Posts Tagged ‘al-Qaida’

Two Wars Don’t Make a Right

September 1, 2010

By Robert Scheer, truthdig.com, Sept 1, 2010

AP Photo/Karim Kadim
An Iraqi man and his wife watch U.S. President Barack Obama’s televised speech in Baghdad, Iraq, on Wednesday.

The carnage is not yet complete, and President Barack Obama’s attempt to put the best face on the ignominious U.S. occupation of Iraq will not hide what he and the rest of the world well know. The lies that empowered George W. Bush to invade Iraq represent an enduring stain on the reputation of American democracy. Our much-vaunted system of checks and balances failed to temper the mendacity of the president who acted like a king and got away with it.

It is utter nonsense for Obama, who in the past has made clear his belief that the Bush administration’s case for this war was a tissue of lies, to now state: “The United States has paid a huge price to put the future of Iraq in the hands of its people.” We paid a huge price simply to assuage the arrogance of a president that was unfettered by the restraints of common sense expected in a functioning democracy. Particularly shameful was the betrayal by the Congress and the mass media of the obligations to challenge a president who exploited post-9/11 fears to go to war with a nation that had nothing whatsoever to do with that attack.

With hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Americans dead and maimed and at a cost of $3 trillion to American taxpayers, the U.S. imperial adventure in Iraq has left that country in a horrible mess, controlled by a corrupt and deeply divided elite that shows no serious inclination to effectively govern. Nor can there be a claim of enhanced U.S. security when the real victors are the ayatollahs of Iran, whose influence in once bitterly hostile Iraq is now immense. The price in shattered lives and dollars will continue, as Iraq remains haunted by ethnic and religious conflict that we did so much to provoke.

Remember when most of the once respected mass media, and not just the obvious lunatics on cable, bought the Bush propaganda that democracy in Iraq, a harbinger of a new Middle East, was just around the corner? They based that absurd expectation on the fact that an Iraqi ayatollah disciple of the ones ruining Iran could order millions of his followers to hold up purple fingers. What a joke we have made of the ideal of representative democracy when Iraq is operating under an incomprehensible constitution, which our proconsul ordered, and is still without a functioning government six months after an election that our media once again dutifully celebrated.

Continues >>

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Paul Craig Roberts: Is Anyone Telling Us The Truth?

January 9, 2010

By Paul Craig Roberts, “ICH”, Jan 8, 2010

What are we to make of the failed Underwear Bomber plot, the Toothpaste, Shampoo, and Bottled Water Bomber plot, and the Shoe Bomber plot? These blundering and implausible plots to bring down an airliner seem far removed from al-Qaida’s expertise in pulling off 9/11.

If we are to believe the U.S. government, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged al-Qaida “mastermind” behind 9/11, outwitted the CIA, the NSA, indeed all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies as well as those of all U.S. allies including Mossad, the National Security Council, NORAD, Air Traffic Control, Airport Security four times on one morning, and Dick Cheney, and with untrained and inexperienced pilots pulled off skilled piloting feats of crashing hijacked airliners into the World Trade Center towers, and the Pentagon, where a battery of state of the art air defenses somehow failed to function.

After such amazing success, al-Qaida would have attracted the best minds in the business, but, instead, it has been reduced to amateur stunts.

The Underwear Bomb plot is being played to the hilt on the TV media and especially on Fox “news.” After reading recently that The Washington Post allowed a lobbyist to write a news story that preached the lobbyist’s interest, I wondered if the manufacturers of full body scanners were behind the heavy coverage of the Underwear Bomber, if not behind the plot itself. In America, everything is for sale. Integrity is gone with the wind.

Recently I read a column by an author who has a “convenience theory” about the Underwear Bomber being a Nigerian allegedly trained by al-Qaida in Yemen. As the U.S. is involved in an undeclared war in Yemen, about which neither the American public nor Congress were informed or consulted, the Underwear Bomb plot provided a convenient excuse for Washington’s new war, regardless of whether it was a real attack or a put-up job.

