Proliferation Press

A webpage devoted to tracking and analyzing current events related to the proliferation of WMD/CBRN.

Posts Tagged ‘United States’

Mitt Romney Gets the New START Treaty Wrong

Posted by K.E. White on July 6, 2010

Mitt Romney excoriates the New START Treaty in today’s NYTimes.  But in arguing that the treaty jeopardizes American security, he notes treaty technicalities without accessing their actual impact.  In so doing, he gets the treaty wrong, needlessly politicizing U.S. foreign policy for partisan gain.

Romney’s chief charge?  New START impedes U.S. missile defense:

Whatever the reason for the treaty’s failings, it must not be ratified: The security of the United States is at stake. The only responsible course is for the Senate to demand and scrutinize the full diplomatic record underlying the treaty. Then it must insist that any linkage between the treaty and our missile defense system be eliminated. In a world where nuclear weapons are proliferating, America’s missile defense shield must not be compromised. As currently drafted, New START is a non-starter.

On this score Romney is technically correct, but misses the larger point.

Yes, there are limits on America’s missile shield development.  The Heritage Foundation and others point out the indirect limitation of U.S. missile defense within treaty.  From Baker Spring’s webmemo at Heritage:

This specific collection of restrictions pertains to test target missiles and their associated launchers and comes in addition to a general restriction imposed by language in New START’s preamble and a specific restriction in Article V that prohibits the conversion of intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) launchers into missile defense launchers.

As non-deployed launchers, these test target launchers are counted against the 800-unit limit on deployed and non-deployed launchers in Article II of the treaty. Similar to the missiles themselves, Article IV of New START restricts what kinds of facilities may host non-deployed launchers, where they may be located geographically, and transit time. Like non-deployed ICBMs and SLBMs, application of elimination or conversion procedures (leaving aside those addressed in Article V) and notification requirements could apply.

So yes, there are limitations.  But Steven Pifer at Brookings notes the mootness of this restriction (along with the NYTimes’s Peter Baker):

As for hard limits, the treaty contains only one regarding missile defense:  the United States would be barred from placing missile defense interceptors in ICBM silos or SLBM launchers.  That’s a constraint, but not one that will affect the U.S. missile defense program.  The Pentagon has no plans to put missile interceptors in ICBM or SLBM launchers; it would be cheaper to build new silos for missile defense interceptors than convert existing ICBM silos.

And events on the ground suggest Brooking’s is right.  Romney’s article omits continuing U.S. missile defense plans in Georgia.

Now are there flaws with the treaty?  Unquestionably.  But the treaty in no way sacrifices America’s development of missile defense.  On top of that, the treaty offers tangible benefits to American security.

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Dawn’s Iran Editorial Falls (Worrisomely) Flat

Posted by K.E. White on July 5, 2010

The Dawn, a leading Pakistani newspaper, offers a troublingly subtle critic of American policy towards Iran.

The Dawn comes out against the recent-round of U.S. sanction against Iran.  Instead it asks the U.S. to accept its limited “moral basis”:

There is no doubt Tehran has pursued policies that often appear unnecessarily confrontational. But the US-led bloc has not helped matters by failing to realise the reasons behind Iran’s hard line. The truth is that, while the western powers follow Iran’s nuclear programme with a microscope, patronising Israel, the Middle East’s only nuclear power, continues to be the basic principle of their policy. This has robbed western diplomacy of a moral basis for going tough on Iran.

One question:  Just how would Dawn propose America reclaim the moral high-ground? On that mark, the editorial falls (worrisomely) flat.

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Pakistan and America Cozy Up During Strategic Dialogue

Posted by K.E. White on March 25, 2010

The United States and Pakistan have closed out two major meetings, wrapping up highlights of their week-long strategic dialogue.  NPR offers a good summary of the meetings and their trust-building importance, and the current status of the U.S.-Pakistan relationship.

Earlier this week, Gen. Ashfaq Kayani met with Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen.  And Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi conducted a ministerial meeting yesterday.

A apparent results of the meetings are not breath-taking.  Yesterday’s meeting brought new American pledges for development aid.

From The Australian:

“It is the start of something new. Our countries have had our misunderstandings and disagreements in the past and there are sure to be more disagreements in the future, as there are between any friends or family members,” she said. “But this is a new day. For the past year, the Obama administration has shown in our words and deeds a different approach and attitude toward Pakistan.”

