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I don’t want to sound like a conspiracy theorist here, because there are plenty of better ones on the blogosphere. But I would like to name some events and facts over the last couple of years that suggest deeper problems in Pakistan than we are ready to deal with.

First – remember Raymond Davis? The American CIA agent who killed two Pakistanis in Lahore? Almost certainly those men were agents of or employed by the Pakistani ISI, roughly equivalent the the US CIA.

Davis was reportedly being intimidated because he was ‘crossing a line’. That intimidation ended bloodily, and the US went to great lengths to get him out of Pakistan.

Now we have wikileaks helpfully informing us that the ISI had been sabotaging efforts to find bin Laden for some time now, hence why they were being circumvented by people like Raymond Davis and why Pakistan was given no warning of the final raid on bin Laden’s compound.

What are the implications of this?

1. It makes me believe there was in fact a high-value target inside Pakistan who was killed on May 2. The tension between intelligence agencies makes it seem as though the CIA had finally had enough of the obfuscating;
2. It makes ISI involvement in the Mumbai terror attacks seem far more likely;
3. It means that Afghanistan and its people will not be safe from the Taliban until the ISI undergoes extreme change. That means the Pakistani government has to be serious about addressing it, and has to feel like it no longer is so threatened that it needs the ISI in its current form. That means that if we really want peace in Afghanistan and Pakistan, we need to address the situation between Pakistan and India.

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The Polish Wolf

34 Comments

  • As Kennedy said just before he was murdered, the CIA should be broken into a thousand pieces and disbanded! It is a sh*t, outta control organization. It is wagging the dog. And we need not be in that part of the world killing people. We’ve done that long enough now. ALL our problems in that region are self-created, and if you really want to look for culprits, look at big oil. Let’s leave, and then leave those people alone. History should be our guide. Intervention has worked SO well there, right?

  • Our first hostile engagement with the Muslim world was 141 years before the foundation of the state of Israel. India and Pakistan were at war the year before Israel was founded.. The ISI was formed in 1948 and almost certainly started supporting anti-Indian terrorism soon thereafter. All of these things happened before the US showed any significant intervention in South Asia.

    Wait, don’t tell me – sure, but the British were there and created all these problems. Oh, such a clever response! How could I have forgotten that prior to the British conquest of India, the two religions lived together in serene inter-religious harmony, never fighting one another.

    So, LK, let me know – when was this mythical time period when everything was A-Okay in the world, when South Asia didn’t have any problems with terrorism and religious strife until we came along?

    • What a dufus. You see a lot of good from the CIA’s meddling in the region, do ya? Oh, and you’re such a history expert, EXPLAIN the Shah, Saddam, etc., and how this was in America’s best interest. You’re ridiculous. Oh, and then explain how great our two or three current wars are going. And while you’re at it, explain just HOW israel is our great ally. Sorry, dude, you’re a posuer, and it’s pathetically obvious.

      • LK = dodge ball champion! You dodged, ducked, dipped, dived, and dodged around the question of how the US is responsible for the fact that Pakistna’ intelligence apparatus is and has been training and financing terrorism without permission form its civilian government. This involved the CIA, your favorite topic, only obliquely. When the US cannot rely on local intelligence agencies, for example because they are protecting terrorists, we generally use greater CIA involvement on the ground.

        Indeed, Larry, if you had actually felt the need to honestly respond to the post, you’d see that I don’t call for greater CIA involvement at all! I just point out that it’s a little strange that the intelligence services of two countries that are supposedly allied are shooting each other at traffic.

        Actually, the recommendations I would give are those that would reduce the perceived need for the ISI. Now that we publicly claim to have killed bin Laden, we should stop bombing people across the b order. More importantly, we should encourage India to hold a real plebiscite in Kashmir. It would help heal some of the last wounds between India and Pakistan and decrease the perceived need for a militant ISI on the Pakistani side.

