Sunday, September 25, 2011

Lindsey Graham: Consider Military Strike against Pakistan

Sometimes you truly have to wonder: What part of the concept of limits - or hubris - is Lindsey Graham unable to understand?

From the AP, a report on Graham's comments on Fox News:

Graham did not call for military action but said "all options" should be considered. He said assistance to Pakistan should be reconfigured and that the U.S. should no longer designate an amount of aid for Pakistan but have a more "transactional relationship" with the country.

"They're killing American soldiers," he said. "If they continue to embrace terrorism as a part of their national strategy, we're going to have to put all options on the table, including defending our troops."

The senator seems unaware of some rather important considerations here:

  • From the day US forces intervened in Afghanistan in 2001, the US war there has been immensely unpopular among Pakistanis.  The US bullied Pakistan's then military dictator, Pervez Musharraf, into cooperating with the US - with US diplomat Richard Armitage threatening that the US would otherwise bomb Pakistan "back into the Stone Age."  In the eyes of the vast majority of Pakistanis, the Afghan war was Bush's war, now Obama's war - one that had nothing to do with them, but that has cost them dearly in helping stir trouble throughout their country.
  • Pakistan is a nuclear-armed military power.  It has no capacity to use nuclear weapons directly against the US, but has rattled the nuclear saber vs. US ally India on more than one occasion.  Moreover, a US military strike against Pakistan would likely destabilize Pakistan enough to endanger the security of its nuclear arsenal.

In an op-ed I published several years ago with Asia Times, I mentioned a scenario - envisioned by another commentator - of a Pakistan becoming destabilized enough by a putative US attack on Iran for some rogue element in the Pakistani military to commandeer a nuke-armed bomber and attempt a nuclear strike on Israel.  The blowback from a US military strike against Pakistani forces inside Pakistan beggars the imagination.

Senator Graham needs to calm down - and he needs to quit floating ideas such as these among the chest-thumping crowd that accept Fox News as tantamount to divine guidance.  In his misguided effort to protect US troops overseas, he just may end up getting more of them killed.

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