Monday, January 07, 2008

Direct from the DANGER ROOM

Uh, Oh: U.S. Special Forces May Head to Pakistan
By Noah Shachtman January 06, 2008 | 4:13:30 PM
original post here

"Charlie" and "Abu Muqawama" are the pen names for two of America's smartest counterinsurgency analysts. One's a veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq, the other's a civilian academic working for the Marine Corps. Together, they blog here. This is their first post for DANGER ROOM.

Read on

Brolin Thunder, this is GQ.

Last year, Josh Brolin thought his best Hollywood days were behind him. He’d sold his ranch, gotten busy with his stock portfolio, and cultivated a character actor’s mustache. Then he delivered five blood-chilling performances in a series of Oscar-worthy films—and now Hollywood is beating his door down.
By Alex Pappademas; Photographs by Mark Seliger
read more at the Original post

SOF to Pakistan?

Sunday, January 6, 2008
SOF to Pakistan?

NYT is reporting that the US is considering sending special operations forces to the tribal areas in Pakistan. This has obviously been discussed before, but it's thought that President Musharraf may be newly amenable to the idea.

But at the White House and the Pentagon, officials see an opportunity in the changing power structure for the Americans to advocate for the expanded authority in Pakistan, a nuclear-armed country. “After years of focusing on Afghanistan, we think the extremists now see a chance for the big prize — creating chaos in Pakistan itself,” one senior official said.

The new options for expanded covert operations include loosening restrictions on the C.I.A. to strike selected targets in Pakistan, in some cases using intelligence provided by Pakistani sources, officials said. Most counterterrorism operations in Pakistan have been conducted by the C.I.A.; in Afghanistan, where military operations are under way, including some with NATO forces, the military can take the lead.

The legal status would not change if the administration decided to act more aggressively. However, if the C.I.A. were given broader authority, it could call for help from the military or deputize some forces of the Special Operations Command to act under the authority of the agency.

Now if this was going to be a low-key, under-the-radar affair like our work in the the Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) or the excellent program in Mindinao in the Southern Philippines (JSOTF-P), Charlie would be on board. But there are two conditions that support those operations that simply are not present in Pakistan.

1. 1) A welcoming and cooperative government, whose armed forces take the lead in ground operations.
2. 2) Little in the way of media coverage or Pentagon/Foggy Bottom meddling.

Unfortunately, the 10,000 mile screwdriver will be in full effect in Pakistan, no matter how covert the program wants to be. There was a time where aggressive, kinetic counter-terrorism operations in Pakistan could have been effective. We've long since past it. Which is exactly why Musharraf might let us in now. We'll go ahead and add NWFP and FATA to our ever-growing list of "too little, too late."

Update: One further question: what would be the SOF mission in Pakistan? The easiest (and only by comparison) might be snatch-and-grab operations. But they're also the least strategically significant; they don't change the endgame of a growing Jihadi movement directed against the Pakistani government (and one divorced from the older Islamist establishment). At worst, a never ending game of a whack-a-mole feeds jihadi recruitment and further undermines Musharraf. Does the Bush administration want to try and own the tribal areas? You and whose army? No literally, which army? It's not gonna be ours (take a number). And the Pakistani one is alternately busy focusing on India and getting kidnapped by the very Taliban they're supposed to be fighting. As Craig Cohen from CSIS says,

“The need is immediate, but there’s not probably any short-term solution,” Cohen said. “That’s the reality. Counterinsurgency is a long-term effort, with no quick fix. Incorporating a part of their society that has historically been separate is going to take time.”

To say the least.

But time is just one of the things we don’t have in Pakistan.

So, what gives? Anyone seen a mission statement around here?

