'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Tariq Ali on US Military Intervention in Pakistan 

From TomDispatch:

The decision to make public a presidential order of last July authorizing American strikes inside Pakistan without seeking the approval of the Pakistani government ends a long debate within, and on the periphery of, the Bush administration. Sen. Barack Obama, aware of this ongoing debate during his own long battle with Sen. Hillary Clinton, tried to outflank her by supporting a policy of U.S. strikes into Pakistan. Sen. John McCain and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin have now echoed this view, and so it has become, by consensus, official U.S. policy.

Its effects on Pakistan could be catastrophic, creating a severe crisis within the army and in the country at large. The overwhelming majority of Pakistanis are opposed to the U.S. presence in the region, viewing it as the most serious threat to peace.

Why, then, has the U.S. decided to destabilize a crucial ally? Within Pakistan, some analysts argue that this is a carefully coordinated move to weaken the Pakistani state yet further by creating a crisis that extends way beyond the badlands on the frontier with Afghanistan. Its ultimate aim, they claim, would be the extraction of the Pakistani military's nuclear fangs. If this were the case, it would imply that Washington was indeed determined to break up the Pakistani state, since the country would very simply not survive a disaster on that scale.

In my view, however, the expansion of the war relates far more to the Bush administration's disastrous occupation in Afghanistan. It is hardly a secret that the regime of President Hamid Karzai is becoming more isolated with each passing day, as Taliban guerrillas move ever closer to Kabul.

When in doubt, escalate the war is an old imperial motto.

Consistent with my post last week, I am fearful that Ali is wrong about this. While prominent political figures like Obama are befuddled, incapable of distinquishing between the Taliban, al-Qaeda and local tribal resistance, I am worried about the possibility that there is a neoconservative group that is well aware of the consequences of these measures, and actively encourages them in the hope of destroying the Pakistani state for the perceived geopolitical advantage of the US.

Iraq, Iran, Pakistan . . . all have been problematic from a US perspective because of their varying degrees of independence. Even a client state like Pakistan conducts its own foreign policy in Afghanistan and the Punjab. Have the neoconservatives concluded that a radical destruction of the existing political order is required to render the region complaisant? If so, who will stop them? As with the proposed attack upon Iran, the answer is probably the Pentagon.

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