Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A Dialogue on Pakistan

" Pakistan has 173 million people and 100 nuclear weapons, an army which is bigger than the American army, and the headquarters of al Qaida sitting in two-thirds of the country which the government does not control,"

Half of the failed states on the list failed because the US tried to impose a regime on them.
In the case of Pakistan by far the largest , the US and its ally are not and have not been on the same wave length, either under Musharraf or Zardari. This results in constant finger pointing. The US says Pakistan is not doing enough, The Pakistanis say the US is using too much force. The difference of opinion with partners is not resolved through consensus but by the US bullying it's partner into submission. Both the US and Pakistan admit that their joint strategy is not working but neither party is coming up with any new thinking.
Contrast this with the other partnership where the partners are on the same wavelength. This is US/Israel. They are equally committed to the use of force and attrition while playing lip service to peace. Even this policy is in tatters, achieving nothing but disaster and an adverse domino effect on the surrounding world.
All US analysts are now saying that the US policy is helping the Taliban, yet the US imagination does not fit comfortably into a non violent policy, other wise Palestine could have been resolved many years ago. The US has now become even more than before the problem and not the solution.
The real issue of the haves and the have nots is not being attended to either inside the US or outside. The have nots are the people of failed states, all two billion of them. Pakistan is about to become the first state where the have nots will try to take matters in their own hands.

You are being logical again. You do realize that just because a course of action would be catastrophic is no guarantee that the US will refrain from following it.

I completely agree that the Pakistanis must resolve their own problems -- and also the Lebanese, as Mirene pointed out in another message. The issue I have is that the solutions that the people choose might not (in fact probably would not) further the US agenda, and this will be stymied.

Let's skip over the centuries of Western colonial divide-and-rule style interference for the moment and assume that left to their own devices humans are smart enough to overcome the history and work together to solve problems. I want to look at a more recent example instead.

George Bush demanded, against much advice, that Palestinians be allowed to hold elections. If it could be taken at face value this is a perfectly fine idea. But wouldn't you know it, those darn Palestinians up and elected the "wrong" people. And we all know what has happened since. And yet the Palestinians are blamed for the fact that they are factionalized and the leadership is ineffectual.

In other words, you may solve your own problems "democratically" if and only if the solution you choose is consistent with US interests. Otherwise there will be hell to pay.

Similarly, what if the Lebanese were to decide to give Hezbollah a ruling majority? I'm not saying whether this would be in their best interests domestically or not, it's just a "what if". Can we safely predict that the US would abide by the will of the people and call and congratulate Nasrullah on his victory?

Or would they demand that Hezbollah first denounce Iran, recognize Israel as a Jewish state, and agree to become a responsible member of the international community -- i.e., abide by Washington's dictates? And failing that would they link up with some Dahlan type to undermine, disunify or outright overthrow the new government?

The Afghan occupation is in my view a perfect example of (delayed) "mission creep". The Bush cabal went in, got a toehold, and quickly turned their attention to Iraq, which was the real target, and forgot about Afghanistan. After a while, as cooler heads had predicted from the outset, the Taliban regrouped and reasserted themselves. This was allowed to fester for several years as the Iraq escapade wasn't exactly going as planned.

When someone finally decided to pay attention to it, they noticed that the FATA in Pakistan was a place where the British-drawn border was treated as non-existent by the resident Pashtuns. Here comes the "Cambodia-Laos" strategy -- just go over the border and kill people.

Well of course this is illegal, and it's no longer possible to conduct aerial bombardment in secret, so low-profile drones are employed instead. But guess what: the drones also kill innocent bystanders along with (or instead of) the intended targets, and this pisses people off. Meanwhile, you muck around in the internal politics of the country pretending to promote "democracy", causing more instability and resentment. Spoon in the pre-existing tensions with India (which has its own lunatic fringe and ethno-religious strife) and pretty soon you have a situation ready to boil over.

Now, what do you think are the chances that the US will step back and let the temperatures cool, or will they panic at the thought that those nukes could wind up in "Islamic fundamentalist" hands and overreact? This was reportedly only narrowly averted several times while Bush and Musharraf were in power; Zardari's government is not able to assure anyone that it has things under control.

This is what I meant by an invasion of Pakistan. Not that the US is looking for an excuse to do this, but may be considering it as a contingency, recognizes that it will be a mess and needs to prepare the public. Or perhaps instead they will get their proxy to do it (India), as they instigated Ethiopia to invade Somalia. That way, if the worst happens and nukes go off (oops), it will only kill the locals instead of US troops and can be blamed on them and not on us.

This sounds appalling, I know that, and Machiavellian in the extreme. But the truth is I can see no discernible difference in substance (as opposed to style) between Bush and Obama; the same militaristic idiots are still running things, and the imperial agenda remains intact. One's expectation ("hope") that Obama would proceed cautiously and non-violently in other parts of the world has not been fulfilled -- in his first week in office he had already authorized several drone attacks in Pakistan. Blood on his hands in his first week in office.

I believe that the people on the ground if left in peace to do this will step back from the brink, as they have done before, because they are simply not suicidal. But I do not expect the US to abandon its bogus "war on terror" or its underlying hegemonic agenda, which it must do if the rage that has been engendered around the world during the past eight years (let alone prior decades) is to truly dissipate. Obama has made clear that he sees "humanitarian intervention" as a legitimate role for the United States, and that he will not do anything to change the selfish, wasteful American way of life if such action would interfere with the priorities of the power interests.


I don't believe a full scale invasion is on the cards. If it were ever to happen, India would be involved and a lot of pre invasion rhetoric would come from India. Part of the reason why the Pak Army will not withdraw it's forces from the Eastern borders is because that is where it expects the attack to come from.
Ironically the enemies of Pakistan are neither to the East or West. Pakistanis are their own worst enemies.While I rail against the unproductive policies of the US which do make matters worse but the problems of Pakistan can only be solved by the Pakistanis.

"I believe that the people on the ground if left in peace to do this will step back from the brink, as they have done before, because they are simply not suicidal. But I do not expect the US to abandon its bogus "war on terror" or its underlying hegemonic agenda, which it must do if the rage that has been engendered around the world during the past eight years (let alone prior decades) is to truly dissipate." Mary Fox

The point you make about the local leadership being helpless in the face of powerful and persistent interference from the US, whether in Pakistan or Lebanon is a valid one. How does one get rid of an Imperial power which wants to control you? Gandhi is given as an example but Gandhi would never have succeeded without World War II weakening the British. The Ayatollah Khomeini is a better example of single handedly dislodging the Shah. Along come the Taliban, with the promise of dislodging the US and not much else. They are certainly not ideal but they may be an example of the wrong people at the right time. Non State actors come alive when the State actors are hijacked by Empire and non State actors do not have the luxury of being nice specially when confronted by a ruthless and all powerful enemy.

You and I and many others are convinced that the Imperial policy of the US is not just bad for Afghanistan, Pakistan and the rest of the Middle East but disastrous for the US. The logic that you accuse me of is rampant in Washington. It does not take into account unintended consequences. The unintended consequences of US Foreign policy are having a bigger impact then the intended consequences. The only difference is that the unintended consequences are shaping a new world in which the US will be thrown out of each of the countries which they covet today. This will not happen before millions of innocent lives are lost or displaced. This will not happen before the US is humiliated as they were in Vietnam as they were by Osama as they were by Khomeni and as they are now being by the Taliban. The increasing rise of non sate actors like Hezbollah is a reaction to corrupt Governments supported by the US. How else do people take matters into their own hands.

Obama is our chosen person to get us out of an immoral, unjust and criminal policy. While the writing is on the wall that even he may not be up to it, we have to give him more time than a 100 days. At the same time we have to start getting more active to let him know where we stand.

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