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Category: Pakistan (page 1 of 2)

A little bit of this and a little of that

Happy New Year to everyone. I hope that everyone has a happy, healthy, prosperous and progressive New Year!
We have 3 separate scenarios of how Benazir Bhutto died.
1) She was shot in the neck.
2) An explosion cause shrapnel to hit her in the neck.
3) She hit her head so hard as she was ducking that she broke her skull in 2 places.
Bhutto Skull FxEyewitness accounts seem to contradict the “official government” account. A couple of nights ago, there seemed to be some stories about doing a formal autopsy. This would easily solve the problem but who is going to believe the results?
As a surgeon, I can tell you that this photo doesn’t show squat. This could be a photo of an elbow or a knee cap. No seriously!! There is no way for me to tell if this is a photo of a skull. The photo is so blown up, I can’t identify any landmarks. Maybe I’m just not smart enough. If they “had” to blow up the photo this much then the fractures were probably minor and therefore, did not contribute significantly to her death. Where’s the CT scan? Where there no scanners available? What was the plan if something happened? Why didn’t they take her to a major hospital? Was there a helicopter available?
On another note, if you have had a chance to see Meet the Press’ – meet the candidates – then you know that Tim Russert will try to set up some candidates by using their own words. He made Ron Paul look somewhat unprepared last week. So, Tim tried to set up Barack Obama last week by using President Bill Clinton’s words. Obama proved that he reads and that he is well prepared as he answers a series of questions by using Bill Clinton’s own words (from 1992 when he was the candidate of change) and by quoting Martin Luther King. Obama does a great job at answering the questions and hitting a few of them out of the park. (video of this Meet the Press exchange)
Various items that are on my mind –

  • Dumbest article that I have read this year must the one that was written by the Dallas Morning News Staff. No one would take credit for it. They named the Texan of the Yearthe Illegal Immigrant. First of all, I don’t like the term illegal immigrant. Secondly, I understand their contribution to society but I also understand that haven’t changed the debate one iota. Thirdly, wouldn’t the Texan of the Year be a single person?
  • The National Football League playoffs are here and I’m psyched.
  • Barack Obama appear to be widening his lead in Iowa. Look out, Taylor Marsh who has been bushing Obama’s every move is about to throw a fit.
  • When is someone (the federal government) going to do something sensible with the primaries? With states hopscotching each other and the national parties seemingly impotent to stop it, we will soon be voting for the 2012 election right after the 2009 inauguration!

“She Was Let Down By Those In Washington”

After the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, her former aide Husain Haqqani told Time magazine:

She was let down by those in Washington who think that sucking up to bad governments around the world is their best policy option.

As long chronicled here at LiberalOasis, the Bush Administration’s Pakistan policy had nothing to do with democracy, and not much to do with fighting Al Qaeda either.
It’s pure speculation who exactly was behind the assassination.
But it’s patently clear that a policy of propping up a dictator — including the attempt to keep Musharraf in power by shoehorning Bhutto into his government — did nothing to advance freedom and stability in Pakistan, nor our own national security.
It is also patently clear that Bush plans to continue his failed policy, if not make it worse.
The White House still puffs up Musharraf as a democratic leader.
Plus, the White House spokesperson yesterday talked of “strong lines of communication” with Pakistan’s General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, rumored to be a possible military strongman replacement if Musharraf cannot keep clinging to power.
Essentially, the White House signaled it is happy to work with this dictator or the next one — instead signaling it would work with whomever the Pakistani people choose to represent them in a free and fair election.
There was much pundit pontification yesterday regarding which US presidential candidates will benefits from the renewed focus on our unstable world, with the Beltway “wisdom” pointing towards candidates deemed to have foreign policy experience: Clinton and Biden for the Dems, McCain and Giuliani for the GOP.
Such analysis had little to do with the candidates actually had to say about foreign policy and Pakistan — just the general notion of “experience” (which, of course, Giuliani essentially has none.)
The voters should be able to hear what candidates have to say about the matter, then judge for themselves who is displaying experience and judgment.
For example, here’s what McCain had to say on Fox News yesterday: “I think we should be offering our support for the government as it is.”
Translation of McCain: More Musharraf please. He even said, “You may have to see martial law for a period of time.”
The allegedly experienced Giuliani had little to say about what he would to do with Pakistan policy, simply using Bhutto’s death as an opportunity to say: “We must redouble our efforts to win the Terrorists’ War on Us.”
On the Dem side, Clinton also said little of substance, though she took the opportunity to stress her personal interactions with her to give the veneer of foreign policy experience.
John Edwards, who like Clinton has expressed support for Musharraf, at least directly pressured Musharraf to allow an international investigation — a policy move recognizing the dictatorship cannot be trusted to get to the bottom of the murder.
It was Bill Richardson however who made the clearest statement about his foreign policy approach:

We must use our diplomatic leverage and force the enemies of democracy to yield: President Bush should press Musharraf to step aside, and a broad-based coalition government, consisting of all the democratic parties, should be formed immediately. Until this happens, we should suspend military aid to the Pakistani government. Free and fair elections must also be held as soon as possible.

Yet Richardson is not getting mentioned as an experienced candidate because he is going against Beltway “wisdom” that Musharraf must be tolerated as a linchpin of stability, despite all evidence to the contrary.
Biden also deserves some respect for his efforts to protect Bhutto’s safety earlier, and for having a well thought out Pakistan policy in place already — saying Congress would suspend military aid if Musharraf did not restore democracy.
Obama’s team chose to engage the experience debate by connecting the instability in Pakistan with Clinton’s vote to authorize the Iraq war.
On message, I suppose. But he would have been better served if he stressed his earlier willingness to break with Musharraf — before the dictator declared his state of emergency, and despite the scoffing from the Beltway and candidates like Clinton, Edwards and Chris Dodd.
He missed opportunity to show how he would fundamentally change our foreign policy, as Richardson and Biden did. He already laid down the groundwork, yet he chose not to highlight it yesterday.
The bottom line is Bhutto did not need explicit, personal upport from Washington.
She needed Washington to sincerely support democracy. She needed Bush to engage all parties in Pakistan, not pick and choose his favorites, undermine the Pakistani people’s will, and stoke chronic instability.
The Bushies had no interest in that. That’s how she was let down by Washington.
Candidates who want to show how experienced they are should think about taking the time to explain that to both the media and the voters, and explain how they would replaced this disastrously failed policy.
(updated slightly, 12/28, 10:30 AM ET)

What’s Worse? Taking Money from Osama, or Giving It to Him?

The ABC News blog “The Blotter” drops a leak against Musharraf’s rival Nawas Sharif:

The former prime minister of Pakistan … once received a million-dollar payoff from Osama Bin Laden as a thanks for not cracking down on the militant tribal areas in Pakistan’s northwest border province, according to a former member of bin Laden’s inner circle.

When in power, Sharif aggravated the United States by detonating Pakistan’s first nuclear weapon and turning a blind eye to the Taliban in Afghanistan. Now a former member of bin Laden’s inner circle is saying that Sharif was handsomely rewarded by bin Laden for his policies.
Ali Mohamed served as a special projects coordinator for bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al Zawahri in the mid-1990s. Mohamed, who is now in a U.S. prison for his role in the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Africa, has been cooperating with the FBI and providing them with a wealth of information on the inner workings of al Qaeda.

This could well be true, though the source strikes me as dubious.
Regardless, it’s interesting that the feds leaked this to ABC, since they didn’t care in 2005 when Musharraf gave Al Qaeda $540,000.
The Bushies have never prioritized apprehending bin Laden. It has never been the driver of their Pakistan polic, and neither is democracy.
This leak is just the latest dollop of foreign policy hypocrisy. If Sharif is no good for Pakistan, then that’s for the Pakistanis to decide.

Clinton on Pakistan

Here’s Sen. Hillary Clinton discussing Pakistan at Thursday night’s debate:

… there’s absolutely a connection between a democratic regime and heightened security for the United States. That’s what’s so tragic about this situation.
After 9/11, President Bush had a chance to chart a different course, both in Pakistan and in Afghanistan, and could have been very clear about what our expectations were. We are now in a bind, and it is partly — not completely, but partly — a result of the failed policies of the Bush administration.
So, where we are today means that we have to say to President Musharraf: Look, this is not in your interest either. This is not in the interest of the United States. It is not in your interest to either stay in power or stay alive.

Sure sounds like she wished Bush pushed for democratic reform in Pakistan, instead of propping up Musharraf’s dictatorship.
But here’s what she said in a debate from August, when criticizing Sen. Barack Obama’s pledge to strike terrorists in Pakistan’s border region if Musharraf would not act on actionable intelligence:

I think it is a very big mistake to telegraph that and to destabilize the Musharraf regime, which is fighting for its life against the Islamic extremists who are in bed with al Qaeda and Taliban.