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N-Deal for Pakistan? C. Christine Fair’s Editorial in Foreign Policy Magazine

Posted by K.E. White on March 23, 2010

Update 3/24/10:  Fair’s Foreign Policy editorial post-dates a similar editorial she wrote for the Wall Street Journal last month (subscription only).

C. Christine Fair suggests the United States take preliminary steps towards a nuclear deal with Pakistan.

The reward for such a policy?  Breaking the Pakistani regime’s ties to extremist organizations.

Could such a plan work?  Perhaps.  But there are many pitfalls.  Would opening Pakistan to the nuclear market-place really strengthen America’s bargaining power?  Or would we get short-term gain, and then watch in later years as Pakistan deals with other members of the Nuclear Suppliers Group?  And what cost would America pay in its relationship with India or its efforts to strengthen non-proliferation norms if it even hinted at a U.S.-Pakistan nuclear deal?

In any case, any Obamaland discussion of this proposal seems unlikely for now.  With the State Department struggling to seal a new START treaty with Russia; Obama preparing for an international nuclear security summit latter this spring; and a once-every-five-years NPT review conference convening this summer, Obama’s nonproliferation agenda would–at best—be distracted with talk of another country-specific U.S. nuclear deal.

But Fair draws our attention to a critical and (perhaps) emerging U.S. foreign policy debate.  And any debate that links American security interests, Pakistan’s internal stability and global nonproliferation norms will expose thorny but unavoidable policy dilemmas.

Fair, a professor at Georgetown University, offers full-text links to a rich body of previously published works.  I particularly recommend Determinants of Popular Support for Iran’s Nuclear Program, India and the US:  Embracing a New Paradigm and Indo-Iranian Ties:  Thicker Than Oil.

From Fair’s article at ForeignPolicy.com:

Pakistan maintains that its dangerous policies are motivated by fears of India. A phased U.S. approach will either diminish this deep-seated insecurity or call Pakistan’s bluff about the rationale for its behavior, motivating the United States to rethink its handling of Pakistan. Either outcome would be an enormous improvement over the stagnant status quo.

Washington must transform its relations with Islamabad (and Rawalpindi, where Pakistan’s military is headquartered) with the same energy and creativity as it did with New Delhi because Washington needs both South Asian states as much as they need Washington. Such a conditions-based deal will take years to come to fruition even if dubious U.S entities and inveterate U.S. foes in Pakistan don’t stand in the way. Putting it on the table now would only be a first step in a strategic gamble that may or may not pay off down the road.

And from another article Fair wrote for Washington Monthly in April 2009:

The Need for Sober Realism

The United States needs to chart a different relationship with Pakistan, relying on different instruments of influence. It needs to lessen its dependence on Pakistan so it can be bolder in applying negative as well as positive inducements to shape Pakistani behavior. It needs to develop a suite of assistance that strengthens Pakistan’s governance capacity and the country’s ability to wage counterinsurgency and counterterrorism operations effectively. And it needs to support Pakistani civil society as it debates the kind of country it wants to become and seeks to hold its government to account for its crimes of commission and omission. In the end, despite continued U.S. and international support and assistance along these lines, Pakistan may remain unwilling or unable to relinquish support for militant groups within its territory or in the region. In this case, the United States must be willing to consider Pakistan an ill-suited recipient of U.S. generosity and be willing to deploy punitive measures if need be. Indeed, a credible U.S. threat to apply these sticks may encourage the state to undertake needed steps to secure its own security and that of its neighborhood in the first instance.

Although this may seem untenable at first blush, the alternatives are even worse. If the international community cannot save Pakistan, and if it cannot save itself, then the United States and its partners will have to reorient their efforts toward containing or mitigating the various threats that emanate from Pakistan. This will be a daunting task. The enormity of such efforts should motivate Washington to adopt a realistic policy approach that mobilizes all aspects of U.S. national power to secure a Pakistan at peace with itself and its neighbors.

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Explaining the START Slowdown

Posted by K.E. White on March 23, 2010

START renewal talks have stalled between the United States and Russia.  TIME Magazine offers theories behind the slow-down, while sketching out the supposed template of the agreement.

Possible road blocks?  First, Russian fears that Obama has not completely shelved plans for a missile shield in Eastern Europe.  Another theory points to Russian domestic politics, and differing interests between Russian President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin.

This Voice of Russia article highlights Russian objections to possible U.S. missile defense schemes in Eastern Europe.  Yet, the article still considers the agreement “95 percent ready, with both sides expected to sign the document ahead of the international security summit slated for April 12 in Washington.”

