FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

“Get Us Bin Laden” Order from Bush Could Spark Pakistani Army Mutiny

by Tariq Ali

On a trip to Pakistan a few years ago I was talking to an ex-General about the militant Islamist groups in the region. I asked him why these people, who had happily accepted funds and weapons from the United States throughout the Cold War, had become violently anti-American overnight. He explained that they were not alone. Many Pakistan officers who had served the US loyally from 1951 onwards felt humiliated by Washington’s indifference.

‘Pakistan was the condom the Americans needed to enter Afghanistan’, he said. ‘We’ve served our purpose and they think we can be just flushed down the toilet.’ The old condom is being fished out for use once again, but will it work? The new ‘coalition against terrorism’ needs the services of the Pakistan Army, but General Musharraf will have to be extremely cautious. An over-commitment to Washington could lead to a civil war in Pakistan and split the Armed Forces. A great deal has changed over the last two decades, but the ironies of history continue to multiply.

In Pakistan itself, Islamism derived its strength from state patronage rather than popular support. The ascendancy of religious fundamentalism is the legacy of a previous military dictator, General Zia-ul-Haq who received solid backing from Washington and London throughout his 11 years as dictator.

It was during his rule (1977-89) that a network of madrassahs (religious boarding schools), funded by the Saudi regime, were created.

The children, who were later sent to fight as Mujahedeen in Afghanistan, were taught to banish all doubt. The only truth was divine truth. Anyone who rebelled against the imam rebelled against Allah. The madrassahs had only one aim: the production of deracinated fanatics in the name of a bleak Islamic cosmpolitanism. The primers taught that the Urdu letter jeem stood for ‘jihad’; tay for ‘tope'(cannon), kaaf for Kalashnikov and khay for khoon (blood).

2500 madrassahs produced a crop of 225,000 fanatics ready to kill and die for their faith when asked to do so by their religious leadersDespatched across the border by the Pakistan Army, they were hurled into battle against other Muslims they were told were not true Muslims. The Taliban creed is an ultra-sectarian strain, inspired by the Wahhabi sect that rules Saudi Arabia. The severity of the Afghan mullahs has been denounced by Sunni clerics at al-Azhar in Cairo and Shi-ite theologians in Qom as a disgrace to the Prophet.

The Taliban could not, however, have captured Kabul on their own via an excess of religious zeal. They were armed and commanded by ‘volunteers’ from the Pakistan Army. If Islamabad decided to pull the plug, the Taliban could be dislodged, but not without serious problems. The victory in Kabul counts as the Pakistani Army’s only triumph. . To this day,the former US Secretary of State, Zbigniew Brezinski remains recalcitrant: ‘What was more important in the world view of history?’ he asks with more than a touch of irritation, ‘the Taliban or the fall of the Soviet Empire? A few stirred-up Muslims or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the Cold War?’

If Holywood rules necessitate a short, sharp war against the new enemy, the American Caesar would be best-advised not to insist on Pakistani legions. The consequences could be dire: a brutal and vicious civil war creating more bitterness and encouraging more acts of individual terrorism. Islamabad will do everything to prevent a military expedition to Afghanistan. For one thing there are Pakistani soldiers, pilots and officers present in Kabul, Bagram and other bases. What will be their orders this time and will they obey them? Much more likely is that Ossama Bin Laden will be sacrificed in the interests of the greater cause and his body dead or alive will be handed over to his former employers in Washington. But will that be enough?

The only real solution is a political one. It requires removing the causes that create the discontent. It is despair that feeds fanaticism and it is a result of Washington’s policies in the Middle East and elsewhere. The orthodox casuistry among loyal factotums, columnists and courtiers of the Washington regime is symbolised by Tony Blair’s Personal Assistant for Foreign Affairs, ex-diplomat Robert Cooper, who writes quite openly: ‘We need to get used to the idea of double standards’.

The underlying maxim of this cynicism is: we will punish the crimes of our enemies and reward the crimes of our friends. Isn’t that at least preferable to universal impunity? To this the answer is simple: ‘punishment’ along these lines does not reduce but breeds criminality, by those who wield it. The Gulf and Balkan Wars were copy-book examples of the moral blank cheque of a selective vigilantism. Israel can defy UN resolutions with impunity, India can tyrannise Kashmir, Russia can destroy Groszny, but it is Iraq which has to be punished and it is the Palestinians who continue to suffer.

Cooper continues: ‘Advice to post-modern states: accept that intervention in the pre-modern is going to be a fact of life. Such interventions may not solve problems, but they may salve the conscience. And they are not necessarily the worse for that’ Try explaining that to the survivors in New York and Washington.

