Swat’s Largest City ‘Destroyed’

Hop, Skip And A Jump

One could argue that Pyongyang represents the most pressing challenge to global ‘order’. Or some people named Jon and Kate. Or Bibi’s belief he met Kennedy in Vienna and found a young, weak American president. We submit Pakistan’s continued collapse into chaos and extremism ranks up there.

It’s a blinding glimpse of the obvious to observe (usually with sanctimony reserved for the News Hour or brown bag lunches around Dupont Circle) that there is no military solution here, as well. The Pakistani military continues its fiction that its ‘offensive’ to retake Swat is almost a complete success.

This suggests otherwise:

The campaign has displaced about three million people, and refugees coming out of Swat during the lifting of a curfew on Sunday said that many people remained stuck in the valley without food, water and electricity . . .The mass migration of residents out of Swat is Pakistan’s largest since the country was partitioned from India more than 60 years ago, and it has added to concerns over security and the government’s capacity to provide immediate relief to the displaced.

Muhamed Amin, a 60-year-old taxi driver from Kanju, an area just outside Mingora, said it took around 12 hours to reach Peshawar, the regional capital, now brimming with refugees less than 100 miles away. He and 11 members of his family walked part of the way, a march of misery, during which helicopters were firing into the area.

“It was suicidal,” Mr. Amin said. “We were just playing with death.”

Air dropping Holbrooke and retinue in for another ‘on the ground’ assessment doesn’t point to progress, either. It needs to be said – aside from potential geographical dispersion and impinging on Indian geostrategic sensibilities, there is only one real reason to be concerned. And does anyone doubt that we know where *they* are? Perhaps in the Bekaa Valley? Or have the skill even to pull it off?


  1. Dr Leo Strauss says

    Well, your take strikes one as a pretty valid one. Your description of 1994 is an important one as libertarians by then truly held enormous influence via ideas and numbers. John Perry Barlow, Esther Dyson and others before their pre Bubble notoriety in 1994 were crafting some fairly strong doses of libertarian ‘self government ‘ concept for cyberspace. Was your 1994 like mine? Friends mentioning they had just read this cool book, man, by this Negroponte guy. It was like ‘Steal This Book’ but better, man. Those were the days I wasn’t embarassed to have WiReD in the house.

  2. Hunter says

    Thanks for the history lesson. My first politics came via circa 1994 internet (mostly what would today be called ‘tech policy’ with a libertarian bent), so it’s amusing to read about earlier troubles GHWB had over the ADA. As for the link, it’s interesting the difference in readings of it. I read it as an indictment of the Permanent National Security State, that sees the origins of its post-WWII form in Nixon and his cronies. On this view, this is the (even more) occult thrust of true history than our era’s Movement (who are only being used by their less ideological Nixonian betters). But you’ve confirmed my suspicions: it’s all Reagan’s fault (for whatever value of all you care to take).

  3. Dr Leo Strauss says

    Hunter, interesting link.

    I took a few days to share it with some friends and acquaintances who served from the Nixon, Reagan and Bush 41 Administrations. Their almost uniform reaction was agreement. Reagan people prefaced it with “I am sort of surprised, but” type thing.

    My own take is less fulsome. The re-invention of Nixon, Nixonian politics, and above all rehabilitation is another shabby attempt by Movement outliers to come in from the dark and claim a chair for civilized discourse. I think that ‘Republicans’ who prospered under the Unified Christian Socialist Authoritarianism directly or like Blago paid to play, went along to get along, or took a stand on one issue (Abu Ghraib, budget, the war) and triple downed on everything else (to remain uneaten) *need* to have us to believe it.

    They are due a public reckoning. Admission and atonement. The French called theirs collaborators for a reason.

    But back to the Nixon specifics. It’s an old game to look back over any stretch of time and see names overlap administrations and use this either to prove overt continuity or hidden influence.

    For example, in the case of Paul Wolfowitz, it should surprise no one that he began his start with Fred Ikle at Scoop Jackson’s pressure to help *thwart* Nixon’s detente policy at ACDA. He left Harold Brown’s OSD at the end of the 1970s around when the Committee for Present Danger started up again and gained traction. (The Stiftung has had some fairly sustained, fairly intimate and protracted dealings with Brown and can understand one wanting to leave him regardless).

    But Lupus via John Lehman and his extreme hard core Movement patrons (whom we also knew personally) lands at State and tries to undermine Haig. Lehman is one grants a fairly significant Nixon-Reagan hold over but was groomed under Nixon as war hawk token to placate the Movement and anti-detente Right. (On this and other matters, we have spoken to Lehman). Back to Lupus. He gets promoted at Foggy Bottom when Schultz arrives but also shunted aside to sidewaters in Asia. He has almost no play on any of the major issues of the day. Then in the false Reagan Third Term, he finds a nest at DoD, far away from Baker, from Scowcroft and rationality. His draft DPG for FY 1994-1999 is slapped down in public by the adults and would have to wait until 2001.

    So one must ask oneself: does this c.v. show Nixonian continuity via Wolfowitz? Of course not. People are policy, true. But mere presence in something as large and amorphous as an ‘Administration’ proves nothing. It’s an old Georgetown dinner date schtick trotted out for first dates from out of town. I’m told, but wouldn’t know, it even works sometimes. My own own answer to a Reagan-type friend is that the whole exercise can quickly descend to phrenology without some rigor and historical discipline.

