Saturday, August 7, 2010

DTN News: Afghanistan TODAY August 7, 2010 - The Real Problem In The Afghan War Is India, Pakistan And Kashmir

Defense News: DTN News: Afghanistan TODAY August 7, 2010 - The Real Problem In The Afghan War Is India, Pakistan And Kashmir
*Analysis By DTN News: Interesting subject "United States military and economic aid to Pakistan since 9/11" raised by Mohsin Hamid, in his undermentioned article., in comparison - related reference in Dawn News Media By Anwar Iqbal Friday, 26 Feb, 2010. Substance of the article is self-explanatory.
~ According to Mohsin Hamid - U.S. aid to Pakistan, $4 billion (and counting)

~ Dawn (Pakistani news media) By Anwar Iqbal - U.S. aid to Pakistan, $20.7 billion
(The Obama administration, in its latest annual budget, has proposed $1.6 billion in military assistance and about $1.4 billion as civilian assistance to Pakistan. This takes the total US aid to Pakistan to more than $20.7 billion post 9/11.)
(NSI News Source Info) LAHORE, Pakistan - August 7, 2010: The United States is struggling to implement a strategy for Afghanistan that will improve the lives of the Afghan people and allow U.S. troops to go home. Part of what makes it so difficult is the way Washington views the conflict: through the lens of what officials have dubbed "AfPak," a war in the southern part of Afghanistan and the adjoining border areas of Pakistan. Though the acronym is falling out of official favor, the AfPak mind-set remains.
A different shorthand for the war might help. "AfPInd" may be less catchy, but it is far more useful. Peace in AfPInd requires not U.S. troops on the ground, but a concerted effort to bring India and Pakistan to the negotiating table, where under the watchful eyes of the international community they can end their hydra-headed confrontation over Kashmir.
But that's not how the United States sees this conflict. Mutual mistrust has bedeviled the U.S.-Pakistani alliance since the Afghan war began in 2001. Certain suspicions surfaced again recently in military documents revealed by WikiLeaksalleging that members of the Pakistani intelligence agency collaborated with militant groups fighting the United States in Afghanistan. Both Pakistani and U.S. officials have said that the information is old, unreliable and not true to the situation on the ground. Yet the recriminations and controversy have a "here we go again" feel. After all, we've seen this pattern before.
In 1947, when Hindu-majority India and Muslim-majority Pakistan were partitioned into two countries, the status of the region of Kashmir, with a Muslim-majority population and a Hindu prince, was unresolved. The United Nations said Kashmiris should hold a referendum, but both India and Pakistan seized parts of the territory, and since then the two countries have been at each other's throats.
Enter the United States -- not once, but three times.
In the 1950s and 1960s, Pakistan and the United States were allies. The United States gave Pakistan weapons and $2 billion in economic aid; it thought that the Pakistani military would be a bulwark against communism. The Pakistani military thought the United States would help it against a much larger and hostile India.
Then India and Pakistan went to war in 1965. American leaders castigated Pakistan for using U.S.-supplied weapons and terminated the alliance.
Fast forward to the 1980s, and Pakistan and the United States once again were allies. The United States gave Pakistan weapons and $3 billion in economic aid; it thought that the Pakistani military would be a bulwark against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. The Pakistani military thought the United States would help it against a much larger and hostile India.
Then the Soviets were defeated. The United States castigated Pakistan for developing nuclear weapons (to counter India) and terminated the alliance.
Today, Pakistan and the United States are allies for a third time. Over the past decade, the United States has given Pakistan weapons and $4 billion (and counting) in economic aid; it hopes that the Pakistani military will be a bulwark against terrorist groups in the region. The Pakistani military hopes the United States will help it against a much larger and hostile India. Then . . .
By now, the recurring failure in the Pakistan-U.S. alliance should be obvious: The Pakistani military views it primarily as a means of reducing the threat from India, and the United States does not.
But perhaps the United States should.
The reason the Pakistani military continued to back jihadist groups, jointly set up with the CIA in the 1980s, after the Soviet Union was defeated in Afghanistan was that it believed the same tactics could be used in Kashmir against India. And the reason the Pakistani military remains obsessed with shaping events in Afghanistan is because that country is the site of a power struggle between Pakistan and India -- what commentators in Pakistan go so far as to call a "proxy war." It is what Ashfaq Kayani, the Pakistan army chief, means when he speaks of Pakistan's desire for "strategic depth" in Afghanistan.
