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NightWatch 20110922


For the night of 22 September 2011

North Korea-US: North Korea and the United States are negotiating for a second round of bilateral talks in early October to discuss the conditions for resuming the six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear weapons program, Yonhap reported on 22 September.

An unnamed senior South Korean official said North Korea wants to hold the bilateral talks in Pyongyang, but Washington refused, prompting a discussion of meeting in a third country. The officials said Seoul wants to hold parallel sessions of inter-Korean and US-North Korean talks as a future negotiation system. A third round of inter-Korean talks is also under discussion.

Comment: The US continues to follow the belief that process is substance, doing the same thing over and over for more than ten years and expecting a different result. Only the Clinton administration negotiated a verifiable change in North Korean nuclear behavior, for a time. Every US initiative since then has resulted in more production of fissile material, more missile launches and more armed provocations. Hmmm….

Pakistan-US: US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mullen said on 22 September that Pakistan is exporting violent extremism to Afghanistan by allowing the Haqqani network to act as an "arm" of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency.

Mullen told a US Senate panel that Haqqani operatives executed attacks with ISI support, including the 28 June Kabul hotel attack; an 11 September truck bombing; and the 13 September attack on the US Embassy in Kabul. Mullen said using violent extremism as a policy tool jeopardizes US-Pakistani relations and Pakistan's opportunity to be a respected nation with legitimate regional influence.

Special Comment: Mullen's testimony is important because it signifies the US Defense Department, not just intelligence agencies, now accepts what Mullen has denied in public before. It is unusual because this kind of disclosure should have been made by the head of DIA of the US Deputy Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, not the Chairman, JCS.

For six years or longer Intelligence agencies and NightWatch open source analyses have reported that Pakistan is a state sponsor and active supporter of terrorism in South Asia -Afghanistan, India and Bangladesh-- as an arm of national security policy.

For four years Mullen, on behalf of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has advanced the notion that a person-to-person relationship with Pakistan Army Chief of Army Staff General Kayani could change Pakistani hostility to the Karzai government, promote peace on the sub-continent and end Pakistani support for terrorism and for nuclear proliferation.

Today's testimony indicates that such a misguided, well intentioned peculiarly American approach has failed in every category, once again, and is now no longer US policy. Mullen was the architect of this policy and so he is the spokesman for its failure. It has taken four years for this epiphany to take place.

Some might argue that the personal approach helped secure US supply lines through Pakistan to Afghanistan. The counter argument is that in building a logistics system that relied on Pakistan the US taxpayers financed and supported both sides of the insurgency for ten years plus Pakistani trucking concerns.

The hard lesson for some American seniors is the realization that Kayani and his cohorts have never been free agents in the Pakistan system. They are superb representatives and defenders of a system of strategic precepts that India is the enemy; Islamic fundamentalists are Pakistani patriots; the US is an inconstant ally that should never be trusted and that Afghanistan is the battlefield for proxy war to protect Pakistan's western flank from a two-front war by India. That summarizes Pakistani strategic doctrine, minus the Pakistani nuclear doctrine of shooting India before India shoots Pakistan.

Kayani was Musharraf's hand-picked successor and Musharraf despised the US. Kayani has never said anything officially nor made any significant changes to Pakistan security policy that the US wanted during the past four years.

A policy of personal relationship crafted to change the security policy of a so-called ally is manipulative, transparent and never works. Everybody knows this and this was not an intelligence failure. It was a policy choice. Today's testimony indicates the US Defense Department might finally understand that policy towards Pakistan must be based on national interests, not personal relationships. That is how the Pakistanis have manipulated the US for years.

Pakistan is not a US ally, partner, or friend, despite $ billions in arms aid. The US is Pakistan's customer. The US has paid top dollar for what little begrudging assistance it received from Pakistan. Pakistan spent every US dollar to enable it to fight India.

With luck, a new, more pragmatic, clear sighted US policy towards Pakistan should start to emerge under Secretary Panetta.

Afghanistan: Update. Afghan security authorities announced that the assassination of former President Rabbani was the work of agents of Pakistani intelligence. Afghan sources also report that the Afghan government is infuriated by President Obama's refusal to meet President Karzai at the UN, prior to the Rabbani murder. Obama met Palestinian President Abbas, who rebuffed him, but not Karzai.

Syria-US: Syrian President Bashar al Assad's ordered crackdowns on protesters put Syria at risk for sectarian strife, U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford said on 22 September. Ford said there are signs of economic malaise, dissent within al Asad's Alawite sect and more defections in the army. But the military is still powerful, he said.

Special Comment: The US Ambassador is on the wrong side of history again. Sectarian strife is precisely what is taking place already! Sometimes the wisest policy is to shut up and learn. The compulsive and near automatic propensity to side with the apparent underdog invariably runs counter to US interests in the Middle East. Even the Egyptian Army finally has come to understand that democratic reform, as advocated by the US, portends the end of democracy and individual rights in Egypt. 

Sunni Islamic fundamentalists in Syria will not be grateful that US diplomats mouthed sympathy for their cause, should they prevail. They are likely to be more anti-American than Asad, as well as anti-Alawite, anti-Christian, anti-Zoroastrian, anti-Jew, anti- Kurd and all other minorities in Syria. The scope of sectarian reprisals is potentially beyond imagination, if Asad and the Alawites fall.

End of NightWatch for 22 September.

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