Monday, June 20, 2011

Negotiating Retreat

As Ole Gutsy readies a speech to presumably announce his further intentions for Afghanistan now that bin Laden is gone it will be interesting to see if he touches on another name--the guy on the left. He probably won't. He'll probably address all the talk about deals. Or to use political speak--the way forward.

A cynic might look at the bin Laden hit and and see some pre-conditions to a deal. In other words, Obama couldn't very well leave the theater with UBL still lurking around--he promised to send him to Hell--so he needed him Tango Uniform and fast. Drawdown time needed to come before 2012 to keep a promise. Surely a few unsavory characters knew where he was. Then presto, dead UBL. The climate is now right for a Monty Hall moment.

Up to this point we've been told that Pakistan 1) knew nothing about bin Laden hiding in plain sight, 2) didn't know we were coming to kill him, and 3) is mad as fire about the whole thing and have retaliated by tipping off other terrorists, rounding up CIA assets who helped get UBL, and kicking other CIA officers out of the country.

But here's that name--Mullah Baradar. Remember him? When the he was captured in early 2010 it was a big deal--he was the number two man in the Taliban.
Yet he soon faded away like the balloon boy. Interesting, since one would think a number two would know a lot about AQ number one, and two, and maybe three, four, five, etc. Rumors said he was going to be sent to Afghanistan for interrogation but last anyone heard he was still languishing in Pockeston.

Then bin Laden was killed. What did Baradar know about it? Few mentioned his name. He wasn't part of the extensive narrative, which featured a courier named al-Kuwaiti and some lucky luck. But what if Baradar knew? What if he confirmed everything?

Some say he did:
Taliban co-founder Mullah Abdul Baradar is believed to have told US investigators the location of the Al-Qaeda terror chief’s hide-out.

In return they ­promised to ­withdraw US troops from Taliban strongholds in Afghanistan once Bin Laden had been killed or captured.

He was shot dead at his compound in Abbottabad on May 2 after US President Barack Obama sent in a team of elite Navy Seals.

Details of the extraordinary “deal” emerged after a confidential American briefing was found at the hide-out.
Nobody can vouch for the accuracy but what if it's true? What would it mean? Let's see, it would mean either Pakistan was in on the deal and helped, then feigned outrage.... or they didn't know. But how could they NOT know--after all, they still have Baradar, right? Well....
The terror chief, a close ally of one-eyed Taliban leader Mullah Omar, was interrogated in prison before being released last October.
The Pakistani journalist who reported it was recently found tortured and killed. But OK, if he was actually 'released' he surely wasn't released outright, rather, he would have been released to either US or Afghan custody as rumored last year. And if so he's possibly involved in the presumed negotiations. Perhaps the entry fee for a seat at the table was to give up a big name or two. Perhaps Pakistan presumed he wouldn't divulge. Maybe that's why there was no concern in Abbottabad until they heard the choppers. But if there really are negotiations going on it seems almost impossible to believe Pakistan wouldn't have know what Baradar would say.

Either that or the entire story was made up by Pakistan to discredit the US. The only trouble there is it would force Pakistan to confirm Baradar's ongoing incarceration, and they seemingly have not. Instead journalists that report on it are turning up dead.

But such is the problem with all of this stuff--the lies. As an almost giddy outgoing Secretary Gates told Senator Leahy in Congress last week--all countries lie to each other--it's how business gets done. He should know--he was a spook chief. But the bottom line here for the United States isn't lying, it our national security.

We're broke and the deployment is costing millions. We're not going to change that backwater even if we stay 20 more years, and Pakistan will never give up their proxy terrorists as long as India exists. So if there's a reasonable certainty we can keep Afghanistan from becoming another terrorist club med like it was in the 90s then leaving might be a good idea. The only way to do that is to make a deal.

But any carrot thrown to Pakistan/Taliban has to contain large sticks. Assurances, in other words. They need to understand what kind of deterrence awaits them should another attack be traced back to them--and Pakistan needs to understand that the prevailing westerly winds will blow that deterrence right into their country. That's hardly victory, but anything less is unacceptable and will represent a waste of patriotic soldiers and a massive loss in the Global War on Terror.

MORE 6/21/11

From Drudge this afternoon..

Interesting how we just got a story that said O ignored his lawyers on the WPR and Libya, now Drudge is framing this as another episode of ignoring top advisors--this time his generals--ahead of his big South Asia speech tomorrow.

The generals want him to be careful; Obama wants to start drawing down. To do it he'll have to say we've won, something. After all, Iraq can return to hell and he can say, "that was Bush's fault" and be correct. But he owns Afghanistan. It was secured during the campaign with all the rhetoric about UBL and the true front in the GWoT, then solidified with the surge, which has cost the lives of many good American men and women these past two years. He can't just get up there and say "time to go" and hope to be reelected.

Well, he can, but the right will have little trouble finding all his past quotes about how Bush was an idiot for ignoring the true battle yada yada, so cutting and running would be an admission he was wrong. Expect lots of back-slapping about the UBL killing, drones, and other progress from the surge. And it will probably work--politically speaking.

Politics isn't always reality. The true measure lies in what the generals are concerned about--the long term effects of not finishing the job (even though it's hard to know what that looks like). We're there to essentially drain a terror swamp. Leaving might make the electorate feel good and maybe help win him another four years but the real question is whether it will stop another terror attack. Our leaving will eventually be spun as the greatest victory in history of radical Islam and terrorism in general, which of course would have far-reaching effects across the globe, which is no trivial matter.

Indeed, Afghanistan was the end of the Soviet Union and has long been known as the graveyard of empires. Obama's chess move is probably a lot more crucial than the media will admit.


Debbie said...

I read somewhere that there was a physician near where Osama was hiding that gave him up. I don't remember if he was with the Pak military or what. Anything is possible.

Right Truth

LASunsett said...

I am ambivalent about the whole thing.

If we are going to try to win, we shouldn't be pulling out anyone or at very least announcing it.

If we are going to draw down, do it completely.

One part of me says get out because the bastards do not appreciate what we are doing there and we are not likely to ever be successful in building a nation that is capable of resisting the Taliban for an extended period of time, no matter how long we stay there.

The other side of me says that by staying there, we are strategically positioned against Iran, with the other flank being held in Iraq. For all we know, it may be the one thing that has kept the Iranian government from starting a war with Israel up to this point.