Slate – Pakistan Is the Problem<br/> And Barack Obama Seems to Be the Only Candidate Willing to Face It. By Christopher Hitchens

“Don’t mention the war,” as Basil insists with mounting hysteria in Fawlty Towers. And, when discussing the deepening crisis in Afghanistan, most people seem deliberately to avoid such telling phrases as “Pakistani aggression” or—more accurate still—”Pakistani colonialism.” The truth is that the Taliban, and its al-Qaida guests, were originally imposed on Afghanistan from without as a projection of Pakistani state power. (Along with Pakistan, only Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates ever recognized the Taliban as the legal government in Kabul.) Important circles in Pakistan have never given up the aspiration to run Afghanistan as a client or dependent or proxy state, and this colonial mindset is especially well-entrenched among senior army officers and in the Inter-Services Intelligence agency, or ISI.

We were all warned of this many years ago. When the Clinton administration sent cruise missiles into Afghanistan in reprisal for the attacks on our embassies in East Africa, the missiles missed Osama Bin Ladin but did, if you remember, manage to kill two officers of the ISI. It wasn’t asked loudly enough: What were these men doing in an al-Qaida camp in the first place? In those years, as in earlier ones, almost no tough questions were asked of Pakistan. Successive U.S. administrations used to keep certifying to Congress that Pakistan was not exploiting U.S. aid (and U.S. indulgence over the anti-Soviet war in Afghanistan) to build itself a nuclear weapons capacity. Indeed, it wasn’t until after Sept. 11, 2001, that we allowed ourselves to learn that at least two of Pakistan’s top nuclear scientists—Mirza Yusuf Baig and Chaudhry Abdul Majid—had been taken in for “questioning” about their close links to the Taliban. But then, in those days, we were too incurious to take note of the fact that Pakistan’s chief nuclear operative, A.Q. Khan, had opened a private-enterprise “Nukes ‘R’ Us” market and was selling his apocalyptic wares to regimes as disparate as Libya and North Korea, sometimes using Pakistani air force planes to make the deliveries.

Huh. Well. Read the whole thing.

Of course, saying that Obama is willing to face the issue isn’t necessarily to say that he’s willing to do anything about it…

Sen. Barack Obama has, if anything, been the more militant of the two presidential candidates in stressing the danger here and the need to act without too much sentiment about our so-called Islamabad ally. He began using this rhetoric when it was much simpler to counterpose the “good” war in Afghanistan with the “bad” one in Iraq. Never mind that now; he is committed in advance to a serious projection of American power into the heartland of our deadliest enemy. And that, I think, is another reason why so many people are reluctant to employ truthful descriptions for the emerging Afghan-Pakistan confrontation: American liberals can’t quite face the fact that if their man does win in November, and if he has meant a single serious word he’s ever said, it means more war, and more bitter and protracted war at that—not less.