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Afghan War Becoming a Bloody Farce

Since last summer, President Obama has publicly doubted whether Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s corruption and incompetence make him a fit partner for our policy goals in Afghanistan. Now, according to Saturday’s New York Times:

“Mr. Karzai (has) lost faith in the Americans and NATO to prevail in Afghanistan.”

Regretfully, both presidents are correct. Neither of them has a national partner in whom he can place any reasonable confidence. The two governments cannot agree on a common fighting strategy. Nor can those facts be materially changed in time to make a difference, given President Obama’s firm commitment to start withdrawing troops no later than the middle of next year.

The current price for staying is approximately one American troop fatality a day (plus several wounded and an undisclosed number of killed and wounded American contract employees). British troops are being killed at the same rate proportional to their troop level. The fatality rate for the remainder of NATO forces (proportionally) is about one-fifth the Anglo-American level of sacrifice.

As these truths become more broadly understood and accepted, I think more Americans — Republicans and Democrats, hawks and doves, liberals and conservatives — will come around to the lamentable conclusion that a continued, substantial U.S. militarily presence inAfghanistan will do no good for the United States or the long-suffering people of Afghanistan.

As the New York Times article Saturday went on to observe regarding Mr. Karzai’s state of mind:

People close to [Karzai] say he began to lose confidence in the Americans last summer, after national elections in which independent monitors determined that nearly one million ballots had been stolen on Mr. Karzai’s behalf. The rift worsened in December, when President Obama announced that he intended to begin reducing the number of American troops by the summer of 2011. ‘Karzai told me that he can’t trust the Americans to fix the situation here,’ said a Western diplomat in Kabul. … He believes they stole his legitimacy during the elections last year. And then they said publicly that they were going to leave.

I made this same point three months ago in this space when I reiterated my call from November for us to get out of Afghanistan:

If we need a credible ‘local partner,’ our local partner needs a reliable, supportive ‘large brother’ (to wit: the United States). But by first hesitating to support Mr. Karzai, then saying we will support him — but only for 18 months, then publicly admonishing him to end the endemic corruption, then leaking the fact that his own brother is a major drug smuggler, we have undermined and infuriated him, without whom we cannot succeed inAfghanistan.

Then this spring, as the toxic relations between Mr. Obama and Mr. Karzai became the subject of newspaper headlines rather than mere diplomatic gossip, Mr. Obama invited Mr. Karzai to the White House to be treated right royal. Fine food and fine words could not undo the fatal damage done to the alliance by the public White House words of the previous year. Mr. Karzai was intent on undoing American policy, and he has succeeded.

The essence of Mr. Obama and Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal’s strategy for counterinsurgency and “population-centric” mini-nation-building was to: (1) Build up allied troop levels quickly, (2) as a first step, drive the Taliban out of Marja, an insignificant town of 60,000 in Helmand province, and set up some governance to demonstrate the feasibility of our “clear, hold and build”strategy , and (3) go on in June to execute the Kandahar Offensive, which would overwhelm and replace the Taliban in their spiritual homeland stronghold. Gen. McChrystal called this the “decisive” battle of the nine-year-old Afghan war. But as early as April, the London Times reported, “Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, threatens to block NATO offensive (in Kandahar).” This entire strategy was premised on inducing Mr. Karzai to let us help him set up minimally competent local governance on which the local people could rely. It was openly said that we would get rid of Mr. Karzai’s powerful mobster brother, Wali, in Kandahar as a necessary precondition for good governance.

But Mr. Karzai, who had lost faith in the U.S., didn’t cooperate. No decent governance could be set up in Marja, where Taliban executions of U.S. friendly locals are being carried out in daylight, in public.

Mr. Karzai has refused to remove his brother, and the White House has moved up the date to judge our success in Afghanistan from June 2011 to December 2010. U.S. Brig. Gen. Frederick B. Hodges, director of operations for southern Afghanistan, told the London Times: “Our mission is to show irreversible momentum by the end of 2010. That’s the clock I’m using.” Gen. McChrystal has shifted hisstrategy away from population-centric nation-building to Special Forces night raids against the Taliban.

Then, last week, Gen. McChrystal begrudgingly announced, “The Kandahar operation (previously scheduled to ramp up in June and largely conclude by August) will unfold more slowly and last longer than the military had planned.” According to British Maj. Gen. Nick Carter, who commands allied forces in Kandahar, “One would hope that by November-time, one is demonstrating positive trends.”

Thomas Paine, during the Revolutionary War, argued in The Crisis that there are serious moments in the life of a country when “to deceive is to destroy; and it is of little consequence, in the conclusion, whether men deceive themselves, or submit, by a kind of mutual consent, to the impositions of each other.”

We are at such a moment in this forlorn war in Afghanistan. Only self-deception can justify the continued sacrifice of our finest young men and women in uniform. Given the two presidents in command and their irreversible dispositions toward this war and each other, failure is virtually inevitable. For a lesson in how wartime allied presidents ought to struggle to work together for victory, consider the Franklin D. Roosevelt/Winston Churchill partnership.

What is not inevitable is the number of American (and allied) troops who must die before failure becomes undeniable.

The Faisal Shahzad Puzzle: Why Is Pakistan’s Civil-Military Leadership Silent?

  • Clinton’s War Threat Should Be Met With Punitive Pakistani Measures
  • If we can’t shoot down CIA drones, why are we spending on our military purchases?

Why did our Ambassador to Washington maintain a strange silence in the immediate aftermath instead of seeking access to Faisal Shahzad? Why did Foreign Minister Qureshi link Shahzad to drone attacks and accept Pakistan’s guilt without evidence? Why Pakistan’s civilian and military leaderships are not questioning the US intent?

Hillary Clinton has once again come into her own true self and issued a direct threat to Pakistan of “severe consequences” if the ‘terror attack’ of Time Square New York City had been successful and found to have definitively originated in Pakistan.

It brings to mind an earlier moment when Hillary, during the course of her unsuccessful bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, had responded to a question on whether she would use tactical nuclear weapons against Pakistan in the context of a terror attack linked to Pakistan and she unhesitatingly declared “yes”. She was also right up there with Bush on the question of the Iraq war until she realised how unpopular it was becoming within her own country. So she is very much in the same mould as Condi Rice.

However, her latest threat has established without an iota of doubt the larger US game plan for Pakistan and the issue is not what the US plans to do so much as what are leadership is doing or not doing to protect itself from this increasingly threatening US agenda.

But first some serious questions that our leadership and our normally verbose Ambassador to Washington should have raised in the immediate aftermath of the Faisal Shahzad episode, which is beginning to look more and more like a deliberately created incident to suck Pakistan into not only doing the US bidding vis a vis North Waziristan but also to provide a scenario which would allow more US forces into the country and move the US further into forcibly taking control of our nuclear assets:

Why should one presume the whole incident was created?

1. How come the explosion did not go off?
2. How come such an easy trail of evidence was laid to track Faisal Shahzad?
3. How come, he confessed to everything so easily and immediately?
4. How come the US immediately, as if already prepared, began demanding permission for more troops into Pakistan?
5. How come the CIA immediately announced more drone attacks on Pakistan?

In other words, things moved in an almost synchronized manner in succession that they had to have been pre-planned.

Why are the US government and media paying no heed to Shahzad’s alleged connection to the Yemeni cleric and to the Taliban’s clear denial of any link to Shahzad?

What is disturbing though is the immediate utterances and silence of the different Pakistani players – apart from the brief but necessary statement from the ISPR that there was no tangible evidence to link Shahzad to Waziristan and the militants there:

First: Why did our Ambassador to Washington maintain a strange silence in the immediate aftermath instead of seeking access to Faisal Shahzad, given that despite being a US citizen his Pakistani links were being played up?

Two: How come Foreign Minister Qureshi immediately declared that Shahzad’s action was in response to the drone attacks, even before Shahzad himself allegedly talked of the disturbing effect of drones? Is there a common script here? Did Qureshi not know that by making such a statement he was accepting Shahzad’s guilt? More important, how did he know the cause unless he had met Shahzad, knew him earlier or had been told by him that this was the reason behind his alleged action?

Three: In a similar vein, Interior Minister also made a similar statement as if Shahzad had been found guilty already.

Four: Why should the father of Shahzad have been arrested? Apparently it was given out that his arrest was to facilitate the FBI team but is it the job of the government to aid and abet the US or to protect its own citizens? It would appear the answer is the former for this government, in which case there is little difference in how this democratic government is treating its citizens and how Musharraf treated Pakistanis.

What is truly disturbing though is the civil and military leadership’s silence on questioning US intent. Why are we allowing the US to threaten us while we continue to entertain their civil, military and intelligence teams/delegations? Why are we not insisting on out investigation team being in Washington if the US can send an FBI team to Pakistan? Why have we not called for a Joint Investigation on the Shahzad issue?

In the aftermath of the Clinton threat, at the very least shouldn’t the Pakistan government suspend cooperation with the US, at least temporarily? Should our ambassador not convey our displeasure at this overt threat? Stoppage of NATO supplies and the downing of a drone will send a clearer message than any apologetic mumblings from the leadership. Finally, is our military prepared to compromise our defence and security, target more Pakistani civilians, simply to do the US bidding and commence a premature and hasty North Waziristan operation?

Incidentally, if the government is unwilling to use the capability its air force has of shooting down drones, as was demonstrated to the PM recently, why are we acquiring such expensive systems? If we cannot or will not fight anyone but are own tribals, we need to review our military expenditures.

In conclusion, it will be worth painting once again the holistic picture that should now be crystal clear even to the most myopic Pakistani, in the light of the Clinton threat. Send in more US troops to destabilise Pakistan; push the military into North Waziristan, stretching its lines of communications and capabilities and aggravating the civil-military divide as well as the dormant ethnic and sectarian fault lines within the institution of the military, thereby undermining its long term cohesiveness; another operation would add to terrorism within Pakistan as will the increased drone attacks in FATA; convince the world that Pakistan is in disarray and there should be international control over its nukes through the UNSC – which effectively would mean US control.

Nor is the US agenda premised only on diplomatic-military tactics. There is a strong economic component also. After all, the IMF factor is not merely coincidental; nor are the new economic managers with strong US/IMF/World Bank connections who have been brought in recently. Add to all this the growing US intrusions already within Pakistan at multiple levels and the picture should become evident that Pakistan is being set up for destruction. What is less clear to some, though not to all, is why our own leadership should be complicit in this destruction?

Dr. Shireen Mazari / Ahmed Qureshi

Apologizing for Faisal Shahzad? Why?

May 11, 2010 1 comment

Apologizing for Faisal Shahzad? Why?

We should not apologize for Faisal Shahzad’s actions — for we have stood against his ilk throughout our adult life, while Lieberman’s kind has financed, armed and trained the antecedents of such bigots.

Senator Joseph Lieberman’s call to violate section 349 (a) (7), of the US Immigration and Nationality Act, smacks of a desire to go back to the days of the Executive Order number 9066.The said order was used by Franklin Roosevelt during the Second World War for internment of the Americans of “Foreign Enemy Ancestry” (AFEAs), predominantly the ethnic Japanese, as many as 122,000 of whom were then held in various government-run camps. Following in the footsteps of Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War, FDR had also suspended the habeas corpus writ.

Title 8, Chapter 12, Sub-chapter III, Part III, Section 1481 of the US Code deals with the potential loss of US nationality by a native-born or naturalised citizen, the voluntary actions leading to such loss and the burden of proof to sustain the charges and the presumptions therein.

Simply put, Section 349(a)(7) states that a person can be stripped of his or her US citizenship for committing any act of treason against, or attempting by force to overthrow, or bearing arms against, the US, or conspiring to conduct any of these actions.

However, there is a glitch here — a constitutional one — that does not suit the expedient agenda of the hate-mongers like Lieberman. The law states that the offender can only be stripped of citizenship “if and when he is convicted thereof by a court martial or by a court of competent jurisdiction”.

And why do Senators Lieberman and McCain despise this hurdle? The answer lies in Section 349 (b), which states: “Whenever the loss of United States nationality is put in issue in any action or proceeding commenced on or after September 26, 1961 under, or by virtue of, the provisions of this chapter or any other Act, the burden shall be upon the person or party claiming that such loss occurred, to establish such claim by a preponderance of the evidence.”

Lieberman’s Bill is completely in sync with the neo-con methodology of prosecuting the war against terror, specifically in the Pak-Afghan theatre, in the ‘wham, bam, thank you ma’am’ manner. They wanted to do it cheaply and got thugs like Ismail Khan and Rashid Dostum to do the donkeywork so the neo-cons could divert the resources to attacking a sovereign Iraq. On the Pakistani side, the action was outsourced to a military dictator and his army. (Dr. Muhammad Taki. Daily Times)

Today–why should American Muslims and Pakistani Muslim take foster parentage of the actions of a demented individual who took the law into his own hands. As American citizens we have worked hard to build a life of ourselves and our families. We have followed the laws of this great nation, and do not feel responsible for the acts of others with which we have no relations with.

Why should I be compelled to condemn the actions of a person who was clearly manipulated by the progeny of the foreign policy failures of the Reagan era. Why should I as a US citizen be asked to refute the blowback from the drone bombings in Waziristan. I have never even visited Waziristan, and learned from a map where it was.
Why is collective guilt being imposed on a people. If a mafia drug lord does horrible things and had visited Italy, is the entire Italian-American community stripped of its nationality or under suspicion? “Irish Car bombs” are still sold in Irish pubs all over America–the sale from these drinks were sent to fund the Irish republican Army. Were the Irish considered under the microscope of the deportation inquisition? Is the loyalty of all African Americans in doubt when OJ Simpson commits a murder. Are all Whites in the US considered traitors when Timoty McVeigh blows up a building in Oklahoma? How many Whites are considered serial cannibalistic if Jeffery Dahmer eats body parts of those that he had murdered?
I am not my brother’s keeper. Why should I be responsible for an apparently insane young man, I have never met in my life.
Senator Lieberman has drifted so far from his roots in the Democratic Party that it is an abomination to see the word “Democrat” linked to his horrid name. The Vice Presidential nominee of the Democratic Party is now digging up Fascist laws from Japanese internment days to threaten 200,000 loyal American citizens.
Senator Lieberman and his ilk need to be sent to the mental asylum.