Fighting terrorists or fighting the Taliban -- or indeed, fighting in Afghanistan at all -- addresses symptoms rather than the disease in South Asia: the horrific, wasteful, tragic and dangerous six-decade confrontation between India and Pakistan over Kashmir.
This confrontation ravages Afghanistan, where the Northern Alliance, which was organized to fight the Taliban, is backed by money and weapons from India, and militant groups among the southern Pashtuns are backed by Pakistan. It is a big part of why peace eludes the country, even though the Soviets left a generation ago.
Ignore Kashmir, as the United States does, and the conflict seems incomprehensible. Include Kashmir in the picture, and it all makes sense.
At the moment, the Pakistani military uses militant groups to put pressure on India to negotiate, and India uses terrorism as an excuse not to negotiate. By so doing, both sides harm themselves greatly. The vast majority of people in South Asia, who like myself desire peace built on compromise, find our hopes held hostage by security hawks.
The situation is not improving. India's stance toward Pakistan has hardened since attacks by Pakistan-based militants on Mumbai killed 173 people in 2008. And here in Pakistan, militants are killing even more civilians, police officers and soldiers every month -- more than 3,000 Pakistanis in 2009. Some of the preschools I'm considering for my daughter now have snipers on their roofs and steel barricades at their gates.
Meanwhile, the United States has placed 100,000 troops in Afghanistan, where they can do little to eliminate the single biggest problem that nation faces: being made into a battleground by its neighbors.
The United States still sets much of the global agenda. If it hopes to salvage any remotely positive outcome from its massive, nine-year-old war in Afghanistan, then it should move a resolution over Kashmir up on its list of priorities.
Peace in AfPak is failing because the term itself is a willful illusion. Peace in AfPInd will not be easy, but the term rings true, and that at least offers a start.
*Mohsin Hamid is a writer based in Pakistan. His most recent novel is "The Reluctant Fundamentalist."
*"Hillary urges rich Pakistanis to pay more tax" Dawn News Media By Anwar Iqbal Friday, 26 Feb, 2010. & link to this here.
*This article is being posted from Toronto, Canada By DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News, contact:
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DTN News: Plugging The WikiLeak: What Can US government Do?

Defense News: DTN News: Plugging The WikiLeak: What Can US government Do?
(NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - August 7, 2010: An online whistle-blower's threat to release more classified Pentagon and State Department documents is raising hard questions of what the U.S. government can or would do, legally, technically or even militarily to stop it.
Constrained by the massive reach of the Internet, sophisticated encryption software and the domestic legal system, the answer seems to be: Not much.
If the U.S. government believes that the classified documents that WikiLeaks is preparing to disclose will threaten national security or put lives at risk, however, cyber and legal experts say the options could expand to include cyber strikes to take down the WikiLeaks web site and destroy its files or covert operations to steal or disable the files.
It all sounds, at times, like a spy movie, where the possibilities extend as far as the imagination can reach. But, most outsiders agree that reality is likely to be far less dramatic.
At the center of the drama is the posting last week of a massive 1.4 gigabyte mystery file named "Insurance" on the WikiLeaks web site.
The "Insurance" file is encrypted, nearly impossible to open until WikiLeaks provides the passwords. But experts suggest that if anyone can crack it, it would be the secretive National Security Agency.
That file, coupled with WikiLeaks' release of more than 77,000 secret military documents last month, prompted the Pentagon to "demand" that the web site's editor-in-chief, Julian Assange, cancel any new document dumps and pull back the Afghan war data he already posted.
WikiLeaks slammed the demand as an obnoxious threat, and Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell declined to detail what, if any, actions the Defense Department may be ready to take.
Few people involved in the case, for the Pentagon and other agencies, would talk openly about what the Pentagon or America's clandestine NSA could or would do to stop the expected document dump. It is not even clear whether U.S. officials know what WikiLeaks has.
State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley answered it this way: "Do we believe that WikiLeaks has additional cables? We do. Do we believe that those cables are classified? We do. And are they State Department cables? Yes."
Officials say the data may also include up to 15,000 military documents related to the Afghan war that were not made public in the initial release.
Assuming the documents contain highly sensitive information that, if made public, might threaten national security, the United States must weigh a number of options, experts say.
First, from a legal standpoint, there probably is little the U.S. government can do to stop WikiLeaks from posting the files.
It is against federal law knowingly and willfully to disclose or transmit classified information. Assange, an Australian who has no permanent address and travels frequently, is not a U.S. citizen.
