Yes, it turns out everyone on the planet has known forever that the Pakistan military's intelligence branch, ISI, was helping the Taliban fight NATO troops in Afghanistan. As to whether everyone includes the people who signed up to serve their country in Afghanistan and the families of service members that got relatives returned to them in a coffin -- it's not even been 48 hours since the WikiLeaks story broke; let's give the spinners a little breathing room, eh?
But the swiftest are already laying out ways to thread the camel of Realpolitik, Mordor-style, through the needle of public outrage:
> Pakistan's leaders have turned over a new leaf so it's mean to throw history in their face.
> Shoot the messenger.
Not to be bested by the Yawners, and to make sure Harvard's Carr Center has a nag in this race, Michael Semple has cooked up the tactic of casting aspersions on the entire Afghan security apparatus -- although he takes care not to mention the National Directorate of Security by name or its former chief, Amrullah Saleh.
In his op-ed today for the (U.K.) Guardian Semple writes:
[...] I sat in on one of the first national workshops of the Afghan reconciliation commission, headed by former president, Sebghatullah Mojadedi. Provincial police chiefs and governors and other officials split into small groups to discuss the causes of ongoing conflict. Encouraged by Mojadedi himself, every single working group fed back the conclusion that Pakistani ISI interference was the prime cause of conflict in the country.Uh, I think he means Britain and Pakistan have a complex history. It's so complex that the United Kingdom is home to the largest Pakistani diaspora, after the one in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
This was more an article of faith than an empirical finding. Assembled Afghan officialdom simply worked on the basis that Pakistan had supported the Taliban, was opposed to the post-Taliban set-up and must be behind any resistance to this new setup.
In an even more blatant fashion, while visiting one of the Afghan provinces bordering Pakistan I asked the provincial intelligence chief to explain his role. He described his main function as being to inculcate in the people of the province a belief that Pakistan could never tolerate a stable Afghanistan, so that they would always be on their guard to check ISI interference.
The point is that Afghanistan and Pakistan are countries with a complex history of interdependence. [...]
Mr Semple does finally allow that where there's smoke there might be a struck match on occasion:
Most Taliban I have talked to regarding the role of Pakistan make three broad points. They say that they require some degree of official blessing to be able to operate from Pakistan. They say that this blessing is never assured – it is an uncomfortable relationship. And they say that any solution to the insurgency must have Pakistan's blessing.Of course a regime that has done nothing but wreak havoc on Afghanistan should not be the decider about when they'll call off their dogs, but Mr Semple seems to have a dislike for tediously obvious facts.
His bio at the Carr website notes:
... a leading expert on the Taliban, the Pashtun tribes and Afghan politics. He has worked in Afghanistan since 1989, most recently as Deputy to the EU Special Representative for Afghanistan, and has inter-acted with leading figures in the succession of Afghan regimes, and the different armed movements which have campaigned against them. He is recognized internationally as a key proponent of political approaches to dealing with the conflict in Afghanistan, including “talking to the Taliban”. His experience as development worker, political officer and conflict negotiator give him an unparalleled network into most elements of Afghan and Pakistani society. ...Then perhaps he was in Afghanistan or Pakistan in September 2006 and so missed the bombshell Britain's Ministry of Defense dropped:
A meeting at Chequers yesterday between President Musharraf and Tony Blair was overshadowed by a leaked Ministry of Defence document that suggested Pakistan's ISI intelligence agency was supporting the Taliban. The BBC also quoted the document as saying: "Pakistan is not currently stable but on the edge of chaos."The MoD had no other choice but to play down their research just because its conclusions were not part of government policy. But at least the British public had been clearly warned by an official source that Pakistan was double-dealing with NATO. The American public received no such compassion from the U.S. Department of Defense.
Gen Musharraf angrily denied the allegations. "I totally, 200%, reject it," he said. "ISI is a disciplined force, breaking the back of al-Qaida."
Downing Street reassured him that the leaked document "did not reflect the views of the government", while the MoD tried to play down the importance of the paper, saying it was merely research notes and did not represent official policy. ...
To summarize all the above: I don't know whether Assange is a pathological liar and a paranoid conspiracy theorist but if he is, I wonder if Jawa Report's Rusty Shackleford, who's also received the WikiLeaks revelations with a yawn, has considered the implications. When it comes to the point where the only way to get vital security concerns onto the TV news is through the efforts of a nutter, the society is broken.
1) The Small Wars Journal sampling of the Yawners includes Bill Roggio of Long War Journal. Yes, allegations in WikiLeaks documents about the ISI-Taliban connection are old news to Bill and his readers. But Bill isn't yawning. SWJ took his remarks out of context when one considers his closing remarks in the post SWJ links to. Bill wrote:
... there is criticism of some of the intelligence reports [in the WikiLeaks papers] as some of the information has originated from Afghanistan's National Directorate of Security, which has viewed Pakistan as driving the violence in Afghanistan. This is a specious argument. As the NYT points out, there are specific attacks in Afghanistan that can be matched with intelligence reports that were written prior to the time the attacks were executed.