22 May 2010

Kim might be responsible?

There are unconfirmed reports that US intelligence believes Kim Jong-il is responsible for the attack on the Cheonan. It says that it is based on the internal dynamics of the state, rather than hard evidence, but they believe that the sinking was intended to help shore up the succession of Kim's son.

I don't buy the logic, but I'll admit to not having access to the same classified material. The idea is that standing up to the West will reestablish the strength of the Kim image, and help the son take power. Moreover, there is some evidence that Kim Jong-il congratulated the

If so, it might well make the Kims the dumbest dynasty on Earth. Would it be worth it to risk war with the greatest naval powers in the world, to insure that your son takes the throne?

21 May 2010

North Korea threatens war?

A war with North Korea would not be a picnic for the US or South Korea, but it would be absolutely suicidal for North Korea to go through with it. The forces of the US/ROK alliance are vastly better trained, and not remotely malnourished (link is in Korean, I had to use a Google translator). Moreover, the US is not using WWII era tanks and equipment.

At this point, I'm most worried about the possibility of miscalculation, particularly by a low-level North Korean military official (which strikes me as the most likely cause for the Cheonan sinking). All signs point to the breakdown of order in North Korea, and it would be very easy for someone to escalate it even further.

Fortunately, it's not likely to happen the other way. Here's hoping that the US and RoK can keep this from blowing up worse.

Track of the Day

I haven't seen Glee yet, but this made me very happy. I love the song, and I love Neil Patrick Harris.

20 May 2010

Fighting in Madagascar

I think just about everyone has positive feelings for Madagascar, if only because of the (not very realistic) movies. But, sadly, the political crisis there that began in January of last year has continued, and now there is open fighting in the streets of Antananarivo between different factions of the security forces.

One question I have, and I cannot find anywhere, is whether the leader of the government forces (Col. Richard Ravalomanana) is related to the ousted President (Marc Ravalomanana). The dissidents seem to be in favor of Marc Ravalomanana, or at least against the man who deposed him (Andy Rajoelina).

In terms of broader implications, there probably are not many. Madagascar is rather isolated, and it is unlikely that the unrest there will spread to any neighbors. However, I hope that the upcoming elections offer a way for all sides to stand down, but the past does not suggest that it will. Marc Ravalomanana won election that way, and was deposed by those who were upset. If Rajoelina's side does not win the election (Rajoelina himself is not running), another coup could happen.

We'll have to wait and see.

The Rand Paul Civil Rights Act Meltdown

If anyone missed all of this yesterday, here's a pretty good summary:

Another mass attack in China

This time, it was against university students.

As someone who's been to China, this is a little on the bizarre side. University students were once held in high esteem, and it was everyone's goal to send their kid to university. It was a sign of being an intellectual, and worthy of praise. That a group of 10 men would attack students in a university is extremely troublesome.

Moreover, the degree to which social cohesion is fraying in China will likely lead to more draconian efforts to create social cohesion, i.e. more human rights abuses. In particular, censorship of media is about to get a lot worse, and expect more hacks into emails of those who speak up.

19 May 2010


Senator John Kerry, in a Senate hearing on the new START:

During the question-and-answer period, Sen. Jim DeMint, a first-term Republican from South Carolina, who's up for re-election this year, said he found it "frightening" that the Russians believe there's a relationship between offensive and defensive nuclear forces.

The committee's chairman, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., patiently noted, "There is a relationship." If offensive forces are cut and defensive forces go up, "you can obliterate one party's sense of deterrence." This, he said, is "common sense."

DeMint said, "But you're agreeing with me." Don't we want to expand our defenses so that we can obliterate Russia's offensive capability?

Kerry, a bit nonplussed, replied, "No."

High Modernist Sim Dystopia

I find this video interesting but slightly disturbing. Some guy created the "perfect" SimCity city through meticulous planning, but it ended up like this:

...no one is leaving or coming into the city. Population growth is stagnant. Sims don’t need to travel long distances, because their workplace is just within walking distance. In fact they do not even need to leave their own block. Wherever they go it’s like going to the same place...

