Rohrabacher, Gohmert and King Invade National Press Club

Map from Wikimedia Commons

Lacking both the authority and the means to carry out their own invasion of Pakistan to secure the independence of Balochistan, Republican Representatives Dana Rohrabacher (CA), Louie Gohmert (TX) and Steve King (IA) instead invaded the National Press Club in Washington, DC on Tuesday for a press conference. Freedom for Balochistan is the latest quest for Rohrabacher, who has a history of being profoundly wrong in how he pursues freedom for various peoples.

One should never forget that as a speech-writing aide to Reagan, Rohrabacher was in on the ground floor of the “Freedom Fighter” effort in Afghanistan that funded Osama bin Laden:

Rohrabacher’s Afghanistan history dates back to his days as a speechwriter and presidential adviser in the Reagan White House, where he helped shape the Reagan Doctrine—the policy of arming resistance movements to undermine Soviet influence, with the mujahideen serving as Exhibit A. “I’d be there with guys in full Afghan garb in the executive dining room of the White House,” he recalls.

Of course, Rohrabacher wants to relegate his role in advancing bin Laden’s career to the dustbin. However, his approach in demonizing his current foe, the government of Pakistan, is just as wrong-headed as the decision to fund and arm bin Laden. From yesterday’s press conference:

“The government of Pakistan is radical Islam,” and has been providing weapons and resources to radical Muslim elements who use them against Americans, Rohrabacher said. “They are the evil force, they are the radicals.”

Wow. In all my blogging about Pakistan, I’ve totally missed the part about how the mullahs run the government. I was under the impression that Pakistan has a secular, civilian government. In fact, it appears that this government is making significant strides in avoiding the military coups that have befallen all previous Pakistani civilian governments.

But Rohrabacher was not alone in bringing forth profoundly wrong ideas at the press conference. Here is Gohmert:

Gohmert accused Pakistan of supplying the Taliban through Balochistan, which borders Afghanistan. Supporting an independent Balochistan could close of that supply route, he said. “The enemy of my enemy should be my friend,” he said.

That’s tremendous strategy from Gohmert. A look at the map above reveals that once Balochistan is “free” (and following the desires of Rohrabacher, Gohmert and King in all their actions, one presumes), there is just no way that supplies from Pakistan could get to Taliban forces in Pakistan or Afghanistan. And then Gohmert tops his geography failure by falling back on the tremendous logic that we and the Baloch must be friends because (once the US comes around to his thinking) we share the common enemy of Pakistan. That worked so well with bin Laden, didn’t it?

Rohrabacher also continued to repeat another mistake. During his initial hearing on Balochistan, he was chided in the Pakistani press for mispronouncing Balochistan. He has not yet moved to proper pronunciation of Baloch, either:

Rep. Rohrabacher, who mispronounced Baloch as Bal-ook for the entirety of the press conference, dispelled allegations that he was being paid by a lobby or an individual for raising the cause of the Baloch people.

At least one of Rohrabacher’s defenders on Twitter who claims to be from the region, however, offered yesterday that “Balook” is the proper English pronunciation.

Dawn puts the press conference into the wider picture of the current state of US-Pakistan relations:

Repeating their anti-Pakistan mantra, two senior US Congressmen pledged to continue to press for Balochistan’s secession even if Islamabad changed its alleged anti-US policies.

Congressmen Dana Rohrabacher and Louie Gohmert, however, told a news briefing in Washington that they did not have the power to provide weapons to Baloch fighters as they were not in the government.

The lawmakers focused their anger on an issue that resonates with the American public — Osama bin Laden’s discovery in Abbottabad. The briefing was held the same day as President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani met in Seoul to help rebuild US-Pakistan ties after almost two years of deterioration.

Both congressmen said that they would oppose any reconciliation with Pakistan.

What I find most frustrating about the theatrics of Rohrabacher and his friends here is that the people of Balochistan are indeed suffering greatly at the hands of Pakistan’s government. With their homeland split among Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan, the Baloch face truly difficult conditions wherever they turn. Rohrabacher’s heavy approach, relying on heated rhetoric and advocating the overthrow of a government that is flirting with finally making progress toward a functioning democracy seems to me to be more likely to increase rather than decrease the suffering of the people in the region he professes to be helping. Does Rohrabacher want to help the Baloch, or does he merely want US control of the port of Gwadar and an end to the planned gas pipeline from Iran to Pakistan through Balochistan?

