The Blowhards of War

Recently by Justin Raimondo: You Lie, Mr. President

It may be unseemly for a pundit to highlight his own predictive powers, especially in the first sentence of a column, but propriety has never been much of a constraining factor for me, so here goes:

No sooner had I written that the High Mucka-Mucks of the “Kochtopus” would jump on the bandwagon of the Gary Johnson campaign, then there was David Boaz, looking particularly smug, singing Johnson’s praises (and making catty remarks about Ron Paul’s age) on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s Freedom Watch less than twenty-four hours later.

Okay, so you don’t have to be Nostradamus reincarnated to have imagined the oily evasive Boaz would sidle up to the oily evasive Johnson: like attracts like and all that. But how about my prediction that the neocons War Party, bored with Afghanistan and eager to find fresh killing fields, would soon be focusing on Pakistan as the New Enemy in our eternal “war on terrorism”?

No sooner had my last column been posted, then CNN posted David Frum’s latest screed, in which the former speechwriter for George W. Bush asked: “Has our mission in Afghanistan become obsolete?”

Frum, who authored the “axis of evil” phraseology that set the tone for the Bush presidency, isn’t having second thoughts about the interventionist foreign policy he’s always championed: no, he’s just wondering if, as he puts it, “The world’s most important terrorist safe haven is visibly not Afghanistan, but instead next-door Pakistan.”

According to Frum, “Because the U.S. presence in Afghanistan requires cooperation from Pakistan, the Afghanistan mission perversely inhibits the United States from taking more decisive action against Pakistan’s harboring of terrorism.” The US has got it “upside down,” he says: Pakistan is the real Enemy. He then goes into a laundry list of aggressive actions he would like us to engage in, including US military action to “disable” Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal.

This last is particularly crazy, even for a dyed-in-the-wool neocon like Frum: does this born again “moderate” Republican really want to start a war — bound to go nuclear — with Pakistan? He just can’t understand why the Obama administration doesn’t do its duty and risk turning Central Asia into a radioactive wasteland:

“Instead, even now — even now! — we’re told that Pakistan is just too important to permit the U.S. to act on its stated doctrine — articulated by George W. Bush’s administration and not repudiated by Obama’s: ‘Those who harbor terrorists will be treated as terrorists themselves.’ So long as we remain in Afghanistan, that statement remains true. The question is, shouldn’t we be taking now the steps to render the statement less true?"

“The less committed we are to Afghanistan, the more independent we are of Pakistan. The more independent we are of Pakistan, the more leverage we have over Pakistan. The more leverage we have over Pakistan, the more clout we have to shut down Pakistan’s long, vicious, and now not credibly deniable state support for terrorism.”

What’s not credible is an assertion — that the Pakistani authorities sheltered and collaborated with bin Laden — offered without evidence. This many of us learned in the run up to the invasion of Iraq (alas, some only in retrospect). However, neocons don’t need evidence: indeed, they disdain it, and Frum offers none to back up his rationale for war. We are simply supposed to accept that, because bin Laden was found in Abbottabad — described in the American media as a “garrison city” supposedly impregnable to infiltration — the Pakistani authorities must have known his whereabouts.

The details of “Operation Geronimo” underscore why this is nonsense: after all, the US succeeded in setting up a clandestine “safe house” in Abbottabad not far from bin Laden’s lair. If the CIA could do it, why not al-Qaeda — which, after all, has shown itself to be at least the equal of our spooks when it comes to pulling off clandestine operations? I’m assuming the safe house was unknown to the Pakistanis, but, on second thought, maybe not …

Read the rest of the article