Monday, December 06, 2004

3 Years

Musharraf made waves during his recent visit to the US by stating that the war in Iraq has made the world less safe and by admitting that the Pakistani government has no idea where bin Laden is. Visiting London today, he has apparently stated that the war on terror has made the world less safe. When I first saw this headline I thought that the newspaper had got the quote about Iraq wrong, but no, it's from a BBC interview to be broadcast tonight:

Visiting Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf agreed with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) here on Monday that the war on terror had made the world less safe and was not addressing the underlying causes of conflict.

In an interview with the BBC Newsnight that will be broadcast late on Monday, Musharraf used the word "absolutely" when it was suggested to him that the world was less safe partly due to the campaign against terrorism.

I don't have a problem with his answer in the sense that he was just pointing out that the focus of the war on terror has not been on terrorism's underlying causes, which is true, but I was more shocked to read that Musharraf "agreed with the BBC" that the war on terror has made the world less safe. I'll withhold further comment till I see the context of the Q&A, but I'll make the general note that I wish my TV license fees were going toward something a little more even-handed. The show should be available here after 22:30 BST.

The comments Musharraf made while in the US made me think back to the Fall and Winter of 2001 and the war in Afghanistan, a war which I supported but strongly criticized in terms of its carrying out. At the time I wondered why the US and coalition countries were not interested as much in putting boots on the ground and specifically using more special forces along the Afghani/Pakistani border as they seemed to be in destroying infrastructure from the air, causing much collateral damage. In the short-term, the strategy they used seem to be sufficient, in that the Taliban was overthrown and a new government was put in place without a protracted battle as we are seeing in Iraq. In the long-term I think that my criticisms still hold, as bin Laden and his associated are still hiding, the Taliban still exists in pockets of the country and Karzai has been said to be "the mayor of Kabul." The US moved on to "shock and awe" in Iraq and has never been able to fully commit to stabilization in Afghanistan. It's too bad that of the two wars Bush has waged, we are mired in the one that was unjustified to begin with.

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