A knuckleball (or “knuckler” for short) is a baseball pitch with an erratic, unpredictable motion.
The pitch is thrown so as to minimize the spin of the ball in flight. This causes vortices over the stitched seams of the baseball during its trajectory, which can cause the pitch to change direction, including corkscrew, mid-flight.
This makes the pitch difficult for batters to hit, but also difficult for pitchers to control. The challenge also extends to the catcher — who must at least attempt to catch the pitch — and the umpire, who must determine whether the pitch was a strike or ball.
The pitcher is current affairs already-tainted with nuclear waste.
And the batter is everybody on the planet.
The catcher and the umpire?
India and Pakistan have never been the best of neighbors, even at the best of times.
And now this on Tuesday from the Christian Science Monitor:
- A series of deadly skirmishes along the India-Pakistan border are endangering the official cease-fire between the two nations, increasing tensions already sparked by a lethal series of terrorist bombings in India last weekend.
The Hindu newspaper reports that Indian military along the Line of Control (LoC), the border that divides Kashmir between India and Pakistan, claimed that they were shelled by Pakistani forces on Wednesday, though no one was injured.
The Telegraph of Calcutta writes that the shelling, the latest in a string of attacks that began earlier this week, has increased pressure on India to respond to Pakistan in kind. Pakistan is also accused of involvement in a series of bombings last weekend in the western city of Ahmedabad.
This entire area — a kind of DMZ — along the above-mentioned LoC has seen all kinds of bloody shit between India and Pakistan since 1947, when they cut loose from the-then defunct UK Empire.
Both sides claim all of Kashmir.
India and Pakistan have been under a cease-fire agreement since 2003 and reportedly gradually been renewing diplomatic ties.
But not really.
According to the CSM piece, on Monday an Indian soldier was killed when some Pakistani GIs crossed over this LoC and got into a verbal disagreement with Indian troops.
India says Pakistan has violated the 2003 cease-fire 20 times without some kind of Indian retaliation.
Although these two nations seem to hate each other and are grappling about all the time, the really big difference here is “the bomb.”
And as just as India and the US is about to finalize a nuclear agreement, Pakistan has popped up wanting the same atomic deal.
Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani has been Washington this week meeting with Decider George, but instead of any niceties, it was an ass chewing.
First, Decider George was annoyed with Gilani about Pakistan’s security apparatus, the dreaded and notorious ISI — Inter Services Intelligence — and how the organization was leaking intell to the Taliban, al-Qaeda, all kinds of other insurgent and nasty groups.
Pakistan’s Defense Minister Ahmad Mukhtar, who was with Gilani, siphoned out some leaks of his own.
From the Australian News:
- Providing details of the tense White House encounter that seems certain to further inflame relations between Islamabad and Washington, Mr Mukhtar said Mr Bush was aware of the “fiasco” surrounding the new Pakistani government’s abortive attempt to assert control over the spy agency.
Pakistan has persistently argued it cannot take effective action against al-Qa’ida and the Taliban unless the US shares with it “actionable intelligence”.
But according to Mr Mukhtar, Mr Bush told the Pakistani Prime Minister that this could not be provided “because certain elements of the ISI are leaking information to the terrorists before they could be hit by the US or Pakistani forces”.
A senior diplomat in Islamabad said yesterday the US president’s comments reinforced what was known to be true.
“Now you have it. No less than the President of the United States saying what we all know, namely, that the ISI is as leaky as a sieve and that its links with the jihadists are such that anything we discuss with them goes straight to al-Qa’ida & co.”
And on the nuclear issue?
No. Negative. Never.
Despite what PM Gilani desires:
- There should be no discrimination. If they want to give such nuclear status to India, we expect the same for Pakistan,” Gilani said in a conversation with Richard N Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, at a meeting jointly organised with the Middle East Institute.
Gilani — who responded to a number of questions from the audience — spoke at length on a variety of issues including terrorism and extremism, Pak-US relations, the economy and the scope of democracy in the country.
According to the Press Trust of India, the US retorted:
- Nicholas Burns, one of the architects of the the Indo-US nuclear deal, feels that Pakistan cannot expect a similar pact, a day after its Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani openly demanded from the US such a deal.
Burns also pressed for the speedy approval of the nuke deal ahead of the IAEA taking up the India-specific safeguards pact tomorrow for approval saying it was “good” for both the countries besides helping strengthen the non-proliferation regime.
“India’s trust, its credibility, the fact that it has promised to create a state-of-the art facility, monitored by the IAEA, to begin a new export control regime in place, because it has not proliferated the nuclear technology, we can’t say that about Pakistan.” said Burns when asked whether the US will offer a nuclear deal with Pakistan on the lines of the Indo-US nuke deal during a panel debate on nuclear agreement at the Brookings Institution.
