Sunday, July 08, 2007

'05 Raid on al Qaeda Nixed by Rumsfeld

The New York Times ran a report on Saturday about a planned secret raid in 2005 on al Qaeda leaders at a high level meeting in Pakistan. The raid was intended to capture or kill the most senior level officers in al Qaeda including Ayman al-Zawahri, the number two man in the terrorist organization and the leader of daily operations. According to just released reports, then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld aborted the mission at the last minute over concerns about US and Pakistani relations. (CNN: '05 mission to get al Qaeda in Pakistan aborted, Times says.)

When Rumsfeld cancelled the mission, US SEAL teams were already aboard C-130s in Afghanistan in full mission gear. The intelligence community strenuously objected to the cancellation, however Rumsfeld refused to budge. In his view, the raid needed the approval of Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf, and he did not believe that would be granted due to the size of the SEAL force being inserted.

When you look back at Rumsfeld's tenure as Defense Secretary, it's very hard to overlook the number of missed opportunities that were the direct result of his decisions or intervention. Here in 2005 we had the opportunity to cripple the top leadership of al Qaeda yet passed on the opportunity so as not to anger an unstable, tenuous ally that is a major support of terrorism and of al Qaeda itself. Earlier, with Osama bin Laden virtually imprisoned in Tora Bora, decisions were made to use Northern Alliance mercenaries to capture the terrorist criminal rather than use US troops. We all know the results. Bin Laden was allowed to escape and remains on the loose today (assuming he is still alive.)

Once again, there is a lesson to be learned from history. On April 30, 1970, President Richard Nixon appeared on national television to announce the introduction of ground troops into Cambodia. The decision was extremely unpopular and resulted in numerous campus protests and riots, including the infamous riots at Kent State University in Ohio. The objective, though, was the elimination of Viet Cong strongholds in the allegedly neutral Cambodia. The Viet Cong and elements of the NVA were using Cambodia's neutrality to secure safe havens and to conduct raids on US forces operating in South Vietnam.

While the short term affects of the Cambodia Incursion were detrimental to the President, and also served to lower US esteem around the world, the long term affects were quite dramatic. The US successfully drove the NVA and Viet Cong out of Cambodia and crippled their ability to continue their terrorist tactics against US positions elsewhere. It was the Cambodia Incursion that set the stage for US withdrawal from Vietnam. Without the introduction of ground troops into Cambodia, the US would have been embroiled there well beyond the end of Nixon's term. The President took the necessary - though extremely unpopular - steps needed to cripple the enemy and setup our eventual withdrawal from the region.

The similarities with Pakistan are remarkable. Pakistan is - on paper, at least - a US ally. Despite that alleged alliance, they are a major training ground for al Qaeda, they run schools with an extreme anti-American and anti-Jewish curriculum, teaching the benefits and rewards of martyrdom, and they provide safe havens for those terrorist groups that are fighting US forces across the border in Afghanistan. The US should be no more concerned about US-Pakistani relations today than Nixon was about US-Cambodian relations in 1970. The enemy is basing itself in Pakistan, and that makes those bases a legitimate military target with or without Musharraf's permission.

If the US ever hopes to extricate itself from both Iraq and Afghanistan, then we must eliminate those terrorist strongholds that provide support, funding, and munitions to the terrorists we are fighting in both theaters. That means eliminating Pakistan's blatant support for al Qaeda. It means doing something that will be extremely unpopular and will be perceived as an escalation of the war, much as the Cambodian Incursion was viewed in 1970. It means we must pursue the enemy into Pakistan, regardless of how unpopular that decision is at home and abroad.

Remember, it only takes one side to prosecute a war. Our enemies have no intention of pulling back. Our enemies are not interested in a truce. We will not have peace until we have eliminated these terror groups, and that means eliminating their bases, training camps, and schools in Pakistan.

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4 comments :

Silas Scarborough said...

There is certainly no disagreement over the incompetence of Rumsfeld but that applies to the entire administration. This situation is far past anything that can be covered with a single scapegoat.

As we have seen in Iraq, taking this so-called 'war' in whatever theater only serves to exacerbate the problem and results in many, many U.S. soldiers dying.

There is one solution to protecting the U.S. from terrorists: don't let them in and deport anyone who fits the profile. Until the nation of Islam is willing to police its people it does not deserve entrance into the civilized nations of the world. If all Moslems must pay the price for it, so be it. Police your people or stay home.

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junk said...

Silas: 2 points.

1) If you were to get your way and all Muslims were banned from the US, do you really think that terrorists wouldn't find some other way in? Getting a fake passport isn't very hard if you have money to throw around.

Also, what would happen to American economy? Do you think Muslim countries would still trade with us if we weren't allowing anyone in?

2) I'm sure your tune would be quite different if the situation was reversed, and you were not allowed to visit, say, Australia simply because you were born in America.

SVJ

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