There are a lot of other problems in the city hidden under the illusion of order and greatness: Suffocating air pollution, high unemployment, no fire stations, schools, or hospitals, a regimented lifestyle – this is the price that these sims pay for living in the city with the highest population. It’s a sick and twisted goal to strive towards. The ironic thing about it is the sims in Magnasanti tolerate it. They don’t rebel, or cause revolutions and social chaos. No one considers challenging the system by physical means since a hyper-efficient police state keeps them in line. They have all been successfully dumbed down, sickened with poor health, enslaved and mind-controlled just enough to keep this system going for thousands of years. 50,000 years to be exact. They are all imprisoned in space and time.

via Chris Blattman

The Rand Paul Revolution Will Not Be Televised, or Possess Basic Manners

Stay classy, Rand.

18 May 2010

Chinese social tension

This past week, almost every day I've seen another report of some kind of massive, crazy attack in China.

Things like this happen in the US occasionally, but I've never seen such an onslaught like this even in the US. Violent outbreaks are extremely common in China, such as when workers rioted over firings, killing members of management. In fact, a Google search for "factory riot China" shows so many it boggles the mind.

What does this mean for China's rise as a global power? Well, if the people are so cavalier about killing each other, it does show a certain willingness to be aggressive in international politics. However, it also shows that, despite all the efforts of the government to create a "harmonious society," it is far from having done so.

I cannot fathom how a state with such rampant violence will be able to continue its march to the future. Yes, the US is violent, but this really shows a certain amount of common insanity that may even be spreading. My first impulse is to blame the repression of the state, but I can't say for sure. I would love to see any research that has been done in this area.

17 May 2010


From Justice John Paul Stevens' concurring opinion in Graham vs. Florida:

While JUSTICE THOMAS would apparently not rule out a death sentence for a $50 theft by a 7-year-old . . ., the Court wisely rejects his static approach to the law. Standards of decency have evolved since 1980. They will never stop doing so.

16 May 2010

Track of the Day

All of my metal icons are dropping dead. Dio, you will rock on forever.

RE: North Korean collapse

Robert Farley has some interesting thoughts about the same Minxin Pei piece I linked to earlier. In particular, he has some interesting thoughts about the German analogue:

The attitudes of Seoul and Beijing would be particularly important in this respect; the health of a post-Kim North Korea would be greatly affected by China’s willingness to underwrite the regime, and by South Korea’s approach to manifesting claims on Korean national identity. In the German case, the Russians had no interest in continuing to prop up the Berlin regime, and West Germany was happy to advance the claim that it was the only legitimate German national regime.

What is interesting to me is the way that North Korea has gone about trying to claim that South Koreans are no longer even really Korean. Will the people of North Korea allow a southern takeover, if they think of South Koreans as non-Korean?

13 May 2010

Update on Thai protesters

A Thai general, aligned with the "Red Shirt" protesters, has apparently been shot. Snipers seem to be part of the overall "security forces" that were sent to blockade the protesters. There is no acknowledgement or explanation for why Gen. Seh Daeng would have been targeted, but the army has acknowledged the presence of the snipers.

A little research shows why he might have been a target, though. It appears that "Seh Daeng" (real name: Khattiya Sawasdipol), however, has a long history of refusing orders from the government and was even stripped of his rank and has even met with ousted Prime Minister Thaksin, who is wanted on (possibly trumped-up) corruption charges. He has also been accused of leading a group of armed men who attacked other soldiers last month.

So far, the protesters are standing firm, but there are also reports of explosions in Bangkok. This situation looks to get far worse before it gets better.

This is a big issue for the US because Thailand has long been our strongest ally in the region, and it already has one insurgency in the far south. If Thailand collapses entirely, it will set back US interests in the region dramatically. We have relationships with other ASEAN members, but the only other ASEAN major ally is the Philippines, which also has an ongoing insurgency and cannot help us with issues on the peninsula. My fingers are crossed that this finally blows over, but it is looking ugly now.

Thailand is doing something right

The ongoing crisis in Thailand is getting worse, but fortunately the Thai government has opted not to overreact by cutting off all supplies to the area where the protesters are.

I'm not particularly enamored with the protesters, or with the way that Thai politics have basically degenerated into different groups paralyzing the capital, taking turns bringing the country to a halt. Moreover, the protesters have turned down an offer of early elections, which is about the most generous offer the government is likely to make. I have no real sympathy for them or their cause, even if there was some nobility to it once.

However, this extreme measure by the government would have done nothing to bring the problems to an end, and instead would have been a horrifying escalation. Moreover, it would have inflamed sympathy towards these protesters and badly hurt the people living in the areas about them. Here's hoping this moment of level-headedness spreads.