Neither India or Pakistan will back off each other.
The serious threat here is nuclear.
The two countries have waged three, full-scale wars since 1947, but none have yet to go nuclear.
And they both have the power.
According to the environmental action group, Natural Resources Defense Council, India and Pakistan have the hardware to make an absolute difference in the world:
- It is difficult to determine the actual size and composition of India’s and Pakistan’s nuclear arsenals, but NRDC estimates that both countries have a total of 50 to 75 weapons.
Contrary to the conventional wisdom, we believe India has about 30 to 35 nuclear warheads, slightly fewer than Pakistan, which may have as many as 48.
Both countries have fission weapons, similar to the early designs developed by the United States in the late 1940s and early 1950s.
NRDC estimates their explosive yields are 5 to 25 kilotons (1 kiloton is equivalent to 1,000 tons of TNT). By comparison, the yield of the weapon the United States exploded over Hiroshima was 15 kilotons, while the bomb exploded over Nagasaki was 21 kilotons.
According to a recent NRDC discussion with a senior Pakistani military official, Pakistan’s main nuclear weapons are mounted on missiles. India’s nuclear weapons are reportedly gravity bombs deployed on fighter aircraft.
Unlike the U.S.-Soviet experience, these two countries have a deep-seated hatred of one another and have fought three wars since both countries became independent.
At least part of the current crisis may be seen as Hindu nationalism versus Muslim fundamentalism.
And on that note, we switch to western Pakistan on its border with Afghanistan, where some bad shit has been waging out of control for some time.
The near-seven-year-long stay of US forces in Afghanistan has amounted to just about nothing.
On Thursday from Reuters:
- More foreign fighters are joining the ranks of Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan as militants increasingly cross the border from Pakistan to attack Afghan and Western troops, the Afghan Defence Ministry said on Wednesday.
Afghanistan has kept up a barrage of criticism against neighbour Pakistan in the last three months, accusing Pakistani agents of being behind a string of high-profile attacks and allowing militants sanctuary along the long and porous border.
“The presence of foreign fighters is increasing, and increasingly the operations of the terrorists are led by foreigners,” Defence Ministry spokesman General Mohammad Zaher Azimi told a news conference.
Afghan, NATO and U.S.-led coalition forces are struggling to contain a sharp surge in violence as the traditional summer fighting season gets into full swing.
Already more U.S. troops were killed in Afghanistan in May and June than in Iraq, where there are some four times more American soldiers.
Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. joint chiefs of staff, said this month there were indications that al Qaeda was switching its focus from Iraq back to Afghanistan.
On that, from the Washington Post today comes word Abu Hamza al-Muhajer, the supposedly leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, and several of his minions recently booked for Afghanistan.
And why not?
General David McKiernan, commander of Nato’s International Assistance Security Force (Isaf) in Afghanistan, in an interview with Al Jazeera, expressed frustration at not being able to hit the Taliban in Pakistan.
- “[Violence] largely emanates from tribal sanctuaries across the border in Pakistan that allow the freedom of movement of insurgents into Afghanistan.
“My mandate as a Nato commander stops at the border. … You asked me, is it frustrating that organisations such as the Taliban and al-Qaeda exist in sanctuaries across the border? – Absolutely frustrating.”
“It’s a regional problem. It is a problem for Pakistan and the leadership for Pakistan and it’s a problem for Afghanistan.”
Just like a knuckleball pitch, it will take more than just muscles to connect bat to ball.
Despite military commanders and US presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain, both wanting to create another “surge” of GIs into Afghanistan, the tactic might backfire.
Maybe what’s needed is a new set of operational plans:
- “The war in Afghanistan is irregular warfare,” said the officer, who asked not to be named because he is not authorized to speak to the press. “This requires unconventional forces. As soon as conventional forces greatly outnumber Special Forces in theater, resources are diverted to conventional forces that have the greater need per capita.”
Richard Holbrooke, a top State Department official and ambassador to the United Nations under President Clinton, said he supported an infusion of troops into southern and eastern Afghanistan to deal with the immediate Taliban threat.
“But I would not like to see us take over this war,” Mr. Holbrooke said, because it would retard the development of Afghanistan’s own security forces and spark a hostile reaction among ordinary Afghans.
“We run the real risk of triggering a xenophobic reaction from a people that has resisted outside forces dating back to Alexander the Great.”
Hoyt Wilhelm on the mound in the damn-ass bottom of the ninth.
We be fucked!