Levin Urges Tougher NATO Rules of Engagement Along Pakistan Border

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Senator Carl Levin (D-Mich.), chairman of the Senate’s Committee on Armed Services, spoke with reporters this morning by phone from the Persian Gulf emirate of Qatar, where he was preparing to board a plane for Israel, the final stop on a fact-finding trip that had already taken him to Afghanistan and Pakistan. Discussion of the latter took up most of the conference call, with Levin urging that NATO forces based in Afghanistan amend their rules of engagement to allow troops to engage enemy fighters on the Pakistani side of the border.

“It’s not right for our troops to be shot at and not respond,” Levin said. “We have every right.” In fact, U.S. forces already return fire across the border when attacked, but NATO partners—Germany to the north; Canada and the UK to the south—do not. Levin said that a tougher response from troops based along the border would help prevent Taliban and Al Qaeda from slipping back and forth so easily, a continuing frustration for the U.S. military.

The other side of that coin is the Pakistani government’s apparent lack of effort to stop the cross-border flow of insurgents and weapons. Levin told reporters that U.S. intelligence agencies have evidence that Pakistani army troops not only give Taliban and Al Qaeda insurgents free passage, they also, in certain cases, have actively aided their military operations—a fact that brings into question continued military aid for the Pakistani regime. The Frontier Corps, in particular, a tribal militia that has become the recipient of millions of dollars in U.S. support, is of suspect loyalty, said Levin. (Read my earlier piece on the Frontier Corps here.) Whether funding for the Corps or other parts of Pakistan’s military will continue depends on whether those forces are being used for their intended purpose, namely to crush Taliban fighters and establish some modicum of government control over the Federally Administered Tribal Areas. “We don’t want to strengthen the Pakistan side if they’re going to misuse the support,” Levin said.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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