Immediate edit: Never mind, the Thai army is moving in with armored vehicles to isolate the protesters after all.

12 May 2010

Korean collapse

Minxin Pei, a well-known scholar on East Asian affairs, has an article up at the Diplomat making the case for the likely collapse of the Kim regime during the upcoming succession.

Minxin's case is built on the fact that no family dictatorship has ever succeeded into the third generation, and the circumstances in North Korea don't bode well for a precedent breaker here. Rising resentment, Kim basically begging abroad for money, and a military that has been starving for years do not inspire confidence that the regime will continue. Moreover, the complete failure of the attempted monetary reform shows that the security services that do exist will not squash a full-on riot.

The question then becomes how long will Kim hold out? His health has been going for years, and yet he is still alive. He's 70 years old, and has diabetes and has suffered at least one debilitating stroke. It cannot be too long until it happens; hopefully, the region will have a plan in place.

(One quibble with Minxin's piece: The US and South Korea are both taking this problem seriously, and have begun discussions about that very likelihood.)

Mutant Bugs Near Nuclear Power Plants

I know what you're thinking, but it's not that bad. A swiss artist has cataloged the mutations of insects near nuclear power plants. The mutations aren't very extreme. Still, I thought power plants didn't leak any radiation.

New Addition to the Axis of Evil

Israeli's Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has added Syria to former president George W. Bush's Axis of Evil. In a speech in Tokyo he told reporters that Syria, North Korea, and Iran are cooperating to spread weapons of mass destruction. Last December, an aircraft traveling from North Korea to Iran was seized in Bangkok and was found to contain 35 tons of weapons including rocket propelled grenades and SAM components. Mr. Lieberman cited this incident as evidence against Syria, saying that the weapons were going to be smuggled by Iran to Syrian-supported groups like Hezbollah and Hamas.

This incident highlights a pet peeve of mine. The term WMD's has evolved quite a bit over the years. Personally, I think the term is used way too often and its definition is absurdly broad. IEDs are considered weapons of mass destruction. Large caliber rifles are WMDs. Any definition that puts pipe bombs and nuclear missiles in the same category is on the fast track to uselessness. Policymakers use the term for political leverage whenever weapons they don't like get used by people they don't like. Its become vacuous and without the rhetorical efficiency that it had back when George W. Bush was president, when everyone thought that it meant nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons (even if legally it included a lot more).

In related news, Israel and the Palestinians concluded their first round of indirect talks over the weekend. It's been almost a year and a half since the two sides have engaged in any negotiations. The current stumbling block that is inhibiting progression to direct talks is the issue of Israeli settlements. Israel is continuing to build settlements in East Jerusalem, the site that the Palestinians want as their future capital.

Oh Mugabe, You Lovable Scamp

“‘If we could work with members drawn from the Rhodesia front that oppressed us, what was there to prevent us from working with him?’ Mr. Mugabe asked, laying his hand on Mr. Tsvangirai’s arm.

Mr. Tsvangirai, who has survived at least two assassination attempts in Zimbabwe, remained inscrutable and for several seconds, the room fell silent. Mr. Mugabe only smiled broadly.

“This young fellow… of mine,’ he added, patting his arm. He coaxed another laugh from Mr. Tsvangirai and the audience.”


10 May 2010

Track of the Day

Lena Horne has died today, at 92. It is not much of a tragedy when one who's had such a rich life passes, but it still makes me sad. For those who have never heard her:

09 May 2010

Iran update

It's difficult for me to tell if the recent events relating to Iran's nuclear program are really critical elements that signify a possible breakthrough, or are just more of the same bluff and bluster that has characterized much of the negotiations over the past months. Last Wednesday, the United States and the other permanent members of the UN Security Council issued a joint statement stating their commitment to the NPT and urged all non-signatory countries with nuclear programs to accede to the treaty as non-nuclear weapons states.

There has been some talk that the Obama administration may be adjusting the US's tacit acceptance of Israel's nuclear program, and seeing it as an intractable stumbling block to negotiations with Iran. Israel, not surprisingly, has not recognized any change in its relationship with the United States.

Also of note is the progress that Brazil and Turkey have made mediating a resolution between Iran and the West. Iran has agreed "in principal" to a Brazil-Turkey fuel swap proposal that would involve Iran trading 3.5% enriched uranium for 20% enriched uranium for use in Tehran's medical research reactor.