For those readers hungry for more detail, Arms Control Association offers fantastic resources:  especially Daryl G. Kimball’s recent Moscow Times editorial and Greg Thielmann’s New START Verification: Fitting the Means to the Ends.

From the TIME.com article:

Currently, it is not clear what is holding up START negotiations. The basics of an agreement have been locked down since a joint Obama-Medvedev meeting last July: the White House reported that the two sides were ready to commit to reduce their arsenals to somewhere between 1,500 and 1,675 warheads and between 500 and 1,100 delivery systems, i.e. missiles and long-range bombers. Currently, the treaty allows each side a maximum of 2,200 warheads and 1,600 launch vehicles.

Early on in the talks, Russia raised concerns about U.S. plans for a missile-defense system in Europe, which could potentially give the U.S. an edge if it could neutralize parts of Moscow’s arsenal. Many hoped that concern had been addressed by Obama’s pledge last September to scrap a Bush-era plan to station interceptor missiles in Poland and by promises to include missile defense in negotiations of any further arms-control treaties. But Moscow remained concerned over the alternatives to the Polish scheme being considered by the U.S, for deployment in Europe. Last week the Speaker of Russia’s lower house of parliament, Boris Gryzlov, said that the Duma would not ratify a START treaty until all U.S. plans for a Europe-based missile-defense system were shelved.

“There are all sorts of rumors for why [a new treaty] hasn’t been signed,” says Hans Kristensen of the Federation of American Scientists. “At a deeper level the delay hints at lingering distrust between the United States and Russia.”

Potter, however, believes that domestic tensions in Russia rather than a rift between the two countries is responsible for the delay. “The delay has had more to do with Russian domestic politics and involves disputes between Russian military and political figures about the role of nuclear weapons in Russian security policy and the importance of improved Russian relations with the United States,” he explains. “Some Russian analysts also have suggested that President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin have different interests in rapid conclusion (and ratification) of the treaty, which is related to their positioning for the next presidential contest.”

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Richard Holbrooke Shakes Up U.S. Aid to Pakistan

Posted by K.E. White on March 18, 2010

Bordering Afghanistan, possessing nuclear weapons, and boasting its own pernicious extremist population, Pakistan personifies the ideal candidate for U.S. military and development aid.

Indeed, it’s estimates place America’s 2010 aid expenditure at $2.6 billion.  And it’s for the long-haul: 2009 legislation expends this aid over 5 years.  (The Islamabad Policy institute offers an in-depth report on the legislative history and Pakistani reaction to the 2009 bill)

But does the aid 1) achieve its tailored purposes and 2) serve U.S. interests in the country more broadly?

Well, Pakistan isn’t ecstatic.  And, it seems, neither is Special Envoy Richard Holbrooke.

Foreign Policy reviews ideas to better implement U.S. aid to Pakistan.  The article’s final two paragraphs reveal the key conflict:  ensuring U.S. aid both 1) improves the American image to ordinary Pakistanis and 2) actually shores up Pakistan’s precarious regime.  From the article:

Whatever the United States was doing before didn’t work for Pakistan, and didn’t work for America. Clearly, it’s time to try something else. The danger, though, is that Holbrooke will find a way of helping the U.S. image in Pakistan, and thus advance key national security goals, without really producing change inside the country. Perhaps, therefore, Pakistan should force the United States to re-evaluate aid policy even further. Wendy Chamberlin, a former U.S. ambassador to Pakistan, argued in a recent op-ed that aid will continue to fortify Pakistan’s deeply entrenched elites unless the United States finds an entirely new way of delivering it; she proposed inviting a wide array of groups and individuals to bid for aid projects, much as the Obama administration is now doing in the education world with its $4.3 billion grant program known as Race to the Top.

A more far-reaching proposal comes from the Center for Global Development, a Washington think tank that has proposed (pdf) that funders sign contracts with recipient states in which both sides agree on a specific desired outcome — say, increasing the reach of basic health services by a fixed percentage — and then the donor leaves the government wholly free to reach the outcome in any way it sees fit. The donor begins to pay only when the government begins to show results. (A mutually-agreed-upon third party audits the recipient’s progress.) “Cash on delivery aid,” as authors Nancy Birdsall and William D. Savedoff have dubbed the idea, offers accountability for donors, autonomy for recipients, and transparency for citizens of both countries. A corrupt or incompetent government — Pakistan’s, for example — could fail to hold up its end of the bargain. But are Americans really prepared to hand over scarce resources to such a state — even if doing so helps their image?

