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Recommended Reading

Top Billing! Pundita -Adm. Mullen CYA as Rana prepares to rat out ISI. Meanwhile Rawalpindi rats out Obama and Cameron.

…Long War Journal’s Bill Roggio is skeptical about the strength of Mullen’s grasp of the concept of sacred obligation; Bill points out that Mullen had stopped short of addressing the key point, which is that Pakistan’s military actively supports the Haqqanis:

“Pakistani officials of course denied supporting the Haqqani Network, and claim they haven’t taken on the Haqqani Network due to the focus on the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan. This of course is untrue, and Admiral Mullen of course knows that.”

Yes. Bill adds: “Despite his ‘sacred obligation’ to stop US soldiers dying at the hands of Pakistan-backed terror groups, Admiral Mullen cannot bring himself to call Pakistan to account for its actions. And as a result, more US soldiers will die as the dyfunctional ‘alliance’ between the two nations is nursed along.”

True, true, all true; however, that Admiral Mullen would risk the close relationship he’s cultivated with General Kayani by publicly uttering an implied criticism of Pakistan’s military is an eyebrow raiser; that he did this at the worst juncture in U.S.-Pakistan relations since 2001 and while a guest of Pakistan’s government was confounding. (1)

I don’t think one has to dig deep for the solution to the mystery. On April 12, the day after ISI head Lieutenant-General Ahmad Shuja Pasha spent four hours dressing down CIA chief Leon Panetta and Admiral Mullen about CIA activities in Pakistan, the Times of India reported that court documents had been made public indicating that a conspirator in the 2008 Mumbai massacre was prepared to rat out the ISI in U.S. courtroom testimony. According to the Times of India:

David Headley aka Daood Gilani and Tahawwur Hussain Rana, the two Pakistani expat footsoldiers who allegedly planned and conducted the Mumbai recce before the 26/11 terrorist carnage, have implicated the Pakistani government and its intelligence agency ISI in the ghastly attack.

In court documents that have surfaced ahead of his upcoming trial in Chicago, Rana says his acts of providing material support to terrorists in the Mumbai attacks as alleged by US prosecutors “were done at the behest of the Pakistani government and the ISI, not the Lashkar terrorist organization.”

The documents also cite Rana invoking his friend David Headley’s Grand Jury testimony in which the latter too implicates ISI…

…However, the key point is there’s clear indication that within a matter of days, when the Rana trial gets underway, the shit is finally going to hit the fan. In my view that means Mullen is scrambling to cover his ass. And if Rana really does sing like a bird, Mullen won’t be the only one in Washington scrambling.

Yet to illustrate just how sincere the U.S. military command and the Obama administration are about taking Pakistan’s military to task, it surfaced today that under pressure from Rawalpindi the Obama administration had agreed to provide Pakistan’s military with 85 ‘Raven’ surveillance drones…

Read the rest here.

Very tough post by Pundita and I note, Pakistan has again halted NATO trucks despite the gift of drones. 

Foreign Affairs (Nassim Nicholas Taleb & Mark Blyth) -The Black Swan of Cairo:How Suppressing Volatility Makes the World Less Predictable and More Dangerous 

Why is surprise the permanent condition of the U.S. political and economic elite? In 2007-8, when the global ?nancial system imploded, the cry that no one could have seen this coming was heard everywhere, despite the existence of numerous analyses showing that a crisis was unavoidable. It is no surprise that one hears precisely the same response today regarding the current turmoil in the Middle East. The critical issue in both cases is the arti?cial suppression of volatility — the ups and downs of life — in the name of stability. It is both misguided and dangerous to push unobserved risks further into the statistical tails of the probability distribution of outcomes and allow these high-impact, low-probability “tail risks” to disappear from policymakers’ ?elds of observation. What the world is witnessing in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya is simply what happens when highly constrained systems explode…

Hat tip to Crispin Burke

Thomas P.M. Barnett- Failed states keep neighborhoods bad, allowing AQ sanctuary, while rising states allow connections, but it’s civil strife that remains AQ’s bread-and-butter dynamic

Patrick is also right that AQ prefers up-and-comers, or states with just enough connectivity and technology and corruption to give them access to the Core.  Pakistan is perfect in this regard, much better than Afghanistan (my column Monday).  Under the right conditions, we need to worry far more about Pakistan than Afghanistan, which is a solution for locals.  

National Defense Magazine -FBI Anticipates Terrorist Attacks on Soft Targets in the United States

This is an easy predicting, being inevitable. The fact that it has not happened yet speaks less to our inane TSA “security theater” than to the deep reluctance of state sponsors of terrorism to have an “American Beslan” traced back (perhaps erroneously) to their doorstep. It is not that Hezbollah or HAMAS or the LeT could not shoot up a shopping mall, elementary school or bomb a sports stadium – they could very easily – it’s a strategic choice not to do so as the extent of US retaliation is no longer predictable.

Moises Naim -Who Lost Mexico?

The Mexicans (Hat tip to John Sullivan)

Newshoggers.com (John Ballard)-Syria Links

Provocative collection.

SWJ Blog (Larry Goodson and Thomas H. Johnson)-How the Soviets Lost in Afghanistan, How the Americans are Losing

The Eagle goes over the mountain…..

That’s it!

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3 Responses to “Recommended Reading”

  1. Dave Schuler Says:

    Why is surprise the permanent condition of the U.S. political and economic elite?
    .
    Let me take a stab at answering that question.  The authors’ hypothesis may be correct but there’s a simpler answer.  In the U. S. ideology has overwhelmed an understanding based on observation of human behavior.  People aren’t behaving the way "political and economic elites" expect them to because their models of human behavior are ideological rather than empirical.  Sort of the Pauline Kael phenomenon on a global scale.

  2. zen Says:

    Hi Dave,
    .
    I agree. The troubling thing to me is this ideological fantasizing has trickled into the mainstream – I regularly hear the most bizarrely evidence-free assertions ( or, assertions that run contrary to known evidence) from normal ppl regarding politics, education, basic economics, health, rudimentary science, etc.. Sometimes on both sides of a given question I wil see ppl arguing about matters that are factually verifiable with neither side attempting to do so because neither is willing to accept facts that depart from a party line. 
    .
    The intellectual climate in America reminds me of theological debates during the 14th century

  3. morgan Says:

    en, just posing a question as you are involved in education and I’m not: is this iseological fantasiing a result of our educational system not teaching people to think but to follow the ideological flavor of the moment?


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