I can't help but get excited about events like these. They make me think that a mutually beneficial resolution might actually be feasible. However, I am pretty sure that the level of trust needed to conclude any resolution between Iran and the United States is lacking.

I usually do not like drawing comparisons between Iran and Iraq, but I think there is a strong similarity between the weapons inspections that were carried out prior to the Iraq invasion, and the current push for IAEA inspectors in Iran. The US did not trust that Saddam Hussein was not manipulating the inspectors, and Iraq did not have any assurances that the US would keep its promise not to invade if it gave up any weapons that it had. Whether or not Iraq possessed chemical or biological agents was beside the point: once the US made a commitment to invade Iraq based on a condition that it could never verify with any certainty, the administration was stuck between carrying out its threat or backing down and losing credibility.

The Obama administration has taken pains to avoid the appearance that it is even considering invading Iran, but it is still suffering from the same problem the Bush Administration had with Iraq: if Iran and the US cannot trust each other to abide by any agreement they reach, then negotiations will always break down when they come to commitment and verification mechanisms. Whether or not Iran actually has a nuclear weapons program is just as irrelevant as whether or not chemical and biological agents were in Iraq. If the US cannot trust Iran to abide by the NPT, then any inspections and negotiations are meaningless.

However, there is a way out of this problem and the Obama administration knows it: unilateral commitment. If one party decides to take on a burden in order to show that it is committed to a deal, it will signal to the other party that they should do the same if they are truly interested in a resolution. The US's recent change in its nuclear posture is a good start. It shows that the US is truly committed to nonproliferation and disarmament. Increased pressure on Israel to join the NPT will also go a long way toward showing Iran that the US is serious. Now would be a good time for Iran to make some accommodations, but if they keep holding war games then that warm, fuzzy optimism I had earlier will quickly evaporate.

Slim, Frosty: what are your thoughts and opinions on the Iran nuclear talks?

08 May 2010

It seems that the Obama administration is being pressured to, at the very least, abide by the Ottawa Treaty, even if it doesn't sign the treaty itself. Of course, conservatives and some Pentagon officials are aghast, screaming that doing so would weaken this country in the event of war, particularly if war broke out on the Korean Peninsula.

I find the argument over land mines fascinating, particularly because I just watched a documentary about Sherman's march to the sea, which had some of the first land mines ever used. The Confederates, desperate to stop Sherman, had planted "torpedoes" in his path, and Sherman considered them such a gross violation of the laws of war that he felt justified in using Confederate prisoners as minesweepers. (That ended the practice pretty quickly.)

More importantly, in the US's two most recent wars, there have been no place for land mines. Land mines are a relic; they are the ultimate tool for ground control, but are completely antithetical to any form of population support or suppression. In Korea they might see some limited use in slowing down an oncoming Northern invasion, but they would have zero utility in just about any other conflict.

The ubiquity of images like the above means that the US can get some real traction and support for even the most modest of moves, such as agreeing not to use them while still not signing or ratifying the treaty. Hell, even if the US agrees not to use them anywhere but Korea, or say that it would not use them but would allow its allies (hint, hint, ROK) to do so, it would greatly help the US image. There are a number of treaties like this (the Rights of Children, anyone?), but this (due to the Nobel Prize 13 years ago and other reasons) is probably the most high profile.

Here's hoping that the administration pushes this through.

05 May 2010

Picture of the Day

From here.

Ethiopia and Eritrea Still Not BFFs

Via Sahel Blog, it looks like the two countries that fought one of the more significant interstate wars of the 90s and early oughts are back at each other's throats.

Ethiopia has elections coming up later this month (which aren't expected to particularly free or fair) and is accusing its rival to the north of attempting to destabilize the country in the run up to those elections. The government claims that "Eritrean agents" were behind a bomb that went off in Adi Haro this past weekend and that Eritrea is supporting anti-Ethiopian activity by both the Oromo Liberation Front, an Ethiopia-based ethnic nationalist group, and the notorious Somali Islamist group, al-Shabab.

Meanwhile, the Eritrean regime is now under fire from insurgent groups itself, including the fairly awesomely named Red Sea Afar Democratic Organization, that are based in and receive support from Ethiopia.

This new round of disputes between the two states seems to closely resemble the long-running (and recently ended, tentatively) Chad-Sudan feud, where each side supported anti-government rebels against the other.

