Laura Hughes I hate to say it Jake, but I think I'd have a hard time getting through Bush's memoirs (though a less hard time than I did through Rumsefeld's...). What I found interesting in Rice's second tome is there really is no mention of Bush- personally or professionally. It's odd, considering their reportedly close relationship. Have you read Decision Points? I'd be interested in your take.
Laura Hughes And if we HAD been able to arrest him, where would he go? We've seen in Obama's noble attempt to close Guantanamo how resistant the majority of Americans are to having "terrorists" tried on U.S. soil. What Congressman would have dared welcome a fair and open trial of Awlaki in his state when they won't even allow individuals at Guantanamo (many, if not most, of whom are far less guilty than Awlaki) to be tried in U.S. courts?
Laura Hughes Jordan, as always this is a very thoughtful and well-written piece. I wonder though if we're giving Awlaki a little too much credit. We've seen his fingers in nearly every reported plot against the U.S. over the past couple of years and we actually do know quite a good deal about him. Before running back to the bowels of Yemen, in the aftermath of 9/11, he was actually working in Virginia as a community organizer of sorts to bridge better relations between the community and local Muslims. Then he seemingly went off the rails. I think Obama's hands were tied with this one- he couldn't very well have sent a Delta team in to read the guy his rights. Why do we still feel this man deserves the rights and privileges afforded to US citizens?
Laura Hughes I look forward to your response- we obviously disagree on the use of drones. I fear it is a policy the U.S. is increasingly adopting whole-heartedly. I regret you call me a war monger; I take zero pleasure in any civilian death reported (and even less pleasure in those NOT reported). The U.S. is facing a very real problem in its relationship with Pakistan and the U.S. is NOT remotely blameless, but this is a complicated and tortured relationship. Drones have further weakened those ties, but if a drone takes out a militant that would other wise blow up a bus of innocents in Karachi, then I fear I take the side of the drone. I will say Demah you can be more measured in your comments going forward- I have responded calmly and fairly to yours.
Laura Hughes I would remind you, Demah, that militants in Pakistan have killed FAR MORE innocent civilians than any American drone strike. Pakistan should be less concerned with drones and more worried about the seemingly daily suicide bombings against innocent Pakistanis that are threatening to plunge the country into chaos. I actually don't think this article is terrible- you disagree with me, which is completely fine, and it's worth I think a more measured discussion than more hyper comments. If you would like, please write to one of our editors and ask to write your own article challenging mine.
Laura Hughes You're absolutely right. Frankly the rebels are perfectly allowed to mess up nation-building! You could make a very strong argument that it's taken the U.S. well over 200 years to perfect democracy and we're still deeply flawed. My concern though is for Obama- the poor guy keeps getting kicked to the ground for good decisions that the GOP twists into failures. If post-Qaddafi Libya is perceived as a blood bath (which it would have been without NATO action), the GOP will ensure Obama is to blame.
Laura Hughes Exceptionally well-said, Alexander. The danger going forward for Libya is whether or not the rebels, once Qaddafi is gone (hopefully this week), can restore basic order relatively quickly. And the challenge for President Obama is to judge what further stake/responsibility we have in Libya. If things really sour, the GOP won't waste a minute blaming him for a failed strategy and ultimately a failed state, both ignorant charges. Let's hope the Free Libya government has its act together.
Laura Hughes The Woodrow Wilson Center is perhaps the best think tank in Washington, so I wouldn't be so quick to chastise them. I'm glad he was invited and came to speak- I may have been left incredulous with what he had so say, but it all contributes to the broader discussion of the US-Pakistan relationship here in Washington. And Musharraf's misuse of US dollars is not a sign of a flawed US policy, but primarily the troubling culture that is pervasive throughout the Pakistani leadership.
Laura Hughes Thanks for your comment Shanoor. The real tragedy in all of this is the damage done to the Pakistani people, time and again. They want, and more importantly, deserve easy access to food, sanitation and education and they deserve a state that puts a priority on their well-being. But with the absence of effective leadership, and the army's machinations that take up so much of the state's funds, the people themselves are being left behind.
