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US – Pakistani Relations May 6, 2009

Posted by Afflatus in History, World Affairs.
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Check out this great presentation of Pakistan’s history since independence focusing on US involvement in the region. I sure learned a lot!

US and Pakistan

Underestimating Our Afghan Summer? April 30, 2009

Posted by presto21 in Politics, World Affairs.
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Hey guys,

Most of you are aware that in what will probably go down as the most important foreign policy decision of his first term, President Obama ordered the doubling of our troop presence in Afghanistan. As one who is generally skeptical of an interventionist foreign policy, I’ll admit that I find the rationale behind this “doubling down” far more compelling than many of our other military misadventures (Iraq?). A couple major arguments for increased involvement in Afghanistan:

1. The guys who attacked us on 9/11, while not born and raised in Afghanistan, relied heavily on the safe haven the Taliban provided for fundraising, training, planning, and organizing.

2. The Taliban is, by any humane standards, a brutally repressive regime; especially so with regards to women. The other day a video leaked out of a young Pakistani woman being publicly whipped for the crime of having a man to her home who was not part of her family. Those who prosecuted her under Sharia law said that she could have been executed and claimed that, if anything, they were being lenient. Here’s a link to the video: Taliban Video Shows Teen Girl Beaten for ‘Adultery’

3. The Taliban is back on the rise in Afghanistan and the Karzai government is widely seen as ineffectual outside of Kabul.

4. The number of troops we have there now is universally seen as insufficient. Our military’s movements in most key areas are limited to the extent that soldiers rarely go far from their bases.

5. The terrorism and extremism in Afghanistan has overflown into large swaths of Pakistan’s tribal region, destabilizing it greatly and ruining the tourism driven economy the SWAT valley used to enjoy. Worst of all, Pakistan’s own military has proven either unwilling or unable to staunch the bleeding. Everyday the Taliban’s influence creeps closer to Islamabad.

6. Pakistan has a nuclear arsenal.

Comparing such imperative threats to the thread of bad intelligence our government used to link 9/11 to Iraq and launch a massive invasion, makes it clear that, for once, we may have a war of necessity on our hands. Maybe war is never justified, but some wars are certainly more justified than others.

Such has been my thinking on the prospect of a renewed campaign in Afghanistan: It’s going to be tough, it’s going to be expensive, and there’s no guarantee of success. But at least we have some solid reasons to be there. At least an honest debate on the merits of more or less involvement seems warranted.

Well, a couple days ago I read an excellent article which contained firsthand account of a firefight in the region as well as some eye-opening specifics on what we can expect from Afghanistan as the fighting ramps up this summer. While it does an excellent job of highlighting the huge strides that could be made if the massive poppy industry (which bankrolls the Taliban) can be shutdown, it is also a sobering reminder of the worst-case scenario: a protracted and bloody, conflict with heavy U.S. and civilian casualties.

Please read the article here: Poppy Fields of Afghanistan