Of course, as everyone now knows, Musharraf is primarily fighting for his life against lawyers and judges, not the tribal militants.
Sen. Clinton is not alone among Dem candidates in supporting Musharraf.
Both Sen. John Edwards and Sen. Chris Dodd have expressed support for Musharraf to maintain “stability.”
Whereas Obama, Gov. Bill Richardson and Sen. Joe Biden have been more consistent in supporting democratic principles.

Freedom on the March (Emphasis on “March”)

The NY Times picks up the smell of freedom:

Several senior [Bush] administration officials said that with each day that passed, more administration officials were coming around to the belief that General Musharraf’s days in power were numbered and that the United States should begin considering contingency plans, including reaching out to Pakistan’s generals.

Pakistan’s cadre of elite generals, called the corps commanders, have long been kingmakers inside the country. At the top of that cadre is Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, General Musharraf’s designated successor as army chief. General Kayani is a moderate, pro-American infantry commander who is widely seen as commanding respect within the army and, within Western circles, as a potential alternative to General Musharraf.

The reassuring line is that “General Kayani and other military leaders are widely believed to be eager to pull the army out of politics and focus its attention purely on securing the country.”
Right. Here’s what the NY Times reported after Musharraf’s coup in 1999:

But those who know the general personally, as well as military officers and defense experts, describe him as a liberal Muslim and a level-headed military commander whose commitment to democratic rule cracked when Prime Minister Sharif meddled once too often in the military’s business by trying to get rid of a second army chief within a year.

That was after Musharraf himself proclaimed: ”I shall not allow the people to be taken back to the era of sham democracy, but to a true one. And I promise you I will, if God wills it.”
And as far for the military wanting to “pull…out of politics,” here’s what that means. In another 1999 NYT piece, a think tank president observed: ”The army does not want to run the country but the army wants to be the main repository of power.”

One way or another, looks like the Bush Administration will help to maintain the undemocratic status quo.

The Importance of Pakistan

I always felt that my foreign policy chapter in “Wait! Don’t Move To Canada!” was the most important of the book. I also sensed it would be the chapter that would gain the least traction.
Arguing, as I do, that a liberal foreign policy vision should be largely based on supporting credible democracy abroad surely seems counter-intuitive in the shambles of the Bush Era.
Bush rhetorically based his foreign policy on promoting democracy, and it’s been a total disaster. The nation’s reactive mood seems more partial to realpolitik than anything with a whiff of idealism.
But the point of the chapter was that Bush in fact was not promoting democracy of any sort, but was practicing realpolitik of the worst kind:

The argument is not that Bush shouldn’t be promoting democracy. The argument is that Bush and his fellow conservatives are totally insincere about promoting democracy. Their game is the same ol’ shortsighted, reckless unilateralism — aggressively exerting dominance over far-flung regions of the world, particularly those regions with strategically important natural resources. Never mind if such a strategy leaves, to quote Bush again, “whole regions of the world [to] simmer in resentment and tyranny — prone to ideologies that feed hatred and excuse murder.”

That approach didn’t have immediate resonance with the scarred American public, many liberals included. And so, you haven’t heard many presidential hopefuls making it.
But now there’s Pakistan.
Bush’s Pakistan policy was nothing but realpolitik, reversing the Clinton Administration policy of sanctioning Musharraf for his coup, and instead, becoming best pals. It was either our friendly dictator or Osama controlling a nuclear arsenal.
Now it is clear that the realpolitik choice was not based in reality.
Those leading the democracy movement and suffering from Musharraf’s crackdown are secular liberal attorneys and judges — not terrorists and not religious extremists.
Further. propping up Musharraf with our tax dollars didn’t do anything to get Bin Laden. His government — with Bush’s approval no less — has played footsie with tribal militants the last six years.
The fact is that conservative foreign policy has been primarily concerned with propping up leaders it likes, and taking down those it doesn’t. Supporting democracy and fighting terrorism have always taken a backseat, or more accurately, been kicked to the curb.
That reality is all the more glaring when lawyers take to the streets to get their country back, and Bush leaves them hanging.
Just as his father told the Iraqis to rise up only to sit quietly while Saddam cracked down, Dubya told the world “When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you,” yet has done nothing for Pakistanis risking their lives for their freedom.
This is not an exception to Bush’s conservative foreign policy. This is conservative foreign policy. And it is a failure.
Yet we liberals have not put forth, in a coordinated way, what are the core principles behind the liberal foreign policy alternative.
If we had, even when our true principles might not have immediately resonated, we’d be better prepared in the wake of crisis like in Pakistan, to explain how we would do things differently and build more trust in our ability to take America and the globe in a more secure and prosperous direction.
That if we had a foreign policy that engaged all parties in any country, in power and out, regardless of ideology, we would show the world’s people that we were not trying to pick the leaders of their countries, and show dictators they could not expect blind support from us to stay in power illegitimately.
That would go a long way to removing the fear of Western domination in the Arab/Muslim region that helps terrorist organizations recruit.
Pakistan is simply a major event that speaks volumes about foreign policy.
The individual protesters in Burma deserve just as much as support as the protesters in Pakistan.
But unlike Burma, Pakistan crystallizes the failure of conservative foreign policy
That’s why it is critical for us to talk about Pakistan in broader terms, and explain how a liberal foreign policy would have made a difference, and still can in the future.

