A fascinating AsiaTimes piece discusses the completion of the latest US military base in Afghanistan. What makes this particular one so special? It’s designed to strike into Pakistan –
KARACHI – Another piece of the United States’ regional jigsaw is in place with the completion of a military base in Afghanistan’s Kunar province, just three kilometers from Bajaur Agency in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas.
Pakistani intelligence quarters have confirmed to Asia Times Online that the base, on a mountain top in Ghakhi Pass overlooking Pakistan, is now operational…The new US base is expected to serve as the center of clandestine special forces’ operations in the border region. The George W Bush administration is itching to take more positive action – including inside Pakistan…
…with the new Kunar base, American special forces will carry out extended operations, which means a limited war against Taliban and al-Qaeda assets in the tribal areas. These clandestine operations can be done with or without Pakistan’s consent.”
p>For Mushie et. al., the situation boils down to a form of “I know, but can’t do anything, so I’ll stay put” –
A senior Pakistani security official explained to Asia Times Online, “American special forces have carried out clandestine operations in the past, and Pakistan was not informed. The Taliban and al-Qaeda also did not realize what was happening with the quick-as-a-wink hit-and-run operations in the tribal areas. Pakistani intelligence only knew of the operations after they happened. They included the killing of high-value Taliban and al-Qaeda commanders and high-value arrests,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
…US intelligence spotted bin Laden’s deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, twice in Bajaur Agency and attacked the area with Predator drones. Zawahiri was unscathed, but several militants and civilians were killed.
p>My oft-used credo on Pakistan (and many many many other situations) is that the choices we often face aren’t between Good and Bad but rather between Bad and Worse. And Pakistan is quite possibly the most indicative example we have today.
p>National borders, sovereignty, and monopolies on force are / were bedrocks of the modern, post-Westphalia world. Those assumptions gave us our contemporary system of diplomats, borders, passports, visa’s, formal declarations of war, treatment of POW’s, jurisdiction, and the like. What we see in the US policy towards Pakistan – democracy and coalition building on the one hand, but the military perched & ready to strike on the other – harshly reflect the new realities as the post-Modern world engages a pre-Modern enemy.
(hat tip to Belmont Club for the pointer)