Since Assange is a foreign national living in a foreign country, it is not clear that U.S. law would apply, said Marc Zwillinger, a Washington, D.C., lawyer and former federal cyber crimes prosecutor. He said prosecutors would have to figure out what crime to charge Assange with, and then face the daunting task of trying to indict him or persuade other authorities to extradite him. It would be equally difficult, Zwillinger said, to use an injunction effectively to prevent users from getting access to the data.
"Could the U.S. get an injunction to force U.S. Internet providers to block traffic to and from WikiLeaks such that people couldn't access the website?" Zwillinger said. "It's an irrelevant question. There would be thousands of paths to get to it. So it wouldn't really stop people from getting to the site. They would be pushing the legal envelope without any real benefit."
Legal questions aside, the encrypted file conjures visions of secret codebreakers hunched over their laptops, tearing open secret, protected files in seconds with a few keystrokes.
Reality is not that simple, particularly if, as the file name suggests, the documents are encrypted. It appears WikiLeaks used state-of-the-art software requiring a sophisticated electronic sequence of numbers, called a 256 bit key, to open them.
The main way to break such an encrypted file is by what is called a "brute force attack", which means trying every possible key, or password, said Herbert Lin, a senior computer science and cryptology expert at the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences.
Unlike a regular six or eight character password that most people use every day, a 256 bit key would equal a 40-50 character password, he said.
If, said Lin, it takes 0.1 nanosecond to test one possible key, and you used 100 billion computers to test the possible number variations, "it would take this massive array of computers 10 to the 56 power seconds _ the number 1, followed by 56 zeros" to plow through all the possibilities.
How long is that?
"The age of the universe is 10 to the 17th power seconds," said Lin. "We will wait a long time for the U.S. government or anyone else to decrypt that file by brute force."
Could the NSA, which is known for its supercomputing and massive electronic eavesdropping abilities abroad, crack such an impregnable code?
It depends on how much time and effort they want to put into it, said James Bamford, who has written two books on the NSA.
The NSA has the largest collection of supercomputers in the world. And officials have known for some time that WikiLeaks has classified files in its possession.
The agency, he speculated, has probably been looking for a vulnerability or gap in the code, or a back door into the commercial encryption program protecting the file.
At the more extreme end, the NSA, the Pentagon and other U.S. government agencies, to include the newly created Cyber Command, probably have reviewed options for using a cyber attack against the website, which could disrupt networks, files, electricity and so on.
"This is the kind of thing that they are geared for," said Bamford, "since this is the type of thing a terrorist organization might have _ a website that has damaging information on it. They would want to break into it, see what's there and then try to destroy it."
The vast nature of the Internet, however, makes it essentially impossible to stop something, or take it down, once it has gone out over multiple servers.
In the end, U.S. officials will have to weigh whether a more aggressive response is worth the public outrage it probably would bring. Most experts predict that, despite the uproar, the government probably will do little other than bluster, and the documents will come out anyway.
"Once you start messing with Internet, taking things down, and going to the maximum extent to hide everything from coming out, it doesn't necessarily serve your purpose," said Bamford. "It makes the story bigger than it would have been had the documents been released in the first place."
He and others pointed to the Pentagon Papers saga in 1971, when The New York Times published a top-secret Pentagon study of the history of U.S. involvement in Vietnam.
"It wasn't Pentagon papers that took down Richard Nixon," said Bamford. "It was his attempt to stop the papers that brought him down."
AP National Security Writer Robert Burns contributed to this story.

DTN News: U.S. Military Strike Against Iran Unlikely

Defense News: DTN News: U.S. Military Strike Against Iran Unlikely
Source: DTN News / Xinhua
(NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - August 7, 2010: U.S. President Barack Obama has indicated sanctions on Iran should remain in place but he has hope for a "pathway" to a peaceful settlement of the nuclear issue with Tehran.
Obama told reporters at the White House Thursday he is still open to talks with Iran if Tehran takes "confidence-building measures" to prove it is not pursuing nuclear weapons, the Washington Post reported.
The remarks appeared to conflict with those by U.S. chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, who said Washington had a plan to use military measures to deny Iran nuclear weapons.
Many analysts believe the current U.S. administration still prefers sanctions when it comes to the Iranian nuclear issue and a military strike would be its last resort.
Mullen said on NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday that a military option against Iran had not been ruled out. "It's one of the options that the president has. Again, I hope we don't get to that, but it's an important option and it's one that's well understood."
The prospects of an attack and of a nuclear-armed Iran were both very worrisome, he said, adding that he believed multilateral diplomacy and international economic sanctions remained the best means to force the Iranian government to abandon its nuclear program.
Michael O'Hanlon, director of research of foreign policy at the Washington-based Brookings Institution, said the United States was unlikely to launch a military strike against Iran.
