Pakistani Nuclear Thresholds

Sunil
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Pakistani Nuclear Thresholds

Postby Sunil » 27 Aug 2003 21:27

Pakistani Nuclear thresholds vis-a-vis the US

Even in the broadest interpretations of the events of Sept 11, it cannot be denied that Pakistan's Army dominated government colluded with the Al Qaida terrorist group and at some level facilitated the horrifying attacks on the WTC and the Pentagon.

Subsequent to these events the Pakistan Army led the Pakistani nation into a `new era of US-Pak cooperation', where they offered to collaborate on all terrorism related matters. This `new deal' became the centerpiece of US-Pak ties. An equally important complement to this Pakistani offer of cooperation was a request to the US to not ask for things which the `fragile, democratically minded dictatorship of Pervez Musharraf' could not give. The Pakistanis (and their friends in the US) went to great lengths to tell the USG that if indeed anything of this nature was asked of Pervez Musharraf, then quite possibly his government would fall and Islamist political groups would take power a la Iran-1979. These groups are known to be close to Al Qaida, and as Pakistan was a nuclear armed state, such an outcome would effectively place nuclear weapons in Al Qaida's hands.

My thesis is that the confluence of these two patterns, i.e. the Al Qaida terror bombings of Sept 11 and the indespensibility of Musharraf in keeping nuclear weapons out of Al Qaida hands, has effectively enabled the Pakistanis to point a nuclear powered pistol to point at America's head.

Is this thesis correct?

Ramana asked a question related to this in another thread. His post is reproduced here.

In another thread Ramana had asked a question

ramana
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posted 27 August 2003 10:15 AM

Most Indians think this must be the case for mollycoddling the TSP since 911? But to those
familiar with the Cold War saga, wouldnt the US take extraordinary measures to protect itself from this threat? Does TSP have unstated 'redlines' vis a vis the US?

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Re: Pakistani Nuclear Thresholds

Postby Rudra » 27 Aug 2003 21:44

let me put the answer this way: if someone can
hold you to ransom and get periodic baksheesh, why
would he kill you?

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Re: Pakistani Nuclear Thresholds

Postby A_Gupta » 27 Aug 2003 21:46

Sunil, suppose it became a matter of common knowledge and discussion in the US, that Pakistan has in effect a nuclear pistol against the US head, what do you think the public reaction be? Aren't the US admin's soothing noises w.r.t. Pakistan in part a means of allaying public fears?

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Re: Pakistani Nuclear Thresholds

Postby Kuttan » 27 Aug 2003 21:57

oops, sunil, I started a different thread. Lets leave both intact for now - the thrusts are different, but with a common convergence.

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Re: Pakistani Nuclear Thresholds

Postby Tim » 27 Aug 2003 22:28

Two questions spring to mind. They're intended more to stimulate discussion than anything else.

First, do US analysts and policy makers accept the thesis that the Pakistani government aided Al Qaeda in the 9-11 attack? If they do not, presumably they don't see the pistol - and will not be coerced by a threat they don't perceive.

Obviously, opinions on this will differ. Compiling a collection of evidence that influential US elites accept the thesis might be an interesting and useful activity, if the evidence exists.

Second, if the US _does_ perceive a threat, aren't the elements of an appropriate response already in place? After all, the US now has a national security strategy of pre-emption, and a policy committed to homeland defense (against a terrorist threat) and national missile defense (against "rogue" missiles). Aren't these capabilities equally applicable - at least in theory - to any Pakistani threat? Would such a threat be any more compelling than North Korea's - which has the added deterrent value of a massive conventional force capability against an important US ally?

Tim

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Re: Pakistani Nuclear Thresholds

Postby Sunil » 27 Aug 2003 22:36

Arun_Gupta,

Boss I have been sitting on this idea for the better part two years. I first realized this on Sept 12th but then kept quiet about it as I did not know how people will react.

Now especially after WMD removal was given as the motivation for invading Iraq and after the `successful' removal of that threat, I think the common public has become sufficiently exposed to the idea that discussing it openly isn't necessarily deterimental to public confidence.

Perhaps TSJ can correct me here, but if this were to be a common discussion point, I think the discussion would stop at a point like this is.. "Oh so Pakistan has a nuclear gun to our head.. hmm.. that is bad, lets make sure it doesn't go off.."

Mind you I am not saying anything the USG hasn't already said, everyone acknowledges the two facts in my thesis..

a) The Pakistani Army guys were thick as thieves with the Al Qaida before Sept 11.

b) After Sept 11 the Pakistani Army agreed to cooperate in the global war on terror to the extent that Gen. Musharraf is not toppled by an Al Qaida backed coup. Such a coup would place Pakistani nuclear weapons in Al Qaida hands.

Take the two together and it becomes equivalent to having a nuclear pistol pointed at America's head.

The regular WMD deterrence scheme does not work in such a context as the Al Qaida are `irrational actors'. The US can't threaten nuclear strikes against Pakistan as long as it is under Musharraf, because Pakistan under Musharraf isn't actually threatening the US.

Do you see the trick here?

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Re: Pakistani Nuclear Thresholds

Postby Mudy » 27 Aug 2003 22:43

Second, if the US _does_ perceive a threat, aren't the elements of an appropriate response already in place? After all, the US now has a national security strategy of pre-emption, and a policy committed to homeland defense (against a terrorist threat) and national missile defense (against "rogue" missiles). Aren't these capabilities equally applicable - at least in theory - to any Pakistani threat? Would such a threat be any more compelling than North Korea's - which has the added deterrent value of a massive conventional force capability against an important US ally?
But Pakistan as a state never say that they are involve, they always have this excuse that it is a roque element or Mujaheden or jihadis. In case of Pakistan US will never perceive that state is involved and will not take any action as it is doing. US is only working on existing veteran fundoos who may have know how to do firework, but what about machinery which is creating these new fundoos everyday and will provide them material in future.
This homeland security will work to some extent but will not solve the problem.
US need to reprogram itself to fight terrorism from its root by finshing off its mentor that is Pakistan.

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Re: Pakistani Nuclear Thresholds

Postby Sunil » 27 Aug 2003 22:51

Tim,

I don't know if this answers any of your questions but

1) The `influential elite' of the US is a vague term. I think it is safe to assume that the members of US NSC know about the Pakistan Army's past association with Al Qaida. If they don't -not even God can help you. Think of it this way, every single AQ guy your people picked up Afghanistan wore a Pakistan Army sweater. If your boys on the ground missed that, then I fear we are in a bigger mess than even I can begin to imagine.

As references go, it may be worthwhile to visit articles that discuss the language used with DG. ISI Mahmood Ahmed during this visit to the US on Sept 11 2001 and the discussions that appeared in the press surrounding his dismissal from service. This is not the language used by someone who thinks Mahmood Ahmed was good natured soul who was merely visiting friends in the US.

2) A committee formed President Bush after the Sept 11 tragedy spoke of emerging threats on horizon. Considerable importance was placed on the possibility of a WMD strike on US soil. All the the ideas contained in `homeland defence' `pre-emption' etc... have their most recent roots there. These ideas are fine in theory but they all have practical limitations. If anything Iraq demonstrates some of these quite clearly.

3) Deterrence ideas do not work against a suicidally irrational adversary. I suppose one could say, Al Qaida isn't really like that, but who is going to wait to find out if this is true?

The key point that differentiates DPRK from an Al Qaida nuke in my opinion is that the DPRK has a somewhat more transparent nuclear posture. I am given to thinking that the ladder of escalation is more clearly understood in the context of DPRK. Please correct me if I am wrong.

However no such luxury exists with Al Qaida or with Pakistan.

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Re: Pakistani Nuclear Thresholds

Postby Prateek » 27 Aug 2003 23:03

This probably is relevant here ....

Atomic agency lists nuclear threats
http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2003/s933540.htm

Concern over Pyongyang's nuclear program today prompted the director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohammed ElBaradei, to say that North Korea currently poses the biggest threat to the world and is using nuclear blackmail to gain concessions. The IAEA had other troubling news as well. In a leaked report, the agency said that traces of highly enriched uranium have been found at a nuclear plant in Iran, prompting concerns that Tehran is developing a nuclear weapons program, too. The agency's spokesman is Mark Gwozdecky, and I spoke him from Vienna a short time ago.

The 'Washington Post' today has reported that Pakistan, in fact, has supplied nuclear technology and equipment to Iran for its nuclear program.

Is it Pakistan that you'll be going to to seek these answers?

MARK GWOZDECKY: Iran has said it's not in a position to tell us which country has supplied these components because it obtained this material through foreign intermediaries, so we're going to begin obviously talking to the suppliers first and hopefully we will be led to the country where these components were built and be able to do that investigation thoroughly.

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Re: Pakistani Nuclear Thresholds

Postby Talathi » 27 Aug 2003 23:05

Sunil,

There is much merit in what you say. Saying that, are we underestimating the U.S. Govt understanding of this whole matter?

I feel the US govenment is aware that their biggest long term threat in terms of terrorism is Pakistan, its Jehadis and its nuclear weapons.

So far the US has shown a remarkable single mindedness in dealing with their threats.

1) The short term threat - Al Qaeda - Has been scattered and their biggest supporter, the Taliban no longer rules in Afganistan.

2) Now they started to worry about energy security and the Saudi angle to the 911 attacks. To reduce their dependence on KSA oil they attacked IRAQ.

It will take some time for the situation in Iraq to stabilize. This will deal with the Medium term energy security threat.

3) While they are working on the two above threats, it is a good idea to "Work with Mushraf". So that US forces are not spread too thin.