Laura Hughes He's definitely going to try to make a play for office again, whether he has any real friends left in Pakistan is the question. You'd need to ask a far more knowledgeable person than myself as to his standing in the military these days. I don't know if the army's opinion of him has changed, or when he returns to Pakistan (which he says he will do in March 2012) if the armed forces will welcome him back as an exiled hero. What he did in those last few years with the judges, the lawyers, the media and members of the opposition was horrific- and Bhutto's assassination just really tipped the scales against him. But the question is, as I see it, is if the Pakistani people are fed up enough with Zardari to look absolutely toward someone else, namely Musharraf? And what is Nawaz Sharif's role going to be in 2013? In a way, Musharraf is right- it will be the mother of all elections.
Laura Hughes It's a very thoughtful piece and it comes from I think a particularly unique and valuable point of view. Taseer is a reasonable man who looks at this issue very carefully and thoughtfully. I think you make a good point about the borders, but since Pakistan is here to stay, what should be helpful in bringing about more stability and peace is to normalize the borders, and not just with India. There are other parts of Pakistan, beyond the Kashmiri conflict, that are in dispute. For more on this, check out Bruce Reidel's latest book on the US and Pakistan. It's called Deadly Embrace and it's really good (and measured). He makes a big case for normalization of Pakistan's borders as a way to calm in down in a way. Thanks for your comment!
Laura Hughes They grew out of the aftermath of the Soviet retreat from Afghanistan, armed with weapons we funneled through Pakistan, but there was no singular effort on the part of the U.S. to nurture the Taliban the way elements in Pakistan certainly did. It's an incredibly complex situation- my goal in these two pieces was to remark on the fact that Musharraf is still up to his old tricks. Coming to Washington to tell us that Pakistan is blameless, but that if there ARE any problems, he's the guy to fix them. We know now that both of those claims are baseless.
Laura Hughes Hi, Jake- thanks for your comment. India is by no means blameless in all of this, but I would argue that since 2008 (and really before), they have show remarkable restraint in their response to attacks planned just over the border in Pakistan. And you're right- India is just as preoccupied with Pakistan, but that paranoia hasn't translated into the same degree of deep seated militancy the way it has in Pakistan. Obviously, India has its own trouble with extremism, but it also has far better leadership than Pakistan. That is really Pakistan's problem- that the army wields too much power and the civilian government seemingly none at all. I'd be wary of saying the U.S. was implicit in the creation of the Taliban. It was Benzair Bhutto who came to Washington singing their praises in the first place and we followed her considerable lead in doing so without fully understanding who they were ..
Laura Hughes Thanks, Mark. I'm in the middle of Part 2 right now, so let me just answer this briefly and then come back later with a lengthier reply. Any theory that he was a reliable Al-Qaeda fighter is complete nonsense. First of all, he claims we bullied him into cooperating with us in the months before we invaded Afghanistan. (more on that later- but let's just say, it's not like he was a willing partner by any means). Second, the Pakistani army did initially push into the tribal areas and arrested/killed hundreds of AQ fighters who had fled across the border. But that purge was essentially a one time deal (hence our recent and right reliance on drones.) Now, I would argue that the Pakistani military (a conglomeration of problematic and competing cultural allegiances) is stretched thin, but did we have a transparent, cooperative partner in Musharraf (and by extension, the military/ISI)? No.
Laura Hughes As to the "challenge," I hope one of our editors will reach out to you to write a rebuttal. It would be a very good discussion to have, so long as it remains MEASURED. However, as to our standards. We have very thoughtful editors who do spend quite a good deal of time reviewing the content and quality of an article before it is published. I understand you disagree with Zachary, but I do not believe your disagreements reflect any fault on the part of our editors. Again, I do hope through some channel or another you have an opportunity to write a proper rebuttal- I know it's tricky to write comments in so few characters.
Laura Hughes Well, a proper rebuttal is absolutely necessary when you say some his points are borderline "anti-semitic." I don't agree with that charge, but a thoughtful debate is necessary. I am sensitive to your schedule, but if you're interested in the things said and discussed on this site (which you clearly are based on the number of your comments), I think it would be a very worthwhile discussion to have. I'm glad you've "challenged" him- I hope you do find an hour or two to write a 500-word piece.
Laura Hughes Ariella, if you believe this article is factually incorrect, why don't you "challenge" Zachary. That's the work we do on here on PolicyMic: we have reasonable and measured discussions. Please write your own thoughtful article addressing the concerns you have with this one.
Laura Hughes Splitting hairs, again. Are you in agreement with Emily that Adams was overrated because of one piece of legislation out of an entire career of unmatched public service? I would again implore you to read McCullough. Once you do, I hope you're criticism of him will be more tempered.