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Proliferation Press Round-Up: New START Agreement At Hand? Reorganizing State’s Arms Control Team and Susan Burke–America’s Top NPT Representative–Talks to Arms Control Today

Posted by K.E. White on March 17, 2010

  • Close to START II?

AFP reported yesterday that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in Russia where sources “have confirmed she will have bilateral negotiations on START with her Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.”’

Global Security Newswire (GSN) sheds light on the key sticking point in an excellent article posted yesterday.

The main sticking point in negotiations?  According to GSN, “[t]he Obama administration’s plans to deploy missile defenses in Europe remains the top issue of contention, according to defense analyst Pavel Felgenhauer. Moscow wants the nuclear treaty to address the matter, but any restriction is not likely to gain approval from U.S. senators who must ratify the agreement.”

The NYTimes portrays the long and winding road these talks have traveled.

  • State Brings Back Arms Control—In Title

Global Security Newswire reports today that the State Department has started reviewing how to better “strengthen” their arms control bureaus.

Currently three bureaus—Verification, Compliance and Implementation (VCI), International Security and Nonproliferation (ISN) and Political-Military Affairs Bureau—make up the ‘T’ of the State Department’s arms control bureaus.

The White House plans to better divide responsibilities between these three bureaus, and will change VCI’s name to Arms Control, Verification and Compliance.

Only five years ago, the Bush administration oversaw a similar restricting.  In 2005 two of the then four arms control bureaus—Arms Control and Nonproliferation—were merged into today’s ISN.  The rationale?  The bureaus, separately, did not reward staff with opportunities for advancement and failed to attract staffers.  (This is when Arms Control—at least in name—was stricken from the title of any State Department arms control bureau.)

But a 2009 GAO report found that this reorganization failed to solve either problem.

So the Obama Administration is trying again.

Main take-away:  Reorganizing agencies is tough work, and can determine the effectiveness of critical branches of the U.S. diplomatic and national security apparatus.  Hopefully, the United States can at least enjoy a smooth-running arms control team for the last half of his administration.

  • Susan Burke Interview at Arms Control Today

Susan Burke, who finally received Senate approval in June, talks with Arms Control Today about the upcoming Nuclear Nonproliferation Conference.  Susan highlights what will be the ‘big picture’ goal of the United States at the conference that takes place only once every five years:

What we have been discussing with our partners as we engage in diplomatic outreach is the importance of full compliance with the treaty to maintaining the integrity of the treaty and the corrosive effect that noncompliance has on the treaty itself and on the understandings that other countries have had. We expect that this will be discussed in May. It has to be discussed—full compliance, full support for safeguards, and all those other measures. Exactly how it will be discussed is up in the air at the moment. There are different views on how to handle the issue. But I don’t think there is any disagreement among parties—certainly not in my consultations—that full compliance is absolutely essential.

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Containing North Korea: Gordon Chang Calls for Interdiction Now

Posted by K.E. White on July 1, 2009

Today’s Wall Street Journal features Gordon G. Chang’s call for the United States to start interdicting suspected North Korean weapons shipments now. Instead of seeking accommodation with China and obtaining a new U.N. resolution on the matter, Chang argues America already has full authority to stop, inspect and seize North Korean weapons exports.

Yesterday, the North Korean ship Kang Nam–suspected of carrying weapons and thus bringing the interdiction issue to the forefront–turned around. Whether this event reflects the effectiveness of current sanctions, or merely a delaying tactic on the part of North Korea has yet to been seen.

(Backgrounder: The latest UN Security Resolution, passed June 12th after North Korea’s second nuclear test, requires permission of the “flag state” [i.e. the nation that exercises regulatory control of a commercial vessel] for any inspection. Chang gets around this by pointing out that Kim Jong-Il has withdrawn from the Korean War Armistice Agreement on May 29th, returning America and North Korea back to a state of war.)

North Korea is yet again testing the international community’s resolve. Should America go it alone, as Chang suggests? Or is Chinese support required for any North Korean interdiction policy to be effective?

Below is a section of Chang’s editorial, followed by David Sanger’s June 7th New York Times report exploring Obamaland’s weighing of the interdiction option—highlighting China’s thorny middle-ground position of wishing to contain North Korea proliferation, but not destabilizing the North Korean regime.

