Friday, May 8, 2009

Thoughts On The War Between The USA And Pakistan

Scrub towers in the distance,
Riders cross the blasted moor
Against the horizon.
Fickle promises of treaty,
Fatal harbingers of war;
Futile orizons…
-- Van Der Graaf Generator: "Arrow"
Signs and omens, suddenly everywhere, tell us war between the USA and Pakistan is imminent.

Chris Floyd has been doing his usual fine job in covering the recent developments and reading the tea leaves. Particularly disappointing is the flow of war propaganda from McClatchy, in the person of Jonathan Landay. McClatchy and Landay were among the few voices of skeptical reason on the national media scene during Bush's pre-Iraq propaganda campaign. But apparently they are now on board with Obama's pre-Pakistan propaganda campaign. Success at last! This must be the change we were hoping for, just as Obama's marketers promised!

As you might expect if you've been paying attention for any of the previous six years, or six decades, all the reasons given for war by US politicians and media types are quite false, and transparently so -- yet no one in the national media can tackle any of them head-on. It's a remarkably dangerous situation, of course: the world's most heavily armed nation is still under a media blackout against certain aspects of reality, just as if Obama's election and inauguration had never happened. Fancy that!

The signs are misleading. War between the US and Pakistan is not imminent. It's ongoing. So far the US has made more than 60 airstrikes against Pakistan using unmanned aircraft, and one commando raid using ground troops and attack helicopters. These attacks have killed more than 700 people, and even the most "optimistic" government reports count only 14 al Qaeda leaders among the dead.

It goes without saying that if any foreign country flew just one bombing mission against the USA, or mounted a single commando raid, it would be regarded as an act of war and treated accordingly. Of course this sort of analysis, putting the shoe on the other foot as it were, is missing from our national political discourse, because in mainstream American political analysis, there is no other shoe; there is no other foot; and anyone who suggests otherwise is promptly banished.

In any case, "imminent" is the wrong word. The war is not imminent. What's imminent is a grave escalation. And the escalation, in my view, is not only imminent but inevitable.

A major, horrific war between the USA and Pakistan is, as I understand it, not only inevitable now; it has been inevitable for many years. I'm quite certain about this. The only question remaining in my mind is: How many is "many"?

If you're with me so far, you may be wondering: How do I know the reasons given for the war are false? And if the reasons are all false, why is the war imminent, much less inevitable? And why has this war been inevitable for many years?

If you'll stay with me for a few more minutes, I'll try to explain. But it's not easy, because we have to untangle a pack of interwoven lies.
Tell me lies
Tell me sweet little lies
-- Fleetwood Mac: "Little Lies"
Depending on which warmongers you listen to, you may be hearing that America must wage war against Pakistan in order to prevent the Taliban from conquering (or at least destabilizing) Pakistan and seizing the country's arsenal of nuclear weapons, and/or to ensure that terrorists can never attack the United States as they did on September 11, 2001, and/or to eliminate the "safe havens" from which "insurgents" are attacking American and NATO forces in Afghanistan, and/or because the Pakistani army hasn't been able to defeat the scourge of terrorism all by itself.

But none of this makes any sense. Pakistan's nuclear weapons are under American control, as they have been since September of 2001. The "loose nukes" scenario, which the war against Pakistan is supposedly designed to prevent, is not only a thoroughly fictional argument, but a thoroughly cynical one as well.

If Pakistan's nukes were not under American control, the Americans wouldn't dream of attacking Pakistan. (If you've been paying attention for any of the previous six years, or six decades, you may recall that the US only attacks countries which have no chance to defend themselves, or to retaliate.)

Furthermore, an all-out attack on Pakistan by the US is more likely to cause fragmentation and destabilization in Pakistan than to bring peace and democracy. (Think of Iraq; think of Afghanistan.) So the idea that an American intervention is necessary to prevent a horrific outcome is equally false, and equally cynical. In fact, a horrific outcome -- fragmentation and destabilization -- is much preferred by the American warmongers, and that's why they're so intent on waging this war. It's really quite simple, once you cut through all the propaganda.

