause du jour.

The offensiveness continues, Gary. I've already told you the two things I claim expertise in. Since you're damn near all-knowing, I thought you should have already known that. Apparently not. FTR, I don't your "right-wing cause du jour" bullsh*t is a misimpression. Usually I start at memeorandum, which has a mix of articles and blogs across the political spectrum. Also, please tell me how my Dissatisifeds post and the Information War post falls under the category of right-wing meme of the day.

"It's a fact of life that the Kurds are a common group but not a common country, unwilling to freely cross borders."

Umm, no. The word is "unable", not "unwilling".

Charles, might be useful to think of Slarti's words of wisdom.

The borders are what they are, Hank.

Imposing outsiders' notions of groups on the group is part of the reason we're in this mess. And the fact that you're putting your notions of groups above what the group itself thinks is a bit offensive; it gives the air that one does not know what they're talking about.

CB,

As others have noted, for the purposes of this discussion the national borders aren't particularly meaningful. The quote you cited which brought this up was:

"We will never allow any foreigners into that area. It's against the culture of the people there."

It would seem rather obvious that the relevant definition of "foreigner" here is whatever the people there think it is, not what Charles Bird thinks it is based on his looking at national borders on a map. Those big black lines don't actually exist, you know. A Pakistani Pashtun is not going to regard an Afghani Pashtun as a foreigner just because he lives on the other side of a boundary that neither of them had a say in creating.

Good lord, CB, there's been a rather bloody Kurdish insurgency in Turkey going since the 80's, as well as other uprisings taking place throughout....well....a long time. And this, and disposition of the Kurds across the border, is a major dynamic at play in Iraq. It may be overshadowed by events further south, but it's still there. Living in a "federal, democratic, non-theological Iraq" is the Iraqi Kurds second (or third) choice, and if you don't know that, god help you.

The word is "unable", not "unwilling".

You're right, dan, and that's what I meant. My mistake.

The word is "unable", not "unwilling".

You're right, dan, and that's what I meant. My mistake.

The word is "unable", not "unwilling".

You're right, dan, and that's what I meant. My mistake.

Charles,

While I appreciate the thrice-fold admission, I think substituting "unable" for "unwilling" changes the point of the paragraph.

Charles:

The borders are what they are, Hank. That is today's reality, regardless of how much Gary wants to downplay it.

Well, I can see that you stubbornly stick by your mistakes.

The whole point is that it is hard to find any place else in the world where a national border is as irrelevant and artifical as the border between Afghanistan and Waziristan. The locals identify far more with their tribal identity than the alleged national identity. And the respective national governments have a very long tradition of letting the locals run things their way. In other words, everyone treats the border as artifical.

Hence, when the locals are talking about "foreigners," it makes sense to analyze their words as they obviously mean them rather than mock them from your incorrect and irrelevant point of view as to how they should think of themselves.

Comparing the situation to that of the Kurds is very nonsensical. The Kurds have no tradition of local autonomy, and the respective national governments (Iraq, Iran and Turkey primarily) have a long tradition of using force against the Kurds in order to impose strict controls on the national borders.

Remember, its a dirty world:

As for as an ordinary person sees BUSH, MUSH, TONY, OSAMA; making world "worse" place, there's no discrimination. No one gains at the end. Who pays is common people on the earth having simple asks for food, shelter and cloths. The worst is we are being separated by our fellows on the lines of Religion and terrorism. The story cant be complete without mentioning episodes from abu graib, tora bora, IRAQ; list goes on if some one had look at BUSH menu.
I hope not to see so called war against ISLAM, as long as peace loving people opposing WAR, the true people in the lion of fire.

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