Terror in Times Square! Some Initial Thoughts

So, a few things that I've noticed or been surprised by in all of the reports coming out on the guy who tried to bomb Times Square:

1) When the Pakistani Taliban initially claimed responsibility for the attack, I scoffed. After all, the TTP is a local group based in the tribal areas with parochial concerns that had focused all of its are against the Pakistani government in the past. I was wrong.

It looks like the TTP has "internationalized" due to the presence of Al Qaeda in its stomping ground and, I would presume, because of the US drone war. Of course, if Shahzad did have connection to the TTP, it's still unclear whether the group's role in the attempted attack was operational or simply motivational. This is speculation, but I wouldn't be surprised if Shahzad's radicalization resulted at least in part from anger over US attacks in Pakistan, since he had been such a model US citizen up until recent years.

This is not to "blame the victim," but simply to recognize the phenomenon that Robert Wright has pointed to--that invading or otherwise attacking Muslim countries is going to result in some blowback. Nidal Malik Hassan was motivated by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. There is speculation that Najibullah Zazi may have been motivated by the drone war. The double agent who bombed the CIA base in Khost was angry over US support for Israel in the Gaza War (Operation Cast Lead).

None of this is a direct comment on the propriety of these policies (although they should be vigorously questioned), but simply an acknowledgment that there are "side effects" to foreign policy decisions, and that these should be included in the cost-benefit analysis.

2) As Armchair Generalist has so eloquently pointed out, the fact that Shahzad is being charged with attempted use of WMD is patently ridiculous. If a couple cans of gas and some fireworks can constitute a WMD, then the term has gone far beyond jumping the shark and descended into parody. Here's the federal statute in question.

3) According to the FBI, Shahzad was initially interrogated without being Mirandized under a "public safety exception." I didn't know that such an exception existed. It would seem to render most of the objections to Mirandizing terror suspects in the name of sniffing out impending attacks and other intelligence gathering purposes moot. After the FBI agents determined that there were no impending threats related to Shahzad, he was Mirandized and treated like other suspects (and continued cooperating).

04 May 2010

Let's Go Suns!

AnthonyS at Alterdestiny points out that the Phoenix Suns, the NBA team that I am, incidentally, pulling for in the playoffs since the Mavericks' early exit in the first round, have come out as a team against the draconian new immigration law in Arizona:

In general, people in the sports world keep their political leanings to themselves. Sure, there are a few guys who regularly speak out on political issues, but for the most part that's considered bad business. As Michael Jordan put it, "Republicans buy shoes too." That's why what the Phoenix Suns are doing is so amazing.

The team will be wearing its "Los Suns" jerseys for Wednesday night's Game 2 against the San Antonio Spurs "to honor [the] Latino community and the diversity of our league, the state of Arizona, and our nation." Awesome.

The decision to wear the jerseys came from way up the corporate ladder, as team owner Robert Sarver suggested the team wear their Noche Latina alternates.

Star Canadian point guard and former 2-time league MVP (who also spoke out against the Iraq War) had this to say about the decision:

I think it's fantastic...I think the law is very misguided. I think it's, unfortunately, to the detriment of our society and our civil liberties. I think it's very important for us to stand up for things we believe in. As a team and as an organization, we have a lot of love and support for all of our fans. The league is very multicultural. We have players from all over the world, and our Latino community here is very strong and important to us.

I'm gonna be rooting for Los Suns even harder now! This may also be a good PR move the team, given the strong Democratic lean of NBA fans.

03 May 2010

Track of the Day

Just finished watching the latest episode of American Experience, "Roads to Memphis," on the assassination of King and have this song on my mind.

The last American Experience, on My Lai, was also very good.

ULC on Twitter!

Follow the blog that made fanny pack Kyrgyz guy famous on Twitter.

Taiwan doesn't need the US?

In a statement that has already called for numerous additions and modifications, the President of Taiwan has said that, in the event of war with China, Taiwan will not ask for US aid.

A Cabinet spokesman (Johnny Chiang) has since clarified that if the US wants to help in that case, Taiwan would not refuse, and Taiwan will continue to seek advanced weaponry from the US.

Even with that, it's still a bizarre statement. It seems to validate the Chinese view that Taiwan is a part of its sovereign territory, and that the whole issue over its governance is indeed an internal one that no other country should be involved in. I fully believe that Taiwan should form better relations with China, and that the most likely outcome is either China collapsing under its own issues or a peaceful unification under terms similar to Hong Kong's. Either way, it is better for Taiwan to not be a target.