Many years ago, Jim got a BA in Radiation Biophysics from the University of Kansas. He then got a PhD in Molecular Biology from UCLA and did postdoctoral research in yeast genetics at UC Berkeley and mouse retroviruses at Stanford. He joined biosys in Palo Alto, producing insect parasitic nematodes for pest control. In the early 1990’s, he moved to Gainesville, FL and founded a company that eventually became Entomos. He left the firm as it reorganized into Pasteuria Biosciences and chose not to found a new firm due a clash of values with venture capital investors, who generally lack all values. Upon leaving, he chose to be a stay at home dad, gentleman farmer, cook and horse wrangler. He discovered the online world through commenting at Glenn Greenwald’s blog in the Salon days and was involved in the briefly successful Chris Dodd move to block the bill to renew FISA. He then went on to blog at Firedoglake and served a brief stint as evening editor there. When the Emptywheel blog moved out of Firedoglake back to standalone status, Jim tagged along and blogged on anthrax, viruses, John Galt, Pakistan and Afghanistan. He is now a mostly lapsed blogger looking for a work-around to the depressing realization that pointing out the details of government malfeasance and elite immunity has approximately zero effect.
5 replies
  1. PeasantParty says:

    WOW! So why haven’t American citizens been privy to the Daily Intelligence brief on that? Can those three back up their words by official documents?

    I wonder if the same people/corporations that fund the Lindsey Graham, McCain, and Lieberman also fund them.

  2. orionATL says:

    this is one of the most extraordinarily f–king irresponsible actions i have seen any congressman make in the last 12 years.

    the country – pakistan – is unstable, nuclear-armed, and a necessary ally.

    the region has been severely unstable for some time

    with two wars of invasion, various civil wars, and the possibility of an attack on one of the largest muslim powers – iran – by one or both of the most despised nations in the region.

    would these guys really like to see a civil war in pakistan?

    can they reliabley predict the outcome ?

  3. Bob Schacht says:

    The post-Colonial aftermath of a number of regions has been based on a strategy that favors sedentary peoples but divides pastoral nomads. Just as the Balooch are divided among Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan, so also were the Kurds divided among Iraq, Iran, and Turkey. But IIRC the Kurds and Balooch are similar in that their former existence was not sedentary but nomadic, and probably included roles as caravaneers between urban centers. Here in the US, the pastoral Navajo Nation is divided between New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah.

    Political boundaries in rural areas have often been problematic.

    Bob in AZ

  4. Kris says:

    I don’t think he wants to help the people of balochistan, I think he sees them all as his enemies and is trying to make them fight eachother.

    if balochistan is integral in funneling support to the taliban making them independent is not going to help, but pushing them into a war with pakistan would weaken them and it would weaken pakistan, plus It would make a better excuse for the future failure of Afghanistan. that way the chaos in afghanistan is the fualt of regional conflict instead of american incompetence. I think they hope that some parts of southern afghanistan will want to join balochistan. Thus they belive pakistan and afghanistan would have to unite against the area where most of the terrorists are hanging out while we go home!!! everybody wins (as long as you define “everbody” as absolutely nobody…) I think this is their attempt to do a nation building ctrl-alt-delete.

    obvioulsy this is short sighted and would create more problems in the region and much more in the long term even for us outside of the region since failed states lead to terrorism. I find it almost inmpossible to believe that any of those three care about balochistan for humanitarian reasons. Instead if you assume they would perfer everyone in the region to die, and are using balochistan as an excuse to accomplish that end… now their plan makes perfect sense, and it fits better with their past performances/personalities than an apeal to humanitarian concerns. Since pakistan is one of the few nuclear nations; I bet the three of them are just hoping to convince pakistan to nuke itself…

    BONUS POINTS!while they are in conflict with eachother one of them (we get to choose!!!) will want help to defeat the other and in their time of need we can impose all sorts of wonderful draconian laws that benefit us and only us like we so often do. Everyone wins again!!! (using the same definition above for “everybody”)

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