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January 11, 2008

Musharraf: Don't Tread On Me

Plenty of presidential candidates in both parties have talked about how they plan to chase al-Qaeda to the gates of Hell, apparently placing that squarely in Pakistan. Pervez Musharraf, who runs the joint, has an answer for those who propose sending American troops into Pakistan -- fuggedaboutit:

President Pervez Musharraf warned that U.S. troops would be regarded as invaders if they crossed into Pakistan's border region with Afghanistan in the hunt for al-Qaeda or Taliban militants, according to an interview published Friday. ...

The New York Times reported last week that Washington was considering expanding the authority of the Central Intelligence Agency and the military to peruse aggressive covert operations within the tribal regions.

Musharraf told the Straits Times that U.S. troops would "certainly" be considered invaders if they set foot in the tribal regions.

"If they come without our permission, that's against the sovereignty of Pakistan. I challenge anybody coming into our mountains," he said in the interview in the garrison city of Rawalpindi. "They would regret that day."

Most of this talk has been rather asinine. When one country sends troops into another without permission, it's called an invasion and an act of war. The invading country had better understand that the invaded country will respond to the intrusion, and that its population will in most circumstances rally to the existing leadership and unite against the invader.

What would we gain in this overt invasion? If we succeeded, we would destabilize Musharraf and give credibility to the radical Islamists, who would probably overthrown the military and political leadership in Pakistan and seize control of the nuclear weapons. If we failed, we would probably strengthen Musharraf's dictatorship and keep Pakistan in the grip of an autocracy (at best) for another decade, with all of the attendant radicalization it would produce.

Logistically speaking, it would be difficult to accomplish in any case. We need Pakistan to keep our lines of communication open for our efforts in Afghanistan. Once we provoked a war with Musharraf, that cooperation would cease and our supply lines for the NATO effort would disappear. That would also make it almost impossible to conduct the very operations we hope to launch in the provinces where al-Qaeda lives, because those are the most remote areas of Pakistan. We'd have to invade through the whole country to get to them -- and face a mobilization of potentially more than 20 million soldiers to do it.

The only way to conduct these missions is with small-scale covert operations against targets that have a lot of confirmation regarding AQ presence. It isn't to get up on the dais on national TV and try to out-testosterone the other men and women on stage about who will invade Pakistan first and with more troops. The best way to succeed at these missions is to leave everyone wondering who did them.


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» Musharraf says US cannot hunt al-Qaeda in Pakistan, they will be seen as invaders from Right Truth
Fox News is reporting that Pakistan's President Musharraf will not allow American troops to hunt down al-Qaeda in Pakistan and if they try it they will be considered 'invaders.' What else could Musharraf say? He can't admit to his citizens, [Read More]

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