Finally, and not to sully all of this with presidential politics, but isn't this proposal rather similar to one made by Barack Obama earlier this summer? For which he was roundly criticized? Charlie obviously still thinks its a bad idea (unless it's the train, organize, and equip mission discussed earlier this fall). Politics make strange bedfellows, indeed

Posted by Charlie at 2:40 PM

Original post

Saturday, January 13, 2007

An Examination of the New Iraq Policy

Leading Brookings experts representing a broad spectrum of disciplines examined the implications of President Bush's new Iraq policy initiative. Participants in the first public discussion included Sarah Binder, senior fellow, Governance Studies; Philip H. Gordon, senior fellow; Martin S. Indyk, senior fellow and director, Saban Center for Middle East Policy; and Kenneth M. Pollack, senior fellow and director of research, Saban Center for Middle East Policy. Carlos Pascual, Vice President and Director of Foreign Policy Studies Brookings institution, moderated the panel.

Imran Siddiqui

Friday, January 05, 2007

Lahore... but in Virginia?

This is a story about Lahore, a small town in Orange County, Virginia, which in the 1850's was named after the ancient city of Lahore in Pakistan. We spoke to the present American owner of a portion of the town's land, and also the Pakistani American who has recently bought that piece of land to develop it to match the Pakistani town of Lahore. The new Lahore will have a school, a museum, an airport, and a replica of the famous Shalimar gardens in Lahore, Pakistan. But the remaining memories of the 18th century Lahore town in Virginia will also be carried forward by uniting American Lahore with the Pakistani Lahore.

Imran Siddiqui

Sawana and family

Sawana Siddiqui - welcome to earth!

God has blessed our family with a lovely daughter. It feels great to be parents of two kids, now we talk in plurals. This is Sawana's first day on earth.

with all the best wishes and love from
Mom and Dad and big sister Injila.

Samar and Imran Siddiqui

The woman behind the film – God and Allah need to talk

A one on one talk with Ruth Broyde Sharone a film maker and an interfaith activist from Los Angeles. According to her recent documentary film “God and Allah need to talk” she is on a path to unite humanity.

Imran Siddiqui

Friday, December 08, 2006

God and Allah need to talk – A film for healing and reconciliation

This is an enterprise mission story that talks about the film “ God and Allah need to talk” written produced and directed by Ruth Sharone, a Jewish American film maker and an interfaith activist from Los Angeles. The film talks about God and Allah being the same divine power and the fact that Gods children need to talk to each other rather then God talking to himself. The story is set against the backdrop of an interfaith initiative taken by the Ambassador of Bangladesh His Excellency Shamsheer Chowdry together with film maker and interfaith activist Ruth Sharon, to launch and evening of multicultural dialogue and help people from different faith groups and religions to get together and find common grounds amongst themselves and their different beliefs.

The event also marked post thanksgiving celebrations where representatives from all the major faith groups of the world got together to dialogue, communicate, screen the film and at the end of the event they all broke bread together to commemorate the struggles of all world religions to coexist in harmony.

Imran Siddiqui

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Huqa Entertainment and Raakin Iqbal

A Pakistani American entrepreneurship.

Often parents don't want their children to do anything but study while they are in high school, but Raakin Iqbal's parents did something different. They not only encouraged their teenaged son to get involved in business ventures, but alsohelped him set up his own media/entertainment company, called Huqa Entertainment. According to a recent article in the Washington Post, Raakin is on his way to becoming one of the first young South Asian Media moguls in America.

Imran Siddiqui

Thursday, November 09, 2006

American and Pakistani-American perspectives from Georgetown University

You must vote!

On the eve of the election night we sat down with some American and Pakistani-American Law Students to hear their thoughts on the elections as well as on the results. The students were from Rising Leaders, Georgetown University, Pakistani Students Association, Pakistani Law Students Association, and the Muslim Law Students Association. This enterprise piece is aimed at discovering how American youth looked at the campaigning and the outcome of these elections.

Imran Siddiqui

Electronic voting - one vote can make a difference

No matter what happens people still go out and vote and that is what makes America. It is the will and the right to exercise the power of your vote that can wipe the systems clean... no matter what the odds are.

Imran Siddiqui

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Interfaith dialogue with students at American University p5

The last part of this series talks about the kind of legacies we will leave behind. Will the future generations be taking about us, the way we talk about our forefathers?

Imran Siddiqui
Global Crossover