However, I hope the Taiwanese government has somehow run this idea by the US government. So much of the tension between the US and China (though by no means all of it) is based around the US security guarantee of Taiwan. If that is to be considered obsolete, we should know about it.

The Simpsons Do Nuclear Scares and the Surveillance State

I'm not sure if anyone watches The Simpsons anymore. I know the quality has gone down from its peak, but it's still better than most of the other stuff on the teevee. Anyway, last night's episode, "To Surveil With Love," poked fun at nuclear alarmism and surveillance in the name of national security. My favorite line probably came from Mayor Quimby when they were holding a vote on whether to establish widespread camera surveillance in a vote at city hall.

Quimby: All those in favor say aye!

*everyone but Lisa says aye*

Quimby: All those opposed say I...hate America!

Lisa: Aye...umm...

02 May 2010

Greek Defense Spending

From the AP:

Greece's defense minister on Thursday promised "colossal" cuts in military operating costs to help the debt-ridden country emerge from its financial crisis and speed up plans to modernize the armed forces.

Defense Minister Evangelos Venizelos Greece is aiming to slash operating costs by up to 25 percent in 2010 from 2009, instead of the planned reduction of 12.6 percent listed in this year's budget.

"That is a colossal amount, reaching the margin of our operating needs," Venizelos said, insisting that the cuts were not a direct result of the Greek debt crisis, nor would affect the strategic balance with historic rival Turkey. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is to visit Athens next month.

Greece remains at odds with neighbor and NATO ally Turkey over the divided island of Cyprus and boundaries in the Aegean Sea but has improved ties over the past decade.

Venizelos did not give details of how the cuts would be achieved, saying only that results of a major armed forces review would be outlined in "several weeks".

Um, yeah, I'm not really buying the second bolded part.

Prior to all of this, Greece had the highest military spending in the EU as a percentage of GDP and the second highest in NATO, behind only the US.

It will be interesting to see the effects of these drastic cuts on the military balance between Greece and Turkey and, more broadly, on their conflict over Cyprus. Turkey should feel a little more secure as a result of these cuts and will likely be able to make some of its own. However, as a bigger and more important country, Turkey's security interests are generally broader than those of its rival, so it may not be able to cut as drastically because of other internal and external threats.

The Type of Trenchant Socio-Political Commentary Only the Local Sean Hannity Wannabe Can Provide

Apparently some moronic right-wing radio host from here in Kentucky thought it would be hi-larious to get a bunch of his drones to drive around in their trucks and SUVs to stick it to the liberals and enviro-Nazis on Earth Day. You really showed us...by wasting your own gas money...and time.

Freedom 500 from Brian Sprinkle on Vimeo.

via Barefoot and Progressive

Track/Video of the Day

Sleep well America, knowing that your security in these people's hands =)

via Armchair Generalist

01 May 2010

Another Pakistani "Shift?"

The arrest of Abdul Ghani Baradar and some other leading members of the Afghan Taliban in January was initially seen as a "shift" by Pakistani security forces toward a more anti-(Afghan) Taliban stance that was more in line with what American diplomats and military leaders wanted. Subsequent reports suggested that the arrests may have been motivated by other considerations (for example, the fact that Baradar may have been ready to negotiate with the government; others suggested that it may have been a method by which Pakistan could gain some leverage in any upcoming negotiations).

Now, "Western diplomats and Pakistani security officials" are saying that Pakistan may open up a new anti-insurgent front in North Waziristan. This has been one of the biggest demands of the US for some time now. Pakistan has already mounted offensives in Swat and in South Waziristan, and has suffered considerable military losses and civilian suffering as a result. The government has been hesitant to mount similar operations in North Waziristan, partly for these reasons, and partly because North Waziristan has been more a haven for anti-American/anti-Western forces, such as the Haqqani Network, than for anti-Pakistan forces like the Pakistani Taliban. The US's only way to strike in these areas has been through the use of drones.

Again, though, there is some reason to be skeptical as to whether the US and NATO are really going to get what they want if this offensive does actually happen. The offensive in South Waziristan has caused several anti-Islamabad groups and individuals, including Hakimullah Mehsud (the new leader of the Pakistani Taliban and public enemy number one), to flee to the north. The idea of launching a new offensive is probably more a result of this than Western cajoling. In the event of a Pakistani offensive, it obviously can't be assumed that Pakistani forces will go after the elements that the US and NATO wants it to after.