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November 18, 2007

Kagan and O'Hanlon play General with imaginary troops
Posted by Max Bergmann

Fred Kagan and Michael O'Hanlon are very serious people concerned about Pakistan. And they think we should start thinking seriously about possible military options to prevent a nuclear armed Pakistan from descending "into the abyss." I'm sure we can all agree on that. But they have one minor caveat. Don't take the forces out of an "improving situation in Iraq to cope with a deteriorating one in Pakistan."

So if we don't take our troops out of Iraq, clearly any military option would involve very small special forces units or air strikes. But Kagan and O'Hanlon put forth a very serious magical second option,

A second, broader option would involve supporting the core of the Pakistani armed forces as they sought to hold the country together...this would require a sizeable combat force - not only from the United States, but ideally from other Western powers and moderate Muslim nations.

Yes, of course. Send 100,000s of American troops into Pakistan, but don't take any of these troops out of Iraq. Kagan and O'Hanlon clearly have a hidden stash of U.S. soldiers. Even if you were sending "just" 40,000-50,000, our military could not sustain that operation without taking our troops out of Iraq. But I guess in the land of VSP, no hard choices ever have to be made, and Iraq has done nothing to hurt our ability to respond to national security crises. Sounds a lot like denial doesn't it?


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This American fascination with the "military option" has so many downsides it's impossible to list them all, and flies in the face of "the idea that is America" that some (e.g. Slaughter) have promoted, as well as the stated US policy of advancing freedom around the world.

Pakistan's problems don't stem from a lack of authoritarian measures. That's not what the black-suited lawyers were in the streets about. Pakistan has suffered from a lack of democracy and freedom, one result being the dismissal of its Supreme Court. Proposing military solutions in this situation is not helpful. "Air strikes"-- a euphemism for murdering foreign women and children (men too) -- are criminal actions.

Pakistan is a complex situation involving the unmet needs of its people (exacerbated by US policy) and its position in South Asia with Afghanistan, China and India on its borders. The US doesn't have the expertise to deal with these complexities, so along come some think-tankers to discuss "military options". No wonder the world laughs at US arrogance while US popularity is sinking.

Other countries don't have "national security crises". Why? Because they don't exercise "military options". Wake up, America.

Kagan and O'Hanlon appear to be morons when it comes to internal Pakistani politics what faction in the army would actually support an American excursion into Pakistan? I'm sure the Pakistanis would see Americans as invaders and we could face another Iraq only this time with a bigger population and nuclear weapons. The Americans could diffuse the situation by diplomatically engaging Iran and making it a bulwork against any aggressive or fundamentalist Pakistan. Of course this requires nuance and diplomacy which seems to be lacking in American foreign policy.

I am fairly sure that some Army general (Odierno?) testified before Congress this past week, that our military is pretty much broken and unable to respond to any further international crises should they arise.

And still, Very Serious People insist we must go to war with Iran, and now Pakistan.

Draft the Young Republicans and tax the rich to pay for these new wars, if we must have them.

Hey, someone's raised Benjamin Disraeli from the dead. Here's some news for you Ben - your old style Imperialism doesn't work anymore. The wogs have too many guns.

Holy fucking Christ! This article reads like a briefing given by the Mad-but-Brilliant Dr. X in an Ian Fleming novel. Remote redoubt?! Aren't these guys supposed to be pros?

The two most entertaining passages:

One possible plan would be a Special Forces operation with the limited goal of preventing Pakistan’s nuclear materials and warheads from getting into the wrong hands. Given the degree to which Pakistani nationalists cherish these assets, it is unlikely the United States would get permission to destroy them.

You think? And then there is:

Somehow, American forces would have to team with Pakistanis to secure critical sites and possibly to move the material to a safer place...

For the United States, the safest bet would be shipping the material to someplace like New Mexico; but even pro-American Pakistanis would be unlikely to cooperate.

No! I'm glad we have these awesome strategic thinkers working for us to share their experienced insight that there is probably little hope of waltzing into Pakistan and working with a few wily inside men to whisk their entire hidden nuclear weapons arsenal away to New Mexico! But damn, I thought they did something like that in a Tom Clancy novel once.

Now we come to the "realistic" plans:

More likely, we would have to settle for establishing a remote redoubt within Pakistan, with the nuclear technology guarded by elite Pakistani forces backed up (and watched over) by crack international troops. It is realistic to think that such a mission might be undertaken within days of a decision to act. The price for rapid action and secrecy, however, would probably be a very small international coalition.

I get it. Within days of a decision to act, we could launch an international mission in which a bunch of "crack troops" work with some elite Pakistani forces to guard Pakistan's nukes in our remote Fort Apache, indefinitely holding off the rest of the entire country.

