As we evaluate the first 100 days of the Obama administration, I think, with respect to the issues of war and peace, they are abominable. There is NO EXCUSE for bombing and killing people-- especially when we have a 70 civilians to 1 "enemy" ratio. I am a good old isolationist! Obama should have laid down plans to get us 100% out of Iraq and Afghanistan in the first 100 days. We should be out by now. Instead we are, it seems, going to hang around [McCain's 100 years] with our army in Iraq and Afghanistan forever (the mission is the same we will not use the term "combat troops" anymore for Iraq-- a rose by any other name...).
There is lipstick on something-- the Secretary of State just made a "surprise" visit to Baghdad. Despite all the hoopla about the increased security due to the surge she still has to sneak into Iraq like a thief in the night and get out again lickity split. Some progress.
Now to Pakistan. There is a great image of Nero fiddling (he actually would have used a harp) while Rome burned. It brings to mind Obama's policy of increased use of drones to slaughter women and children in Pakistan in order to "save" Afghanistan. The image here is frolicking on the White House Lawn with a puppy while children are blasted to bits by executive order.
What's worse is this policy is handing Pakistan over to the despicable Taliban on a silver platter. I refer you to the Wall Street Journal of Friday April 24th and its front page story "U.S. Urges Pakistan to Repel Taliban". Pakistan is a country of 170 million people and we are afraid the Taliban is going to take over! Forget Afghanistan-- this will give Mulla Omar THE BOMB, just what we need.
While we "urge" the repelling of the Taliban, Obama's policies of war mongering in the area are catapulting them to power. It seems we never learn anything. Here are just some quotes from the article to show what a desperate situation we are confronting-- all of which would come to an end by just a complete withdrawal from the area. What the hell is the American army doing in the middle of Asia?
Well, there was a democratic election in the country and Asif Ali Zardari won he is "still the DEMOCRATICALLY ELECTED president from a party that that enjoys WIDE POPULARITY in Pakistan." But there is a problem. Zardari isn't popular with the U.S. A U.S. official is quoted: "By and large, Sharif [that is the Islamist Nawaz Sharif who LOST the election] could be in a better position to deliver what the U.S. wants." How to bring this about.
It is clear we want Sharif in charge, so how to upset the election of Zardari and actually put Sharif in charge. We will turn to elements in the Pakistani elite who live off of U.S. moola and get them to change, at the top, the CONSTITUTION of Pakistan to take power away from the President and give it to the Prime Minister, and then make Sharif the PM. The WSJ: "Such a move could serve as a DEMOCRATIC vehicle for Mr. Sharif" to come to power say members of the elite. Nasty things, these elections.
The U.S. has given billions to Pakistan over the years to build up its army. There are 500,000 troops in the Pakistani military. The Taliban is about 7000 strong. That is about 70 soldiers for every 1 Taliban. And what do we read? "There is no guarantee the army would win" if it decided to take on the Taliban.
You have to be in sad shape if you can't lick 7000 militants with an army of 500,000. The chief military spokesman, Gen. Athar Abbas, said, "We need public support to fight militants." And guess what. With a population of 170 million people, the WSJ says: "So far, that has been lacking." Why? "Many poorer Pakistanis [about 90% of the population] find the Taliban's promises of speedy justice [stoning and beheading!] and equality [except for women] attractive." What is the Pakistani ruling class and the U.S. doing to make the godforsaken (if I may use this term) Taliban "attractive"?
It seems that the masses resent the U.S. bombing them and killing 70 civilians per militant. To wipe out the 7000 Taliban the "collateral damage" would be 490,000 civilians. A price the U.S. is apparently willing to pay. Since the 500,000 Pakistani troops are worthless, President Obama has pressured President Zardari to allow an increase in the number of drone attacks the U.S. can carry out in Pakistan.
Well that's the first 100 days on the War and Peace Front. The Domestic Front. That's another ball game altogether. But there is a link. The billions and billions spent on war can't feed hungry children or keep homes from being foreclosed.
Thomas Riggins is the associate editor of PA online.
Thomas Riggins, PhD CUNY, is a retired university lecturer in philosophy and ancient history and the former book review editor for Political Affairs magazine.