The perfect excuse for me to re-link Hitchens’s piece yesterday in Slate reminding The One how much rhetoric he’s devoted to telling us where the “real terrorists” are and what he’s prepared to do to go get them once he’s free and clear of that irksome Mesopotamian distraction. Here’s his chance: Not only won’t Pakistan address the problem, they continue to actively aid and abet the enemy. So now we’ve taken matters into our own hands, in fulfillment a promise Bush made two years ago but refrained from taking seriously until now. Which brings us to today’s news. Quoth Hitch: “American liberals can’t quite face the fact that if their man does win in November, and if he has meant a single serious word he’s ever said, it means more war, and more bitter and protracted war at that—not less.”
Of course they can face it. They simply don’t believe he’s serious.
On the eve of a meeting with the top U.S. military commander, Pakistan upped the ante in its standoff over U.S. troop incursions, saying its soldiers had orders to open fire on American troops if they crossed from Afghanistan on raids…
A Pakistani military spokesman said Tuesday that the nation’s troops have been ordered to open fire if U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan launched another raid inside Pakistan, raising the prospect of a clash between Pakistani and U.S. forces on the border. Pakistani military officials have repeatedly emphasized that they consider such incursions — made permissible for U.S. troops by secret orders issued by U.S. President George W. Bush in July — to be a violation of territorial sovereignty.
“No incursion will be tolerated anymore,” said Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas, chief military spokesman. The prospect of allies fighting each other as they hunt down Islamist militants still appears remote, given the Pakistani government’s desire to receive billions of dollars in aid from the U.S. But the repeated warnings against U.S. troop raids reflect the strong anger felt among Pakistan’s senior ranks that the U.S. is overstepping its bounds with a close ally.
Adm. Mullen’s in Islamabad as I write this, hopefully giving them an updated version of Armitage’s alleged warning to Musharraf after 9/11. I can only assume Abbas’s statement is pro forma tough talk designed to save face with the public after the U.S. raid two weeks ago, not unlike Maliki ushering the U.S. towards the door with an eye to Iraq’s eventual provincial elections. Surely the Pakistanis understand what the consequences would be if America’s hit again by an attack planned in their country; better to let us deal with it quietly now if they’re unwilling or unable to, lest events ultimately require a more “vigorous” response. In the meantime, though, since the 18 different permutations of the Bush Doctrine are suddenly in vogue among the media, how about this for a question at the next pressers given by Obama and McCain: Does the doctrine promulgated after 9/11 about holding states responsible for acts committed by the terrorists they harbor still apply? That was the rationale for knocking the Taliban out of power in Afghanistan, after all. What are we to make of Pakistan’s “protective custody” of the Taliban now, then?