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HOTELINE: America's New War, Pakistan's Influence

Aired September 20, 2001 - 01:07   ET


on the United States, the country of Pakistan is continuing to emerge ever more prominent in the scenario that's being contemplated for trying to prosecute, punishment for those responsible.

Joining us from Washington D.C. is John Hulsman. He's a research fellow with the Heritage Foundation.

John, I appreciate your being on with us, and welcome to the program.


CAFFERTY: President Bush is going to address the Joint Session of Congress and the national television audience tomorrow night in what is arguably one of the more important speeches he'll be giving.

But the President of Pakistan, Musharraf, gave a speech to his nation on television that is interesting for a number of reasons. Explain Pakistan's role in some of the pressures and cross-currents, and why that country is so important here.

HULSMAN: Pakistan's absolutely critical to what we do. This war will not be a Gulf-style, why we have to get that idea of the Gulf War out of our head. We have to stop fighting the last war. This war will be about intelligence, and Pakistan is absolutely critical to intelligence because they have the human intelligence of what's going on in Afghanistan that frankly the rest of us don't have.

Pakistan has been involved with the Taliban and Mr. bin Laden for the last 15 years, since the mid '80s, when these groups were all working together to overthrow the Soviet Union. The United States would supply stinger missiles through the CIA covertly through Pakistan, our ally. They would then contact people in the Mujahideen, splinter groups in the Mujahideen, led to the Taliban and Mr. Bin Laden.

So they have a very long experience in dealing with each other. They have human intelligence. They know the names of the leaders; they know where they are; they know how everything fits together in terms of the organization of the Taliban and Mr. Bin Laden.

The problem for Pakistan is that the human intelligence works both ways. To some extent, they've penetrated Mr. Bin Laden and the Taliban, and to some extent, Mr. Bin Laden and the Taliban have indeed permeated the structure of Pakistan. And so, they have tremendous pressures on them, both from Afghanistan and the Taliban, as well as from us. And they're in this the really key player in this tug of war diplomatically.

CAFFERTY: And there has been heavy pressure brought to bear by the United States to garner Pakistan's cooperation in this. Well, what does Pakistan get out of cooperating with us? Obviously, they have Bin Laden and Afghanistan on one side; they have India on the other side; and they have a huge Muslim population within their own country, some of whom are fundamentalists.

HULSMAN: That's very true, particularly people along the border with Afghanistan, the northwest border of Pakistan, are largely sympathetic to Mr. Bin Laden. What they get out of this is, the United States doesn't see them like the Taliban as part of the problem rather than part of the solution.

They're neck deep in, you know, involvement, and tacit involvement and overt involvement with the Taliban and Mr. Bin Laden, and they're aware that if they're not very quickly involved in helping the United States as a honest broker, which is one of the roles they've played, they've gone out and told the Taliban, "The United States is really serious about this. You should hand him over." It made a big point of being seen to be pro American and involved in this.

And if they hadn't done that, they would be in terrible trouble, because the United States might indeed militarily attack them. They have a huge foreign debt, which the United States is the key to seeing that there's some sort of debt forgiveness, or at least not the demand's there. And the United States could tilt toward India, which there are signs the Bush administration was already doing. And of course, India and Pakistan are mortal enemies.

And so, for all of these reasons, but mostly because militarily the United States has a gun to the head of Pakistan, they've chosen to cooperate.

CAFFERTY: Is - you mentioned that this isn't going to be anything like the Persian Gulf War, and there seems to be wide agreement on that. Is there a model out there that would maybe suggest to you the kind of operation this could turn into? And I'm thinking about the Black September group.

HULSMAN: Yeah. My analogy is Black September. I mean, after the Munich games, when the Israeli athletes were murdered, the Mossad, the Israeli intelligence service, made it very clear that they didn't just want to get the head of Black September, the terrorist group, who perpetrated those deeds, but they wanted to take out the entire cell.

And, as your report suggested quite rightly, the cell is widely diffused, and, you know, the dangers of you just take off the head, like the legend of the Greek Hydrid, two more grow in its place, and that's not what you want. And so, they took out the people who were involved in logistics, the people involved in intelligence, the people involved in training. And they basically made it clear that most of the people involved in any terrorist group aren't suicide bombers, do value their lives, and if you make it clear that the penalty for being involved in a terrorist Cell is the same whether you're a suicide bomber or not, death, and that whatever it took -- and for Israel it took 15 to 20 years to wipe out Black September, that they would do it.

They would spend the money. They would spend the material , and they would spend the men and the blood if they had to, to get every single member of that group.

In the end this led to a deterrent effect. There hasn't been a new Black September style attack on Israel, and I think that's really the model that we need to look at. It's eradicating the Cell, and as President Bush said before and doubtless will say again tonight, this is going to take time, patience, effort. It's going to be dirty. It's going to be difficult and the United States has to show will for this to be successful.

CAFFERTY: Speaking of President Bush, he continues to use the word crusade when referring to the kinds of undertakings that are on our -- on our horizon. What about that word?

HULSMAN: I think it's somewhat ill advised. I mean I understand what it means from an American point of view, but if you say Crusade in the region of the Middle East, one thinks of Saladin and Richard the Lion Heart in the Battle of Batine (ph) and the capture of Jerusalem.