Once you start to ask yourself about whose agenda is served by events and their news spin, other things come to mind. For example, last July there was a news report that the government in Yemen had disbanded a terrorist cell, which was operating under the supervision of Israeli intelligence services. According to the news report, Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh told Saba news agency that a terrorist cell was arrested and that the case was referred to judicial authorities “for its links with the Israeli intelligence services.”

Could the Underwear Bomber have been one of the Israeli terrorist recruits? Certainly Israel has an interest in keeping the US fully engaged militarily against all potential foes of Israel’s territorial expansion.

The thought brought back memory of my Russian studies at Oxford University where I learned that the Tsar’s secret police set off bombs so that they could blame those whom they wanted to arrest.

I next remembered that Francesco Cossiga, the president of Italy from 1985-1992, revealed the existence of Operation Gladio, a false flag operation under NATO auspices that carried out bombings across Europe in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. The bombings were blamed on communists and were used to discredit communist parties in elections.

An Italian parliamentary investigation unearthed the fact that the attacks were overseen by the CIA. Gladio agent Vincenzo Vinciguerra stated in sworn testimony that the attacks targeted innocent civilians, including women and children, in order “to force the public to turn to the state to ask for greater security.”

What a coincidence. That is exactly what 9/11 succeeded in accomplishing in the U.S.

Among the well-meaning and the gullible in the West, the supposition still exists that government represents the public interest. Political parties keep this myth alive by fighting over which party best represents the public’s interest. In truth, government represents private interests, those of the office holders themselves and those of the lobby groups that finance their political campaigns. The public is in the dark as to the real agendas.

The U.S. and its puppet state allies were led to war in the Middle East and Afghanistan entirely on the basis of lies and deception. Iraqi weapons of mass destruction did not exist and were known by the U.S. and British governments not to exist. Forged documents, such as the “yellowcake documents,” were leaked to newspapers in order to create news reporting that would bring the public along with the government’s war agenda.

Now the same thing is happening in regard to the nonexistent Iranian nuclear weapons program. Forged documents leaked to The Times (London) that indicated Iran was developing a “nuclear trigger” mechanism have been revealed as forgeries.

Who benefits? Clearly, attacking Iran is on the Israeli-U.S. agenda, and someone is creating the “evidence” to support the case, just as the leaked secret “Downing Street Memo” to the British cabinet informed Prime Minister Tony Blair’s government that President Bush had already made the decision to invade Iraq and “the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.”

The willingness of people to believe their rulers and the propaganda ministries that serve the rulers is astonishing. Many Americans believe Iran has a nuclear weapons program despite the unanimous conclusion of 16 U.S. intelligence agencies to the contrary.

Vice President Dick Cheney and the neoconservatives fought hard with limited success to change the CIA’s role from intelligence agency to a political agency that manufactures facts in support of the neoconservative agenda. For the Bush Regime creating “new realities” was more important than knowing the facts.

Recently I read a proposal from a person purporting to favor an independent media that stated that we must save the print media from financial failure with government subsidies. Such a subsidy would complete the subservience of the media to government.

Even in Stalinist Russia, a totalitarian political system where everyone knew that there was no free press, a gullible or intimidated public and Communist Party enabled Joseph Stalin to put the heroes of the Bolshevik Revolution on show trial and execute them as capitalist spies.

In the U.S. we are developing our own show trials. Sheikh Mohammed’s will be a big one. As Chris Hedges recently pointed out, once government uses demonized Muslims to get the new justice (sic) system going, the rest of us will be next.

To find out more about Paul Craig Roberts, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at http://www.creators.com .

Terror is the price of support for despots and dictators

January 7, 2010

Egypt’s complicity in the Gaza’s siege underlines the role of western support for such regimes in the spread of war

Seumas Milne, The Guardian/UK, Jan 7, 2010

An an 85-year-old Holocaust survivor had gone on hunger strike in support of a besieged people in another part of the world, and hundreds of mostly western protesters had been stoned and beaten by police, you can be sure we’d have heard all about it. But because that is what’s been happening in western-backed Egypt, rather than Iran, and the people the protesters are supporting are the Palestinians of Gaza instead of, say, Tibetans, most people in Europe and north America know nothing about it.

For the last fortnight, two groups of hundreds of activists have been battling with Egyptian police and officials to cross into the Gaza Strip to show solidarity with the blockaded population on the first anniversary of Israel’s devastating onslaught. Last night, George Galloway’s Viva Palestina 500-strong convoy of medical aid was finally allowed in, minus 50 of its 200 vehicles, after being repeatedly blocked, diverted and intimidated by Egyptian security – including a violent assault in the Egyptian port of El Arish on Tuesday night which left dozens injured, despite the participation of one British and 10 Turkish MPs.

That followed an attempted “Gaza freedom march” by 1,400 protesters from more than 40 countries, only 84 of whom were allowed across the border – which is what led Hedy Epstein, both of whose parents died in Auschwitz, to refuse food in Cairo, as the group’s demonstrations were violently broken up and Israel’s prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu was feted nearby. Yesterday, demonstrations by Palestinians on the Gazan side of the border against the harassment of the aid convoy led to violent clashes with Egyptian security forces in which an Egyptian soldier was killed and many Palestinians injured.

But although the confrontation has been largely ignored in the west, it has been a major media event in the Middle East which has only damaged Egypt. And while the Egyptian government claims it is simply upholding its national sovereignty, the saga has instead starkly exposed its complicity in the US- and European-backed blockade of Gaza and the collective punishment of its one and a half million people.

The main protagonist of the siege, Israel, controls only three sides of the Strip. Without Egypt, which polices the fourth, it would be ineffective. But, having tolerated the tunnels that have saved Gazans from utter beggary, the Cairo regime is now building a deep underground steel wall – known as the “wall of shame” to many Egyptians – under close US supervision, to make the blockade complete.

That’s partly because the ageing Egyptian dictator, Hosni Mubarak, fears cross-border contamination from Gaza’s elected Hamas administration, whose ideological allies in the banned Muslim Brotherhood would be likely to win free elections in Egypt.

But two other factors seem to have been decisive in convincing Cairo to bend to American and Israeli pressure and close the vice on Gaza’s Palestinians, along with those who support them. The first was a US threat to cut hundreds of millions of dollars of aid unless it cracked down on arms and other smuggling. The second is the need for US acquiescence in the widely expected hereditary succession of Mubarak’s ex-banker son, Gamal, to the presidency. So, far from protecting its sovereignty, the Egyptian government has sold it for continued foreign subsidy and despotic dynastic rule, sacrificing any pretence to its historic role of Arab leadership in the process.

From the wider international perspective, it is precisely this western embrace of repressive and unrepresentative regimes such as Egypt’s, along with unwavering backing for Israel’s occupation and colonisation of Palestinian land, that is at the heart of the crisis in the Middle East and Muslim world.

Decades of oil-hungry backing for despots, from Iran to Oman, Egypt to Saudi Arabia, along with the failure of Arab nationalism to complete the decolonisation of the region, fuelled first the rise of Islamism and then the eruption of al-Qaida-style terror more than a decade ago. But, far from addressing the natural hostility to foreign control of the area and its resources at the centre of the conflict, the disastrous US-led response was to expand the western presence still further, with new and yet more destructive invasions and occupations, in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. And the Bush administration’s brief flirtation with democratisation in client states such as Egypt was quickly abandoned once it became clear who was likely to be elected.

The poisonous logic of this imperial quagmire is now leading inexorably to the spread of war under Barack Obama. Following the failed bomb attack of a Detroit-bound flight on Christmas Day, the US president this week announced two new fronts in the war on terror, faithfully echoed by Gordon Brown: Yemen, where the would-be bomber was allegedly trained; and Somalia, where al-Qaida has also put down roots in the swamp of chronic civil war and social disintegration.

Greater western military intervention in both countries will certainly make the problem worse. In Somalia, it has already done so, after the US-backed Ethiopian invasion of 2006 overthrew the relatively pragmatic Islamic Courts Union and spawned the more extreme, al-Qaida-linked Shabab movement, now in control of large parts of the country. Increased US backing for the unpopular Yemeni government, already facing armed rebellion in the north and the threat of secession from the restive south – which only finally succeeded in forcing out British colonial rule in 1967 – is bound to throw petrol on the flames.

The British prime minister tried this week to claim that the growth of al-Qaida in Yemen and Somalia showed western strategy was “working”, because the escalation of the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan had forced it to look for sanctuaries elsewhere. In reality, it is a measure of the grotesque failure of the entire war on terror. Since its launch in October 2001, al-Qaida has spread from the mountains of Afghanistan across the region, to Iraq, Pakistan, the horn of Africa, and far beyond.

Instead of scaling down the western support for dictatorship and occupation that fuels al-Qaida-style terror, and concentrating resources on police action to counter it, the US and its allies have been drawn inexorably into repeating and extending the monstrosities that sparked it in the first place. It’s the recipe for a war on terror without end.

Here We Go Again

December 3, 2009

by Robert Scheer, TruthDig.com, Dec  2, 2009

It is already a 30-year war begun by one Democratic president, and thanks to the political opportunism of the current commander in chief the Afghanistan war is still without end or logical purpose. President Barack Obama’s own top national security adviser has stated that there are fewer than 100 al-Qaida members in Afghanistan and that they are not capable of launching attacks. What superheroes they must be, then, to require 100,000 U.S. troops to contain them.

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What Lies Beneath the War in Afghanistan

October 12, 2009

by Eric Margolis, Toronto Sun, Oct 11, 2009

Truth is war’s first casualty. The Afghan war’s biggest untruth is, “we’ve got to fight terrorists over there so we don’t have to fight them at home.”Many North Americans still buy this lie because they believe the 9/11 attacks came directly from the Afghanistan-based al-Qaida and Taliban movements.

False. The 9/11 attacks were planned in Germany and Spain, and conducted mainly by U.S.-based Saudis to punish America for supporting Israel.

Taliban, a militant religious, anti-Communist movement of Pashtun tribesmen, was totally surprised by 9/11. Taliban received U.S. aid until May, 2001. The CIA was planning to use Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida to stir up Muslim Uighurs against Chinese rule, and Taliban against Russia’s Central Asian allies.

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Mounting Afghan follies give U.S. a way out

September 19, 2009
By GWYNNE DYER, The Japan Times Online, Sep 16, 2009

Maybe it’s the relatively thin air up on those high plateaus that makes them foolish. First, ballot fraud apparently helped Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who would probably have won the second round in the presidential election in Iran anyway, to win in the first round and avoid a runoff. The incredible voting figures declared by the government triggered huge demonstrations in Iran and gravely undermined the regime’s legitimacy.

Two months later, in next-door Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai did exactly the same thing. All but one of his opponents would have been eliminated in the first round of voting, so his re-election as president in the second round was assured. He had bribed the northern warlords to deliver large blocks of votes to him, and in the south his Pashtun ethnic roots made him the favored candidate among those who dared to vote.

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Lesson of Vietnam Lost in Afghanistan

August 22, 2009

Truthdig, Aug 20, 2009

American troops in Afghanistan
army.mil

U.S. soldiers in 2007 search mountains in the Andar province of Afghanistan for Taliban members and weapons caches.

By Stanley Kutler

On Aug. 17, President Barack Obama made the obligatory presidential pilgrimage to the conclave of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, this time on Sen. John McCain’s home turf. The Phoenix speech, carried live on cable networks, captured a VFW audience often surly and seemingly uninterested in the president’s remarks. But at one point, he predictably brought even his recalcitrant audience to its feet when he made a pitch for his health care proposals: “One thing that reform won’t change is veterans’ health care. No one is going to take away your benefits. That’s the truth.” No doubt.

Away from the convention, the president and his spokespersons spent much of the day backing and filling on health care. Did he or didn’t he favor a public option? How much would “his” package (did he have one?) cost? And what about those “death panels”?

But for the VFW, Obama concentrated on the expanding war in Afghanistan—the war he now proudly asserts as his own. After in effect declaring victory in Iraq to justify the removal of American troops, Obama promised he now would “refocus” our efforts to “win” in Afghanistan. As Obama made abundantly clear in his presidential campaign, this was his war of choice, the one he consistently has said is necessary to eliminate al-Qaida, which had taken refuge in the desolate Afghan mountains.

During the campaign, he seemed at pains to demonstrate he was not the caricatured soft liberal when it came to American military power. Although Obama consistently has admitted, as he did before the VFW in Arizona, that military power alone will not be sufficient, he nevertheless has insisted that his “new strategy” has the clear mission “to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al-Qaida.” Obama knows that defeat of the Taliban is essential to this strategy. “If left unchecked,” he has remarked, the Taliban insurgency will bring “an even larger safe haven from which al-Qaida would plot to kill more Americans.” It is not, he maintains, a “war of choice,” but “a war of necessity.”

In 1991, following the defeat of Saddam Hussein and Iraqi forces in Kuwait, President George H.W. Bush proudly announced that we had “kicked the Vietnam Syndrome.” His successor son, propelled by Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, heady with 2003’s lightning rout of Iraqi forces, believed he had restored the “can do” notions of World War II for the military component of American foreign policy.

The same day President Obama spoke to the VFW, The New York Times carried a dispatch from Afghanistan in which a villager talked about his security and the difference between night and day: “When you [the Americans] leave here, the Taliban will come at night and ask us why we were talking to you,” a villager named Abdul Razzaq said. “If we cooperate [with the U.S.], they would kill us.”

Déjà vu all over again. The U.S. military in Vietnam often announced it had killed a particular number of Viet Cong and had “freed” a village. The Americans left, assuming the enemy had lost control, but at night, of course, the VC returned and reminded villagers of the reality.

Whatever “syndrome” we kicked, Vietnam’s primary lesson remains intact: American power is not without limits, both in terms of defeating an enemy and in terms of its domestic support. The primary lesson of Vietnam seems to be that it is a lesson lost. And now we have some of the same intractable problems in Afghanistan.

Gen. Stanley McChrystal and Special Envoy Richard Holbrooke recently called Vietnam War historian Stanley Karnow for advice. After the conversation, Karnow told the AP that the main lesson to be learned from Vietnam was that “we shouldn’t have been there in the first place.” We apparently don’t know what was said on the other end in Karnow’s talk with the general and the envoy, but McChrystal has asked for more troops.

As Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson expanded the American commitment in Vietnam, their deputies regularly insisted that the insurgency had Chinese support and backing. “Peiping,” as Secretary of State Dean Rusk said in blatantly demeaning the Chinese, was to blame. If the government had had any historians with the courage to speak truth to power, they would have pointed to a millennium of historical enmity between the Chinese and the Vietnamese. As if to prove the point, the Chinese launched war against the victorious Vietnamese in 1975, only to suffer an embarrassing defeat.

The historical lessons for Afghanistan are clear. The British readily acknowledge their defeat. Surely the Russians know that Afghanistan was their Vietnam—with some not-so-covert intervention by the CIA. Afghanistan has been a graveyard for imperial ambitions, however noble and ostensibly good the ventures may have been. Long after the Guns of Health Care Reform are stilled, Afghanistan apparently promises to be with President Obama—and us—for a very long time.

We thought we defeated the Taliban once before; and now it is back again. President Obama believes we must do more to roll back the Taliban. But what can we do with the ethnic and tribal rivalries, the corruption and inefficiency in Kabul, all of which are related to the place of the Taliban? Will the U.S. be able to destroy, everywhere in the country, the Taliban’s grip on power? Does anyone in Obama’s circle ask “why?”

We can ponder the alternative. If successful, the Taliban might offer “an even larger safe haven” for al-Qaida and similar groups. But now, without Taliban control of the Afghanistan government, “safe havens” persist in the mountains of the country and in the northwest provinces of Pakistan. The situation is not much different than it was in 2001, except that the safe area for terrorists may be smaller. But what is different is our intelligence, our use of it, our vigilance and our capacity to strike with sophisticated air weapons.

Americans are questioning the Afghanistan involvement as never before. A Washington Post-ABC Poll, published this week, for the first time showed a majority of Americans opposed to the war. Meanwhile, suicide bombings and other attacks mount in Kabul. U.S. troops can protect the citizenry only sporadically, and with limitations. But inevitably, Americans will ask how long we will remain in Afghanistan, how many troops will be needed, and whether the costs in lives and treasure justify the venture. As with the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese army, chances of our destroying the Taliban are slight. Eventually, the Afghans—Taliban or otherwise—will inherit their land and have to assume responsibility for governing. We, like the British and the Russians before us, will fade into Afghanistan’s history.

Stanley Kutler is the author of “The Wars of Watergate” and other writings.

Who is the CIA allowed to kill?

July 17, 2009

Cheney’s secret assassination program may be terminated, but the U.S. is already carrying out “targeted killings”

By Mark Benjamin | Salon.com, July 17, 2009

News

Dick Cheney

Media reports recently exposed efforts by the Bush administration to create a CIA “assassination squad” so secret that former Vice President Dick Cheney ordered the agency to keep Congress in the dark about it. The Wall Street Journal called it a secret plan to “capture or kill al Qaida operatives”; on Thursday, the Washington Post said the program was about to be activated when CIA director Leon Panetta pulled the plug.

But the blaring headlines, and the buzz in the blogosphere, are not just due to more evidence of the ex-veep’s addiction to executive power and behind-the-scenes machinations. It’s that word “assassinate.” Most observers assume that assassination is specifically proscribed by U.S. policy. Except it isn’t, exactly, and while the secret CIA assassination program canceled by Panetta may never have claimed a victim, the U.S. is already carrying out actions that look nearly exactly like assassinations, and doing so within the guidelines of domestic and international law. The United States has had plenty of legal latitude to carry out targeted killings during the so-called war on terror — and has been exercising that option vigorously for the past eight years.

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Obama’s Policies Making Situation Worse in Afghanistan and Pakistan

May 11, 2009
By Graham E. Fuller | The Huffington Post, May 11, 2009

For all the talk of “smart power,” President Obama is pressing down the same path of failure in Pakistan marked out by George Bush. The realities suggest need for drastic revision of U.S. strategic thinking.

— Military force will not win the day in either Afghanistan or Pakistan; crises have only grown worse under the U.S. military footprint.

— The Taliban represent zealous and largely ignorant mountain Islamists. They are also all ethnic Pashtuns. Most Pashtuns see the Taliban — like them or not — as the primary vehicle for restoration of Pashtun power in Afghanistan, lost in 2001. Pashtuns are also among the most fiercely nationalist, tribalized and xenophobic peoples of the world, united only against the foreign invader. In the end, the Taliban are probably more Pashtun than they are Islamist.

— It is a fantasy to think of ever sealing the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. The “Durand Line” is an arbitrary imperial line drawn through Pashtun tribes on both sides of the border. And there are twice as many Pashtuns in Pakistan as there are in Afghanistan. The struggle of 13 million Afghan Pashtuns has already inflamed Pakistan’s 28 million Pashtuns.

— India is the primary geopolitical threat to Pakistan, not Afghanistan. Pakistan must therefore always maintain Afghanistan as a friendly state. India furthermore is intent upon gaining a serious foothold in Afghanistan — in the intelligence, economic and political arenas — that chills Islamabad.

— Pakistan will therefore never rupture ties or abandon the Pashtuns, in either country, whether radical Islamist or not. Pakistan can never afford to have Pashtuns hostile to Islamabad in control of Kabul, or at home.

— Occupation everywhere creates hatred, as the U.S. is learning. Yet Pashtuns remarkably have not been part of the jihadi movement at the international level, although many are indeed quick to ally themselves at home with al-Qaida against the U.S. military.

— The U.S. had every reason to strike back at the al-Qaida presence in Afghanistan after the outrage of 9/11. The Taliban were furthermore poster children for an incompetent and harsh regime. But the Taliban retreated from, rather than lost, the war in 2001, in order to fight another day. Indeed, one can debate whether it might have been possible — with sustained pressure from Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia and almost all other Muslim countries that viewed the Taliban as primitives — to force the Taliban to yield up al-Qaida over time without war. That debate is in any case now moot. But the consequences of that war are baleful, debilitating and still spreading.

— The situation in Pakistan has gone from bad to worse as a direct consequence of the U.S. war raging on the Afghan border. U.S. policy has now carried the Afghan war over the border into Pakistan with its incursions, drone bombings and assassinations — the classic response to a failure to deal with insurgency in one country. Remember the invasion of Cambodia to save Vietnam?

— The deeply entrenched Islamic and tribal character of Pashtun rule in the Northwest Frontier Province in Pakistan will not be transformed by invasion or war. The task requires probably several generations to start to change the deeply embedded social and psychological character of the area. War induces visceral and atavistic response.

— Pakistan is indeed now beginning to crack under the relentless pressure directly exerted by the U.S. Anti-American impulses in Pakistan are at high pitch, strengthening Islamic radicalism and forcing reluctant acquiescence to it even by non-Islamists.

Only the withdrawal of American and NATO boots on the ground will begin to allow the process of near-frantic emotions to subside within Pakistan, and for the region to start to cool down. Pakistan is experienced in governance and is well able to deal with its own Islamists and tribalists under normal circumstances; until recently, Pakistani Islamists had one of the lowest rates of electoral success in the Muslim world.

But U.S. policies have now driven local nationalism, xenophobia and Islamism to combined fever pitch. As Washington demands that Pakistan redeem failed American policies in Afghanistan, Islamabad can no longer manage its domestic crisis.

The Pakistani army is more than capable of maintaining state power against tribal militias and to defend its own nukes. Only a convulsive nationalist revolutionary spirit could change that — something most Pakistanis do not want. But Washington can still succeed in destabilizing Pakistan if it perpetuates its present hard-line strategies. A new chapter of military rule — not what Pakistan needs — will be the likely result, and even then Islamabad’s basic policies will not change, except at the cosmetic level.

In the end, only moderate Islamists themselves can prevail over the radicals whose main source of legitimacy comes from inciting popular resistance against the external invader. Sadly, U.S. forces and Islamist radicals are now approaching a state of co-dependency.

It would be heartening to see a solid working democracy established in Afghanistan. Or widespread female rights and education — areas where Soviet occupation ironically did rather well. But these changes are not going to happen even within one generation, given the history of social and economic devastation of the country over 30 years.

Al-Qaida’s threat no longer emanates from the caves of the borderlands, but from its symbolism that has long since metastasized to other activists of the Muslim world. Meanwhile, the Pashtuns will fight on for a major national voice in Afghanistan. But few Pashtuns on either side of the border will long maintain a radical and international jihadi perspective once the incitement of the U.S. presence is gone. Nobody on either side of the border really wants it.

What can be done must be consonant with the political culture. Let non-military and neutral international organizations, free of geopolitical taint, take over the binding of Afghan wounds and the building of state structures.

If the past eight years had shown ongoing success, perhaps an alternative case for U.S. policies could be made. But the evidence on the ground demonstrates only continued deterioration and darkening of the prognosis. Will we have more of the same? Or will there be a U.S. recognition that the American presence has now become more the problem than the solution? We do not hear that debate.

Graham E. Fuller is a former CIA station chief in Kabul and a former vice-chair of the CIA’s National Intelligence Council. He is author of numerous books on the Middle East, including The Future of Political Islam.

Why Europe Won’t Fight America’s War

April 13, 2009

By Pat Buchanan | creators.com, April 10, 2009

“No one will say this publicly, but the true fact is we are all talking about our exit strategy from Afghanistan. We are getting out. It may take a couple of years, but we are all looking to get out.”

Thus did a “senior European diplomat” confide to The New York Times during Obama’s trip to Strasbourg.

Europe is bailing out on us. Afghanistan is to be America’s war.

During what the Times called a “fractious meeting,” NATO agreed to send 3,000 troops to provide security during the elections and 2,000 to train Afghan police. Thin gruel beside Obama’s commitment to double U.S. troop levels to 68,000.

Why won’t Europe fight?

Because Europe sees no threat from Afghanistan and no vital interest in a faraway country where NATO Europeans have not fought since the British Empire folded its tent long ago.

Al-Qaida did not attack Europe out of Afghanistan. America was attacked. Because, said Osama bin Laden in his “declaration of war,” America was occupying the sacred soil of Saudi Arabia, choking Muslim Iraq to death and providing Israel with the weapons to repress the Palestinians.

As Europe has no troops in Saudi Arabia, is exiting Iraq and backs a Palestinian state, Europeans figure, they are less likely to be attacked than if they are fighting and killing Muslims in Afghanistan.

Madrid and London were targeted for terror attacks, they believe, because Spain and Britain were George W. Bush’s strongest allies in Iraq. Britain, with a large Pakistani population, must be especially sensitive to U.S. Predator strikes in Pakistan.

Moreover, Europeans have had their fill of war.

In World War I alone, France, Germany and Russia each lost far more men killed than we have lost in all our wars put together. British losses in World War I were greater than America’s losses, North and South, in the Civil War. Her losses in World War II, from a nation with but a third of our population, were equal to ours. Where America ended that war as a superpower and leader of the Free World, Britain ended it bankrupt, broken, bereft of empire, sinking into socialism.

All of Europe’s empires are gone. All her great navies are gone. All her million-man armies are history. Her populations are all aging, shrinking and dying, as millions pour in from former colonies in the Third World to repopulate and Islamize the mother countries.

Because of Europe’s new “diversity,” any war fought in a Muslim land will inflame a large segment of Europe’s urban population.

Finally, NATO Europe knows there is no price to pay for malingering in NATO’s war in Afghanistan.

Europeans know America will take up the slack and do nothing about their refusal to send combat brigades.

For Europeans had us figured out a long time ago.

They sense that we need them more than they need us.

While NATO provides Europe with a security blanket, it provides America with what she cannot live without: a mission, a cause, a meaning to life.

Were the United States, in exasperation, to tell Europe, “We are pulling out of NATO, shutting down our bases and bringing our troops home because we are weary of doing all the heavy lifting, all the fighting and dying for freedom,” what would we do after we had departed and come home?

What would our foreign policy be?

What would be the need for our vaunted military-industrial complex, all those carriers, subs, tanks, and thousands of fighter planes and scores of bombers? What would happen to all the transatlantic conferences on NATO, all the think tanks here and in Europe devoted to allied security issues?

After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the withdrawal of the Red Army from Eastern Europe and the breakup of the Soviet Union, NATO’s mission was accomplished. As Sen. Richard Lugar said, NATO must “go out of area or out of business.”

NATO desperately did not want to go out of business. So, NATO went out of area, into Afghanistan. Now, with victory nowhere in sight, NATO is heading home. Will it go out of business?

Not likely. Too many rice bowls depend on keeping NATO alive.

You don’t give up the March of Dimes headquarters and fund-raising machinery just because Drs. Salk and Sabin found a cure for polio.

Again, one recalls, in those old World War II movies, the invariable scene where two G.I.s are smoking and talking.

“What are you gonna do, Joe, when this is all over?” one would ask.

Years ago, we had the answer.

Joe stayed in the Army. He couldn’t give it up. Soldiering is all he knew. Just like Uncle Sam. We can’t give up NATO because, if we do, we would no longer be the “indispensable nation,” the leader of the Free World.

And, if we’re not that, then who are we? And what would we do?

Patrick Buchanan is the author of the new book “Churchill, Hitler and ‘The Unnecessary War.” To find out more about Patrick Buchanan, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at http://www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2009 CREATORS SYNDICATE INC.


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