A Mind That Suits What doesn't kill me, makes me laugh... usually.

Wednesday, March 31, 2004 :::
A Mind That Suits is not sure why more has not been made of the following, from Secretary of State Colin Powell's testimony to the 9-11 Commission. (Complete text here. ) It seems that the best question for Mr. Clarke now would be, “If you think that the President was slow is moving against al-Qaida, how much sooner than 27 days after he became president should he have moved?”

This is what Mr. Powell had to say. Note what he says in the third paragraph:

We wanted to move beyond the roll-back policy of containment, criminal prosecution, and limited retaliation for specific terrorist attacks. We wanted to destroy al Qaida.

We understood that Pakistan was critical to the success of our long-term strategy. To get at al Qaida, we had to end Pakistan’s support for the Taliban. So we had to recast our relations with that country. But nuclear sanctions, caused by Pakistan’s nuclear weapons tests, had soured our relations considerably. We confronted a difficult task. Going to the Congress, for instance, to argue for a relaxation of sanctions we knew was going to be very tough. We knew also that achieving sustainable new relations with Pakistan meant moving more aggressively to strengthen and shape our relationship with India. So we began this rather more complex diplomatic approach very quickly upon assuming office, even as we were putting the strategy on paper and deciding its more complicated elements.

For example, in February, 2001 Presidents Musharraf and Bush exchanged letters. Let me quote a few lines from President Bush’s letter to the Pakistan President on February 16:

“Pakistan is an important member of the community of nations and one with which I hope to build better relations, particularly as you move ahead to return to civilian, constitutional government. We have concerns of which you are aware, but I am hopeful we can work together on our differences in the years ahead....

“We should work together to address Afghanistan’s many problems. The most pressing of these is terrorism, and it inhibits progress on all other issues. The continued presence of Usama bin Laden and his al-Qaida organization is a direct threat to the United States and its interests that must be addressed. I believe al-Qaida also threatens Pakistan’s long-term interests.

We joined the United Nations in passing additional sanctions against the Taliban to bring bin Laden to justice and to close the network of terrorist camps in their territory. I urge you to use your influence with the Taliban to bring this about....” President Bush was very concerned about al Qaida and about the safe haven given them by the Taliban. But he knew that implementing the diplomatic road map we envisioned would

be difficult.

The Deputies went to work reviewing all of these complex regional issues. Early on we realized that a serious effort to remove al Qaida’s safe haven in Afghanistan might well require introducing ground forces. Doing this without the cooperation of Pakistan was out of the question. Pakistan had vital interests in Afghanistan and was deeply suspicious of Indian intentions there. Their mutual fears and suspicions threatened to boil over into nuclear conflict. The situation was delicate and dangerous and any effort to effect change had to be calibrated very carefully to avoid misperception and miscalculation.

::: posted by A Mind That Suits at 11:14 AM



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