I'm guessing this is just the Phase I stopgap of the clever O'Kaglon plan. Phase II is when they come to the US Congress and tell us that they have just discovered that, contrary to initial expectations, the 50,000 man crack team in Pakistan is having trouble holding off 160,000,000 people. Or maybe Phase II is the part where, each time the elite Pakistanis take a chapati and chai break, we gradually Fedex the nuclear weapons to New Mexico, nut by nut and blot by bolt.

Skeptical? Don't worry. O'Kaglon has a Plan B:

A second, broader option would involve supporting the core of the Pakistani armed forces as they sought to hold the country together in the face of an ineffective government, seceding border regions and Al Qaeda and Taliban assassination attempts against the leadership. This would require a sizable combat force — not only from the United States, but ideally also other Western powers and moderate Muslim nations.

Which moderate nations are those? Egypt? Saudi Arabia? Jordan? The cool thing about getting Egyptians into Pakistan is that we wouldn't have to waste money on shipping charges to render captured Taliban to Egypt. We could just torture them on site!

But once this large international force of moderates is in place, we can get to work moderately to moderately establish a moderate military dictatorship over all of Pakistan, and then forcibly moderate the immoderate:

So, if we got a large number of troops into the country, what would they do? The most likely directive would be to help Pakistan’s military and security forces hold the country’s center — primarily the region around the capital, Islamabad, and the populous areas like Punjab Province to its south.

If a holding operation in the nation’s center was successful, we would probably then seek to establish order in the parts of Pakistan where extremists operate.

You mean, our force would be able to "establish order" in all those disordered regions that surround the newly-ordered center of the country - the same country O'Kaglon told us has half the population of the United States? How big is this force? Two million men? Three million men? Five million men?

Well sure! That will work! We all know that Muslims are nothing but a pack of sub-human primates. Maybe we can just drag a rotting antelope carcass around and lead all those disorderly Pakistanis off a cliff!

Enough already. Enough with these fantastical neocons like Kagan and their junior neocon cubbies like O'Hanlon. Why are these two still getting a forum in a respectable publication? As Grandpa Kervick used to say, "These guys ought to be horsewhipped!"

I think this is one of the silliest things Mike O'Hanlon and Fred Kagan have ever written and that is seriously saying something. Their read of internal Pakistani politics is just flat out absurd.

"I fear I wrong the honourable man",

but these two clowns are not fit to write a comic-book or a Clancy novel.

"Just a tale, told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing"

Dan, you obviously missed what Max said: "Fred Kagan and Michael O'Hanlon are very serious people concerned about Pakistan." and then you went and compared them to the Mad Hatter or something. Perhaps we should take these two, and Max, more seriously, ya think? Nah, they're all full of crapola. "I'm sure we can all agree on that."

Max: "So if we don't take our troops out of Iraq, clearly any military option would involve very small special forces units or air strikes."

Damn, I'm a graduate of the US Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth and these options of military action in an allied country never occurred to me, "clearly" or otherwise. Special Forces units are trained to organize indigenous elements within an enemy country to oppose the government. That's out. Air strikes? Against what or whom? And what would they accomplish, besides killing innocent people?

Enough about me. Bergmann received his master’s degree from the London School of Economics in Comparative Politics with a concentration on Ethnic Conflict Regulation and the European Union. Max is a native of Gainesville, Florida and received his B.A. from Bates College.

At this point in US history we have people discussing military options who are not qualified to do so. Now for comparative politics, I'll bow to Max. What about politics? Isn't that the bottom line, with military action being a failure of politics and diplomacy? You call in the military and the situation will be royally f****d, I'll tell you that.

What a trash. Both commentators have no idea about either the complexities of nuclear weapons nor of geo-political realities of the region in which Pakistan is located. Don't take them serioiusly, such jokers like these two writers only make a fool of themselves by expounding theories which could appeal to only deranged war mongers somewhere in an asylum in DC. What Pakistan need is support of the people of the US in their struggle against highhandedness of military government led by Musharraf. If there is democracy in Pakistan and Americans support it and there is no derailment n future neither the nuclear weapons are in danger of falling in the hands of any crazy fringe nor the weapons will be brandished against anyone. Please think reasonably and dont lead the people of US to the belief that such adventures are possible. As if everything will be taken by the people laid back there.

after reading Fred Kagan and Michael O'Hanlon i thought all americans are morons. that also explained the deep shit world is in because of uncle sam, but the comments on article do tell me that there are still wise heads in u.s.a, plz reclaim ur dear homeland from idiots like these(Kagan, O'Hanlon ). well then u r free to "secure" others arsenal.

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