Meanwhile, the only way to ensure that terrorists cannot attack us as they did on 9/11 would be to run a complete and open investigation of the attacks of that day, and who made them possible, and who benefited from them ... and to hold the guilty parties accountable. This has manifestly not been done, and clearly, had it been done, we would be in a much different position today. Significantly, president Obama has no intention of allowing an independent investigation into the so-called "terrorist" attacks, so the official fiction remains in place now and is poised to remain in place forever.

The myths of 9/11, monstrous and murderous though they may be, carve out a space in which all manner of other monstrous and murderous fictions can thrive. And these other lies create an environment in which endless war is inevitable. So it's not easy to answer questions such as: How long has this war been in the cards? Has it in fact been inevitable for "many years"? And what do we mean by "many"? But we do need to try.
"Many" is a word
That only leaves you guessin'
Guessin' 'bout a thing
You really ought to know
-- Led Zeppelin: "Over The Hills And Far Away"
If you take a short-term view, you might say President General Pervez Musharraf signed Pakistan's death warrant in the immediate aftermath of 9/11.

It was all quite simple. George Bush declared the attacks of 9/11, which he and his administration had done so much to enable, "an act of war". Then he blamed it on "terrorists of global reach" and he asked the world's leaders, "Are you with us, or are you with the terrorists?"

Pervez Musharraf, no dummy in situations of this type, said "We're with you!"

Choosing any other option, of course, would have ensured Pakistan's immediate destruction.

But by choosing as he did, Musharraf allied himself with a lie, and made Pakistan complicit in the war crimes and crimes against humanity that were about to unfold in Afghanistan.

The American and NATO invasion and occupation of Afghanistan has sparked the inevitable reaction, from people we know as "terrorists" and "insurgents". Our terminology implies, falsely, that the US and NATO troops and the puppet government they installed and support are there legitimately. But this is not true, or even close to the truth.

In fact, the resistance to American subjugation, no matter what we call it, correctly sees Pakistan both as America's number one ally in an effort to destroy Afghanistan, and as America's primary regional source of logistical and other support. So counter-attacking in Pakistan makes at least some strategic and tactical sense, from the Afghan point of view. Most Americans know little or nothing about any of this. So we guess about the things we really ought to know.

Suppose -- here's that other shoe again -- Russia bombed, invaded and occupied the US, in a campaign based in and supplied from Mexico. Would an American resistance spring up? Would the resistance attack Russian installations in Mexico? Would it also attack Mexican institutions that supported the Russians? One could only hope so.
The shoe's on the other foot now
Bet you're wondering how.
And it's just something you're going through...
You'd better keep your eyes open
-- Graham Parker : "Something You're Going Through"
If only the truth were that simple. The reality is much worse than the hypothetical. Since a semi-plausible rationale exists for Afghan attacks against Pakistan, the Americans in Afghanistan, always eager to foment a little terrorism which then requires a reaction, have been using Afghan proxies to attack Pakistan, according to reports from Asia which you will never read in any American newspaper.

It's no coincidence that spectacular bombings and gory suicide attacks keep happening in Pakistan whenever it seems the government is approaching a condition of peaceful co-existence with the so-called militants who live in the mountains near the border with Afghanistan. Or is it?

It's no coincidence that American forces were moving freely, un-hampered by the usual security precautions, in Islamabad's Marriott Hotel just before the hotel was the site of a spectacular bombing attack. Or is it?

It's no coincidence that Baithulla Mehsud, Pakistan's public enemy number one, who has recently been blamed for virtually everything, and who has made outrageous public threats against the American homeland, eludes the Pakistan security forces whenever they get close to him, while communicating using encryption they cannot crack. Or is it?

It doesn't take a genius to connect these dots. Or does it?
And I have met my destiny
In quite a similar way
The history book on the shelf
Is always repeating itself
-- ABBA: "Waterloo"
A longer-term view of Pakistan's current problem would show that its roots were planted almost exactly 30 years ago. In the mid-70s, Afghanistan had shaken off its long-standing feudal monarchy and was beginning to move in progressive directions. A democratic election had empowered a legitimate, representative government, for the first time in Afghanistan's history, and a new social and economic awakening seemed imminent.

Unfortunately for the people of Afghanistan, these developments provided an opportunity certain Americans had been waiting for. They called their plan "Operation Cyclone" and they implemented it in secret. It involved recruiting the baddest bad-guys they could find in the Muslim world, and bringing them to the US for training in terrorist techniques such as murder and sabotage. Once trained, they were sent to Pakistan, were infiltrated into Afghanistan, and began to wreak havoc.

The new government of Afghanistan -- still trying to figure out how to make social democracy work in an Islamic context -- was not at all prepared to deal with terrorists, and asked the Soviet Union for help with security. The Soviets wanted no part of Afghanistan's problem, but neither could they sit back and watch while terrorists destabilized a neighboring country. And the Afghans kept begging for help.

In December of 1979, six months after "Operation Cyclone" went into effect, the Soviets sent troops to assist the Afghan security services -- just what the Americans had hoped for. Immediately, propaganda organs around the world began to trumpet the "fact" that the Soviets had "invaded" Afghanistan. The terrorists who had been sent to attack Afghanistan now turned their attentions to the Soviet troops, and suddenly what had been an internal security problem became the trigger for a major war.

The war raged for almost a decade, killed more than a million people, and destroyed what little infrastructure there was to destroy in Afghanistan; it also did untold damage to the already-crumbling Soviet Union. This was all to the good, according to American policy-makers.

The USSR was at the time America's most powerful "competitor" in the "grand game" of global domination; its fall was a blessing to those American leaders who had been yearning to become the world's only superpower.

And as for Afghanistan, the experiment with social democracy there could not be allowed to stand, much less succeed, for the same reason that similar experiments cannot be allowed to stand anywhere else in the world that American military power can reach: to preserve the myth that capitalism -- unbridled dog-eat-dog militarized capitalism -- is the only path that can possibly lead to prosperity.

There were other factors involved, to be sure. We shouldn't say anything about Afghan poppies and CIA heroin trafficking. We shouldn't say anything about natural resources or pipeline routes either. To do so would put us off the map -- well beyond the limits imposed on "polite" political analysis and far too close to the reality behind the American occupation of Afghanistan today.

Thirty years ago the Soviet Union was the target, Afghanistan was an expendable battlefield, and Pakistan provided the logistical base. Now the situation is slightly different: China is the target, Afghanistan is the logistical base, and as for Pakistan ...

In terms of the "grand chessboard", one might be tempted to say that turnabout is fair play for Pakistan. Those who do the bully's dirty-work always end up as victims themselves. And what's been happening to Pakistan lately, and what's about to happen to Pakistan in the near-term Obama-driven future, could be seen as blowback: retribution for the crimes Pakistan has committed, in complicity with the Americans, against Afghanistan.

But the "grand game" is simply an abstraction, one that "justifies" mass murder on a horrific scale in defense of dimly perceived "national interests". In reality, we're talking about hundreds of millions of people whose lives are about to be destroyed, or in the process of being destroyed, as the "players" continue to see strategic advantage in the destruction and destabilization of foreign countries.

And -- for the most part, and as always -- the victims, and the soon-to-be victims, have done nothing wrong. They've been trying to live their lives and provide for their families under a repressive government which came to power with American support, and which, for most of the past several decades, has been doing America's bidding. Is it a coincidence that the people of Iraq can say the very same thing?

"Operation Cyclone", which filled Afghanistan with terrorists and planted the roots that grew into both the Taliban and al Qaeda, was started during the presidency of Jimmy Carter. The Carter administration's marketing slogan -- "Human Rights" -- gave it perfect cover for a clandestine program of fomenting terrorism in one country in order to destabilize another. And the chief architect behind the plan, Zbigniew Brzezinski, who was Carter's National Security Advisor, is now one of Barack Obama's inner circle. That's no coincidence, either.

And this, ultimately, is what makes a major escalation of the war between the US and Pakistan inevitable. The Obama administration embodies none of the change we were hoping for. We are still governed by Bush/Clinton retreads, neo-con chicken hawks, friends and agents of Israel, and Wall Street bankers. None of these people see anything wrong with the American imperial project. The destruction of Pakistan is, and always has been, essential to that project. And the movers and shakers don't care how much pain and suffering they cause.

To prevent a disastrous war between the USA and Pakistan, it would be necessary to dismantle the American imperial system, and this -- as we keep seeing over and over and over -- is not about to happen.
We are all on the run
On our knees
The sundial draws a line upon eternity
Across every number.
-- Van Der Graaf Generator: "Arrow"

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