        So, Kralj, your point has nothing to do with anything I said. But I did have to go back and point out that not everything is America’s fault. Violence and religious strife existed far before the CIA. Sometimes, like in Iran, the violence has been fed by the CIA (and/or MI6). Other times, like in Afghanistan, the CIA has been involved but has not noticeable affected the level of violence. And still other times there are plenty of secrets and torturers and killings without any CIA involvement at all.

        And just because I like dodgeball – when were these wonderful days before US intervention when the Middle East and South Asia were peaceful paradises on earth?

  • This blogger confesses to cases that support the .308 Solution (North Korea, Myanmar, etc); but only in concert with the United Nations Security Council. The precedents in US history abound. Google the Dahlgren Affair. So, PW, how many times IS the CIA allowed to get it wrong before it gets one right?

  • Pakistan should close off our supply lines through the Khyber pass, and we should cut off the taxpayer money spigot. the golden goose is dead. the game has changed.

  • Interesting proposal, lizard. My fear is that the ISI also has an internal objective, which is to continue isolating their own government. They continue to sabotage efforts to cooperate with India or Afghanistan. Pakistan’s apparent tolerance of violence against Shia Muslims makes a better relationship with Iran seem unlikely, and all the sudden they are running out of neighbors.

    And then what do you have? The Af-Pak theatre becomes a real region-wide theatre, where secularists and Islamists fight it out and 200+ million people (and some nuclear weapons) await the result. It’d sure save us some money.

  • it’s already a region-wide theatre, and it’s heating up. the ISI is merely filling the partial vacuum left by a weak government that is weak largely due to our “influence” in the region.

    anyway, i’m more afraid of Israel. hamas’ deal with fatah is going to make Israel even crazier. and remember, those zionists don’t blink when executing an American citizen in international waters, or killing a young American woman with a bulldozer.

  • I find that interesting, lizard. That you’re more afraid of Israel. I guess I’m not, because Israel is an isolated country. The religious divide between them and their neighbors is too high for them to gain any real subversive allies in the region. Historically they have been able to win over the Christians in Lebanon, but that’s about it. The ISI has what, two hundred million Muslims in India they are trying to appeal to when they recruit terrorists? Not to mention extremists in Afghanistan and throughout Central Asia. Their potential for destruction has already been demonstrated. Israel may kill people (though interestingly only at about the same rate that Jordan or Lebanon killed Palestinians when they lived in those countries), but I don’t really see how their ‘craziness’ is likely to affect us in the near future.

    And I disagree that the ISI is filling some kind of ‘power vacuum’. They are maintaining a policy that the rest of the Pakistani government wisely abandoned once it became clear that war with India was no longer acceptable. Their goal is clear – in foreign policy, to spread the influence of Pakistan at the expense of India, and internally, to maintain a beligerant stance with India and other neighbors of Pakistan so as to maintain the justification for their support of terrorism and insurgency. India is leaving Pakistan far behind, largely by no longer caring about it. They are militarily confident, they have near-complete control of their section of Kashmir, and they are able to placate their middle class with economic growth, reducing nationalist pressures to push the issue. Pakistan would be wise to follow that model, but that would leave the ISI largely unimportant, hence the ISI has to keep the country on a war footing.

    It actually sounds like how Mark describes the CIA.

    • if you don’t see how our relationship with Israel negatively affects our presence in the region, then that’s a big blindspot. even some of our high ranking military officials and f-ing Joe Biden have acknowledged that. then there’s that whole slaughtering of over a thousand people in Cast Lead and gunning down peaceful activists trying to break the inhumane blockade. collective punishment of Palestinians is deplorable. it makes Israel an apartheid state, and because their brand of existential paranoia, Israel’s leadership and most of its citizens perceives everything through the lens of their own impending annihilation.

      i’m not the only one who thinks the reason Obama was so tepid in response to the Egyptian uprising is because of Israel.as for Pakistan, i’ll repeat that our drone strikes are radicalizing elements in that country. secularist leaders are being assassinated, and the economic situation and inability of the government to address disasters like the floods and the earthquake only further destabilizes the country.

      i wish i had time for a more substantive response. maybe later.

