Tag: escalation

What will the North Korean Military do if Japan Shoots Down the Missile Launch?

Jpn Patriots

A few days ago, I predicted there would be no war, probably because I’m lazy and predicting the future will be the same as the present is an easy way to protect my credibility. But I got some criticism that I was a dippy academic who doesn’t see how dangerous the situation really is. And if I am wrong, I won’t be around to see it anyway; I’ll be swimming for Japan. So here is the most likely escalation pathway I can see, despite my firm conviction the North Koreans do not want a war, because they will lose badly and quickly, and then face the hangman in Southern prisons.

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“Kill the invaders”

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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War on Pakistan?

Yesterday, US troops crossed the Pakistan border for the first time — clearly extending the war in Afghanistan into another state. This is from The Washington Post story:

Helicopters carried U.S. and Afghan commandos many miles into Pakistan on Wednesday to stage the first U.S. ground attack against a Taliban target inside the country, Pakistani officials said. At least 20 local people died in the raid, according to the officials.

Pakistan filed a protest and the US military apparently had no comment.

Mohammed Sadiq, a spokesman for Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry, condemned a “gross violation of Pakistan’s territory” and “a grave provocation.” In a written statement, he said his office lodged a formal complaint with the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad.

“Such actions are counterproductive and certainly do not help our joint efforts to fight terrorism,” Sadiq said. “On the contrary, they undermine the very basis of cooperation and may fuel the fire of hatred and violence that we are trying to extinguish.”

I do not really fault Pakistan for this response. Escalation can be dangerous.

Pakistan representatives say this was not a case of “hot pursuit” and that there is no bilateral agreement allowing such attacks in any case.

This is not the first time that the US has extended the “war on terror” into Pakistan — just the first use of ground forces.

In January 2006, the US launched a missile attack on a small village in Pakistan, reportedly because al Qaeda’s number two man was visiting. He was not hit and Pakistan considered the strike an act of war. I previously argued that the attack was too provocative and unjustified given the information at hand.

Last summer, on the heels of a terror NIE finding that al Qaeda had established a “safe haven” in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan, US Homeland Security Director Fran Townsend warned that Pakistan could be attacked under the Bush Doctrine of preemption.

Is the US at war with Pakistan?

Incidentally, John McCain has previously said he would not strike Pakistan — even as other prominent Republicans criticized Barack Obama for threatening Pakistan in various ways.

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An “act of war”

Examine these two policy-related statements and see if you can spot the nuclear illogic in one of these positions.

First, this is Iran’s statement after its missile tests, as reported by The Scotsman:

“The first US shot on Iran would set the United States’ vital interests in the world on fire,” said Ali Shirazi, a mid-ranking cleric who is Khamenei’s representative to the naval forces of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards. “Tel Aviv and the US fleet in the Persian Gulf would be targets that would be set on fire in Iran’s crushing response,” he said.

Next, the US position, according to an AP writer:

In late June, Vice Adm. Kevin Cosgriff, who was then the commander of the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet, said any attempt by Iran to seal off the Strait of Hormuz would be viewed as an act of war.

Did you spot the problem?

Yes, an Iranian attack on the Strait of Hormuz would be an act of war — but the Iranian position seems to be that war would already have started after a US attack on its nuclear program.

I heard this same sequence on TV this morning, so don’t think I’m just pasting together two different stories.

In this case, I could blame the media for taking a US quote from June and using it out of context this week. However, it appears that Vice Admiral Cosgriff was considering virtually the same scenario when he offered his threat:

An Iranian newspaper reported over the weekend that one of the country’s generals said Iran would take control of the key oil passageway in the Gulf if it were provoked.

Vice Adm. Kevin Cosgriff, commander of the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet, told journalists in Bahrain on Monday that “any attempt to close the Strait of Hormuz is an act of war” and said the U.S. would not allow it.

Surely Cosgriff understands the concept of retaliation, so this rhetoric must be intended to stir political support for American hectoring.

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Escalation: Turkey enters the war?

I’ve warned before that one danger of war is that it can escalate. The Iraq war could escalate to include Turkey, which claims that it will attack Kurdistan Iraq. From Monday’s Times of London (it is already October 22 there):

Turkey will launch military action against Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq despite frantic appeals for restraint from America and Nato, its Prime Minister has told The Times.

Speaking hours before the PKK, the Kurdish Workers’ Party, killed at least 17 more Turkish soldiers yesterday, Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Turkey had urged the US and Iraqi governments repeatedly to expel the separatists but they had done nothing. Turkey’s patience was running out and the country had every right to defend itself, he said. “Whatever is necessary will be done,” he declared in an interview. “We don’t have to get permission from anybody.”

Last Wednesday, the Turkish parliament voted overwhelmingly to authorize such an attack.

And be sure that if Turkey attacks, there will be a fight.

Again, the Times of London reports:

The Kurdish regional government, which has a force of about 100,000 men, has promised to resist any incursions.

Turkey has an estimated 60,000 troops on the border with Iraq.

PM Erdogan sounds like he has fully embraced the Bush Doctrine:

“If a neighbouring country is providing a safe haven for terrorism . . . we have rights under international law and we will use those rights and we don’t have to get permission from anybody.”

Turkey is a NATO member state, but none of its allies seem sympathetic to the argument that Turkey is already under armed attack.

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