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Monday, March 19

Oh shit, it's almost springtime in Afghanistan and Pakistan is FUBAR!

The Taliban say they have massed 6,000 fighters and scared up weapons to bring down helicopters, so they can wage the mother of all battles against Nato in Afghanistan as soon as the snows melt.

Meanwhile, Britain is seriously ticked off at fellow EU members Germany, France, Italy and Spain, "who have so far not shown the adequate resolve to be part of a full Nato complement in Afghanistan" in time for the spring offensive.

Meanwhile Pakistan's President Musharraf continues to say 'Please understand me' to US envoys who threaten to cut military aid and do other dire things unless he gets real about rooting out al Qaeda and Taliban in the lawless territory bordering Pakistan.

Pakistan's latest move to deal with AQ is the Bajaur Accord. Bill Roggio at The Fourth Rail reported on March 17 on the accord signing:
It appears, like in the North and South Waziristan deals, that the government has openly negotiated with the Taliban and al Qaeda. [...] The North and South Waziristan Accords have been famous failures, as the Taliban and al Qaeda openly rule in the agencies, virtually free of harassment by Pakistani government security forces. Terror training camps have been established and battalion sized formations of Taliban fighters sortie from Waziristan into Afghanistan. The Bajaur Accord, like the North and South Waziristan Accords, signals the Pakistani government is unwilling to police its own borders, and is prepared to hand over even more territory to the Taliban and al Qaeda.
One of Bill's readers, "Joe," neatly summed the situation:
Musharraf is rapidly being squeezed into a corner and it is doubtful if he can last. On one side he is forced to sign peace deals with Taliban/AQ ceding large portions of territory to jihadists who have absolutely no intention of honoring the agreements and continue to expand their influence closer to Islamabad. Now he is also facing a revolt within the Pakistan middle and upper class over his treatment of a senior judge. Not good. Syed Ahahzdad had articles in Asia Times all this week talking about the magnitude of these problems and even detailed cooperation between these two groups to put pressure on Musharraf. Pakistan is close to if not already FUBAR.
FUBAR, for readers who aren't up on military terminology , means "fouled up beyond all repair" although the original statement is somewhat more colorful.

What are the other dire things the US has threatened if Musharraf's government doesn't get it together? From Bill Roggio's March 1 report on the US attempts to pressure Pakistan, US government sources quoted by The New Times on February 26 claim:
Pakistan has also been told that the US-NATO forces do not like to take any action by themselves inside Pakistani territory but if the movement of ‘people’ did not stop, there would be no other option left.
I note that President Bush didn't send any old envoy to talk tough to Pakistan's prez; he sent Vice President Cheney. That might help explain the recent movement from antiwar factions in the Democrat and Republican camps to portray Cheney as certifiably nuts. The campaign has heated up so much that columnist and GOP supporter Charles Krauthammer had to invoke his psychiatric credentials to argue that Cheney is sane.

However, it could be that the psychiatric profession has to admit to a new definition of insanity: Any American who believes that the United States of America is currently engaged in a war.

In support of this observation I bring you Tom Malinowski, an advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. He has the solution for halting al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Iraq and getting the Taliban to pipe down. As he explains it at the Washington Post's editorial page on Sunday: If we would just stop calling it a war on terror, what really isn't a war would stop.

As to how this could stop things such as surface-to-air rockets in Afghanistan and chlorine attacks in Iraq, I guess his thought processes are complex. But the gist is that if Qaeda & Co. are treated as criminals, they will stop glorifying themselves as soldiers and, one presumes, cooperate in being prosecuted by the US Department of Justice.

What Malinowski studiously overlooks is that one doesn't buy many shoulder-fired rockets and sophisticated explosive devices from bazaars along the Silk Route. Governments are supplying the weapons and paying for fighters who use terrorist tactics, which is why President Bush spoke of a "war on terror" instead of outright declaring war on certain countries.

However, I mention Malinowski's idea just in case you're tempted to hope that Washington Post editors have recently moved out from under the thumb of the US Department of State, which clings to the belief that the world's baddest guys respect diplomacy above force. Which is one way of saying that State is FUBAR.

Meanwhile, Canadian Mark Steyn had some choice words for Nato allies who are advancing to the rear in Afghanistan:
According to my dictionary, the word "ally" comes from the Old French. Very Old French, I'd say. For the New French, the word has a largely postmodern definition of "duplicitous charmer who undermines you at every opportunity".

For the less enthusiastically obstructive NATO members, "ally" means "wealthy country with no military capability that requires years of diplomatic wooing and black-tie banquets in order to agree to a token contribution of 23.08 troops." Incidentally, that 23.08 isn't artistic licence on my part. [...]

And these days "troops" is something of an elastic term, too. In Norwegian, it means "fighting men who are prepared to stand shoulder to shoulder with the Americans, as long as they don't have to do any fighting and there are at least two provinces between their shoulders and the American ones".

That's to say, Norway is "participating" in Afghanistan, but, because its troops are "not sufficiently trained to take part in combat", they've been mainly back at the barracks manning the photocopier or staging amateur performances of Peer Gynt for the amusement of US special forces who like nothing better than to unwind with five acts of Ibsen after a hard day hunting the Taliban.

Alas, even being in the general vicinity of regions where fighting is taking place got a little too much so the Norwegians demanded a modification of their rules of non-engagement and insisted their "soldiers" be moved to parts of Afghanistan where there's no fighting whatsoever by anyone at all. Good luck finding any
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Meanwhile, spring is on the way in Afghanistan......
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