From Chang’s editorial How To Stop North Korea’s Weapons Proliferation:

Furthermore, there has never been a peace treaty formally ending the Korean War. This means the U.S., a combatant in the conflict, as leader of the U.N. Command, is free to use force against Pyongyang. On legal grounds, the U.S. Navy therefore has every right to seize the Kang Nam, treat the crew as prisoners of war, and confiscate its cargo, even if the ship is carrying nothing more dangerous than melons. Because the Navy has the right to torpedo the vessel, which proudly flies the flag of another combatant in the war, it of course has the right to board her.

The lesson of the last few years is that the U.N. is not capable of stopping North Korean proliferation. No nation can stop it except the U.S. Of course, ending North Korea’s sales of dangerous technologies to hostile regimes will anger Pyongyang. This month, for instance, the North said that interception of the Kang Nam would constitute an “act of war.”

Yet, as much as the international community would like to avoid a confrontation, the world cannot let Kim Jong Il continue to proliferate weapons. Moreover, it is unlikely that he will carry through on his blustery threats. The North Koreans did not in fact start a war when, at America’s request, Spain’s special forces intercepted an unflagged North Korean freighter carrying Scud missiles bound for Yemen in December 2002. Even though the Spanish risked lives to board the vessel, Washington soon asked Madrid to release it. At the time, the Bush administration explained there was no legal justification to seize the missiles.

Now, the Obama administration has no such excuse. There is definitely a legal justification to seize the Kang Nam. North Korea, after all, has resumed the Korean War.

And from David Sanger’s June 7th NYTimes report:

In conducting any interdictions, the United States could risk open confrontation with North Korea. That prospect — and the likelihood of escalating conflict if the North resisted an inspection — is why China has balked at American proposals for a resolution by the United Nations Security Council that would explicitly allow interceptions at sea. A previous Security Council resolution, passed after the North’s first nuclear test, in 2006, allowed interdictions “consistent with international law.” But that term was never defined, and few of the provisions were enforced.

North Korea has repeatedly said it would regard any interdiction as an act of war, and officials in Washington have been trying to find ways to stop the shipments without a conflict. Late last week, James B. Steinberg, the deputy secretary of state, visited Beijing with a delegation of American officials, seeking ideas from China about sanctions, including financial pressure, that might force North Korea to change direction.

“The Chinese face a dilemma that they have always faced,” a senior administration official said. “They don’t want North Korea to become a full nuclear weapons state. But they don’t want to cause the state to collapse.” They have been walking a fine line, the official said, taking a tough position against the North of late, but unwilling to publicly embrace steps that would put China in America’s camp.

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Pakistan: Is Engineering Civic Engagement Needed To Ensure Effective U.S. Military and Humanitarian Aid?

Posted by K.E. White on May 20, 2009

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s description of US policy toward Pakistan as “incoherent” caught US airwaves for its frankness–or, perhaps to some, apologist tone. But more importantly, Clinton’s press conference highlights a much tougher question: how does America make a coherent policy towards Pakistan?

Right now the stakes in Pakistan are high, but the mission is clear: help Pakistan’s civilian government beat back the extremist threat and, in so doing, strengthen liberal rule in the country and route dangerous terrorist groups that promise to make mayhem for Pakistan, Afghanistan and, ultimately, the United States.

But completing that is another matter all together. As Clinton laid out in yesterday’s press conference, the United States is increasing aid to Pakistan by $110 million—and reaching out to citizens to make additional $5 pledges via text messages. Here’s the breakdown and how the aid will reach Pakistan:

Despite her warmer words for Pakistan’s government, Mrs. Clinton said little of this aid would flow directly to the Pakistani authorities. Most of it will flow to the United Nations and other international aid organizations. Pakistan has been criticized in the past for squandering American assistance.

The latest influx of aid comes on top of $60 million in humanitarian aid that the United States has sent to Pakistan since last August, and $400 million the administration has requested from Congress to improve the counterinsurgency abilities of the Pakistani military.

While the bulk of the $100 million is coming from the State Department — channeled mainly through the Agency for International Development — the Pentagon will contribute $10 million for water trucks, food and large tents equipped with air-conditioning.

Mrs. Clinton emphasized that $26 million of the package was designated to buy grain from Pakistani farmers, which she said would take advantage of the country’s bumper grain crop this year.

