The Duck of Minerva

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“Kill the invaders”

September 12, 2008

The Australian is reporting that Pakistani troops have been told to fire upon US troops attacking from Afghanistan:

KEY corps commanders of Pakistan’s 600,000-strong army issued orders last night to retaliate against “invading” US forces that enter the country to attack militant targets.

The move has plunged relations between Islamabad and Washington into deep crisis over how to deal with al-Qa’ida and the Taliban

What amounts to a dramatic order to “kill the invaders”, as one senior officer put it last night, was disclosed after the commanders – who control the army’s deployments at divisional level – met at their headquarters in the garrison city of Rawalpindi under the chairmanship of army chief and former ISI spy agency boss Ashfaq Kayani.

The paper notes that 120,000 Pakistani troops are deployed along the border with Afghanistan.

This story follows the NY Times report on September 10 that President Bush signed an order in July authorizing cross-border attacks by US ground forces without Pakistani approval.

Pakistani officials argue that unauthorized US attacks foment support for extremists and anti-Americanism:

“Unilateral action by the American forces does not help the war against terror because it only enrages public opinion,” said Husain Haqqani, Pakistan’s ambassador to Washington, during a speech on Friday. “In this particular incident, nothing was gained by the action of the troops.”

The Times story says that some Pakistani officials are OK with Predator missile attacks, though leaders have publicly complained about prior attacks. BTW, the US is using an improved Predator in Pakistan.

In 1969, Richard Nixon began prosecuting a secret war in Cambodia, which he didn’t report to the nation until April 30, 1970. Tactically, the war in Cambodia met with some success, but it didn’t ultimately save Vietnam and it arguably helped push Cambodia into civil war — and genocide.

Pakistan may not be vulnerable to radical Islamic rule, but its internal divisions are worrisome and it is a nuclear-armed state. The risks of escalation are always worth taking into account when thinking about extending a war into a new theater — particularly in this region.

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Rodger A. Payne is a Professor of Political Science at the University of Louisville. He serves on the University’s Sustainability Council and was a co-founder of the Peace, Conflict, and Social Justice program. He is the author of dozens of journal articles and book chapters and coauthor, with Nayef Samhat, of Democratizing Global Politics: Discourse Norms, International Regimes, and Political Community (SUNY, 2004). He is currently working on two major projects, one exploring the role of narratives in international politics and the other examining the implications of America First foreign policy.