I think that President Bush has been wonderful about saying that bin Laden no more represents Muslims living today than the inquisition represents main line Christianity today -- that this is not a war with Islam. This is not a clash of civilizations, but this is taking a man who's done a horrific thing for his own geopolitical ends, and we're going to pursue him to the ends of the Earth to do so.

I think that there could be a better word choice there, but I think that certainly President Bush deserves vast credit -- vast credit for separating out the fact that bin Laden is not representative of Muslims around the world and indeed, to have a coalition we need to get moderate Muslim states like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and indeed, Pakistan involved to be part of the solution to this problem.

CAFFERTY: How concerned are you about what was immediately perceived as a horrible failure of the security and intelligence community in this country when this thing happened to the World Trade Center? Bin Laden's people have been attacking American targets for eight, nine, 10 years now.

And yesterday a report surfaced out of the Philippines that Ramsey Yousef's associate, and I can't recall his name, I want to say Markad (ph) but that's not right, apparently told authorities in 1995 of a plot on the part of bin Laden's people, including Yousef, to one day use hijacked airplanes to attack both the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, and the Pentagon.

There were also discussions of targeting office towers in cities like Chicago and New York. According to these Philippine authorities, this information was all given to the FBI in the United States, but that seems to have been the end of it. Nobody seems to know what happened to the information after that.

How concerned are you about the perception that one of the reasons this happened is that we're just not playing close enough of attention to what's going on?

HULSMAN: I think there are two things here. I think one of the problems and everybody out there and I'm sure Jack, you go through this as I do. We have too much information in the modern world. We have editing problems.

In the Middle Ages, you had to wait weeks to get information. Nowadays, I flick on my computer on the story and I'm inundated with 300 stories a day about this. How do I tell what's important and what's trivial. That's absolutely the key task now for the intelligent services. And sadly in the past, they're bombarded with threats from the Middle East and terrorism everyday in the CIA, FBI.

And so, it's very hard to tell out of these hundreds, if not thousands of threats, what is genuine and what is not, and I really think that's very difficult and very hard to grasp if you're not involved in that process. But on the other hand, I think there's been a massive failure of human intelligence, and I think our emphasis in America has been entirely wrong in the 1990s.


HULSMAN: We in America are fascinated by technology. We spend an awful lot of money on spy satellites and that process. But we've forgotten that human intelligence, which as Vice President Cheney said over the weekend, is frustrating, cost a lot of money. It's slow. You need an awful lot of unsavory people you don't want to bring home to mom. But that's absolutely critical to know what's going to go on with a terrorist group.

A spy satellite can show you a tank's moving. Only human intelligence can tell you what's going on in the heart and the mind of the person in the tank, where they're going, and what their objectives are, and that's again precisely full circle why we care about what Pakistan does, because they have this human intelligence capability in Afghanistan that frankly, we're lacking.

CAFFERTY: We've got a caller on the line from Missouri. Louisa, what can we help you with?

LOUISA: Yes, I'm calling because I haven't heard anything addressed about looking into people who have planted themselves in the U.S. in the past 10 years and have possibly gotten jobs where they would have access to nuclear, chemical or biological type sources that they... CAFFERTY: All right John, what about that? Obviously the people have perpetuated this. The suicide bombers lived in the United States. Many of them went to flight school down in Florida and became functioning members of our communities and our society, until such time as they surfaced and did this deed.

What about her question?

HULSMAN: I think it's a very important question. I remember on the Monday before the tragedy, I had an argument with a European diplomat who said to me basically, look, there are no threats to the United States. I don't know why you guys care about missile defense or anything else. You need to get yourself straight and even if these rogue states and rogue organizations that you're worried about do indeed exist, it's not -- there's not much that they can do.

I mean they can't really harm the United States and sadly, tragically, that's an argument that I've won. I think that the sad thing from this tragedy is that these new organizations do not behave as the Soviet Union did during the Cold War. We had a very routinized way of behaving together. We knew exactly how far to go, when to stop, and we had a lot of years of experience in dealing with that.

These groups do not behave in our sense of the term rationally, and frankly, I'm absolutely astounded if anybody can say if they didn't have chemical or biological weapons, which we call poor man's nuclear weapons. They're very easy to get hold of. You need a couple of qualified chemists and a small amount of money and a pharmaceutical plant, and you can make a chemical weapon.

If these people get hold of them, there's no doubt in my mind that they will indeed use them, and so this again, makes intelligence being very quick about spotting things, being preemptive, being proactive, absolutely critical because there's no doubt that next time, tragic and horrible, thought, this has been, the stakes will be higher.

CAFFERTY: Makes you long for the good old days when all we faced was the threat of nuclear annihilation -- doesn't it?

HULSMAN: I never saw I'd say that, but Jack, yes.

CAFFERTY: I know. John, it's been a pleasure. I know you're a little pressed for time. I appreciate you coming on the broadcast. We'd like to call on you again as this story continues to unfold with your permission.

HULSMAN: Anytime Jack.

CAFFERTY: All right, John Hulsman. He is the research fellow with the Heritage Foundation in Washington, DC.



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