Setting aside the important question whether or not this aid channels successfully to Pakistan, Rick Barton argues that without a mobilized Pakistani public committed against the Taliban no amount of is US military hard power and aid will turn the tide. How can the US assist in keeping the Pakistani public—which has already proven its civic force—mobilized to ensure effective civilian rule in Pakistan? Barton calls for American funding of locally controlled TV and radio stations to broadcast the barbarism of the Taliban and ensure continuous responsiveness of the Pakistani government to its citizens.

Now what Barton actually calls for verses current US efforts at ‘public diplomacy’ requires more digging. This CFR publication reviews current efforts at ‘public diplomacy’ in Afghanistan, illustrating that these operations are comprised of US military-run radio stations in Afghanistan. These stations report news, primarily US military operational updates, to locals before the Taliban can disseminate their own message of US humanitarian misdeeds.

Barton argues for greater scope of such efforts into television and radio, local control of content and less emphasis on American military news-updates. Rather these programs should empower locales to bring attention to social ills and examples of good governance.

Such a shift would see ‘public diplomacy’ shift from a focus on beating back extremist propaganda to  providing an independent avenue for public discourse and mobilization.

Starting such a public diplomacy program in Pakistan has risks.  First, will US funds inadvertently go towards anti-American messaging, entertainment programming of little worth or—most alarmingly—into jihadist controlled stations?

But Barton’s provocative idea has its virtues. Showing images of heinous terrorist acts and allowing Pakistanis to push for responsible governance could go a long way in keeping the Pakistani regime responsive to and credible in the eyes of its citzens.

Yet, there are greater dangers than misspent American funds. Stirring the pot of public mobilization can freeze a regime’s forward motion: fanning legitimate public grievances could place unrealistic demands on a regime making real, if slow, forward motion towards effective governance. End-result: A poor, but improving, regime is rejected and replaced with crippled regime.

In any case, the United States must craft a workable, and not simply a military-run propagandist approach to public diplomacy in Pakistan. As Jeanne Bourgault points out in her article Radio a Sound Salvation for Pakistan?:

One recent survey in the area found that “many of the listeners who tune in to militant or mullah-run stations do so largely out of boredom and for want of a better alternative.” By training journalists and helping to set up new radio stations, America and Pakistan can offer this alternative. Supporting local, independent media is a cheap but effective weapon against instability and terror.

From Bourgault one can glean a less ambitious, but perhaps more attainable public diplomacy approach than offered by Barton. Barton’s prescription to instill large-scale mobilization of the Pakistani public must overcome two significant hurdles. First, will not hard-power attained security permit Pakistanis, themselves, to extend their already existing social networks?  And does not such a hard-power success depend on diplomatic and miliatary coordination between the United States, Afghanistan and Pakistan, not to mention agressive counter-insurgency operations in Pakistan more than additional radio stations?

Second, how does one measure the various variable that make-up large-scale social mobilization? The Pakistani public seems very engaged with its regimes current difficulties. Would American aid really produce civic engagement—or merely free-ride on the work of existing Pakistani social networks?

Expanding US jamming operations of extremist media outlets makes sense. And constructing US-controlled radio stations with local staffs that pump out ‘soft propaganda’—exposés on the value of American aid and extremist atrocities—could improve the perception of the United States to Pakistan’s inhabitants. Those two steps are practical steps forward in combatting the Af-Pak terrorist threat; and, furthermore, are preconditions to accessing the value of Barton’s more expansive public diplomacy prescription.

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Pakistan Fights Back

Posted by K.E. White on April 29, 2009

From ForeignPolicy.com’s Morning Brief:

The Pakistani military is fighting to retake the Buner district, just a few dozen miles from Islamabad, from Taliban militants. Both air and ground forces were deployed in Tuesday’s assault. Military commanders now claim to have retaken control of the strategic down of Daggar and to have killed 50 Taliban in the fighting.

Pakistan’s redeployment of troops away from the border with India its troubled Northwest comes after heavy U.S. criticism that it was not doing enough to fight the Taliban on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border and domestic outrage over the unchecked spread of the Taliban.

The Taliban’s advances into the Pakistani heartland will likely prompt a shift in emphasis in the U.S. Af-Pak strategy toward the “Pak.”

What’s left to add?

Dawn offers the best recap of military moves in Buner.

How did Buner fall to the Taliban? And what was the “sweet” logic of the Swat peace deal that set these events in motion?

And before writing off this crisis to a paroxysm of Pakistan’s internal, self-made (and perhaps terminal) flaws, let’s not forget other forces that brought this crisis to fruition.  

Finally, the Taliban are planning their own Afghanistan surge.

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