Recent headlines in The New York Times and The Washington Post clearly reflect the perversity of US foreign policy in Pakistan. Just about a week ago we have" United States struggles to root out militants in Pakistani madrassa" in The Washington Post. It begins " the CIA has launched more than 100 drone strikes so far this year, but one seemingly obvious target remains conspicuously unscathed." The word 'madrassa' means school. They want to get this school which lies on the Afghan border near the city of Khost. They believe this school is run by the Haqqani network, a terrorist organization tolerated by the Pakistani Government because they don't commit acts of terrorism inside Pakistan. But, the CIA is hesitant to attack because it's a school full of children. Well, good for them! Why are we whining.
The next day, The Washington Post has "Top CIA spy in Pakistan pulled amid threats after public accusation over attack" . It would seem this is a pretty ordinary incident of the pot calling the kettle black. Annoying, but probably not significant except for one tiny detail. According to the New York Times, the top CIA boss in Pakistan was openly accused of ordering drones attacks in Northern Pakistan by a high level ISI General. Though these raids have been an open secret in Pakistan for some time, a high level accusation has made them a legal fact. This has led to the CIA official being sued in civil court by innocent victims of said attacks, along with death threats and other unpleasantness. They expressed the opinion that maybe this occurred because the U.S. Publicly blamed a highly placed Pakistani General for the infamous terrorist attack on Mumbai India a couple of years ago.
Well, you can't blame them for being irritated. The irony is, that the UK is currently holding the one confessed participant in, and likely planner of that event at the behest of the U.S. Government. That man is David Coleman Headley, an American citizen who has confessed to planning and assisting with the implementation of the attack. Headly is a Pakistani American who was a DEA informant for many years. Prior to the Mumbai attacks, the FBI was approached more than once by members of Headley's family who claimed that he was training and terrorist camps in Afghanistan and discussing what appeared to be plans for a terrorist attack. These warnings were ignored despite the fact that Headley was traveling in the region at U.S. expense. According to an article in the November 15 ProPublica online journal, Headley was picked up in the UK due to his involvement in planning another terrorist attack in Germany. The U.S. has refused to allow Headley to be extradited to India on charges related to the Mumbai attack. While their own operative is implicated, they openly blame officials of the Pakistani Intelligence.
Finally, the New York Times has " U.S. military seeks to expand raids and Pakistan". The Obama Administration has already significantly increased drone raids in Pakistan during the last two years. The Times says this action would "escalate military activities inside Pakistan, where the movement of American forces has been largely prohibited". Yet, the CIA perpetrated 53 drone attacks in Pakistan and 2009 and 113 drone attacks in 2010 resulting in the deaths of between 971 and '646 people. Now they want ground forces. For what? This action will expand the open war from Afghanistan into Pakistan. Thus far the United States has used the Pakistani military and such a way is to create an undeclared civil war. But that wasn't good enough.
How will the Pakistani military, government and people respond to an open attack on their sovereignty? What is the point of this new war? After all during this same period The Washington Post tells us " it is U.S. assesses Afghan war, Karzai a question mark?" Well last I heard, Karzai heads up the Afghan government we are there to support. But as the reason for fighting the Iraq war drifted over the course of time, so too the reasons for the occupation of Afghanistan also have changed over time. In fact, they changed enough to support expanding the war into a new country that has been our ally through most of its short existence, and which even now is internally falling into civil war due to the external pressures placed upon it by the U.S. War on Terror. Why? Well, because we can.
Meanwhile, during the same week, the situation in Korea was also boiling over. In an effort to let China know who's in charge in the China Sea, the U.S. Has sent a carrier fleet to support South Korean war games there. North Korea became disturbed by this activity, which was conducted in a disputed region that they claim. In an excessive and retaliatory maneuver, North Korea shelled the small island were a number of soldiers, and a handful of civilians resided, killing a few civilians along with a few South Korean soldiers. This incident escalated through heated words and South Korean insistence that they would continue the war games in that region supported by the U.S. carrier fleet. When Russia brought the incident before the United Nations Security Council in an effort to open a diplomatic channel, their effort was vetoed by the United States. And so the confrontation escalated.
Fortunately, the U.S. Government is not completely insane. In fact, they had sent Bill Richardson, an experienced diplomat familiar with the North Korean government, to keep the lid on while the war games continued. This was a wily strategy indeed. If not entirely insane, this was certainly a risky and ostentatious bit of showmanship. Although Bill Richardson reported significant concessions on the part of the North Koreans while he was there, already it seems clear that little long-term benefit will come from this debacle. The Washington Post carried the headline " North Korea make some gestures towards calm" and the New York Times had " North withholds fire after a South Korean drills". These headlines sound to me like trumpeting a win. But the story sounds more like a setup.
Most recently, today in fact, The Washington Post tells us " Military strength eludes China, which looks overseas for arms". In fact China is buying arms from Russia which may be overseas from us but it's right next door to them, and it's currently an ally and privilege trading partner through the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. It's kind of like Canada buying arms from the U.S.. True, they aren't manufacturing their own weapons. Maybe they're just too busy manufacturing everything we own. And if it isn't clear to you why China might be beefing up their armaments at this time, perhaps you need to read the previous two paragraphs again.
This same week the Iraqi government finally claimed to form a government. First The New York Times gives us "Cleric's Anti-U.S. Forces Poised for Gains in Iraq". They point out that al-Sadr's militia has gone straight and joined politics. Even so, they adamantly oppose the U.S. Forces in Iraq. The Times is concerned that the al-Sadr faction of the government might be strong enough to sway Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. The next day The New York Times tells us that, due to the fragmentation of the Iraqi parliament, al-Maliki is unlikely to be overruled. Better yet, The Washington Post has "Maliki's governing style raises questions about future of Iraq's fragile democracy". They say pranksters put up posters in Baghdad of Mr. al-Maliki that resemble the ones of Saddam Hussein prior to the American occupation. So is it just a disgruntled opposition or are we about to complete the circle in Iraq?
Just a brief note on Palestine. Israel having successfully silenced the opposition, settlement building in East Jerusalem and the West Bank is proceeding apace. The Fatah Government is reduced to the absurdity of declaring statehood and sovereignty over a territory, most of which they don't currently control. Gaza remains under seige. Meanwhile, The New York Times headline this week is "Gaza Mends, but Israelis See Signs of Trouble".
With no significant change in Israeli policies towards Gaza, The Times claims that Gaza is mending from the 2008 Cast Lead assault, while Hamas is once again threatening the peace. What can they mend with no building materials? Six months after nine unarmed civilians were killed by Israeli soldiers while participating in a humanitarian mission bringing supplies to Gaza, Israel is making plans for their next 'war'.