by Alan Gilbert
The US just murdered 25 Pakistani soldiers. I asked students yesterday morning, what happened in Pakistan? One finally said: they withdrew permission for an air force base. It was a drone base, I suggested, linked to the killing of Pakistani civilians (last week, drones murder 6 children between ages 4 and 12 in Afghanistan – see here.)
But in reaction to what did they do this? Most were silent. Finally, another student pointed out that 25 soldiers had been murdered.
This was a political science class at Metropolitan State College. We are discussing King’s A Time to Break Silence on Vietnam and Andrew Bacevich’s The Limits of Power. This atrocity is highly relevant to the class, making it, unfortunately, today’s news.
I suggested to them that they didn’t know, not because they wouldn’t be interested, but because the corporate media, part of the war complex (the military-industrial-financial- Congressional-media-“intelligence”- think tank/academic complex with foreign components like the Egyptian military through the vast network of US military “aid” and bases abroad) will not cover or when forced to cover, name American crimes. The students I teach at Metro are the multi-racial citizens of America and its future. The corporate media is thus remarkably anti-democratic…
Imagine if 24 American soldiers had been murdered at Fort Hood by Chinese drones. Every politician would be up in arms about it. The US would probably go to war in self-defense. Ron Paul, to his credit, has actually been saying this, but of course the media will not cover these statements (or at best as in Gail Collins’ report on Paul’s candidacy Saturday in the Times, dances around them. But Paul’s words were the best thing in her article.)*
Imran Khan, the great cricket player and opposition leader, spoke to a large crowd Saturday afternoon of how the alliance with the United States leads to the murder of Pakistani civilians through drones – the Pakistan government has begged the US not to use drones, but to no avail. The Pakistanis have been co-opted into a war, he suggests, for another power, one that does not involve them [one which actually spurs the Taliban in Pakistan]. And now their soldiers are murdered.
General Ashfaq Pervaz Kayani, the head of the armed forces, spoke to the funeral gathering. He has demanded the withdrawal of the drone base. The alliance was already riven and Pakistan is now very shaky as an American ally. The likelihood is that the opposition will come to power, and even if not, that the government will turn increasingly hostile. Obama’s policies kill large numbers of ordinary Pakistanis including children. Ordinary Pakistanis, I am afraid rightly, increasingly hate the United States. The inanity of Roger Cohen’s op-ed piece below in the on-line New York Times is revealed here. A policy of depraved murder of children is not the same as war, but only a war criminal or a sycophant of war criminals (sadly, a good rough definition of a member of the American establishment) would shrug it off, apologize for it. See also Greenwald here.
The US has leaked that the Pakistani soldiers, near the Afghanistan border, fired on American troops. The murders were just “self-defense.” But the US wages aggression in Pakistan – the drones, these murders – without any declaration of war and with a curtain of secrecy (denying the drone strikes, which the Pakistan government has said, have killed some 30,000 civilians – cut it to a tenth and it still is a horror). Had the Pakistanis fired on the US, they would have been but defending themselves. This is whitewashing for the American media, and nothing more.
And of course, one knows how many times the Pentagon has told the truth about such matters in the past. And the Obama administration generally hides drones and its illegal and immoral operations in Pakistan under a veil of secrecy.
Why is the United States involved in this long, losing occupation of Afghanistan and war against Pakistan? The ostensible reason is to get Al-Qaida. But CIA estimates were that there were fewer than 100 Al-Qaida operatives in Afghanistan when the Obama administration was reviewing the policy (before sending 30,000 troops and secretly 70, 000 Xe/Blackwater mercenaries). Apparently, <a href="”>according to Greenwald’s report yesterday morning here, there are 2 Al-Qaida leaders that the CIA knows of in both countries…
Note that the Joint Special Operations Command – a large, secretive, murderous branch of the US military, 25,000 troops, which now overshadows the CIA and the intelligence services – took out Osama Bin Laden under Obama’s orders with no use of drones, no civilian casualties, no murders of soldiers.
So why does the US keep at these horrific and counterproductive wars, declared and undeclared? What does all this murder and expense accomplish except to create more people who hate the United States justifiably (there is nothing akin to killing innocent members of people’s families, particularly children…) and as an outlier, more who would fight the United States. These wars are part of a cycle to justify the war complex’s militarism, and this is, one suspects, a leading incentive to wage them.