Nobody Cares About Democracy

Forgive the pessimism, but the bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Myanmar appears to be achieving its objective.
The AP reports: “the streets [are] cleared of protesters, the Internet [is] down and many residents [are] too fearful to go out.”
Despite the supportive rhetoric, no world leader is doing much to support freedom.
Bush has made some moves to pressure the military leadership. Not for the sake of democracy, but because Burma supplies energy to China — with which the Bushies have long engaged in a cold resource war.
Further, Bush is doing little to get other Myanmar customers like India , Thailand and France to squeeze the junta.
Bush has little economic leverage with Myanmar, and forget about moral authority. There’s little expectation Bush can do very much, or will try all that hard.
Meanwhile, there’s a pro-democracy movement rising in Pakistan that Bush really doesn’t care about (and is attracting less media attention).
Lawyers were beaten by police after protesting a Supreme Court ruling letting the dictatorial Musharraf “run” for re-election, despite what it says in Pakistan’s Constitution.
The weakened Musharraf looks like he will enter into some agreement with his exiled political rival Benazir Bhutto, but this is a defensive move to stay in charge, not one allowing for real democracy.
This looks to undermine Bhutto’s democratic cred, not strengthen Musharraf’s.
This was the deal the Bushies wanted, short-circuiting the Pakistani grassroots push for democracy, in favor of propping up leaders they like.
(UPDATE: According to Bloomberg, Bhutto says talks have stalled.)
As we see in Myanmar, the triumph of fossil fuel over freedom is not monopolized by Bush.
But this will be Bush’s legacy.
The so-called leader of the free world, squandering his nation’s moral authority by practicing democracy hypocrisy, and presiding over a backslide in the quest for freedom.

Contempt for Democracy

David Ignatius said yesterday, in the latest Washington Post effort to buoy Iyad Allawi’s paid lobbying campaign to run Iraq again, that: “Future historians should record that the Bush administration actually lived by its pro-democracy rhetoric about a new Iraq — to the point that it scuttled a covert action program aimed at countering Iranian influence.”
And that’s why the great Allawi does not run Iraq today.
Except for one thing.
The Bush administration did not scuttle that covert action program to influence the 2004 Iraqi election.
According to The New Yorker’s Seymour Hersh, Dubya simply replaced one covert program — which was under fire from Rep. Nancy Pelosi — with another that was “off the books.”

…I was told by past and present intelligence and military officials, the Bush Administration decided to override Pelosi’s objections and covertly intervene in the Iraqi election. A former national-security official told me that he had learned of the effort from “people who worked the beatâ€?—those involved in the operation. It was necessary, he added, “because they couldn’t afford to have a disaster.â€?
A Pentagon consultant who deals with the senior military leadership acknowledged that the American authorities in Iraq “did an operationâ€? to try to influence the results of the election. “They had to,â€? he said. “They were trying to make a case that Allawi was popular, and he had no juice.â€? A government consultant with close ties to the Pentagon’s civilian leaders said, “We didn’t want to take a chance.â€?
I was informed by several former military and intelligence officials that the activities were kept, in part, “off the booksâ€?—they were conducted by retired C.I.A. officers and other non-government personnel, and used funds that were not necessarily appropriated by Congress. Some in the White House and at the Pentagon believed that keeping an operation off the books eliminated the need to give a formal briefing to the relevant members of Congress and congressional intelligence committees, whose jurisdiction is limited, in their view, to officially sanctioned C.I.A. operations.

