1. Jeff says:

    We have no business attending to Iran unless we bring some kind of stability to Pakistan.

    I don’t get this. I get that we should be more attentive, and in the right way, to Pakistan. And I can even get that our Iran policy would be better somehow if we were bringing some kind of stability to Pakistan. But really – no business attending to Iran unless we do so? i don’t get it.

  2. Ishmael says:

    EW – Thank you again for bringing attention to the most dangerous country in the world. It is not merely a question of not interfering with Iran until Pakistan is stabilized – the two issues are inextricably linked by the issue of Baluchistan, which has the potential to become another Bangladesh, and also has the potential to be the spark that sets off the war that Big Time so desperately wants. Baluchistan is a Pakistani province which, much like Kurdistan, straddles three countries, in this case Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan. There are two military bases in Baluchistan, used by the U.S. to fight the war on terrorism. Baluchistant has significant mineral resources, including a third of Pakistan’s total gas production, and most importantly uranium – Baluchistan is the location of Pakistan’s nuclear tests. The Chinese are also trying to develop its interests in Baluchistan, by investing in the port of Gwadar, both as a way to irritate India, and keep open a window to the Middle East.

    The Baluchis, like the Kurds, are an aggrieved minority who believe that they have been denied a fair share of their natural resources’ revenues, and are antagonized by the largely Punjabi Pakistani military. Baluchistan has also been at the crossroads of the arms and drug trades. Iran and Pakistan have been at loggerheads over Baluchistan for decades, and the Iranians feel that Baluchistan is part of traditional Persia, with Iran supporting Baluchistan separatists in the 1970s. It is suspected in Baluchistan, as well as Iran and Islamabad, that the US would use Baluchistan as a rear base for an attack on Iran, and Iran is suspected of supporting Baluch activists in order to counter such a Pakistan-U.S. plot. There is a faction in Pakistan that perceives the U.S. using its Irag/Iran/Afghanistan war plans to redraw the borders of Pakistan and other states into malleable Stans that house U.S. bases that ring in Russia and China. It’s difficult to know if these suspicions are true, but in such a volatile area, the perceptions can become reality very quickly.

    The idea of Cheney and his band of amateurs playing Risk in this area would be laughable, if the consequences are not so potentially tragic.

  3. zhiv says:

    Last week I had to ask somebody for the name of the capital of Pakistan. The necessity of a stable Pakistan before getting into a â€debate†with Iraq seems pretty obvious–they’ve already got the nukes. Ish getting extremely nervous about Big Time would be deeply amusing in that very sad way, but it seems to be trumped by ew’s throwaway â€light blogging.†Doubt the wheel will make that mistake again.

    Which gets me to Baluchistan and the Baluchis. A wonderful people, I’m sure, very rich customs. They have any of the same problems with the uranium mines that the Navajos are having? Just curious. But I have to say that Ish could be making all of this up as brilliant satire as far as I know. If Bush didn’t know about Sunnis and Shia, what do we think about his knowledge of Baluchistan? Of course, the Baluchis could be old pals of the Unocal and pipeline guys from way back, so we shouldn’t underestimate him. But the main thing is EW’s point, there’s no one in the entire administration who knows dick about Pakistan. You can just imagine what the CIA guys are thinking, their hair on fire, their heads about to explode.

    Forget, Risk, is this a Boise State game? The Iraq hook and ladder play followed by the Iran Statue of Liberty, and all of a sudden Big Time sees daylight, running all alone to the endzone. Crazy shit.

  4. Ishmael says:

    Zhiv – crazy shit indeed! I’m just an amateur who fools around on the Internet and I’m worried, if I were in the CIA and really knew what I was talking about, I can’t imagine how worried I’d be about Big Time watching more Civil War documentaries and playing general.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Well, yes to all of the above, and there is also that one other pesky little distinction between Iran and Pakistan, you know, that fully developed and flourishing nuke thing.

  6. Sara says:

    Today one of the Pakistan Papers carried a feature article, al-Qaeda has re-occupied the Tora Bora caves. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. But they have to be understood as strategic, in that from them you can control the main road from Pakistan through the Khyber into Kabul — and they back door on another route into central Afghanistan and the main road between Kabul and Kandahar.

    I think Ishmael’s description of the Baluch situation is quite accurate, but in addition to China building a port at Gadar, India is building one on the Iranian side of the border, possibly for transhipping Iranian Gas to India. India is also financing a modern highway north near the Iran-Pakistan-Afghani border, possibly as far as Turkmenistan (where the real mother lode of gas is located), but it also gives Iran better access to the region around Herat, which is Dir speaking, and Shia. One can see the makings of a bi-pass Pakistan strategy here. (and yea, I bet Dick has his heart set on that Gas).

    The only expert on Pakistan in Congress is Tom Harkin of Iowa, who right now is hard at work finalizing his Farm Bill and Energy Independence Strategy. I don’t know how Harkin got interested in Pakistan, but for some reason he did, and seems to have maintained an interest free of joining a particular faction. Might be of interest to see what he thinks of developments particularly re. Musharraf. There is a new development of symbolic importance today — apparently the Queen Knighted Salman Rushdie this week in her Birthday Honors list, with the result that the Minister of Religion in Musharraf’s cabinet is leading the street demo’s burning the Union Jack, and the Queen’s picture. They don’t have any Rushdie books to burn apparently. This could be an off-set to the demo’s by Lawyers and Journalists against Musharraf. Either way it is a measure of the dry kindling in Pakistan.

  7. emptywheel says:


    My point is this. The reason they GIVE for going after Iran is that is might get nukes and it supports terrorism and therefore is a threat to us.

    If those are the criteria for concern, why the absolute lack of focus on Pakistan? I mean, Hezbollah is a concern–but it’s not our concern, and the part of the NIE that BushCo didn’t declassify made it clear that the surest way to make Hezbollah OUR concern is to continue our aggression toward Iran.

    Meanwhile, the guys who attacked us, they’re being shielded by Pakistan.

  8. William Ockham says:

    First, this post’s headline has three words that should never appear in a sentence together. I’m still trying to scrub that image out of my head.

    The sad part of this is that the Administration is engaging in willful blindness. There are plenty of people in the State Department and other agencies of the federal government who have experience in Pakistan. Heck, you could get a decent background on the region armed with nothing more than a laptop with internet access. I would venture to guess that there are even a few academics that would love spending a few hours holding forth on their area of expertise.

  9. FED says:

    Rice is writing checks to Lebanon, but something must have gone wrong with the money because Lebanon quit going after the terrorists. Maybe she should write a check to Palestine instead of the UN, but is that fair to Syria who should just get cash like Lebanon?

  10. freepatriot says:

    when the next President takes office America will learn that george bush and deadeye dick DID NOTHING about 9-11

    nearly 8 years after 9-11, the next President will find our enemies intact and unscathed

    and george bush thinks future historians will be kinder to him than the present historians are (what a fucking dolt)

    the shit stain asked for proof of high crimes and misdemenors that george and deadeye are guilty of

    how about the type of malfeasance that allows a presnit to ignore PEOPLE WHO ATTACKED AMERICANS, and launch a crime against humanity war against innocent people

    (and the really funny part about the shit stain’s story is that the shit stain claims that her brother is one of the soldiers that george is using as political cannon fodder in Iraq)