5 years ago
There are many failures in this administration’s foreign policy, but one glaring failure seems to capture all of the incompetence and lack of vision in a single snapshot.
Adm. Mike Mullen’s assertion last week that an anti-American insurgent group in Afghanistan is a “veritable arm” of Pakistan’s spy service was overstated and contributed to overheated reactions in Pakistan and misperceptions in Washington, according to American officials involved in U.S. policy in the region.
The internal criticism by the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they did not want to challenge Mullen openly, reflects concern over the accuracy of Mullen’s characterizations at a time when Obama administration officials have been frustrated in their efforts to persuade Pakistan to break its ties to Afghan insurgent groups.
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Mullen’s testimony to a Senate committee was widely interpreted as an accusation by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff that Pakistan’s military and espionage agencies sanction and direct bloody attacks against U.S. troops and targets in Afghanistan. Such interpretations prompted new levels of indignation among senior officials in both the United States and Pakistan.
That Pakistan’s behavior has been duplicitous for years is well known. That the Haqqani network of fighters is killing U.S. Soldiers is equally well known. They are noted as the most dangerous network of Islamic insurgents in the region. In fact, the Haqqani group had a relationship of patronage with al Qaeda before AQ became big. They have more than just a regional focus, and have had fighters in other parts of the world. AQ learned their military skills mainly from the Haqqani group. That Pakistan’s ISI is fond of the counterbalance in Afghanistan that they feel Haqqani provides them against Indian influence is well known.
But what is so stark about this example is the obscene display of an administration fighting with itself, but only in whispers. No one wants to be seen publicly disputing what Admiral Mullen said, because they know he telling the truth. No one wants to look into the eyes of the families who have lost loved ones in Afghanistan and tell them that the country which harbors those who did it is our ally. So they do it in whispers.
The “anonymous sources” who tried to walk back Mullen’s comments are cowards. But they exemplify an administration whose foreign policy is in absolute crisis. They don’t know how to hold Pakistan accountable. They have put little forethought into lines of logistics other than Khyber and Chaman from the port city of Karachi – so they are beholden to the Pakistanis (and this which is heavily dependent on Russia doesn’t count compared to this). They have no long term vision for true alliances in the region where India would be a much better friend than Pakistan.
Make no mistake about it. Mullen and the Joint Chiefs of Staff are trying to fight a war. The Obama administration just undercut the Chairman in a campaign of whispers by cowards. It is obscene in the superlative, and a sure sign of utter failure.