But one might also include the reactionary two-step of so-called party competition – Gore Vidal’s crack that America has one party with two right-wings often seems apt. “Republican”/authoritarians move always to the Right, dragging the Democrats with them (short of mass movements from below) and attack Obama for breathing…
In addition, General Wesley Clark gave a talk at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco in 2007 in which he speaks of the neoconservative “Policy coup” in the Pentagon (Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld) and the Bush administration following 9-11. See here. He had written a book on the bombing campaign in Kosovo, questioning its wisdom. Rumsfeld had spoken with him, said he read the book, and that nothing would restrict US bombing. Clark thanked Rumsfeld for reading the book, said “and” to speak on the issue. Rumsfeld cut him off and dismissed him.
But an officer summoned him to his office and told him the US planned to attack Iraq. “Why?” Clark asked,” Have they connected Saddam to Osama Bin Laden?”
“No,” the officer said, and shook his head, “We have no idea.”
Clark returned to the Pentagon some weeks later. He said to the same officer he was glad the US had attacked Afghanistan and not Iraq. But the officer said “it’s much worse” He then showed Clark a note from Secretary Rumsfeld indicating the US would wage aggression against 7 more countries and overthrow their governments in the next five years (Iraq, Libya, Syria, Lebanon, Somalia, Sudan, Iran).
The US of course, got bogged down in Iraq and so did not proceed with the others.
This is a plan for aggression and Clark’s testimony underlines a Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeldsmoking gun worthy of Hitler and Himmler. Under Article 2, section 4 of the United Nations charter which bars aggression, this indicates – it is all too clear with Iraq – that outside and against international and American law, the US planned the crime of aggression to replace governments it disliked (Article 6, section 2 of the Constitution makes treaties signed by the United States the highest law of the land). None of this was authorized under the Congressional measure on the use of force against Al-Qaida and countries which sheltered specifically that organization.
Further, the think tank experts in Washington, Democratic as well as Repubican (neocon), are a fraternity who get “face-time” on television for urging war. That was Leslie Gelb’s self-critical assessment in Foreign Affairs about how he could have supported, mindlessly , the lies about Iraq. Gelb was the head of the Council on foreign relations.
Democratic “experts” helped shape Obama’s policy in Pakistan which relies on drones and murders many civilians (even the Pakistan Taliban is not our direct “enemy”: we have not declared war on it; it has no relationship to Al-Qaida; so killing its leaders like the Mehsud brothers, if indeed the US government has, is not an obvious way of trying to quell revolt or encourage it to focus on some other target than the US…). They bay for war continuously.
Note as Greenwald says, that Obama has engaged in war with Libya this year. He has so far avoided bombing Natanz in Iran (and so far Netanyahu has not engaged in this immense crime as well as act of self-destruction), but his covert operations are killing Iranians, including nuclear scientists (innocents). Even Cohen below weakly notes this. Much of the neo-con policy though through less war-like measures has thus continued even though at a different pace and with more emphasis on coalitions and less US involvement. It is, however, hard not to see Obama’s approach as something of an improvement (the truth in Cohen’s column), even though the reliance on militarism and secrecy may ultimately prove fatal for the US and much of the world. See Peter Singer on drones here (h/t Amy Eckert) and add to his account, mercenaries whom Obama now ships out more frequently than regular soldiers.
Of course, Obama is waging aggression in Pakistan, something beyond what the neocons had imagined (yet another war). And this is the worst, most bizarre, immoral and counterproductive policy of his administration, one very likely to create a hostile nuclear armed Pakistan in rivalry with the now American ally, nuclear armed India.
The unintended consequences of American militarism could thus contribute to fomenting nuclear war in the next period between these two powers (as could American policy, particularly if strengthened by the mad Republicans, Ron Paul excepted, toward Israel**). See here on Badshah Khan and the nonviolent effort to create a different kind of India.
What we need is a clear focus on militarism as a policy of the 1%. Americans need to know about these crimes done in our name and to oppose the grotesque and stupid policies to which militarism gives rise (already 66% of Americans want the US military out of Afghanistan, in this epoch of economic collapse, destruction of the middle class; on making war, our “democracy” is not very democratic…). But the issue of making American peaceful, redirecting resources from militarism to education, training for the jobs of a green economy, health care and pensions, restoring decent working conditions for all and the possibility of a middle class lifestyle for many is very important. The Herbert Gans column on “superfluous labor” from the New York Times, the most interesting column on America’s future published in recent times in the mainstream press, makes important suggestions about sharing employment and a 30 hour work week. See here.
But we must start from recognition that the slaughter of 25 Pakistani soldiers – innocents – by the US government is a crime and a foreshadowing of deeper ones, unless prevented from below, to come.