Sunday, December 30, 2007

What A Coincidence

The assassination of Benazir Bhutto has pushed Pakistan even closer to chaos than it was when President Pervez Musharraf declared a national emergency, suspended the Constitution, and jailed most of his nation's Supreme Court. As I noted earlier today, the US meddling in Pakistan played a large part in the current unrest in Pakistan. Now, with conditions rapidly deteriorating, comes news that the US will try to "fix" the situation in the only way the current administration knows how. It's planning on sending troops into Pakistan.

There are several possible justifications which are being floated for such a move. First, Al Qaeda and the Taliban are gaining strength inside of Pakistan, and the Pakistani military either can't or won't do anything to curb that strength. Second (and closely allied with the first), Pakistan has a full blown nuclear weapon system which can deliver those weapons in several different ways. Nobody (especially India) wants those weapons in the hands of extremists.

Amazingly, very little has been said about the plans to send in the military in the US press. Journalists outside of the US, however, haven't been so reticent. The different "takes" on the plan are pretty reflective of each of the justifications.

The first article is from Pakistan's The Nation and was published December 27, 2007. It is based in part on a rather ambigous reference to a Washington Post article, but, given the language of the Nation piece, I think it safe to assume that this is the article alluded to. In my opinion, this reflects the "official" US view.

EARLY next year, US special forces are expected to vastly expand their presence in Pakistan, as part of an effort to train and support indigenous counter-insurgency forces and clandestine counter-terrorism units, according to American defence officials involved with the planning, reports Washington Post.

These Pakistan-centric operations will mark a shift for the US military and for US-Pakistan relations. In the aftermath of Sept 11, the US used Pakistani bases to stage movements into Afghanistan. Yet once the US deposed the Taliban government and established its main operating base at Bagram, north of Kabul, US forces left Pakistan almost entirely. Since then, Pakistan has restricted US involvement in cross-border military operations as well as paramilitary operations on its soil.
[Emphasis added]

The second article was published December 28, 2007 in the UK's Guardian and might very well be a more accurate representation of the thinking in Washington.

The Pentagon is working on a series of contingency plans to prevent Pakistan's nuclear arsenal falling into the hands of Islamist radicals and insisted today that the arsenal was safe in spite of the upheaval in the aftermath of the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. ...

The US administration has spent $100 million (£50 million) over the last six years on improving the security of Pakistan's nuclear programme.
One of the contingency plans would involve US special forces, working in conjunction with Pakistan's military and intelligence services, to spirit away any weapons at imminent risk.
[Emphasis added]

Since Pakistan has apparently agreed to the entrance of special forces inside its borders, I suppose the actual reason is unimportant. What is important, however, is the fact that American troops will be positioned in yet another country as a means to correct a defective foreign policy. Whether their presence will prevent all hell from breaking loose is debateable. What is not debateable is that this administration's foreign policy has been a disaster for the US and for the world.

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Anonymous William deB. Mills said...

Here we go again!

Washington’s approach to the Islamic world seems to be military force (vis-à-vis Iraq, Somalia, Hamas); military dictatorship (vis-à-vis Pakistan, Israeli control over Palestine); and no compromise (vis-à-vis Hezballah, Hamas, Islamic Courts Union, Iran). Is this approach working or do we need a fundamentally different way of behaving toward the world?

War may be an effective short-term solution to a precisely defined problem (killing a dictator, acquiring resources), but the military campaign tends to be the cheap part if a long-term solution is to be found. Even if the goal is just to avoid having a dangerous dictator, war to remove him is likely to set up conditions conducive to the rise of another dictator. If the goal is to acquire resources, war is likely to create conditions that will hinder the exploitation of those resources (Iraqi oil remains well below pre-invasion production levels; Afghanistan remains too violent for the long-anticipated oil pipeline from Central Asia; Somali oil exploration rights have been held unused by Western corporations for nearly a generation).

If an organization exists that wants to create a war of civilizations between Islam and the West, then it will thrive in Moslem societies that have been wrecked and perceive the West to be responsible. A vacuum exists in such societies – a solution vacuum, a social services vacuum, a security vacuum. If these vacuums are not filled by responsible, caring government, they will be filled by extremists. War just makes the vacuums larger and more vulnerable to extremist pressure.

In the modern, highly connected, and highly ideological world, war between the West and Moslem societies aggravates the problems Western proponents of violence claim to be resolving. War breeds extremism.

6:20 PM  
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