Saturday, February 21, 2009

Talking Swat

Last Tuesday on ATC I heard a rather typical Jackie Northam piece regarding the Pakistani truce with TNSM in the Swat valley. She interviewed the usual smorgasbord of CIA, US State Department, and National Security Council shills and - what do you know - they all had basically the same opinions, or as Northam so pointedly stated:
"....none of the analysts interviewed for this report thinks that the truce in the SWAT valley will hold for long."
Honestly, I just didn't have the time, stomach or basic knowledge to sort out Northams lousy (and lazy) journalism, so I emailed Manan Ahmed who posts at the informative ICGA (associated with the other Informed Comment) and who produces the really fine blog, Chapati Mystery. If you haven't visited it, don't let it remain a mystery for too long. I asked him if he'd be willing to post on the NPR piece and allow me to cross-post it here, which he kindly agreed to. Well, he went above and beyond the call - putting NPR in the context of the other rather poor coverage of the Swat valley story. Here's the opening of his post:

Increasingly, I am convinced that the discourse on Pakistan within the United States needs some major intervention. My fear, or maybe paranoia, is that Pakistan is en-route to be declared "mentally incapacitated" by United States aka "failed state". The impact of such a declaration (whether stated or not) would be that US will need to put a "care-taker" in charge of the mess. The rising frequency of the drone attacks, the extension of missile strikes, the troop "surge" in Afghanistan read as concrete steps towards a radically intrusive strategy towards Pakistan. I will have more to say on this. But I wanted, for the moment to simply bring to your attention some recent writings on Swat.

1. Jackie Northam, "Pakistan Deal With Taliban Draws Critics", All Things Considered, Feb 17, 2009.
Perhaps the worst of all recent pieces - NPR could only find 1. CIA Station Chief, 1. State Department Official and 1. NSC Official to declare that the Swat deal basically meant that Afghanistani Taliban have basically invaded and taken over Swat and that this means the Pakistani army is ridiculously weak. Between the lines, you should understand that the nukes are about to fall into the Taliban hands. Also al-Qaeda. Thank you, NPR.
To continue reading.


Hubertg said...

WoW...those guys up there in Northern Pakistan are off the hook.
Do they have religious police too ?? Do they stone people to death in the streets for listening to the radio ?? We certainly don't need any further involvement in the caretaking of the government of Pakistan...if it is declared a failed state,...we got some major expanding problems. Militarily it is off the charts for us to be involved in Pakistan. All our foreign policy chickens are coming home to roost.

Anonymous said...

"Perhaps the worst of all recent pieces"

a reference to Northam's piece, but it could just as aptly be applied to the "latest NPR piece", whatever that may be.

NPR's decline started out (over a decade ago, when Kevin Klose became Pres) on a gently down-sloping linear trajectory and has accelerated in recent years into a a full blown Fox-ponential decay (with a half life of about 6 months*)

in other words, NPR's credibility is decaying exponentially and they lose half of their current credibility every six months.

Here's the "NPR credibility equation equation" (destined to be as famous as E=mc^2 -- where's my Nobel prize?)

C(t) = C_0 e^(-tln(2)/6)

where C(t) = NPR credibility at time t, C_0 = credibility at time 0 (ie, now) and t is in months, with 6 being the "credibility half life".