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Nov 9

Written by: Diana West
Friday, November 09, 2007 8:43 AM 

 While we wrangle over supporting Musharraf or supporting democracy in our dealings with Pakistan, there's another question to consider: Are we, the US, in a war, or aren't we?
    There is an air of unserious surrealism to our struggle to neutralize the blackmailing threat of terrorism emanating from the Islamic world--something the crisis in Pakistan exposes all too clearly. In my column this week, I noted the deeply pro-sharia sentiments of Pakistanis, as consistently revealed by periodic polling and news analysis.  Such sentiments suggest that the will of the Pakistani people is hardly the horse for America to ride either to nuclear safety, regional stability or--dare I say it?--victory over jihad. This becomes particularly clear on re-examining poll data from April of this year that tells us 79 percent of Pakistanis agree with "strict application of Sharia law in every Islamic country," and 74 percent agree with the goal of "unifying all Islamic countries into a single Caliphate." And yes, these are precisely the goals of Osama bin Laden--who can claim a 46 percent approval rating in Pakistan.    
     But such violently anti-Western attitudes are something our elites won't even mention, let alone discuss. Benazir Bhutto and the rioting lawyers in their suits are so much accessible, so much easier to relate to. Looks to me, though, that they are red herrings of a sort, a distraction from the radically anti-Western attitudes of the wider population that may ultimately bring disaster upon us in the form of a government more akin to a Khomeini than a Shah.
    Still, it's not the Support Democracy crowd that has the corner on fantasy. Even as we have showered Musharraf with billions of dollars since 9/11, the Support Musharraf crowd--led by the US government, to date-- hasn't gotten nearly enough for its support, and this is the fault of the Bush administration. Paul Sperry reminds us:
   
    "While claiming to cooperate with U.S. antiterror objectives, he [Musharraf]  has cut deals with Islamic militants in Pakistan's tribal belt; freed high-value al-Qaida targets whom U.S. authorities helped him capture, such as Mohammed Noor Khan; and refused to let authorities question Danny Pearl's murderer, Omar Sheikh, or nuclear proliferator A.Q. Khan.

    "On his watch, moreover, Osama bin Laden and the rest of al-Qaida'a high command have carved out a new sanctuary within Pakistan, where they are training both local and foreign jihadists from Europe and America, including young children now, to attack the West.

    "And at the same time, Musharraf forbids U.S. patrols in his country to hunt down bin Laden or even counter-attack insurgents.

    " `It's not that we lack the ability to go into that space,' said Tom Fingar of the office of the director of U.S. National Intelligence. `But we have chosen not to do so without the permission of the Pakistani government.'

    "He complained Islamabad consistently denies the U.S. military, based across the border in Afghanistan, permission to go after known al-Qaida training camps.

    "And the CIA station chief in Islamabad is confined to that city and almost completely isolated. He and other officers cannot venture out into the tribal areas without a Pakistani military escort.

    "Still, the administration has showered Musharraf's regime with $11 billion in military and economic aid since 9/11, while removing long-time sanctions imposed on Pakistan for rogue nuclear operations and other international violations.
"
   
    Every jihadi in the world operates with impunity in the lawless provinces of Pakistan--but not the US military? This is an outrage both because it prolongs our war and trivializes our purpose. Such weakness, such a lack of seriousness on the part of the Bush administration makes me ask again: Are we in a war, or aren't we? A nation at war--with victory as the point of its strategy--would never make such detrimental and dangerous concessions to a Musharraf. But our politicians prefer to live in a world of pretend, even if our soldiers can't.  

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