Choose Your Poison: North Korea or Pakistan?

Plus Kim Jong Il lobbed three missiles at Japan that fell into the sea. Both South Korea and Japan have flipped out. Good work for a little guy who only likes to watch films 24/7.   I don’t think it was a coincidence that this flexing was happening during an American holiday that commemorates the war dead, and reveres the military that North Korea fought to a standstill in the early 1950s.

Frankly, I think that this display was driven by equal parts internal as well as external forces. The Dear Leader is supposed to have suffered a stroke recently.   He’s been rumored to have lost power in the Party, though his twenty-six-year-old son is next in line to inherit the leadership.  Whether all this is true or not, what better way to impress the hardliners in the government than to make sure that its Western-tilted neighbors break into a sweat about the extent of North Korea’s nuke capability? Additionally, everyone roundly condemned the underground explosion and the missile experiment, including Russia and China, its sometime allies.

However, I am not half as worried about North Korea (or Iran for that matter) as I am about Pakistan. Ahmadinejad may be turned out of office in the upcoming elections and Iran is strapped for cash; North Korea, who won’t or can’t feed its own people, is a long way from sending a real warhead anywhere. But Pakistan has a nuclear arsenal, with missiles ostensibly kept to make India stand down, but increasingly looks like the holy grail for the Taliban and its al Qaeda auxiliaries. These guys actually pushed to within 60 miles of Islamabad, the capital, last month before the Pakistan military chased them, temporarily it is said, into the hills of the Swat Valley. These guys are not going to stop until they’ve got the finger on the Hot Button. The loathsome Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel is still on script about bombing Iran into the stone age for having a nuke program, but it’s becoming clear that the vaunted ‘Islamic Bomb’ may not come from this quarter.

Which makes me wonder again, what’s our agenda in Afghanistan? After dragging Hamid Karzai and the new Pakistan prime minister Yusuf Gilani in to press the Islamic insurgents harder, Obama still refuses to tell us, or even to tell us under what circumstances and when we will consider an exit strategy.  The Washington Post is adamant that Pakistan is in big trouble, while Bloomberg files a report that the Pakistan military says that they have the insurgents on the run. Who is telling the truth? Can they tell who is Taliban and who is simply a civilian?

Furthermore, civilians running away or trapped in this mess are caught between the insurgents and the Pakistan Army. The result is a humanitarian disaster, with food and water in short supply, and the heat climbing into the triple digits. However, Obama has gotten a new commander, General Stanley McChrystal, who seems rather too comfortable about the abuse and torture of prisoners.

The chain of command for that approval went through General McChrystal. Even more damning, the interrogator told us that he actually saw McChrystal in the camp while such acts were occurring. He also said that his supervisor told him and his colleagues that McChrystal had made a personal promise that the Red Cross would never be allowed into the camp — a violation of our treaty obligations under the Geneva Conventions, which is a violation of the law that we used to follow before the Bush administration.

This news comes at a time when the political war over what everyone now calls “torture” is reaching a high point — when Cheney and many other Republicans are arguing that we should keep on torturing because it worked, when this inevitable sentence appeared in the Washington Times: “a leader of the antiwar group Code Pink said she now wonders at what point her organization should begin to refer to Mr. Obama as a ‘war criminal.'”

Yeah, when indeed. The Huffington Post has also reported that Obama is talking to George W. Bush. On what, I can’t begin to imagine. I can only hope that Obama is not going to be sucked into the rabbit hole; but he’s certainly on the threshold, thinking that with Pakistan to the right and the Americans on the left, the Taliban and possibly bin Laden himself will be squeezed out. It may not happen.

I remember some saying that the reason why Congressional Democrats were timid about challenging Bush about Iraq/Afghanistan is not because they were afraid of being called out as weak, but because Bush was doing what they wish they could have done, only with more managerial flair and without the torture. Managerial flair? They’re out of their fracking minds. The British and the Russians tried to clock Afghanistan in their day–a colonial and a Communist power respectively–and they shortly found themselves in a bigger shytstorm than they could have ever imagined. Afghanistan was called Russia’s Vietnam, with the help of U.S.-backed mujaheddin and deep-pockets religious wingers like Osama bin Laden. Round and round the madness goes, and where she stops everyone dies. I think we’re about to walk right into the Stupid again by people with college degrees who ought to know better.

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~ by blksista on May 26, 2009.

 
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