Idle query

Why isn’t the Right celebrating the capture of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar?

Has any right-wing politician, pundit, or blogger expressed any satisfaction about the capture in Pakistan of the military commander of the Afghan Taliban?

Whatever importance Baradar had or didn’t have as a military and political leader, the importance of the story is that the capture was made by the ISI, the Pakistani secret police, which has had a long history of Islamist ties. Even the decision by the Pakistani security services to go to war with the Pakistani Taliban didn’t necessarily imply that they would stop backing their long-term clients in Afghanistan. So this looks like an event worth celebrating. But all I’ve seen from Red Blogistan is sneering, and Republican Washington seems to be silent, even though the Obama Administration tried to make it easy for them by not crowing.

My sense is that when the Right insisted that critics of Bush were willing to have the country lose a war if losing offered them political advantage, they were projecting their own fundamental lack of patriotism onto their opponents. Maybe that’s unfair. But if someone has contrary evidence, I’d like to see it.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

17 thoughts on “Idle query”

  1. I note that at the RBC, they're not trumpeting the good news, they're just using it as an occasion for scoring partisan points.

  2. The NY Times' reporting suggests that US intelligence officials aren't celebrating:

    An American intelligence official in Europe conceded as much, while also acknowledging Mullah Baradar’s key role in the reconciliation process. “I know that our people had been in touch with people around him and were negotiating with him,” the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the issue.

    “So it doesn’t make sense why we bite the hand that is feeding us,” the official added. “And now the Taliban will have no reason to negotiate with us; they will not believe anything we will offer or say.”

    I'm guessing that this US intelligence official isn't patriotic enough for Mark.

  3. I can't get through to Andrew Sullivan's "The Daily Dish" right now, but he had a string of seemingly reasonable righty excerpts up today on this topic.

    Even so, I agree it's probably projection on the Obama thing.

  4. Thomas, do you think the intelligence official’s view (one person, not officials in the plural) is a good reason for conservatives not to express satisfaction at Baradan’s capture, or not? (How much stock, for example, do you, or the right, put in negotiations w/ top Taliban leaders?) I assume you see how your comment would have a different interpretation if it expressed 2004-model conservative contempt for the intelligence community’s analytical judgments? The question here is how far conservatives are expressing satisfaction, &, to the extent they’re not, why not. If, in response, a conservative suggests there are good reasons not to express satisfaction, that establishes neither that conservatives’ actual reasons for withholding it are good, nor that they’re not withholding it. It just instances what Kleiman’s talking about.

  5. Well, Rush was happy about it, though there was some carping about how this got more press than all the #2s being taken down during the last administration.

  6. The Obama administration could have announced the capture just before Cheney started mouthing off last Sunday.

    Reverse the positions & Bush-Cheney would have gone for the jugular with this. I presume the US Gov are low-keying the matter because that is better for the war on terror long term.

  7. toby- You hit the nail. Priority in the Bush administration was domestic political advantage. All policy decisions took a back seat to that goal. The image of a country at war being led by a strong warrior commander in chief was evissioned by GWB before the ink had been set to paper on the SCOTUS proclamation that installed Little George in the Oval Office. No doubt it had been whispered in his ear by Karl Rove.

    While Obama will certainly take the effect of public statements on the sucess of policy the Bushies would never have let that get in the way of scorring political points. Sadly scorring points may be the better way to stay in the sadle.

  8. I gather from the NYT story today that there's some thought that the arrest was made by Pakistan to stop reconciliation efforts between the Afghan govt and the Taliban. I can understand why someone might sit on their hands for this sort of thing, but then this shows the folly of the whole war: we're waging war against Pakistan's ally to protect Pakistani stability. Because we think we know more about Pakistan's interests than Pakistan, and think we can 'win' without Pakistan's cooperation or consent.

    Speaking of folly, surely reading anything from Red Blogistan is one of the least productive ways one might use one's time. The only thing rarer than intellectual honesty in that domain is competent analysis.

  9. Off topic, but I can't find an email address. What happens when being reality based clashes with progressive politics:

    http://blogs.creativeloafing.com/freshloaf/2010/0

    At a very fundamental, core level, Springston did not share our vision for a news publication with a progressive perspective. He held on to the notion that there was an objective reality that could be reported objectively, despite the fact that that was not our editorial policy at Atlanta Progressive News. It just wasn’t the right fit.

    We believe there is no such thing as objective news. Typically, mainstream media presents itself as objective but is actually skewed towards promoting the corporate agenda of the ultra-wealthy.

    APN, on the other hand, does not pretend to be objective. We believe that our news coverage is fair and that our progressive principles are fair. We aim when possible to give voice to all sides, but aim to provide something different than what is already provided by corporate sources.”

  10. Don't panic, as soon as they figure out how to frame it as a blow against the US' efforts and Obama himself, you'll get your RW response.

    With Obama escalating both Pakistani pressure and Afghani effort, it's going to take them until Karl can drop the frame on the them. He's working on it I assure you.

  11. My novel-reading side is wondering whether this is less a capture than a rescue — maybe some of the intel acquired from Abdulmutallab or al-Eidan made it clear that Baradar was at risk of lethal pushback for his participation in negotiations and somebody thought he was worth more alive, even if no longer in the middle of the action.

  12. I don't know whether Kleiman will thank me for pointing this out, but a note for Larry Lennhoff: if you follow the "About Us" link at the left, just above the image of Kleiman's book, you get to a brief bio of Kleiman, including links to some of his other, professional webpages, at least one of which has an email address for him.

    Or there's this thing called Google.

    But, yes, before the comment feature was enabled it used to be really easy to email the authors of this blog (well, on the one or two occasions I tried; I haven't looked systematically, so maybe it's still as easy as it always was for that author or those authors).

  13. I thought it was number 3, not 2? Remember that period under Dubya when the administration would solemnly announce that the Number Three Guy In Al Qaeda had snuffed it practically every other Tuesday?

  14. Yeah, strange, wasn't it; It's almost like the only way for there to not be a number 3 man, was if the Taliban were reduced to two members…

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