Belmont Club

"The logistics challenge of our generation"

The Logistics Bomb Ticks in Afghanistan: The Oil Price summarizes the amounts and types of fuel being embargoed by Pakistan and claims that despite Washington’s best attempts to make light of the situation the shortage of supplies is soon going to bite.

No Formal Apology from Obama: “The White House has decided that President Obama will not offer formal condolences — at least for now — to Pakistan for the deaths of two dozen soldiers in NATO airstrikes last week, overruling State Department officials who argued for such a show of remorse to help salvage America’s relationship with Pakistan, administration officials said. ”

Bound To Happen — Even Accidentally: STRATFOR describes the tactical situation around the border and says that even with the best of will a clash between US patrols and the Pakistani Frontier Corps was a real possibility. “The border is a highway for insurgents (both those who use Pakistan as a sanctuary for their fight in Afghanistan and those who are doing the reverse), other militants and supplies. That’s why the border outposts are manned and U.S.-Afghan teams conduct patrols — to interdict both types of insurgents. But it also means that there are plenty of armed formations moving around at night, and from the perspective of both a Pakistani outpost and a U.S. patrol, none of them is friendly.”

And Maybe Pakistani Coddling of the Taliban Was a Factor: Matt Dupee at Bill Roggio’s site writes: “Senior Western and Afghan officials told reporters on Sunday that a small group of US and Afghan forces on patrol in Kunar province were fired on first from positions inside Pakistani territory, prompting calls for close air support which wiped out the two Pakistani mountain posts. However, the Pakistani military remains adamant that the attack should have been avoided.”

Pakistan’s unprecedented response to the attack in Mohmand is curious, especially given the countless reports over the past six months of Pakistani military forts shelling Afghan territory from positions in Mohmand, Dir, and Chitral. One such incident took place on June 18, prompting a similar US gunship raid against a Pakistani military post one mile inside Pakistani territory, also in Mohmand. The June attack came after a number of artillery shells fired from Pakistani territory struck homes in the Shunkrai area of the Sarkani (Sarkanay) district in eastern Kunar province. At the time, Kunar’s governor, Syed Fazlullah Wahidi, told Pajhwok Afghan News that the areas of Dangam, Shigal, and Sarkani were fired upon by Pakistani military positions for the better part of a week, with one strike killing four children in the Shigal district.

The U.S. military’s Transportation Command deputy commander Vice Adm. Mark Harnitchek said of resupplying Afghanistan, “This is the logistics challenge of our generation.” Things were not made any easier by a Russian threat to cut off all the other alternative supply routes through its territory. “Russia said it may not let NATO use its territory to supply troops in Afghanistan if the alliance doesn’t seriously consider its objections to a U.S.-led missile shield for Europe, Russia’s ambassador to NATO said Monday.”

But the root cause of their difficulties is really Barack Obama’s campaign promise to leave Iraq and concentrate on the real problem: Afghanistan.

President Barack Obama told military service members Monday that the war in Afghanistan was a “war of necessity” and that the U.S. would adhere to its timetable to withdraw troops from Iraq by the end of 2011. … “But we must never forget. This is not a war of choice,” he told the VFW crowd. “This is a war of necessity. Those who attacked America on 9/11 are plotting to do so again.”

Of course those who are plotting to attack America were in Pakistan, which now has a logistical stranglehold over tens of thousands of American troops; or in Iran, from whose border in Iraq President Obama has withdrawn.  How could the President decide to deploy a large force surrounded by and in cases dependent on these countries?

One must remember than in 2008 the liberal establishment believed Barack Obama was a strategic genius. They believed it even when they should have known better. Nicholas Kristof, writing in the NYT, endorsed Obama’s Afghan strategy though even he couldn’t connect the dots.  It appears that Kristof convinced himself that that providing more aid to Pakistan, perhaps even teachers, would set things right.

People with links to Pakistan have been behind a hugely disproportionate share of international terror incidents over the last two decades: the 1993 and 2001 World Trade Center attacks; Richard Reid’s failed shoe bombing in 2001; the so-called Bojinka plot in 1995 to blow up 12 planes simultaneously; the 2005 London train and bus bombings; the 2001 attacks on the Indian Parliament; and attacks on two luxury hotels and a Jewish center in Mumbai in 2008.

So it came as little surprise that the suspect in the attempted car bombing in Times Square, Faisal Shahzad, is a Pakistani-American. …

I can’t tell you how frustrating it is on visits to rural Pakistan to see fundamentalist Wahabi-funded madrassas as the only game in town. They offer free meals, and the best students are given further scholarships to study abroad at fundamentalist institutions so that they come back as respected “scholars.”

We don’t even compete. Medieval misogynist fundamentalists display greater faith in the power of education than Americans do.

Let’s hope this is changing under the Obama administration. It’s promising that the Kerry-Lugar-Berman aid package provides billions of dollars for long-term civilian programs in Pakistan, although it’s still unclear how it will be implemented. One useful signal would be for Washington to encourage Islamabad to send not only troops to North Waziristan but also teachers.

But Kristof couldn’t see the obvious — that it would be very unwise to put a large American force at the mercy of Pakistan. Or maybe he did, but somehow believed the genius President was playing a much deeper game than he could see. Alas the President only looked inscrutable because he was incoherent, which is not quite the same thing.

That Pakistan was a problem was clear even at the start of Obama’s term. It became more obvious when Osama Bin Laden was found only a few hundred yards from the Pakistani military academy. Every artillery barrage fired from Pakistan into Afghanistan should also have been a sign. But to admit that would have been to admit that Obama got it wrong.

The President is now refusing to apologize to Pakistan. That is right. However he should apologize, even unspoken in his own heart, to the military he has hung out to dry and to the nation he’s led down the wrong path. The administration’s decision to fight a big ground war in Afghanistan supplied through Pakistan is at the heart of the current problem. And it can’t be fixed until the President changes to the right course. He must name the right enemies not depend on them.

Storming the Castle at Amazon Kindle for $3.99
No Way In at Amazon Kindle $3.99, print $9.99
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