President Obama’s poorly conceived Pakistan plan is a colossal intelligence failure which may ultimately result in world condemnation of killing innocent villagers and the arming of Al Qaeda and the Taliban with nuclear weapons


Sometimes it takes a warrior to understand that patient strategy can be a better tactic than overt haste. During the Presidential campaign, candidate Obama relished the symbol of appearing more “hawkish” than Senator John McCain when he championed that the United States should actively pursue military action into Pakistan to kill Osama Bin Ladin. During the summer and fall preceding the November 2008 election the two candidates repeatedly clashed about whether it was appropriate to respect the sovereignty of Pakistan or not. McCain insisted that increasing military strikes into Pakistan could destabilize the government whilst Obama strongly felt such actions were “long overdue”.


By January of 2009, President Obama was rapidly increasing the number of drone attacks on suspected terrorist targets within Pakistan . The number of attacks now numbered over 30 but the United States had not managed to kill any significant Taliban or Al Qaeda leaders however the attacks were not duds or without consequence. The missiles which are under CIA not military control were increasingly killing civilians. That did not deter Obama who may have doubled the intensity of the attacks. What was happening was exactly the effect that John McCain had predicted and warned against, a weakening of support for the Pakistani government and quoting the New York Times “enraging Pakistanis”. As anger of the local tribesman grew Pakistani military forces began to pull back on operations against the Taliban.


Instead of keeping the CIA operations secret, Obama opened the floodgates for American media such as MSNBC and The New York Times to get more details on the raids including unsubstantiated climbs of killing terrorist leaders that could be put on front page news. In the name of transparency, Obama decided it was a wise move to publicize in every detail the drone air strikes in Pakistan. On a silver platter, he handed the Taliban the greatest propaganda weapon they could ever have. With no media or friendly forces to confirm American claims, Obama turned Pakistan into an anti-American spin zone just as the North Vietnamese did for Hanoi.


What the Obama administration did not take into account was a lesson that John McCain learned in Vietnam, foreign forces fighting internal insurgents must win the battle of hearts and minds. You cannot win the battle of hearts and mind when the only message they are getting is that you are killing civilians. Poor tribesman in Pakistan do not get the New York Times delivered in their village or watch MSNBC news at night. Whether the Taliban claims were true or false did not matter.


To be fair the problems with Pakistan do precede Mr. Obama. The Council on Foreign Relations reported that the Bush administration had sought permission to carry out covert operation in Pakistan as far back as January 2008. At the time a split developed between diplomats who cited a survey which predicted that over 70% of the Pakistani population would react negatively to U.S. intervention and the military advisors who wanted the CIA to escalate drone attacks against Taliban and Al Qaeda targets. No one denied that the U.S. Pakistani policy was one failure after another. Billions of dollars had been given to the Pakistani military who wasted it for preparations against a possible war with India rather than against the Taliban. The Pakistani people were already largely anti-American because the United States had backed the military dictatorship of President Musharrof which was a slap in the face to many moderate intellectuals who would have been allies for change otherwise.


Why did Obama choose to accept the Bush doctrine? Was Obama’s plan to increase attacks on Pakistan a well thought out plan or was it a political maneuver? During the summer of 2007, candidate Obama had to separate himself from the world traveled and experienced Senator Hillary Clinton in foreign affairs. His opinion became unique because now Vice President Biden, then candidate Biden, now Secretary of State Clinton, and all the Republicans in the primary races disagreed with Obama that attacks by the United States should be carried out with Pakistan proper. Obama never offered a solid reason for his policy nor was it questioned by the liberal media but it made a great soundbite.  In hindsight, the only conclusion one can draw was that Obama’s Pakistan policy was conceived out of naive political opportunism.


Just a month ago, surrogates for the Obama administration as well as his proponents like Fareed Zakarias where extolling the concept that the Taliban were just local tribesman who had no real ambitions other than peace. They felt confident that deals could done that would strip the majority of these Taliban away from the more radical elements which supported Al Qaeda. They seemed to ignore that fact that Pakistan decided it could no longer hold significant amounts of territory along the whole of the Afghanistan border and in the northern Swat region so that it basically surrounded sovereignty to these areas to the Taliban. Never mind that the Commander of the Taliban of Pakistan was now saying that he intended to strike the homeland of the United States.


While Obama’s cohorts in the Congress and the press have been complaining about how ineffective U.S. intelligence has been under George Bush and that they can gather intelligence much better, it has become obvious to the world that the Obama administration is totally lost on what is happening in Pakistan. Today Taliban rebels are already in the suburbs of Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan. Apart from the capital and the area immediately adjacent to India, the control of Pakistan is now in the hands of Taliban.


The Obama Pakistan policy was doomed from the start. Unfortunately his policy was likely motivated by domestic political gamesmanship than by rational strategy. His wholesale criticism of just about every aspect of Bush foreign policy is absolutely inconsistent with how his Pakistan policy has evolved. Even fellow Democrat Senator John Kerry, a Vietnam Veteran, this week “basically trashed “ as Newsweek described it the Pakistan policy of the Obama.


The Obama administration is still playing down the Taliban saying even as they are about take Islamabad that somehow the Pakistani Army will prevail. But what really concerns me is that the Obama administration is saying the Pakistan’s formidable arsenal of nuclear weapons remains safe. These are same people who told us it was a good idea to attack Pakistani villages with drones and buddy up with the Taliban. As the New York Times said today “Washington cannot afford to waste any more time”.


The United States at this point has one supreme objective which is that the nuclear weapons in Pakistan cannot under any circumstances fall into the hands of Al Qaeda and the Taliban and right now my level of confidence in the abilities of our President to handle that is wanting.




Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine