Thursday, July 08, 2004
Buying an HVT for the Democratic Convention
No. An HVT is not a new-fangled television set, it's a "high-value target"— preferably Osama bin-Laden, but Mullah Omar or Zawahiri will do in a pinch.
Using their usual carrot-and-stick approach, which consists of a very big stick and very little carrot, the administration is demanding of Pakistan that it produce an "HVT." But not just when the Pakistanis feel like it. No. They'd like it, please, somewhere at the beginning of the Democratic Convention.
Through a spokesman for the National Security Council, Bush & Co. says,
Our attitude and actions have been the same since September 11 in terms of getting high-value targets off the street, and that doesn't change because of an election.
Like hell, it doesn't.
TNR gets its story from three sources in the Pakistani government. An official from Pakistan's Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) informs,
[The Pakistanis] have been told at every level that apprehension or killing of HVTs before [the] election is [an] absolute must.... The last ten days of July deadline has been given repeatedly by visitors to Islamabad and during [ul-Haq's] meetings in Washington... [I]t would be best if the arrest or killing of [any] HVT were announced on twenty-six, twenty-seven, or twenty-eight July. [boldface mine]The threat to Pakistan, if they don't produce, is a resurrection of the nuclear-proliferation issue, which so far the administration has kindly let drop. As one Pakistani general so colorfully put it,
If we don't find these guys by the election, they are going to stick this whole nuclear mess up our asshole.
But if Musharraf produces the prized HVTs, it's likely to have consequences.
First, going into the tribal areas risks destabilizing the Western border and provoking a civil war. Some of you may remember the "spring offensive" that Bush & Co. so boldly announced. Pakistan went through the motions, but you could tell their hearts weren't in it. So we had them kill some villagers and go home.
Second, the administration is dangling F-16 fighter planes in front of Musharraf along with a $3 billion "aid" package that he would presumably need to buy them with. Should he get them, this will piss off the Indian government mightily and give a boost to the new-found spirit of cooperation that is arising between India and China, which is just about as welcome in the State Dept. as a gay wedding.
You know, Osama bin-Laden is at the very least contained; that's more than can be said for the Bush administration.