Thursday, September 21, 2006

George paints himself into a corner in Pakistan?

Pakistan is becoming a perfect example of the old saying "With friends like that..." etc. Although they're supposedly an ally in the Afghan war, they've been making agreements, doing prisoner swaps and giving indirect financial support to pro-Taliban tribal leaders around the Afghan/Pakistani border. The issue's been causing a lot of consternation -- we have soldiers dying over there (4 more this week, heckofajob Steve, you da man), and our "ally" is helping the people that are killing them. Pakistani authorities have even said that if Bin Laden is in Pakistan (a highly probable scenario), they won't arrest him as long as he "behaves himself".

In a CNN interview yesterday, Bush was asked about this.
He declared that HELL yeah, he'd send the military into Pakistan to get Bin Laden. Pakistan's president has said that his country and the UN would oppose such a move in favour of taking care of this business internally. Hmmm, looks like there could be trouble between the US and Pakistan should OBL ever be found there... or maybe not.

Bush said he'd need "good intelligence" before he'd send forces into Pakistan, but "good intelligence" launched the war in Iraq, and we all know how "good" that turned out to be. The truth is Bush doesn't really worry all that much about how "good" the intelligence is -- if it's something he wants to do, he'll find a way. I'm sure there are as many Bin Laden sightings as there are Elvis sightings, and the intelligence on Iraq was about as credible as an Elvis sighting. If Bush was that determined to get Bin Laden, he'd have done something, anything, by now.

Whatever intelligence the US gets on OBL, the Bush administration will claim it isn't good enough to be actionable. Not right now, anyway. For the time being, Bush doesn't want to catch Bin Laden -- he's too valuable a PR tool. Ron Suskind's book "The 1% Doctrine" points out how Bush's poll numbers rise whenever there's a Bin Laden video released; in fact, he probably has Bin Laden to thank for his 2004 election victory. Send troops into Pakistan to get Bin Laden? Not a chance. OBL is Republicans' ace in the hole, the card so valuable that it can only be played in an election year, so he can relax for the time being. Nobody will be kicking in the door to his cave for at least another 18 months or so, and I'm sure he knows it.