Monday, August 20, 2007

The Chinese and the Taliban

Strategy Page has a somewhat surprising piece on growing hostilities between the Taliban and the communist Chinese in Pakistan:

Currently, 7,000 Pakistani military and police personnel protect Chinese working inside Pakistan. In addition, there are a small, but growing, number of Chinese security personnel. The Chinese security detachment works with the Chinese community in Pakistan, to make sure there are no misunderstandings about the need for tight security. The Chinese security personnel also advise the Pakistanis on Chinese security needs, and help get needed technical equipment brought in from China. The major danger to Chinese in Pakistan is Islamic terrorists. Most of these are al Qaeda, and local Islamic radicals (mostly Taliban) who want Pakistan run by a religious dictatorship.

Since China has come down hard on real, or perceived, Islamic radicalism at home, China is seen by Pakistani Islamic radicals as "foreign devils" and "enemies of Islam." The Islamic radicals recognize that China is crucial to maintaining Pakistani military and police power, and keeping the current government in power. So there are more attacks on Chinese by Pakistani Islamic radicals....

....All this Chinese counter-terror work is done very quietly, and covertly. That may keep it out of the Western press, but the Chinese are increasingly tagged as major bad guys by the Islamic media, especially the outlets that are pro-radical.

I certainly don't wish to see innocent Chinese civilians suffer the outrages of terrorism, but part of me wonders if it wouldn't at least be interesting to see what China would do if the Taliban began targeting them in earnest.


Don't Confuse Him with the Facts

"Regardless of what they say, we need a change in direction." So says Sen. Bob Casey (D, PA) while talking about the upcoming Petraeus-Crocker report.

The Senator is telling us that even if the September report is unsullied good news - even if Gen. Petraeus informs us that the surge is minimizing the killing and chaos, that the Maliki government is getting its house in order, that al Qaida is on the run and the Sunnis and Shia are cooperating to end the insurgency - the Senator will still call for a "change in direction." He makes it difficult to take him seriously.

Which direction would the Senator suggest we move in? He doesn't say, of course, because this would require serious thought about the consequences of whatever proposal he comes up with, and I suspect that he realizes that if he engages in that thinking any resulting proposal would look very much like what Bush is already doing.

His insistence that we'll need a change in direction in Iraq regardless of what Gen. Petraeus has to say makes one wonder about the depth of his concern for the people of Iraq, not to mention his ability to see beyond the next couple of months.


And the Point Is?

There is perhaps in this photo a serious and profound symbolism - something that most of us simply cannot be expected to comprehend but that those with the requisite wisdom will discern. It has something to do, I suppose, with removing one's clothes to more effectively demonstrate one's committment to a cause. I confess, however, that I lack the necessary powers to see what lying en masse on a glacier in the altogether has to do with anything except perhaps one's emotional development.

It seems to me that people who think they must be nude in order to make some political point are not far removed from the people who walk down the street exposing themselves to passersby. They're both trying to say something by flashing their privates at people, and they're both in need, no doubt, of the services of a psychologist.