(More about Hersh & Ignatius from Needlenose.)
The conclusion of Hersh’s piece, voiced by a UN official, was that Bush still couldn’t get Allawi to win because pro-Iranian Shiites did a better job of rigging the election: “You are right that it was rigged, but you did not rig it well enough.â€?
But Hersh also noted that: “The pro-Iranian Shiites did worse than anticipated, with forty-eight per cent of the vote—giving them far less than the two-thirds of the assembly seats needed to form a government and thus control the writing of the constitution.”
That, in LiberalOasis’ view, is the more important result. The overarching objective by the Bushies was to create a weak central government that would be dependent on an occupying force to stay in power.

As written here back in Feb. 2006 (after another idiotic Ignatius column):

They set up a faux democratic system that would create a government where exiles with little grassroots support were installed and given a leg up before elections even took place.

It would prevent one faction from consolidating too much power, creating a need for coalitions.
Not to truly represent a diverse country, but to create a weak government dependent on a continued US presence, and therefore, vulnerable to continued US influence.

Allawi (one of the imported exiles) may have been their first choice, but he was not their only choice, and not critical to maintaining a grip on Iraq. (Hence, Bush’s continued support for the current Prime Minister Maliki.)
So Ignatius is flat wrong to besmirch democracy’s good name by blaming it for the disastrous occupation of Iraq (which he has backed from the beginning).
Iraq is not the only place where Bush’s distaste for democracy is showing this week.
In Pakistan, the public is chafing at Musharraf’s dictatorial rule.
But the Bush administration — looking to keep who it wants in power, instead of supporting the Pakistani people’s right to choose its leaders — is trying to facilitate a power-sharing deal to prevent Musharraf’s total ouster.
As the NY Times reports:

The power-sharing deal under negotiation would allow Ms. Bhutto to return from self-imposed exile and run for prime minister, and would allow General Musharraf to run for another term as president. The United States supports the deal as a way to keep an ally in the presidency and shore up his domestic support.

And the Washington Post:

An agreement between Musharraf and Bhutto would be welcomed in Washington, where Bush administration officials have been pushing for an alliance of moderates in Pakistan to battle rising forces of extremism.
Although the United States had not been actively involved in the negotiations, it had been prodding the two sides to come together and had helped to facilitate the talks, according to people familiar with the U.S. role.

So the Bushies are “facilitating” a deal that would short-circuit the democratic process, and potentially stall the momentum for democratic reform in Pakistan — with the Supreme Court repeatedly challenging Musharraf’s dictatorial claims.
A more moderate and stable Pakistan is possible, but not if we keep trying to impose our will on other countries.
Future historians should record that the Bush administration did absolutely nothing to promote credible democracy, and in turn, it’s colossal foreign policy failures had nothing to with support for democracy.

How Did That Safe Haven Get There?

With the latest National Intelligence Estimate finding that Al Qaeda “has protected or regenerated key elements of its Homeland attack capability,” the White House took to the Sunday shows to fight the obvious conclusion that Dubya’s neocon foreign policy has utterly failed.
Their talking point? Pakistan screwed up and let Al Qaeda establish a “safe haven.”
Here’s White House Homeland Security Adviser Fran Townsend on Fox News Sunday:

They’ve been able to take advantage of the agreement between President Musharraf and the tribal elders in the federally administrated tribal area to find safe haven, to train, to recruit.

And here’s Director of National Intelligene Mike McConnell on Meet The Press, responding to a question how could last year’s intelligence estimate say Al Qaeda was “seriously damaged”:

…what happened? What’s different? What changed?
In Pakistan, where they’re enjoying a safe haven, the government of Pakistan chose to try a political solution. The political solution meant a peace treaty with a region that’s never been governed — not governed from the outside, not governed by Pakistan.
The opposite occurred. Instead of pushing al-Qaeda out, the people who live in these federally- administered tribal areas, rather than pushing al-Qaeda out, they made a safe haven for training and recruiting. And so, in that period of time, al-Qaeda has been able to regain some of its momentum.

Who would be stupid enough to get behind a peace agreement with militants tied to Al Qaeda?
George W. Bush, of course.
Townsend and McConnell somehow forgot to mention that peace agreement was “encouraged” by the White House, and publicly endorsed by Dubya — as noted by LiberalOasis recently.
(And Fox News Sunday and Meet The Press neglected to bring it up as well.)
The Bush Administration did not prioritize going after the actual terrorist threat, instead choosing to pursue a permanent occupation of Iraq as a policy goal, whihc has created more terrorists.
While the Bush Administration is trying to use this safe haven to shift blame to Pakistan, the fact is the safe haven is the direct result of a policy that the Bush Administration is directly complict in crafting.
Once again, the failure is their own.