      • Lizard, I never said our relationship with Israel doesn’t negatively affect our policy in the region. I don’t know why you continue to believe I said that. But Israel’s existence and it’s ‘existential paranoia’ (perhaps fueled at least a little by rhetoric threatening the existence of Israel that continues to come out of the Muslim world) are facts we have to deal with. Is this the part where you go on again about Sadat betraying the Palestinians? For both sides at this point, belligerence is serving as an excuse for mediocre (at best) leadership. Should we try to encourage Israel to make peace? Sure, go for it.

        But this is where I get into why the Israel issue is overblown. You’ve chosen to write about an area home to maybe 12 million people and how crazy Israel is, saying you are more scared of this area than about Pakistan.

        Pakistan, of course, has ten times as many people as Israel and Palestine (including all refugees) combined. The disputed area of Kashmir alone has more people than all of Israel, and is disputed by two nuclear powers totally together a substantial portion of the world’s population. The ISI is almost certainly working to ensure continued tension between these two massive nations. Additionally, there is good reason to believe the ISI is working to destabilize Afghanistan as well, another thirty million people or so, with repercussions spreading who knows how far north into Central Asia.

        This is why I don’t really understand why Israel is a bigger problem here. But as for the effect of drone strikes, as you may have read above I’ve already agreed with you. They increase the percieved need for militarism, rather than decrease it.

  • wolf, i’m putting this down here because it’s a long response.

    so the amount of people equates to how scary they are? i guess that makes China the scariest of all.Israel has AIPAC, and deep influence over too many of our politicians (see the treasonous behavior of one Jane Harman as just one example)and read this piece by Christopher Ketcham.

    Israel’s spying on the U.S., however, is a matter of public record, and neither conspiracy nor theory is needed to present the evidence. When the FBI produces its annual report to Congress concerning “Foreign Economic Collection and Industrial Espionage,” Israel and its intelligence services often feature prominently as a threat second only to China. In 2005 the FBI noted, for example, that Israel maintains “an active program to gather proprietary information within the United States.” A key Israeli method, said the FBI report, is computer intrusion. In 1996, the Defense Intelligence Service, a branch of the Pentagon, issued a warning that “the collection of scientific intelligence in the United States [is] the third highest priority of Israeli Intelligence after information on its Arab neighbors and information on secret U.S. policies or decisions relating to Israel.”

    and look at the little skirmishes Israel has launched in the last few years, and that hotel assassination in Dubai. they used white phosphorous in densely populated Gaza for Christ’s sake. Mossad and the IDF are unhinged and totally freaked out about all these scary arabs getting itchy to squirm from underneath the thumb of western-backed dictators.Pakistan, on the other hand, seems headed for more internal strife. if India has pulled so far ahead, as you claim, then one would think Pakistan would be less prone to take on a self-destructive provocation against India. it’s the pressure building behind the Pakistani government’s credibility that should be of most concern. i’m glad you see drone strikes as a bad idea. drone strikes and the Davis dustup are closely linked. when Davis was first captured, drone strikes stopped for weeks. then, when Pakistani justice set Davis free with some blood-money changing hands, a drone strike killed a peaceful gathering of elders in North Waziristan. it’s been speculated this was a little fuck you by the CIA because Pakistan has booted a bunch of spooks after the Raymond Davis embarrassment (for both sides).in the end, ISI, Mossad, CIA, and the respective governments they represent are all playing the geo-politic chess game, and their top priority is not keeping their respective populations safe; the top priority is keeping the players of their national teams in power.

  • *** i’m going to try and post this comment again with line breaks. i hope the links transfer ok.

    so the amount of people equates to how scary they are? i guess that makes China the scariest of all.Israel has AIPAC, and deep influence over too many of our politicians (see the treasonous behavior of one Jane Harman as just one example)and read this piece by Christopher Ketcham.