"To say that an option is on the table is not the same thing as to say there is a detailed plan. Detailed plan implies real preparation and readiness to carry this out. It implies the almost potential imminence, whereas keeping this as an option is just that," he said.
O'Hanlon cited Obama's policy against preemptive strikes. "Because, in the end, this will in many ways be a form of preemption. President Obama campaigned against the idea of preemption."
The United States will more likely seek cooperation with other world powers -- China, France, Britain and Russia -- and try to put Iran under economic pressure, he said.
Since June, the United Nations, the United States and the European Union have tightened sanctions on Iran over its refusal to return to international talks on its nuclear program, which the West fears is a cover to build an atomic bomb. Tehran denies the allegation, saying it is for the generation of electricity.
The other reason a military strike was unlikely, O'Hanlon said, was that it would not be very effective.
"It (a military strike) will probably set Iran back a couple of years. But Iran could relocate and build new facilities," he said, adding that Tehran would have much more determination and domestic support to carry out its nuclear program.
Besides, "a lot of countries around the world, in the aftermath of the strike, may decide not to continue to apply sanctions, so we might lose ground on sanctions. On all the political and economic fronts, a military attack will set us back," he said.
"If you add up the pros and cons, the equation looks fairly unfavorable for using force," the expert said.
Mullen's remarks elicited a furious response from Iran, whose media has carried criticism and vows of retaliation against Washington almost daily since.
Commander of the Iranian Army's Ground Force, Brigadier General Ahmad-Reza Pourdastan, said on Wednesday the United States had no capability to start a war with the "powerful" Islamic Republic of Iran, the official IRNA news agency reported.
Iranian forces were in full readiness to confront the enemy on the ground, in the air and on the sea, Pourdastan said, noting that any attack against the country would be faced with a crushing response.
On Tuesday, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said the attack threat against Tehran made by Mullen was "imprudent remarks" that were linked to the United States' anger and frustration following its repeated failures in the Middle East.
Political deputy of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC)Yadollah Javani said Monday "the U.S. and the Zionist regime (Israel) will not dare to make a military attack against Iran," adding that Mullen's remarks were just "psychological tactics."
They had made similar statements before and such threats were aimed at "exerting pressure on Iran in the nuclear talks and for winning concessions," Javani said.
Analysts said that, for Iranians, who had been feeling years of pain from economic sanctions and hearing repeated reports about U.S. attack against their country, the nuclear issue is remote from everyday concerns.
They did not pay much attention to the fresh U.S. threat, but people and media outside Iran were taking it more seriously, they said.
Iran has consistently warned it would respond to any attack by targeting U.S. interests in the region and Israel, as well as closing the Strait of Hormuz, which separates Oman from Iran and is the gateway to the oil-rich Gulf.
The IRGC's Javani warned Monday that any mistake by Washington. would endanger security in the entire region.
"And as it was said before, the Persian Gulf would be safe either for all or for none ... The Persian Gulf is a strategic region. If its security is in danger, this will jeopardize their (Americans') interests too, and our response would be tough," the IRNA quoted him as saying.
Amid rising tensions between Iran and the West, the Revolutionary Guards staged large scale war games in the Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz in late April in a bid to show its ability to control the crucial energy and economic waterway.
With about 40 percent of the world's traded oil leaving the Gulf region through it, the Strait of Hormuz is particularly vulnerable because it is only 50 km wide at its widest point.
The analysts warned that, once America launched an attack, security in the entire Gulf region would deteriorate, which would have an unthinkable impact on oil prices and the global economy. Meanwhile, an abrupt U.S.-Iran war would bear on the politics in Iran and the Middle East as well, they said.
The U.S. State Department said in its annual "Country Reports on Terrorism" report that Iran remained the "most active" state sponsor of terrorism, providing financial, material and logistic support for terrorist and militant groups in Lebanon, Iraq and the Palestinian territories, as well as the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Its actions had a "direct impact" on international efforts to promote peace, threatened economic stability in the Gulf, and undermined the growth of democracy, said the report, released Thursday.
If the U.S. went to war with Iran, the political pattern in the Middle East would change, as countries with interests there would adjust their policies in the region, the experts predicted.
O'Hanlon said a military strike would complicate the U.S. ability to maintain a strong coalition because it might make the U.S. look like a unilateral power, raising concerns about a return to the Bush administration's policy.
*This article "U.S. Military Strike Against Iran Unlikely - Xinhua" & link to read in originality
*This article is being posted from Toronto, Canada By DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News, contact: