Monday, July 26, 2010

The AfPak Non-Pentagon Papers

As I reported earlier, the WikiLeaks document dump hasn't generated spectacular revelations. Certainly, from an intelligence and government secrecy standpoint, it's a really big deal. By now, though, most analysts have actually kinda yawned at the whole thing. But for leftists, WikiLeaks is pure gold. Recall that Julian Assange denied that his goal was to bring an end to the war. That's pure bull. I've paid too much attention to this creep since the bogus Apache Reuters video ploy a few months back. These people are out to damage the U.S. big time, and all the hardline leftist organizations go into overdrive when a new doc-dump/video exposé goes live. Case in point is the hyperventilating coverage at Democracy Now!, "The New Pentagon Papers: WikiLeaks Releases 90,000+ Secret Military Documents Painting Devastating Picture of Afghanistan War." Amy Goodman's a commie, and communists have two big attacks on the West: "Wars of imperial aggression" and "hegemonic racism" (Israel demonization falls somewhere in between both of those, as the Jewish state is the racist outpost of American-led neo-colonialism in the Middle East). And of course, MSNBC's more of a "commie" network than CNN, and these folks are creaming over WikiLeaks, for example, Cenk Uygur at this clip featuring Matt Lewis of Politics Daily:

On an interesting related note, the Wall Street Journal sees a silver lining in the release of the documents, and the editors debunk the "Pentagon Papers" analogy at the same time. See, "The AfPak Papers":
We've long believed the U.S. government classifies too many documents as secret, and now we know for sure. How else to explain why Sunday's release of some 92,000 previously confidential documents reveals so little that we didn't already know about the war in Afghanistan? This document dump will only matter if it becomes an excuse for more of America's political class to turn against a war they once supported ....

Far from being the Pentagon Papers redux, the larger truth is how closely the ground-eye view in these documents reinforces what U.S. officials were long saying: that the war wasn't going well, the Taliban were making gains, and a new and invigorated strategy was needed to combat them. Both the Bush and Obama Administrations made the same diagnosis in recent years, neither one kept it secret, and this year Mr. Obama followed through with an increase in troops levels and a renewed counterinsurgency.

The most politically explosive documents concern the conflicting loyalties of Pakistan's Directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI. Nearly 200 reports allege that the Pakistani military intelligence arm is in cahoots with the Taliban, despite claiming to side with America. This is undoubtedly true but also no surprise.

The ISI helped the U.S. arm and organize the mujahideen against the Soviets, and it kept doing so to fill the Afghan power vacuum after America abandoned the region in the early 1990s. The reports released this week allege—often citing a single source or uncertain information—that the ISI helped train Afghan suicide bombers, plotted to poison beer slated for GIs, and schemed to assassinate President Hamid Karzai. It isn't clear how many of these plots were ever attempted, but there's no doubt that many Pakistanis doubt U.S. staying power, fear Indian influence in Afghanistan, and want to use the Taliban to shape events on their Western border.

Then again, we also know that Pakistan has shifted its behavior in a more pro-American direction in the last 14 months as the Taliban began to threaten Pakistan's own stability. Responding to a surge of terrorism against Pakistani targets, the Pakistani army has pushed Islamist insurgents from the Swat Valley and even South Waziristan. It has taken heavy casualties in the process. Islamabad now actively aids U.S. drone strikes against Taliban and al Qaeda leaders in the mountains along its Afghan border.

Pakistan can and should do more to pursue the terrorist enclaves along the border, as well as in Quetta and Karachi. The question is what's the best way to persuade their leaders to act. U.S.-Pakistan cooperation has been one of the Obama Administration's foreign policy successes, and it would be a tragedy if the leak of selective documents, often out of context, would now poison that cooperation.
That's the most sober thing I've read on foreign policy in weeks (be sure to RTWT). WSJ points out that the documents indicate that Iran is cooperating with al Qaeda and related Sunni extremist groups, another fact that puts the lie to the promise of diplomatic engagement with Tehran.

Why WikiLeaks' ‘War Logs’ Are No Pentagon Papers." (At Memeorandum.)


Rusty Walker said...

So far the Wiki leaks just seem to illuminate and enhance understanding of expected realities on the ground in Af/Pac. I still have enough naïveté to believe the press won’t publish info that would compromise mission or endanger troops. I could be wrong. I’m not justifying leaks, just saying. Leaks are going to happen, and when they do, it usually sounds more sensational than it is. Still, sometimes leaks sufficiently inform to shift public opinion. The leaks about bombing Cambodia in 1969 had dire consequences.

The broad brushed optimism we get from the administration on Afghanistan never does ring true. The leaked account of an orphanage that received funds, then, instead of 100 or so orphans ends up with a handful, and later is vacated – this is reality – Af/Pac is a nightmare of corruption, rival tribes, Taliban that morph into farmers, drug money bribes and no loyalties. This information revealed, as much as I have read of it, is ironically encouraging, in that it isn’t much worse than one imagines.