    Israel’s spying on the U.S., however, is a matter of public record, and neither conspiracy nor theory is needed to present the evidence. When the FBI produces its annual report to Congress concerning “Foreign Economic Collection and Industrial Espionage,” Israel and its intelligence services often feature prominently as a threat second only to China. In 2005 the FBI noted, for example, that Israel maintains “an active program to gather proprietary information within the United States.” A key Israeli method, said the FBI report, is computer intrusion. In 1996, the Defense Intelligence Service, a branch of the Pentagon, issued a warning that “the collection of scientific intelligence in the United States [is] the third highest priority of Israeli Intelligence after information on its Arab neighbors and information on secret U.S. policies or decisions relating to Israel.”

    and look at the little skirmishes Israel has launched in the last few years, and that hotel assassination in Dubai. they used white phosphorous in densely populated Gaza for Christ’s sake. Mossad and the IDF are unhinged and totally freaked out about all these scary arabs getting itchy to squirm from underneath the thumb of western-backed dictators.Pakistan, on the other hand, seems headed for more internal strife. if India has pulled so far ahead, as you claim, then one would think Pakistan would be less prone to take on a self-destructive provocation against India. it’s the pressure building behind the Pakistani government’s credibility that should be of most concern. i’m glad you see drone strikes as a bad idea. drone strikes and the Davis dustup are closely linked. when Davis was first captured, drone strikes stopped for weeks. then, when Pakistani justice set Davis free with some blood-money changing hands, a drone strike killed a peaceful gathering of elders in North Waziristan. (it’s been speculated this was a little fuck you by the CIA because Pakistan has booted a bunch of spooks after the Raymond Davis embarrassment.in the end, ISI, Mossad, CIA, and the respective governments they represent are all playing the geo-political chess game, and their top priority is not keeping their respective populations safe; their top priority is keeping the players of their national teams in power.

  • i give up. there’s a quote in there after the Ketcham article that i tried to blockquote, and the line breaks disappeared again. sorry.

  • lizard – if you are an individual living in Gaza, I suppose Israel is more frightening. But the ISI has the potential to destabilize a much larger region. The difference between Mossad and the CIA on one hand and Mossad on the other is that Mossad adn the CIA are currently operating more or less in the interest of their national governments. The ISI is working completely at cross purposes to their national government, and while Mossad and the CIA generally work for stability (even when it means repressing the legitimate will of the people), the ISI needs, to justify its existence, to continue to destabilize the region, to continue inflaming tensions with its neighbors.

    • The CIA is working in “our national interest”? What a dufus. Explain that one, dufus. How you know? Everything they do is secret! We don’t even know their budget! And now, they are instigating military actions! Only a moron believes that the CIA works in our country’s best interest. Please prove that assertion with some facts. And then, explain what their budget is and what the public oversight is of their actions.

    • The CIA is working in “our national interest”? What a dufus. Explain that one, dufus. How you know? Everything they do is secret! We don’t even know their budget! And now, they are instigating military actions! Only a moron believes that the CIA works in our country’s best interest. Please prove that assertion with some facts. And then, explain what their budget is and what the public oversight is of their actions.

  • the CIA works for instability as well, when it serves a purpose, like regime change.

    and i’d be interested to see some sources backing up this idea that the ISI is “working completely at cross purposes to their national government.” i don’t disbelieve it, i’d just like to see someone other than yourself argue the point.

  • .Perhaps Afghan would rather be safe from Americans than Taliban? Has anyone thought to ask them? We seem to spend a lot of time saving people who fear us and suffer more from our bombs than the evils we are supposedly there to help them avoid. makes me think that foreign policy as presented to the American public is one big lie

  • In reality the accounts of this are normal wear and tear on areas. In Pakistan the CCP and MSS are working very hard to harness the area’s terrorists for their own consumption able use of economic warfare. This is because the more they attack India and the US the more the CCP and MSS can expand. So instead of everybody going in together like a peaceful world. We see the only country not wanting to deal with terrorist camps in Communist China. As India, Russia, The US, France and everybody else is willing to place troops on the ground to stop these actors. However, the CCP and MSS constantly seem to be protecting them. I would say that the arrest lead to worse ties to stop terrorism in Pakistan and opened more terrorist as the CCP and MSS protect that area from international police raids. 
    Rider I
    http://rideriantieconomicwarfaretrisiii.blogspot.com/

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