What are they smoking in the Pentagon?

The things Mullen & Petraeus will believe

Bob Woodward’s book casts the top uniformed leadership of the US armed forces in very poor light. Going by this report in the New York Times today, you’ll have to agree that Mr Woodward was not far off the mark.

Consider these two consecutive sentences:

For now, there are no signs that Cold Start is more than a theory, and analysts say there is no significant shift of new troops or equipment to the border.

But American military officials and diplomats worry that even the existence of the strategy in any form could encourage Pakistan to make rapid improvements in its nuclear arsenal. [NYT]

Admiral Mullen and General Petraeus (and their civilian colleague, Richard Holbrooke) want to warn the Indian government against committing thoughtcrime. They offer the incredible argument that the very notion that India will respond to Pakistani terrorism with a military attack scares the Pakistani army and hence must not even be thought of.

These gentlemen can’t be serious.

Little wonder then that President Obama is unlikely to bring this up during his India trip. That it was previously discussed—with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh saying unambiguously such a doctrine is not government policy—is in itself a sign of the credulity and, yes, incompetence currently reigning at the top levels of the US armed forces.

Sushant & I have previously argued that India should do an Operation Markarap to scotch one excuse the Pakistani army has offered to the United States to obfuscate the real reasons for its foot-dragging. But if some US officials believe that India must be persuaded to stop thinking about its defence strategies, then there are few polite ways to tell them what to do.

Related Links: Polaris explains the Cold Start thing and Walter Ladwig has a good academic paper on the topic.

3 thoughts on “What are they smoking in the Pentagon?”

  1. @Nitin,
    These gentlemen ARE VERY SERIOUS – they want India to be a sitting duck and absorb all terrorist attacks from Pakistan without doing anything. They do not give a damn about India and they know that India is EXACTLY the kind of country that can be rolled over – can you imagine Petraeus giving “advice” to Kiyani on how to conduct the war ?

    I don’t know if you remember how Holbrooke came immediately to Pakistan’s defense after its terrorists killed Indians in the Indian Consulate at Kabul – he was forced to backtrack his comments later after it was obvious that he was stupidly defending the ISI here.

    The US military industrial complex is enjoying this gravy train that runs from DC to Rawalpindi and they do not want to do anything that would engender the generosity of their friends in Pakistan.No one in their right and rational mind thinks that the US can “win this war” – so why exactly is the US supporting the Military-Jihadi complex in Pakistan to the hilt ?

    After the US reduces its involvement in AfPak in 2011 it wants Pakistan to take over Afghanistan through its proxy Taliban and use it as a counter to Iran which will become a nuclear weapon state in the next couple of years – Petraeus and Co are thinking of AfPak beyond just Pakistan. This is exactly why they are doing EVERYTHING in their power to bring billions of dollars in military equipment, cash to the Paki military – so that this bribe is used to remind them of their obligation to counter Iran’s Shiite loonies with its own Wahabbi loonies (along with the usual suspects from Saudi Arabia of course)

    India is of course a well known push over globally and Petraeus and Co are using it to their advantage.

  2. Hi,

    Actually, General Petraeus’s position is not hard to understand.

    How often does he talk to Pakistani Army people, and how often does he speak with Indians?

    He’s running a war in Afghanistan where he needs as much Pakistani cooperation as he can get.

    So he believes and supports the Pakistani Army line against India because he is a general trying to win, or at least not lose, a very tough war in Afghanistan, not an inteligence analyst.

    For what it is worth, I tend to think Cold Start was proven irrelevant by 11/26. The Indian army told the government that it wasn’t strong enough to be sure that if they attacked Pakistan they woulkd win. As long as this is the case, there’s no point worrying about Cold Start. But my position is a bit unusual here in the US (for one thing, I’ve actually heard of Cold Start).

    The real problemn is that most Americans worry only about the war in Afghanistan. So here in the US, we’re not going to adopt an even remotely rational attitude to South Asia unti the war in Afghanistan ends. Fact of life.


  3. For what it is worth, I tend to think Cold Start was proven irrelevant by 11/26. The Indian army told the government that it wasn’t strong enough to be sure that if they attacked Pakistan they woulkd win. As long as this is the case, there’s no point worrying about Cold Start.
    @ Ray,
    Can you cite some credible sources where the Indian Army told the Govt that it was not strong enough to attack Pakistan and win ? Especially after it has defeated Pakistan in all the wars it has fought including the last one in Kargil in 1999.

    A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, Ray. Cold Start is nothing more than a theory when it comes to the Indian Army. I would advise you to visit some defense related journals, blogs ( Orbat.com comes to mind) if you want to know why Cold Start is not practically possible with a medieval army like the one that India has and is nothing more than an excuse for Pakistan to stop doing what they should be doing – i.e. fighting the Taliban tooth and nail. But the Taliban are Pakistan’s clients in Afghanistan and as the 9 years have shown, they still remain Pakistan’s clients.

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