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Wikileaks Reveals to Us Those Truths Which Most Believe Are Self-Evident

July 25, 2010

Well, Wikileaks appears to have reinforced what the suspicious among us already… suspected.  That is, the notion that Pakistan “isn’t the greatest ally in the world” is just a slight understatement.  Apparently, the latest leak consists of over 90,000 mostly-classified documents, many of which detail “deep ties” between Afghan insurgency and the ISI, Pakistani intelligence.  There is, of course, a certain amount of skepticism that one must exhibit when dealing with leaked material — the Guardian is a bit more unconvinced about the existence of a “smoking gun” implicating the ISI than the NYT is, which follows since the documents all come from the U.S. military rather than the ISI — but it’s unlikely that there are really any earth-shattering developments here.  Blake Hounshell:

Otherwise, I’d say that so far the documents confirm what we already know about the war: It’s going badly; Pakistan is not the world’s greatest ally and is probably playing a double game; coalition forces have been responsible for far too many civilian casualties; and the United States doesn’t have very reliable intelligence in Afghanistan.

I do think that the stories will provoke a fresh round of Pakistan-bashing in Congress, and possibly hearings. But the administration seems inclined to continue with its strategy of nudging Pakistan in the right direction, and is sending the message: Move along, nothing to see here.

Riiiiiiiight.   Seems like the only reason the Administration is steamed about this little guy is that it doesn’t really want anybody to know that Pakistan is as tremendously unreliable as the prophets of doom theorized.  That, and maybe it wants to hide the fact that Administration officials know they missed the last ferry off the island.  It’s always been unclear to me just how much we were counting on Pakistani support for this operation to be completed successfully, but unless it’s anything other than “not that much” — and the selection of David Petraeus suggests that the President hasn’t been reduced to dependence on the Pakistanis’ steadfastness — then undertaking is probably is some pretty hot water.  Not that that wasn’t clear beforehand, but the leak just underscores that fact for large audience, e.g. the American public.

The truth remains that Petraeus’s local security initiative is the only means by which a secure Afghanistan can be achieved at this juncture.  It’s the only option on the table that doesn’t involve just bouncing and letting the al-Qaeda that are snuggled up with the ISI across the border — and allegedly aren’t hanging out in Afghanistan — just come back in and pick up where they left off.  I’ll reiterate that I’m not Miss Cleo, and I have no idea what’s going to happen, but my crystal ball still forecasts a weak, we-kind-of-got-the-job-done-but-not-really withdrawal, making sure to keep our tail out from between our legs.

Is there a bright side here?  Uh, maybe.  Ackerman:

Is there a silver lining to Pakistan’s relationship with the insurgents? On the one hand, it’s possible that the extent of those ties might amount to leverage over the insurgents to cut a deal with Hamid Karzai’s government to end the war. But there was a lot of talk about that when Baradar was captured, and none of it has panned out. And in the meantime, the first batch of expanded U.S. aid to Pakistan — $500 million worth — arrived on July 18. Who knows how much of that money will end up in the Afghan insurgents’ pockets.


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