When Militaries Conspire to Ignore the Will of the People

The story of the day is from Michael Hastings, fresh off winning a Polk Award for his reporting on the insubordination of key members of Stanley McChrystal’s staff. In today’s story, he describes how Lieutenant General William Caldwell ordered a PsyOp unit to manipulate Senators–including John McCain, Carl Levin, Jack Reed, and Al Franken–to support increased troops and funding for training Afghan soldiers. When the commander of that unit objected, he was investigated and disciplined. (See Jim White’s post on it here.)

It’s a troubling picture of the extent to which individual members of our military will push the war in Afghanistan, knowing how unpopular it is in the States.

But there’s an equally troubling story reporting on the disdain with which our military treats public opinion. Josh Rogin reports on a regularly scheduled meeting between the Pakistani and American military in Oman that took place on Tuesday; because of the Raymond Davis affair, the meeting had heightened importance. The US was represented by, among others, Admiral Mullen and Generals Petraeus, Olson (SOCOM) and Mattis (CENTCOM).

As Rogin describes it, the Americans, whose views were represented in a written summary from General Jehangir Karamat with confirmation from another Pakistani participant, believed the two militaries had to restore the Pakistani-American relationship before it got completely destroyed by the press and the public.

“The US had to point out that once beyond a tipping point the situation would be taken over by political forces that could not be controlled,” Karamat wrote about the meeting, referring to the reported split between the CIA and the Pakistani Inter-services Intelligence (ISI) that erupted following the Davis shooting.


“[T]he US did not want the US-Pakistan relationship to go into a free fall under media and domestic pressures,” Karamat wrote. “These considerations drove it to ask the [Pakistani] Generals to step in and do what the governments were failing to do-especially because the US military was at a critical stage in Afghanistan and Pakistan was the key to control and resolution.”

“The militaries will now brief and guide their civilian masters and hopefully bring about a qualitative change in the US-Pakistan Relationship by arresting the downhill descent and moving it in the right direction.” [my emphasis]

In short, the US military wants to make sure that military intervenes to counteract the fury of the people and the press over the Davis affair.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’d rather have the military ensure close relations with this nuclear-armed unstable state. I’m cognizant of how, in different situations (notably the Egyptian uprising), close ties between our military and others’ have helped to foster greater democracy. As Dana Priest’s The Mission makes clear our military has increasingly become the best functioning “diplomatic” service we’ve got. And though I think a great deal of stupidity and arrogance got Davis into the pickle he’s in, I certainly back our government’s efforts to get him returned to our country (Rogin also provides details of the plan to do that).

But particularly coming as it does in the same theater and on the same day as news of PsyOps being waged against my Senator, I’m troubled that our military isn’t more concerned with reining in the behavior that has rightly ticked off so many Pakistanis, rather than coordinating with the Pakistani military to make sure the people of Pakistan’s concerns are ignored.

  1. MadDog says:

    One of the Pakistani attendees was General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the chief of the army staff.

    In the email I sent to EW yesterday, I referenced an interesting Telegraph article:

    US pawn ensnared in Pakistan’s power politics

    A trigger-happy CIA guard, Raymond Davis, is caught up in a power struggle between the army chief and President Zardari. Praveen Swami reports…


    …Even more important are the views of the all-powerful army. Ever since he took office in November 2007, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the chief of the army staff, has slowly worked to reverse key elements of the pro-US policies pursued by his predecessor, General Pervez Musharraf. He abandoned Gen Musharraf’s secret peace initiative with India, and eased pressure on jihadist groups. Late last year, at a closed-door briefing, he even asserted that the “real aim of US strategy is to denuclearise Pakistan”.

    Gen Kayani hopes for a deal that will give the Taliban and its affiliates a significant share of power in Afghanistan. Such a deal, he believes, will allow the army to make peace with its jihadist allies-turned-enemies, who began waging a murderous insurgency in Pakistan’s north-west after the US compelled Gen Musharraf to act against terrorist safe havens in the region…

    …The unfolding Davis case, some analysts argue, helps to create a climate that will allow Gen Kayani to push his case that Pakistan must extricate itself from the US war on terror – and to limit cooperation without losing desperately needed aid…

  2. 1970cs says:

    Davis cell phone contacts:

    “His cell phone has revealed contacts with two ancillaries of al Qaeda in Pakistan, Tehreek-e-Taliban of Pakistan (TTP) and sectarian Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), which has led to the public conclusion that he was behind terrorism committed against Pakistan’s security personnel and its people ….This will strike people as America in cahoots with the Taliban and al Qaeda against the state of Pakistan targeting, as one official opined, Pakistan’s nuclear installations.” (“Raymond Davis: The plot thickens, The Express Tribune)

  3. MadDog says:

    …The US was represented by, among others, Admiral Mullen and Generals Petraeus, Olson (SOCOM) and Mattis (CENTCOM)…

    (My Bold)

    I find the presence of Olson (SOCOM) at this meeting with the Pakistani military of particular importance.

    As in SOCOM = JSOC. Particularly given the background of Raymond Davis:

    …Davis reportedly has previous US Special Forces experience, having spent 10 years in the military, beginning with basic training at Fort Benning, Georgia, in 1993, a six month period of service with the United Nations Peacekeeping forces in Macedonia, then time with the 3rd Special Forces Group at Fort Bragg, and leaving the military in 2003…

    (My Bold)

    One could understand the presence of Olson (SOCOM) at a meeting discussing Afghanistan, but alarm bells start ringing when the meeting is with the Pakistan military and the discussion concerns Pakistan itself and the current crisis regarding Raymond Davis:

    A host of top U.S. military officials held a secret day-long meeting with Pakistan’s top military officers on Tuesday in Oman to plot a course out of the diplomatic crisis that threatens the U.S.-Pakistan relationship…

    (My Bold)

    One might presume that this indicates that Olson (SOCOM) has a pretty big dog in this fight, doncha think?

  4. fatster says:

    More on the military and its costs:

    [Commission on Wartime Contracting] Study: US wasted billions in Iraq, Afghanistan

    “The report found that “criminal behavior and blatant corruption” were responsible for much of the waste related to the nearly $200 billion spent since 2002 on US reconstruction and other projects in the two countries.”


  5. orionATL says:

    “…because the us military was at a critical stage in afghanistan,

    and pakistan was the key to control and resolution…”


    “you, pakistani military, MUST help us, american military achieve our goal.”

    that our govt, or even our DOD, may have been responsible for davis’ presence in pakistan, is irrelevant.

    that the pakistani people are generally angry at american activities is irrelevant.

    what IS relevant?

    why, for the pakistani military to help the american military achieve its goals.

    “you must help us succeed”, say the american generals.

    not a word in these notes suggests that the american generals were understanding of the political and social forces at work today in pakistan.

    50 years later, “ugly american” redux –

    “you (pakistanis) must help us (us generals) to achieve our professional goals.”

  6. fatster says:

    Here’s an instance where the military is supporting the will of the people (what a concept!): “Insurgent Commander Vows Assault on [Tripoli]” LINK.

  7. donbacon says:

    So despite the facts that it’s wrong that the US military “push[es] the war in Afghanistan, knowing how unpopular it is in the States” and it’s also wrong that “our military isn’t more concerned with reining in the behavior that has rightly ticked off so many Pakistanis,” you’d “rather have the military ensure close relations with this nuclear-armed unstable state (Pakistan)?” Really?

    Not your best diary, EW.

  8. donbacon says:

    I know, we could get General Petraeus, the chief de facto US diplomat in South Asia, to claim that Pakistani parents are burning their kids so we need to make the Pak military more active and foster democracy.

  9. stuartbramhall says:

    Pretty embarrassing, all the texts on Davis’ phone to 27 Taliban militants and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (kinda like a Pakistani Al Qaeda) – see http://www.zerohedge.com/article/cia-agent-caught-red-handed-aiding-pakistani-terrorism

    It was also really bad luck that the 2 men he shot were Pakistani intelligence agents investigating why he was cavorting with terrorists.

    On the surface it makes no sense for the CIA to pay a contractor to support terrorists (we’ve been at for 10 years in Afghanistan to fight terrorism, right?). That’s because the Obama administration isn’t telling the truth about the real (strategic) reasons for the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan. They are told nothing about Pentagon and CIA support for the Baloch separatist movement – nor the longstanding Pentagon/CIA desire to see energy and mineral rich Balochistan secede from Pakistan to become a US client state – just like energy and mineral rich Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and the other former Soviet republics. Until now, Americans have had no idea that the CIA is training young Baloch separatists in bomb making and other terrorist activities – with the goal of disrupting operations at the Chinese-built Gwadar Port (and the energy transit route for Iranian oil and natural gas destined for China).

    I blog about this at http://stuartbramhall.aegauthorblogs.com/2010/12/30/the-us-as-a-semi-failed-state/
    With a recent map of Free Balochistan (from their website).

    • bobschacht says:

      Yes, the Great Game continues. Only the names have changed.
      I don’t know that I buy all that you’re selling, but the Gwadar Port is an essential strategic consideration, and the Chinese are in with both feet.