Saturday, July 21, 2007

Problems In Pakistan

Our best friend forever in Pakistan, President/General Pervez Musharraf, is facing some serious turmoil in that country. The violence has extended from the tribal territories into the major cities, and Mr. Muscharraf's control is getting shakier by the day. An op-ed piece published July 21, 2007 in Pakistan's The Daily Jang indicates the general belief that the president of Pakistan should have chosen his friends more wisely.

Pakistan's tribal belt is under fire again, just two weeks after General Musharraf received Pakistan and a U.S. intelligence reports indicating that al-Qaeda is gaining a stronghold there.

The picture that the U.S. report paints is so extreme, that journalists are asking the Bush Administration why the United States isn't sending troops into the tribal areas as it did to Iraq. The government has refuted the U.S. report, but given that its own reports also show a resurgence of pro-Taliban forces, it hasn't a leg to stand on. The real question really is, haven't the Bush Administration and U.S. intellectuals learned anything from Iraq?

Repeatedly asking Pakistan's government to launch military operations or sending U.S. troops into the area will do nothing to eliminate anti-American sentiment there, and it's clear that the strategy of force adopted after September 11 has made the region more vulnerable than ever. Afghanistan is hardly stable and Iraq is major tragedy, where death tolls of 100 a day have become routine. And the proxy war that the Pakistan Army has been fighting against its own people on behalf of the United States is failing. ...

Suicide bombing, which is now a routine matter, didn't exist in Pakistan before September 11. At the same time there has been an extreme polarization within society due to the war on terror, which could be a prelude to secular and religious civil unrest in Pakistan. Before the United States even contemplates attacking another country or part of a country (i.e., Pakistan's tribal areas), it must demonstrate how past interventions in the name of war on terror have reduced the terrorist threat.

The question is simple: what would the objective be of such military operations in the tribal areas? If the objective is to reduce jihadi sentiment in the area, clearly the strategy of force is not working. For over four years now, the Pakistani military has undertaken operations in the area, and now both Pakistani and American intelligence claims that the concentration of pro-Taliban forces is at a high point. If force is the answer, then why has it failed to deliver?
[Emphasis added]

Clearly the use of force has had no effect on terrorism. Reports here and abroad make it clear that the US (and other countries who were foolish enough to sign on with the US in these excellent adventures) are less safe from Al Qaeda style attacks than we were before 9/11. The ranks of jihadists have been swelled by young and not so young, poor and not so poor Muslims because the US policy is seen as anti-Islam, not anti-terror. Given the US's stance in the Israel-Palestine issue, it is difficult to fault that logic, but the logic becomes even more plausible as Afghanistan and Iraq continue to go up in flames and the White House continues to shake its sabres at Iran and Syria.

It will take decades to sort this mess out, just like every other mess George W. Bush has made since taking office. I doubt I will live long enough to see that.

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Anonymous Nora said...

Of course the use of military force doesn't reduce terrorism, but when you only have a hammer and don't know how to use any other tools, and you proclaim loudly that any other tools are only for "pussies," then everything looks like a nail, and you end up hammering bombs that explode in your face. That's the Bush Administration, and we can't get them out of office soon enough.

6:28 AM  

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