Eventually the Oxford and Cambridge of Terrorism ie the Madrasas and various other institutions in TSP that pose a threat will be dealt with. Until then US policy is happy with letting India bear the brunt of the jihadis. How this threat will be dealt with is open for discussion.

The best option for India would be Israel style bombing of terrorist camps or covert operations. This will need to be continued until the US has the resources and planning to attach the real base of Jehadi philosophy.

Added Later: Or we can do our usual reaction. Cry wolf, beg the world to make Pakistan see sense and fall right back asleep.

I do not think the US is afraid of Puke Nukes in th short term. So it is a looming gun to their head but not an immediate concern.

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Re: Pakistani Nuclear Thresholds

Postby svinayak » 27 Aug 2003 23:05


ramana
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posted 27 August 2003 10:15 AM

Most Indians think this must be the case for mollycoddling the TSP since 911? But to those
familiar with the Cold War saga, wouldnt the US take extraordinary measures to protect itself from this threat? Does TSP have unstated 'redlines' vis a vis the US?
There are two important assumptions from a US point of view which may possibly lead to answers.

1. Pakistan elite and army can be pressured/coerced to do what US wants it to [due to nature of the colonized mind of the paki elite] and hence US can reduce and 'redirect' the threat to some other region/nations/civilizations.

2. Pakistani establishment and military can be made to 'see' a larger threat to its existence from another nation in such a way that the threat emnating from Pakistan itself is 'consumed' internally.

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Re: Pakistani Nuclear Thresholds

Postby G Shenoy » 27 Aug 2003 23:11

also an issue not to be discounted is the heavy military to military contact US pakistanis have...which have been in existance all the way from the 1980's during their fight against the afghan ruskies.. the military to military as well as intelligence to intelligence.
I have yet to find an american general who does not consider pakistan to be america's ally

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Re: Pakistani Nuclear Thresholds

Postby Johann » 27 Aug 2003 23:30

Is it a nuclear pistol? This is closer to nuclear judo. You turn the weight of the opponent's own worst case scenario concerns against themselves.

An earlier variant of nuclear judo is the threat of nuclear escalation between India and Pakistan.

Here's another question. How often does the US show the wilingness to apply strong punitive measures against any country that consistantly described itself as a friend of America in private or public?

Even if the USS Liberty incident was indeed an accident (an question of enormous controversy), President Johnson went out of his way to make the whole problem disappear as quickly as possible in a manner that created great bitterness among the survivors and relatives of the dead. That kind of extreme insensitivity to the fallen is an aberration in American military and government culture.

Even the French were treated extremely well for all of the extremely hostile behaviour during DeGaulle's last term as President, and the serious problems regarding industrial espionage in the last decade.

There are strong parallels between Yemeni and Pakistani behaviour in terms of al-Qaeda friends in positions of influence overlaid by successes in rendering or eliminating al-Qaeda operational level figures. Yet President Salilah's partial cooperation was considered important enough that the US Navy was forced to release an intercepted clandestine shipment of Scuds from North Korea in December of last year.

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Re: Pakistani Nuclear Thresholds

Postby Talathi » 27 Aug 2003 23:42

Originally posted by Rye:
But the taliban has always been the hairy handmaiden of the Pakistani army, in their quest for "strategic depth". I clearly recall that most of the phone lines to various "government ministries" in Afghanisthan during the taliban regime were pakistani numbers in Pindi/Karachi.
Absolutely. When George Bush warned Mush in his famous - "You are either with us or with the terrorists " speech, the US offered the Taliban a similar deal. Give us Al Qaeda and we will let you go/help you to capture them.

Mushraf being a coward, capitulated and as he represents the Puke army for now, the US decided to deal with TSP in its own time.
(They know he is trecherous and a liar but they had bigger fish to fry.)

The Taliban refused to cooperate. Now they are running like rats in TSP.

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Re: Pakistani Nuclear Thresholds

Postby Kuttan » 28 Aug 2003 00:14

Tim asks:

First, do US analysts and policy makers accept the thesis that the Pakistani government aided Al Qaeda in the 9-11 attack? If they do not, presumably they don't see the pistol - and will not be coerced by a threat they don't perceive.
My counter to that is:

Is there any evidence that US policy, for example, the decision to invade Iraq, is decided based on the weight of academic opinion in the government - or the imperatives perceived by the President's immediate circle?

IOW, is the decision-making top-down or bottom-up??

If it is top-down, then it is sufficient for the blackmail to be understood and meaningful to only the top inner circle, or a subset thereof.

The rest simply march to orders. In the case of something as vague to most Americans as "South Asia", there is really not much pre-set opinion as in Cowboy / Bandido among the "majority" except that the bizarre is commonplace when dealing with South Asia.

So if today the weather is: "Pakistan warm" and yesterday it was "Pakistan cold" well... c'est la vie! No one finds it necessary to check policy against common sense.

Hence the possibility of blackmail aimed at a knowledgeable few who know of the buried corpses of the previous Bush Administration, is quite real, and such blackmail can indeed be quite effective.

The down-to-earth counter to Tim's question would be to draw the ENRON analogy. Suppose someone hinted a couple of years ago that ENRON's accounting dept. had a lot of hoochie-koochie going on. And suppose the Experts said: "Look at the average analyst or oil trader at ENRON. Does s(he) agree that there is hoochie-koochie going on? If not...

Irrelevant, isn't it?

If the Chief of the CIA, the Secretary of State, the Defense Secretary, the VP, and the P all have reason to be "rendered reluctant" by the terms of the blackmail, based on what they know from years ago, well, who down below is going to know or object?

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Re: Pakistani Nuclear Thresholds

Postby Kuttan » 28 Aug 2003 00:19

A partial list of items which simply don't make sense:

1. Failure to catch Osama or ANY of his top circle - the folks seen on Al Jazeera in those "inspirational" videos.

2. Afghanistan-Pakistan airlift on Sep. 12 IN PAKISTAN. Orders for it were clearly given BEFORE the 9/11 event.

3. Kunduz Airlift in Nov/Dec. 2001.

4. Failure to arrest Hamid Gul despite blatant, continuing support for Taliban, and blatant, in-ur-face anti-US blatther. Prime suspect in assasination of Ahmed Shah Massoud on 9/09.

5. Failure to arrest Gen. Mohammed "Mustafa" Ahmed

.......

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Re: Pakistani Nuclear Thresholds

Postby Sunil » 28 Aug 2003 00:27

Okay so the phrase `Pakistan has a nuclear pistol pointed at America's head' is making people uncomfortable, so lets not call it that... lets just call it the situation with the

`ones with the cap and like a.. uniform with the thingy that shoots the whatzit with the whatchamacallits in to the whozits head..'

My questions on this thread remain:

What is the ladder of escalation that will result in the Al Qaida procuring a Pakistani nuclear weapon?

What will make the government of the `moderate democratic dictatorship' of `General el Presidente of Pakistan Musharraf' fall?

How will the weapons fall into the hands of Al Qaida terrorists after the government of Musharraf falls?

or as Ramana puts its..

Are there unstated redlines here set by the Pakistanis?

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Re: Pakistani Nuclear Thresholds

Postby A_Gupta » 28 Aug 2003 00:41

Originally posted by sunil s:

Are there unstated redlines here set by the Pakistanis?
I would imagine :

1. Any resolution of Kashmir that is not to the Pakistani Army's liking, would trigger a coup and then nukes fall into Al Qaeda's hands.

2. US attempts to curb Taliban in the fractured biscuit areas of Pakistan will trigger a coup and then nukes fall into Al Qaeda's hands.

3. Capture of OBL on Pakistani soil by US covert actions will trigger a fundamentalist backlash, coup and nukes fall into (the OBL-less) Al Qaeda's hands.

In fact, if we put on our best thinking hats, and think like the US Admin, and yet see that the Admin is not acting in the US best interests calculated as if there is no pistol to the head), then we must postulate that somewhere those actions lead to a redline (or else the Admin is irrational, or else our calculation of best interest is incomplete because of paucity of data).

Here US best interests mean to the US admin - 1. Bush reelection chances are not damaged; and 2. subject to 1., US best interests, as generally calculated.

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Re: Pakistani Nuclear Thresholds

Postby Sunil » 28 Aug 2003 00:53

Arun_Gupta,

That is a promising start.

From what I have seen thrown around by Hamid Gul, I think I would like to add the following to that.

1) Any move to actually physically curtail Pakistan's nuclear program.

2) Any attempt to remove weaponized nuclear devices from Pakistani hands.

will result in the fall of the Musharraf Government and then bring about the possibility of a transfer of the nuclear weapons to Al Qaida.

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Re: Pakistani Nuclear Thresholds

Postby Kuttan » 28 Aug 2003 00:56

The blackmail is not necessarily "US city will go boom!"

In fact I don't think that blackmail exists at all. Securing the weapons is a job that the American military has already done. That part is something for which the military has trained in ten thousand scenarios, no doubt... SOP all ready, and put into place the moment the threat surfaces.

(rest of post edited out. Maybe I don't want to be part of this discussion....)

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Re: Pakistani Nuclear Thresholds

Postby Talathi » 28 Aug 2003 01:05

Rye,
Pakistan's quest for strategic depth made Afganistan the base of anto US terrorist activities. I hardly believe it will be allowed again.

I still maintain that it serves US interest best to deal with Afganistan and Iraq now. Pakistan and KSA are being allowed to stew in their juices.

Once the Mullahs openly take over TSP, US and Israel will deal with Pakistans nukes. Pakistan is our problem. (For now.)

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Re: Pakistani Nuclear Thresholds

Postby Johann » 28 Aug 2003 01:20

Originally posted by sunil s:
`ones with the cap and like a.. uniform with the thingy that shoots the whatzit with the whatchamacallits in to the whozits head..'
Who is holding the 'gun' in your question? Are you assuming that there's a wilingness to pull the trigger?

I ask because given the way you have framed the question, Musharraf is part of the cartridge.

In order the fire the gun, Musharraf has to go, and that isnt in Musharraf's best interests. Musharraf hasnt shown much evidence that he's the self-sacrificing type either.

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Re: Pakistani Nuclear Thresholds

Postby ramana » 28 Aug 2003 02:11

Arun,
In all three scenarios there is a coup and the stuff is with the jihadis. But to carry a coup it has to have military backing. So the premise is that any coup that dislodges Mushy will be by jihadi elements of the military? What about the moderate Cohen accolytes? Has Mushy purged them all from the army? Also if jihadi elements (beards) take over why do they need to give anything to the non uniformed fundoos? Would they consider the dregs as part of their Army of Islam and hence dont see any loss of control? All these have to be thought through. If we see things in the traiangular relationship of Army-Allah-America where are the redlines are for transfer by Army to Allah types vis a vis Amreeka.

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Re: Pakistani Nuclear Thresholds

Postby ldev » 28 Aug 2003 02:29

I think the "gun" if any is the message conveyed to the US by Musharaff that should he be purged in a coup by a jehadi variety General, then the jehadi General would not have any qualms in voluntarily handing over nukes to the bearded ones. Hence the US should cut him some slack and not put too much pressure on him on issues such as terrorism vis a vis India. A more urgent message would be that the same "transfer" of nukes might also take place in the confusion of an attempted coup against Musharaff. Given the history of Al-Qaeda and its willing to use whatever weaponry it has available without any attempt at threatening/bargaining, a nuke in their hands is as good as a nuke used. Hence the cautious pussyfooting vis a vis Musharaff by the US. Musharaf has succeeded in convincing the US, that Paki nukes are safe so long as he is around and the US does not want a full blown crisis which is exactly what it will have on its hand, the moment the jehadis get their hands on a Paki nuke, because it will be used, first target being US interests. A Paki nuke in the hands of Musharaff is to blackmail India. A Paki nuke in the hands of the jehadis will be for actual use against a much higher value target such as the US.

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Re: Pakistani Nuclear Thresholds

Postby Priyank » 28 Aug 2003 05:27

How exactly are terrorists going to get hold of Pakistani nukes? They are perhaps the most closely guarded things in all of Pakistan whose location would be known to only a select few officers high up in the PA and which would be physically guarded by soldiers that were probably hand picked by the aforementioned officers.

Consequently, a nuke finding its way into terrorist hands would undoubtedly happen with the full knowledge and acquiescence of some very important people within the PA. I find the talk of rogue field officers taking charge of nukes or nukes falling into the hands of terrorists hard to swallow. The PA has tradionally respected heirarchy. Orders are followed. Few, if any have gone outside the bounds of their ranks. If terrorists do get their hands on a nuke, it will not be because they managed to get hold of one, it will be because the PA wants them to get hold of one.

Considering the amount of ingrained hatred towards India, the degree of control that the PA (through the ISI) has on Pakistani terrorist organizations and the relative proximity of India and Pakistan, I fear the chances of a loose Pakistani nuke ending up in Delhi or Mumbai are a lot greater than the chances of it ending up in NYC or LA.

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Re: Pakistani Nuclear Thresholds

Postby Kuttan » 28 Aug 2003 07:46

Sunil: This thread is dead in the water because the real issues here cannot be discussed. The rest is all treading stale water. Been there, beaten that dead horse.

"Paki nukes". WHAT Paki nukes? They're long gone.

I note that no one volunteers to take up the question of the decision-making process in the GOTUS - the answer there is obvious to those of us who read about the Nixon tapes and listened to the Iran-Contra Hearings, hanging on every Fawn Hall word :D

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Re: Pakistani Nuclear Thresholds

Postby Sunil » 28 Aug 2003 18:58

Johann,

> who holds the trigger.

That is the beauty of this situation, no-one apparently holds the `trigger', when in fact the Pakistan Army holds the trigger. However because so much has been invested by the US in making the Pakistan Army out to be a `frontline ally in the War on Terror' most people would have great difficulty seeing who actually is holding the trigger.

Actually the best analogy that comes to mind is that from an old bank robbery movie.. someone puts a gun to the side of cashier's head and says look straight ahead. Now the cashier can't actually see who it is that holds the gun, but he can hear instructions from a disembodied voice and he can feel the cold metal of the gun as it touches his head.

Now in the real life situation is somewhat different because the voice is not that of a stranger, in fact the voice issuing the instructions is familiar to the cashier - the voice is Pakistani, though the ability to recognize this voice varies.

Narayanan,

I think you are going off on to a parallel track which has nothing to do with what I am saying.

It doesn't even matter if the gun is actually loaded. The way this scheme works - all there has to be there is the general feeling `Al Qaida having a nuke' is `bad'. The rest of the scheme works `automatically'. I had realised this scheme immediately after Sept 11, so in my conversations with people I did mention the possibility of a serious nuclear threat to the US from Pakistani nuclear weapons, but I did not understand all the nuances until recently. This is my fault entirely, I failed to realize the full parallels to the situation that developed in India after 1983.

It has taken me a while to understand at its heart this is still a deterrence game of a very complicated kind- there is no shooting involved here.. only the threat of shooting.

> What nukes- Pakistan is Nuke Nood.

I thought about that before I posted this.

It does not matter how many US surveillance teams are observing Pakistani nukes in Pakistan, the possibility that there is atleast one nuclear weapon that could fall into the hands of the irrational `Al Qaida' is sufficient to achieve the desired level of deterrence.

Now my question is: what are the deterrence thresholds?

Yes lets put our thinking caps aside and wear our baseball hats and assume that everything the US says about Musharraf is correct.. and ask ourselves a simple question..

What will cause a Pakistani nuclear device to fall into Al Qaida hands?

What would drive the teams that currently holding Pakistani nuclear weapons to switch loyalties from Musharraf to Al Qaida?

or as Ramana puts it..

what are the unstated redlines?

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Re: Pakistani Nuclear Thresholds

Postby kgoan » 28 Aug 2003 19:14

N, agree with Sunil. It's irrelevant whether the Pak nukes are US controlled or not.

Broaden the scope a little: It's a question of whether al Qaeda (or some Jihadi group) can make a convincing case that they can obtain a nuke. Pak is central simply because they are what they are - if you get what I mean.

After all it's possible that not all Pak nukes are under US control/surveillance. That would still give you the same situation. You could even, perhaps (?) replace "Pak Army" with "Deniable Chinese nuke via Pak Army".

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Re: Pakistani Nuclear Thresholds

Postby VirenH » 28 Aug 2003 19:40

About 12 to 18 months ago, there were reports of about 60K US troops on TSP soil. Has this number gone done since US needs them elsewhere?
Knowing this might help us understand the redlines as perceived by TSP or US.

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Re: Pakistani Nuclear Thresholds

Postby Y. Kanan » 28 Aug 2003 19:54

Originally posted by narayanan:
Sunil: This thread is dead in the water because the real issues here cannot be discussed. The rest is all treading stale water. Been there, beaten that dead horse.

"Paki nukes". WHAT Paki nukes? They're long gone.
:roll:

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Re: Pakistani Nuclear Thresholds

Postby Kuttan » 28 Aug 2003 20:16

According to TSJ (this was one of the declarations in the old (nook-nood thread), there are (were) only 17 US personnel in TSP. Counting the Ambassador etc., that leaves about 2.5.

Yes, 60,000 is the number I have seen elsewhere.

Sunil, all the complicated red-line scenarios make no sense if one thinks of US reactions in the context of how the US has been reacting to threats of other kinds.

What will cause a Pakistani nuclear device to fall into Al Qaida hands?
More time elapsing without eliminating all sources of nuclear material, and the leadership and organization which would enable usage of such material.

Once the leadership is eliminated, the chance of a TSP-terrorist-operated nuke is no greater than that of, say, the Hamas getting a nuke and launching it into a major Israeli city.

BUT.. as long as the TSP leadership and infrastructure are in place, any day, any time, a full weapon may be obtained, paid for, transported, armed and used. All that takes organization. So this would be clear logic dictating the earliest possible elimination of the terrorist LEADERSHIP - not going and blowing craters on empty poppy fields in Afghanistan which are claimed to have been used as firing ranges to train nitwits. That bombing is not effective as long as there are firing ranges in Maryland for the Lashkar-e-Toiba (arm of Al Qaeda / Paki govt) to train.

What would drive the teams that currently holding Pakistani nuclear weapons to switch loyalties from Musharraf to Al Qaida?
What evidence is there of any dichotomy of loyalties between Musharraf and Al Qaeda? Even the Paki press now confirms that all those "anti-Musharraf demonstrations" of 2001 were stage-managed by Musharraf. Have the implications of that fact been discussed??

In case you miss them (which I doubt) some implications are:

1. Mush can turn jehadic demonstrations on and off at will.
2. The so-called "jehadis" are Mush flunkies.
3. There is no other visible opposition to Mush from the jehadis, so the blackmail parameter of "protect Mush to protect the weapons from the jehadis" is entirely like protecting the Fox to protect the chicken coop.

And if that's the case, why is there any reason to doubt that the Al Qaeda has the same access to nukes as Mush has?

And given that the Americans who have seen ground reality are not total potted plants, this means that they would have acted to remove the nuke threats long ago - the threat "red line" was crossed at least in June 2002.

The above are the reasons why I maintain that this thread is entirely Alice-in-Wonderland. It is like discussing the ocean-bottom geological vents by taking surface water temperature from a dinghy. You can't afford to go down to discuss the real situation, (and I strongly advise against trying to do that) - and any attempt to gauge reality based on entirely false assumptions is, well, bound to produce results which have nothing to do with reality.

As I noted above, the magically fast-response appearance and equally sudden disappearance of certain postors tells me all I want to know.

For the rest, swapping bull with Kanan and Rahul Mehta is no doubt fun, but....

Sunil
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Re: Pakistani Nuclear Thresholds

Postby Sunil » 28 Aug 2003 21:02

Viren,

Interesting point you have, I have always looked at the number of US troops in Pakistan as a head count of the number of obstacles to an Indian invasion of Pakistan, however you appear to be suggesting that the perhaps a redline of some sort places an upper bound on the number of troops.

narayanan,

> all the complicated red-line scenarios make no sense if one thinks of US reactions in the context of how the US has been reacting to threats of other kinds.

Not sure this is true, it depends on what the redlines are.

> What evidence is there of any dichotomy of loyalties between Musharraf and Al Qaeda? Even the Paki press now confirms that all those "anti-Musharraf demonstrations" of 2001 were stage-managed by Musharraf. Have the implications of that fact been discussed??

Let me try to explain this again.

Like I said before, I have taken my thinking cap off. I have suspended my disbelief and accepted General Musharraf's `word' that Pakistan's nuclear weapons are in `safe hands' and that there is a possibility that they will fall into `unsafe hands'. All I am asking is how precisely will this happen.

You are correct in pointing out that the USG took at least some basic security measures when it deployed US troops on Pakistani soil. However the possibility that something untowards will happen cannot be neglected altogether, the stakes are too high to permit this. Bear in mind that the committee set up to advise President Bush clearly stated that everything possible must be done to prevent a WMD strike on US soil. For practical purposes this is identical to the concepts espoused by K Sub and co. in India, i.e. "the loss of even one population centre is unacceptable".

Months after Pakistan's nuke noodity was suggested, Hamid Gul and all the MMA guys suddenly chose to breathe fire about nuking India and Israel if the US attempted to `take away their nukes'. This was months after the first signs of a US surveillance regime on Pakistani nukes had appeared. So something happened long after that spooked the Pakistanis into believing that the US was going to take away their nukes and all the shouting/rhetorical escalation drove home the point in the US that terrible things would happen if someone attempted to take away Pakistan's nuclear program from it. I think this is clearly a redline.

Also look at the pattern of US behavior vis-a-vis Pakistan. Every single attempt to link the Pakistanis to the Taliban is played down or resisted. Several top US policymakers are on record defending the Pakistani Army as being an ally in the war on terror. Whereever possible any suggestions or information provided by Indians on the matter of Pakistani involvment in Al Qaida terror has been set aside. Whereever we go in the US, people with obvious links to the establishement espouse `held notions' that a `threat' does not `really emanate from Pakistan' - at least not one which cannot be handled within the current framework of engagement with the Pakistan Army. My thinking on this issue was that perhaps sections of the USG view the entire matter of the Al Qaida as a `labor dispute' with `former employees' and that it can be sorted out through old and established channels of communication like the Pakistan Army.. but there is the possiblity that in asking the US government to openly acknowledge the matter of Pakistani involvement in Sept 11 - are we in substance asking them to cross a redline?

The US has been very voluble in describing in detail Pakistan's fears of an Indian invasion and how that would feed an `escalatory matrix' and eventually lead to a `Nuclear Flashpoint in Kashmir'. Indeed US policymakers have fallen over backwards to ensure that India did not go ahead and rip Pakistan to shreds. Even today as we are subject attacks by Pakistani sponsorred terrorists, the US news and media sources - who are well established to be proxies of the US Govt. do everything to make this terrorism look sub-national. I wonder if this could be a part of the unwritten redline?

I am trying to characterize the details of this unwritten deterrence relationship between the US and Pakistan. I feel understanding this is important as it is a permanent motif (from Sept 11 onwards) in US-Pak ties.

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Re: Pakistani Nuclear Thresholds

Postby kgoan » 28 Aug 2003 21:10

Sunil,

But then why did Blackwill go home? He shlould still be there to manage the situation and trade onhis 'friendship" with Advani.

That gives greater credence to N's point, no?

the US news and media sources - who are well established to be proxies of the US Govt. do everything to make this terrorism look sub-national. I wonder if this could be a part of the unwritten redline?

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Re: Pakistani Nuclear Thresholds

Postby Sunil » 28 Aug 2003 21:13

kgoan,

Boss how often do you see the PRO of a foreign ministry openly insult a US ambassador in the neighboring country? In most places a lowly official like that openly insulting a US ambassador is the surest way to get the entire embassy bumped of the diplomatic circuit. Unless one is from some old US adversary, one does not even contemplate such things.

Doesn't that strike you as being a bit bizarre that the Pakistanis did it without batting an eyelid?

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Re: Pakistani Nuclear Thresholds

Postby kgoan » 28 Aug 2003 21:17

Touche senor!

Missed the significance of that at the time. Thought it was just Pak "tactical brilliance" at work.

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Re: Pakistani Nuclear Thresholds

Postby Sunil » 28 Aug 2003 21:28

Kgoan,

I have been nursing this stuff since Sept 11, so I have noticed small but visible changes in Pakistani behavior towards the US.

Back in that godforsaken place that I did my undergrad, similar behavior changes were visible in fellow students when one of them figured out a way to get laid on a regular basis. This instantly changed his social standing among his peers, so there would be these little signs... like despite all the tension - our man would be humming a romantic tune, all his megadeath albums would go on the back shelf and all the stevie wonder stuff would come to the fore, the Van morrison cassette would played a touch louder... and so on.. heck the guy would always had a cheerful disposition even when the booze ran out at the local bar... that sort of thing.. its bl**dy subtle but I am convinced it is there.

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Re: Pakistani Nuclear Thresholds

Postby Kuttan » 28 Aug 2003 21:29

sunil: The trouble is that I dissed Shri Rahul's habit of quoting posts line by line, so I don't have the MOHAIG to do the same here. :whine:

But... everything in your post points to something very different from any "blackmail" scenario having to do with the likelihood of weapons going boom in the CONUS.

First - about the PRO of TSP dissing Blackwill - what applies to civilized nations does not apply to TSP. That was just utter frustration - remember this is the same "govt" whose Information Minister was smart enough to call their Arab benefactors "mere petrol pumps". They are not treated like diplomats any more either, so what more "consequences" can they fear for mere boorishness? OK, lets dismiss that straw in the b.s.

Months after Pakistan's nuke noodity was suggested, Hamid Gul and all the MMA guys suddenly chose to breathe fire about nuking India and Israel if the US attempted to `take away their nukes'. This was months after the first signs of a US surveillance regime on Pakistani nukes had appeared.
I don't recall this being after June 19, 2002, which I regard as the "Event Horizon" for TSP nook noodity. Do correct me if I am wrong.

..spooked the Pakistanis into believing that the US was going to take away their nukes
The MMA chief was the first Paki senior politerrorist to declare that Mush had already sold the nukes away to the US and that there was no deterrent left. That happened right after our BRF thread. I have to reconcile the yelling you cite, against that, to arrive at a proper timeline for these events. I really don't recall reading of any Gul declarations about nukes at all.

look at the pattern of US behavior vis-a-vis Pakistan. Every single attempt to link the Pakistanis to the Taliban is played down or resisted. Several top US policymakers are on record defending the Pakistani Army as being an ally in the war on terror.
That, unfortunately, is more consistent with explanations in a region which lies beyond the "redline" for open discussion, which I am too chicken to cross.

The propaganda from lower minions in the GOTUS is consistent with the propaganda we saw about the Eyeraki missiles.

.

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Re: Pakistani Nuclear Thresholds

Postby Tim » 28 Aug 2003 21:37

60,000 is, and always has been, way off base. There weren't that many American _soldiers_ in Pakistan even at the height of Operation Enduring Freedom. A report from CentCom that really irritated several of the Islamist parties, for instance, mentioned that 800 (eight hundred) US Marines had crossed Pakistani territory into Afghanistan. I think I remember seeing something about 12,000 at the height of OEF, but even that may be an exaggeration.

60,000 may refer to the number of American _citizens_ in Pakistan, or perhaps in South Asia more broadly. I don't know. But it is not the number of soldiers.

Think about it. We've got roughly 150,000 in Iraq. They're pretty evident. How easy is it to hide the equivalent of 3 divisions of American troops < grin >?

Tim

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Re: Pakistani Nuclear Thresholds

Postby Rangudu » 28 Aug 2003 21:39

Back in that godforsaken place that I did my undergrad, similar behavior changes were visible in fellow students when one of them figured out a way to get laid on a regular basis.
LOL. Well put. Now I know what you're saying.

:rotfl:

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Re: Pakistani Nuclear Thresholds

Postby kgoan » 28 Aug 2003 21:47

Sunil,

Gawd-in-heaven dude. When you put it that way, it kinda strikes you *splat* between the eyes!

N: >>too chicken to cross.
No. On certain things, assuming I'm following you correctly, sometimes discretion really is the better part of valour. If you really must, may I suggest you *brood* on it.


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