The Sorry History of Bush’s Pakistan Policy

Following Sunday’s NY Times report that “A secret military operation in early 2005 to capture senior members of Al Qaeda in Pakistan’s tribal areas was aborted at the last minute after top Bush administration officials decided it was too risky and could jeopardize relations with Pakistan,” it seemed appropriate to recap the history of the White House’s relationship with Pakistan.
***
December 2004: LiberalOasis flags that the Bush Administration has given Pakistan a veto over our national security, when the NY Times reported:

Pakistan does not permit American military and intelligence forces in Afghanistan to cross the border to go after militants…
…As a result of the restrictions, American military and intelligence personnel in Afghanistan are no longer really hunting for Mr. bin Laden, an intelligence official said.

Sometime between January 2005 and March 2005: According to the July 8, 2007 NY Times story, this is when the Bush Administration “aborted” an operation to “capture senior members of Al Qaeda in Pakistan’s tribal areas” at a “meeting of Qaeda leaders” where “intelligence officials had unusually high confidence that [Osama bin Laden’s top deputy Ayman al] Zawahri was there.”
Why? In large part because then-Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld was “concerned that it could cause a rift with Pakistan, an often reluctant ally that has barred the American military from operating in its tribal areas.”
February 2005: LiberalOasis cites reports that Pakistan is literally giving money to Al Qaeda via payments to tribal militants, as part of a “peace deal” — just a few weeks after Dubya praises Pakistan’s counter-terrorism efforts.
March 2005: The Washington Post reports:

President Bush rewarded a key ally in the war on terrorism Friday by authorizing the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan, a move that reversed 15 years of policy begun under his father and that India warned would destabilize the volatile region…
…”This is just a disastrous thing,” said [former Sen. Larry] Pressler, who now sits on the board of an Indian technology company. “It raises Pakistan, a country that doesn’t stand for anything we stand for, to the level of India,” the world’s largest democracy. “It has nothing to do with fighting terrorism.” Instead, he said, “it gives Pakistan a delivery vehicle for its nuclear weapons.”…
…[Secretary of State Condi] Rice also pushed [Pakistan President] Musharraf, an army general who took power in a bloodless coup in 1999, to commit to holding elections in 2007, and administration officials cited his assurance in announcing the F-16 sale Friday.

September 2006: LiberalOasis highlights that Pakistan signed another “peace deal” with tribal militants that “fight alongside Taliban and al-Qaida fighters” — a deal that was struck, according to McClatchy Newspapers, “with the Bush administration’s encouragement.”
A week later, Dubya says that sending a large number of special forces to “hunt” down Osama was “not a top priority use of American resources.” A week after that, Bush publicly endorses the “tribal deal.”
July 9, 2007: Karl Rove, responding to a question by NBC’s Andrea Mitchell at an event in Aspen about the aborted 2005 operation, says (via MSNBC’s Countdown):

The United States has concerns about taking unilateral action in a sovereign nation without their approval, and uh, so this has always been the difficulty we have with, uh — unless, of course it’s Saddam Hussein.

The audience reacted in laughter.
***
The point of recapping all of these sorry shennanigans is that to criticize the Bush Administration for failing to pull the trigger in 2005 is not a matter of second-guessing inherently tough intelligence calls — the way conservatives have done with the Clinton Administration’s counterterrorism record.
This is a case of a deeply flawed conservative foreign policy.
This conserative foreign policy prioritizes misguided geopolitical goals ahead of actual threats to national security.
The Bush Administration gives Pakistan a veto over our national security, sends Pakistan goodies,while literally encouraging Pakistan to appease Al Qaeda. Meanwhile, it embarks on a permanent occupation of Iraq that has created additional terrorists.
Also, this conservative foreign policy does not actually promote democracy
The Bush Administration has continually propped up the Pakistan dictatorship and done nothing to push for democratic reforms.
As noted above, We gave them F-16s two years ago presumably for free elections this year. Instead, Pakistan is in political turmoil because Musharraf has been trying to consolidate his dictatorial power, with nary a peep from the White House.
This aborted Pakistan operation in 2005 is no isolated incident. It’s a crystallization of an utterly immoral and impratical conservative foreign policy, which has only brought more terrorists and more instability.

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