The Most Shocking Thing I’ve Heard All Year

October 8, 2004

George Friedman, the founder of the private intelligence consulting firm which regularly garners raves throughout the major financial press, claims in his new book America’s Secret War that in late December 2001 the US delivered the following ultimatum to General Musharraf, the leader of Pakistan (and I freely paraphrase from Dr. Friedman’s account, which occurs on pages 226-228 of the book):

You will either let the US [1] fully inspect all of Pakistan’s nuclear facilities (covertly, of course), [2] establish a permanent monitoring regime of them (also covertly, of course), as well as [3] personally purge all militant-Islamist-sympathasizers from the ranks of those parts of your scientific/military/intelligence establishment responsible for the nuclear program (we’ll leave the level of discreetness and brutality up to you on this one, Pervez) or you will find the US shall stand aside as India goes to war with Pakistan*, Pakistan inevitably loses the conventional war, and events then in all probability escalate into a nuclear exchange. By the way, if we stand aside and somehow peace and reason prevails and India doesn’t start a war with you, please note that the US has never renounced the option of conducting a first strike with nuclear weapons.

[ *A Note to Those Readers Forgetful in Foreign Affairs: Recall that on December 13, 2001, Pakistani-backed Kashimiri separatist militants attacked the Indian Parliament in New Delhi, killing 8, suffering 5 deaths themselves, and bringing India and Pakistan to the very brink of all-out war. See, for example, this CNN story from that time. Recall also that India’s military, owing to India’s much larger population, significantly outnumbers Pakistan’s. ]

Dr. Friedman claims that in March 2002 a contingent of US Special Forces, CIA, and nuclear scientists discreetly visited all of Pakistan’s nuclear reactors simultaneously.

My preliminary Lexis-Nexis search was unsuccessful in turning up any mention in the press of anything remotely of this magnitude. All I could find is multiple reports covering Musharraf’s declaration in late 2001 (before all these events Dr. Friedman describes, in fact) that he’d reorganized the Pakistani nuclear program, moved the devices themselves to new facilities, and in short secured them so the world no longer need worry. I’d be grateful if anyone has any insights corroborating, clarifying, or refuting Dr. Friedman’s claim as my only other immediate response is sitting awake here at 4 AM going “Holy F$@#ing S$#t! !!”

[I hope, of course, to have much more to say about this in future posts.]

2 Responses to “The Most Shocking Thing I’ve Heard All Year”

  1. The Acorn Says:

    Was this the riot act that the US read to Musharraf?

    A strong message. But was the follow-through strong enough

    William Kaminsky paraphrases George Friedman’s account of the US ultimatum to Musharraf soon after 9/11.
    You will either let the US [1] fully inspect all of Pakistan’s nuclear facilities…

  2. mitch p. Says:

    I believe I’ve seen similar rumors, on American, Indian, and Pakistani forums, but no proof.
    Other episodes from the new US-Pakistan relationship which might provide context:
    Bob Woodward reported that just after 9/11, the head of Pakistani intelligence (who was already in Washington) was given a list of seven nonnegotiable demands. Musharraf gave this speech a few days later.
    You may also recall that in mid-2002, before Iraq became the focus at the UN, there was another crisis between India and Pakistan. The Indian army chief at the time, Gen. Sundarajan Padmanabhan, retired at the end of the year, and then wrote a book, India Checkmates America 2017, which I guess is how he wished things had turned out in 2002.
    Some of the articles by B. Raman at SAAG are probably relevant, also, although they focus more on Pakistan’s WMD proliferation and support for terrorism.
    Richard Miniter’s new book, Shadow War, seems to be similar to Friedman’s – another secret history of the global war on terror. Miniter says al Qaeda first tried to reconstitute itself in South-east Asia, and then in the Sahara, but each time was beaten by semi-clandestine US operations, conducted with regional allies.

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