The United States is whipping itself into a frenzy. Its ideologues talk of this as an attack on ‘civilization’, but what kind of civilization is it that thinks in terms of blood-revenge. For the last sixty years and more the United States has toppled democrat leaders, bombed countries in three continents, used nuclear weapons against Japanese civilians, but never knew what it felt like to have your own cities under attack. Now they know.

To the victims of the attack and their relatives one can offer our deep sympathy as one does to people who the US government has victimised. But to accept that somehow an American life is worth more than that of a Rwandan, a Yugoslav, a Vietnamese, a Korean, a Japanese, a Palestinian…that is unacceptable. CP

Tariq Ali is the author of The Obama Syndrome (Verso).

More articles by:
June 29, 2016
Diana Johnstone
European Unification Divides Europeans: How Forcing People Together Tears Them Apart
Andrew Smolski
To My Less-Evilism Haters: A Rejoinder to Halle and Chomsky
Jeffrey St. Clair
Noam Chomsky, John Halle and a Confederacy of Lampreys: a Note on Lesser Evil Voting
David Rosen
Birth-Control Wars: Two Centuries of Struggle
Sheldon Richman
Brexit: What Kind of Dependence Now?
Yves Engler
“Canadian” Corporate Capitalism
Lawrence Davidson
Return to the Gilded Age: Paul Ryan’s Deregulated Dystopia
Priti Gulati Cox
All That Glitters is Feardom: Whatever Happens, Don’t Blame Jill Stein
Franklin Lamb
About the Accusation that Syrian and Russian Troops are Looting Palmyra
Binoy Kampmark
Texas, Abortion and the US Supreme Court
Anhvinh Doanvo
Justice Thomas’s Abortion Dissent Tolerates Discrimination
Victor Grossman
Brexit Pro and Con: the View From Germany
Manuel E. Yepe
Brazil: the Southern Giant Will Have to Fight
Rivera Sun
The Nonviolent History of American Independence
Adjoa Agyeiwaa
Is Western Aid Destroying Nigeria’s Future?
Jesse Jackson
What Clinton Should Learn From Brexit
Mel Gurtov
Is Brexit the End of the World?
June 28, 2016
Jonathan Cook
The Neoliberal Prison: Brexit Hysteria and the Liberal Mind
Paul Street
Bernie, Bakken, and Electoral Delusion: Letting Rich Guys Ruin Iowa and the World
Anthony DiMaggio
Fatally Flawed: the Bi-Partisan Travesty of American Health Care Reform
Mike King
The “Free State of Jones” in Trump’s America: Freedom Beyond White Imagination
Antonis Vradis
Stop Shedding Tears for the EU Monster: Brexit, the View From the Peloponnese
Omar Kassem
The End of the Atlantic Project: Slamming the Brakes on the Neoliberal Order
Binoy Kampmark
Brexit and the Neoliberal Revolt Against Jeremy Corbyn
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Alabama Democratic Primary Proves New York Times’ Nate Cohn Wrong about Exit Polling
Ruth Hopkins
Save Bear Butte: Mecca of the Lakota
Celestino Gusmao
Time to End Impunity for Suharto’’s Crimes in Indonesia and Timor-Leste
Thomas Knapp
SCOTUS: Amply Serving Law Enforcement’s Interests versus Society’s
Manuel E. Yepe
Capitalism is the Opposite of Democracy
Winslow Myers
Up Against the Wall
Chris Ernesto
Bernie’s “Political Revolution” = Vote for Clinton and the Neocons
Stephanie Van Hook
The Time for Silence is Over
Ajamu Nangwaya
Toronto’s Bathhouse Raids: Racialized, Queer Solidarity and Police Violence
June 27, 2016
Robin Hahnel
Brexit: Establishment Freak Out
James Bradley
Omar’s Motive
Gregory Wilpert – Michael Hudson
How Western Military Interventions Shaped the Brexit Vote
Leonard Peltier
41 Years Since Jumping Bull (But 500 Years of Trauma)
Rev. William Alberts
Orlando: the Latest Victim of Radicalizing American Imperialism
Patrick Cockburn
Brexiteers Have Much in Common With Arab Spring Protesters
Franklin Lamb
How 100 Syrians, 200 Russians and 11 Dogs Out-Witted ISIS and Saved Palmyra
John Grant
Omar Mateen: The Answers are All Around Us
Dean Baker
In the Wake of Brexit Will the EU Finally Turn Away From Austerity?
Ralph Nader
The IRS and the Self-Minimization of Congressman Jason Chaffetz
Johan Galtung
Goodbye UK, Goodbye Great Britain: What Next?
Martha Pskowski
Detained in Dilley: Deportation and Asylum in Texas
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail