Truly, this is hard to take seriously: recent reports say we want to win over the “hearts and minds” of the people in Pakistan’s tribal lands. It has become our desire, apparently, to win the war of ideas by supplying cold hard cash to those occupying the lawless regions of Pakistan where local chiefs rule and no central authority can exert any effective control over them. The area is known as Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas, or F.A.T.A., and it is a hot bed of radical Islam and most likely serves as the headquarters of al-Qaeda replete with its two most famous characters in residence, Osama Bin Laden and his deputy al-Zawahri. According to a recent New York Times report:
“The ambitious plan was publicly highlighted during a visit to Pakistan in June by Richard A. Boucher, the assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asian affairs, as a measure of Washington’s support for Pakistan’s president, General Pervez Musharraf.”
Obviously, we are trying to re-pay Musharraf for his support in the War on Terror, lukewarm though it has often been, and we actually believe that if the locals in the F.A.T.A. are supplied with lots of money to improve their infrastructures (what there are of them), they will learn to love us first and above all else.
Good luck. There must be limits to humanitarian aid. In fact of course we cannot even take care of all our homeless, poor and hungry. But the real problem with this proposal is that it is highly likely that whatever money, supplies, and other aid we provide will be co-opted by the very people we are trying to defeat, namely al-Qaeda and other supporters of terror and hatred of America.
Supposedly, we were at war with al-Qaeda wherever they are in the world. Our President promises to “smoke ‘em out,” leaving no stone unturned until we are fully rid of this scourge. That promise is now almost six years old. We know where these people are headquartered. Yet we are not smoking ‘em out. We are not acting as if we were at war with al-Qaeda. If we were we would not be dreaming up plans that would put hundreds of millions of dollars into the hands of the enemy.
We have multi-million dollar bounties on al-Qaeda’s “leaders.” Now we propose to give them enough money so that no one on the inside need feel the desire to turn on their comrades.
Certainly, we are trying to reward Pakistan and their President Musharraf in his fight with the radical elements in his country. But there is now little doubt that Musharraf needs much more than monetary help in order to be at all effective along the Afghan border. His troops have been beaten badly in the past by the fiercely independent tribes who believe they are not part of any nation but their own. They are harboring terrorists and what is needed is first a warning to allow any innocents to move out and then we most definitely should join with Pakistan’s government to go all out with all our weaponry just short of nuclear to do precisely what our President has said we shall do: “smoke ‘em out.”
As David Sanger and Mark Mazzetti reported last Wednesday in the New York Times:
“We’ve seen in the past that Muharraff sent people in and they get wiped out,” said one (American) senior official involved in the internal debate. “You can tell from the language today that we take the threat from the tribal areas incredibly seriously. It has to be dealt with. If (Musharraf) can deal with it, amen. But if he can’t, he’s got to build and borrow the capability.
Absolutely. At the very least. And why are we waiting for his requests at all? al-Qaeda attacked the U.S. and they did not ask Pakistan’s permission. Why do we need to wait around? Let’s go. Smoke ‘em out. Now. The fact that we are not doing that immediately defiantly smells rotten.
While the F.A.T.A. aid plan has been conceived with the intention of raising the standards of poor people in the tribal areas, it comes with no ability for oversight and no ability to monitor just exactly where the money will go once we hand it over. This is a bit like handing money to the Japanese or the Germans in World War II and asking them to use it to feed their poor and hungry. Could we seriously believe that the funds would really be used for their intended purposes? Or is it instead much more likely that this money will end up in the hands of our militant enemies for the production of more men and weaponry to be used against us?
Thus before we try to win the “hearts and minds” of these folks, we must seriously consider eliminating the hearts, minds and bodies of the terrorists who predominate in these “tribal” areas.