    For us, it doesn’t work on the personal or the policy level. Nixon for all of his pathologies was still within the ambience of the Establishment. He loathed it, resented it, feared it, and when he was it, he destroyed it. But there were certain shared values even in the death grip – Nixon knew shame.

    Policy wise, he didn’t start the Vietnam War. He did start SALT. He opened up China. He and Kissinger already foresaw the end of American pre-eminence, 40 years too early, calling for a Penta-Polar World. Detente could have been a sustainable architecture if U.S. power (means x will as Henry the K sagely noted) had not collapsed internally. All of this, UTTERLY LOATHED by the Movement (at the time the Neocons were still policy zygotes and Perle still worried about getting carded at a wine store).

    Domestic? Let’s see. EPA? National health insurance. Wage and price controls? And as we now know, Nixon even refused the ultimate charade with Billy Graham when offered to him. It’s true Nixon didn’t believe in any of it and did these things in a pathetic bid for some kind of approval or acceptance from the Ivy Leaguers, etc. Even so, not Movement material.

    Then 1980. If one was there at the time, one knew the Reaganites had four 4 main enemies of America in descending order: (i) Jimmy Carter; (ii) Richard Nixon’s appeasement and Kissinger’s treason (yes, they said treason); (iii) the Sovs (which included by definition the U.S. Congress) and (iv) godlessness and non-wealthy (white) people having fun. The idea that Nixon-esque policies intentionally held over through 1980 on anything close to a strategic level? Either a joke or shoddy research. Detente? True partnership with Beijing? Penta-Polar ANYTHING? Please.

    Even Team Nixon struck out – those who were senior enough to get into the batting order. Let’s ignore the Ford co-presidency lunacy for a moment. Henry the K? Persona non grata. With a capital “Get The Frack Off My Phone!” How cynical to use his political corpse as a useless Commission sham. Rummy? Same. Had to shake hands with men with mustaches. And on and on. None of them near the Oval Office. Deaver and Meese had eyes on Baker 24/7.

    Now, it is true that after Haig flamed out (he did very well for himself, btw, listening to some kid name Steve Case) Schultz waged a lonely war against the Movement and the Neocon egglings (Perle was not allowed at the adult table at holidays and got in Zero Option food fights with Richard Burt and his bed mate, Judith Miller (we are told she still carries herself as a cougar today by someone who works with her, but even we concede back in the 1980s Burt was lucky for many reasons. Especially given that he, too is just Dick Burt)). But recall, the whole point of the Zero Option was to destroy negotiations and as George C. Scott said in Patton “make it look like the Russians started it!”.

    Consider the father of NSC-68, the father of American globalized, militarized containment, also a founder of the Committee on the Present Danger, a Vietnam hawk DoD official and genuine elderly-but-still-horse-riding wealthy white guy, Paul Nitze. He got hooklined in global humiliation for just a walk in the woods. We had the privilege of talking with Ambassador Nitze on more than a few occasions. When Administration younglings proudly driving plastic Trans Ams blasting Van Halen around H Street or in Crystal City to work can successfully assert at the office that Nitze is a commie stooge, you know you are officially in LALA Land.

    Schultz eventually prevailed and sanity, realism and constructive action did occur. These are the moments of genuine ‘Realism’ in the Reagan legacy that people seeking rehabilitation post Warlord can point to. ‘Realism’ was not welcome by the Reagan Administration, began as an insurgency inside and eventually outflanked the still bureaucratically neophyte Movement. But unlike Nixon, the Reagan Administration never did consider itself in any way part of the Establishment. Although for different reasons they shared the loathing and the Movement’s radiated not from personal inadequacies but raging nihilism.

    The extra-Constitutional activities of the time? Way past plumber stuff. There was no shame. No admission of shared ‘Establishment’ ethos as was the case ultimately with Nixon himself. In fact, the opposite – near psychotic defiance. Which blazed anew under the Warlord via Cheney, Addington, etc. Anyone see a reluctance to play the Billy Graham card and its attendant political implications? Not.

    A closet liberal agenda under Reagan? Unless one wants to say Reagan did something ‘liberal’ by asking Nakasone and the Japanese for voluntary restraint on car imports? We are unaware of any historical evidence to suggest that Nixon *at the time of his ascendancy* would have thought of, let alone sign, something like Kemp-Roth.

    GHWB is really not worth discussing at length, of course. Mr. Pragmatism, good manners, ‘doing the right, thing’, etc. Baker and Scowcroft kept the Movement out of policy as much as possible as did the White House office of personnel elsewhere. Would he have set up EPA? Well he did the Americans for Disabilities Act (for which let me tell you, he was demonized on the real, quite exclusive, almost notional Internet and then assorted online commercial entities which all were largely first colonized by hard core Movement types – something sociological about that, perhaps for another post). Read My Hips. We got the emails all the way from ’90 through ’92.

    So the whole continuation of Nixon spiel for us simply falls apart. As a discussion point, at best it shows that it’s easier to start a bureaucracy and program than shut it down.

    As meme, however, it’s vital for Republicans who want to be admitted into polite company without ever having to take responsibility for what they did or did not do under the Warlord. (‘We’re part of that unified, kinda liberal realist Nixon thing – so we’re anti-crazed ideological war, we like trees, and we don’t break the law a whole lot. Come on, compared to ‘those guys’ back then it was just speeding ticket stuff. Yumm, this is really good piccata. I simply must have the recipe . . .”)

    Don’t buy it for a second. They’re still just third rate Petains.

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