I was an avid fan of The New Republic back in the 1980s when its masthead included Charles Krauthammer, Fred Barnes, Morton Kondracke, Michael Lewis, Michael Kinsley, Andrew Sullivan and Mickey Kaus. Today's TNR is waxing indignant and accusing the Bush administration of cooking up a "July surprise "
This spring, the administration significantly increased its pressure on Pakistan to kill or capture Osama bin Laden, his deputy, Ayman Al Zawahiri, or the Taliban's Mullah Mohammed Omar, all of whom are believed to be hiding in the lawless tribal areas of Pakistan. A succession of high-level American officials ... have visited Pakistan in recent months to urge General Pervez Musharraf's government to do more in the war on terrorismQuestion #1: Would TNR prefer that the administration applied less pressure on Pakistan to help capture Al Qaeda leaders and/or didn't care if the Pakistanis did less in the war on terrorism?
This public pressure would be appropriate, even laudable, had it not been accompanied by an unseemly private insistence that the Pakistanis deliver these high-value targets (HVTs) before Americans go to the polls in November.Question #2: Would TNR prefer that the Al Qaeda leaders be captured after the election, in light of warnings that Al Qaeda is planning attacks on the United States before the election?
Another official, this one from the Pakistani Interior Ministry, which is responsible for internal security, explains, "The Musharraf government has a history of rescuing the Bush administration. They now want Musharraf to bail them out when they are facing hard times in the coming elections." (These sources insisted on remaining anonymous. Under Pakistan's Official Secrets Act, an official leaking information to the press can be imprisoned for up to ten years.)Question #3: Has TNR considered that these anonymous sources might have a domestic political agenda to embarrass Musharraf that that would motivate them to, say, tell lies to credulous reporters?
according to this ISI official, a White House aide told ul-Haq last spring that "it would be best if the arrest or killing of [any] HVT were announced on twenty-six, twenty-seven, or twenty-eight July"--the first three days of the Democratic National Convention in Boston.Question #4: Why would the best time to announce a success against Al Qaeda be more than three months before the election and not, say, right before the election?
the Pakistanis fear that, if they don't produce an HVT, they won't get the planes. Equally, they fear that, if they don't deliver, either Bush or a prospective Kerry administration would turn its attention to the apparent role of Pakistan's security establishment in facilitating Khan's illicit proliferation network. One Pakistani general recently in Washington confided in a journalist, "If we don't find these guys by the election, they are going to stick this whole nuclear mess up our asshole."Now that's a heck of a suppository!
Question #5: The theory is that capturing the senior Al Qaeda leaders would help Bush win re-election. So if the Pakistanis fail to capture the senior Al Qaeda leaders before the election, the Bush administration will be out of office and unable to stick even non-nuclear items up the Pakistani fundament. And why would the incoming Kerry people be inclined to punish the Pakistanis if, like TNR, they don't want Osama captured before the election anyway? The only situation the Pakistanis would have to worry about is if they fail to capture Osama, but Bush is re-elected anyway. But if that happens, why wouldn't the Bush White House just count their blessings and pressure the Pakis to keep Osama in his cave and pull him out just in time for the 2006 midterm elections?
Martin Peretz, call your office.Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at July 09, 2004 04:34 PM