Information is Denmark’s leading mainstream commentary newspaper, and now its writers have responded to the recent report of President Bush approving American military actions within Pakistan without any need for permission from or warning to the Pakistani authorities with a pair of analyses: USA moves the terror-war to Pakistan, by Graham Usher, and USA’s war against terror lies in ruins, by Martin Burcharth. (more…)
On this seventh anniversary-day of the attacks on New York and Washington on September 11, 2001, the top news-story is probably the joint appearance at Ground Zero by the two main US presidential candidates. In addition to whatever they may have to say, the occasion will be worth savoring for the all-too-temporary respite it should provide in the ugly partisanship that has prevailed as of late (e.g. the utterly-contrived “lipstick-on-a-pig” contretemps). I hope to be able to cover foreign observations of and reactions to that Ground Zero ceremony in this space sometime in the coming days.
For today, though, I think that it would be suitable to turn our attention to the supposed ultimate source of that al-Qaeda attack, and also the first target for retribution by US forces in its aftermath. That is of course Afghanistan, or specifically al-Qaeda as embedded within a Taliban host environment. Actually, putting it that way shifts the proper focus a slight bit from Afghani territory per se to the so-called Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan lying along the Afghani border. These are hardly “federally administered,” they are in fact a region completely out of the control of the Pakistani government, where various varieties of “neo-Taliban” and Muslim fundamentalist forces are based (including, it is thought, what is left of al-Qaeda), and from which these forces sally forth to attack NATO forces in Afghanistan.
As Juan Cole of “Informed Comment” notes, an impeachment process has started against Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, he has decided he is going to fight it, and “[t]hus the stage is set for a major political crisis in the second most populous Muslim country in the world, the sixth largest country in the world, and the only Muslim nuclear power.” But one crucial aspect of this situation is the dog that isn’t barking: where at this stage is the American support for Musharraf, whom in the wake of the 9/11 attacks was suddenly embraced by the Bush administration and started having billions of dollars in military aid shoveled his way? Could it be that George W. Bush is simply too busy these days at the Olympics, blasting his Chinese hosts for their culinary abuses? (That last bit is but a joke, but I give you the link in the hope you’ll check it out – you’ll be amused!)
Philippe Grangereau, Washington correspondent for the French newspaper Libération, sheds some valuable light on this question in his article The White House Is No Longer Kissy-Kissy with Musharraf, although he relies primarily on analysis coming from Arif Jamal, “an expert on Pakistan at NYU,” who has written a book about Pakistani jihadists. (more…)