FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Love Fest in the Hindu Kush

by PAUL FITZGERALD and ELIZABETH GOULD

In the wild gyrations surrounding the Obama administration’s AfPak scenario, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s recent swing from “Blunt Warning,” to Pakistan, to sudden love fest in the Hindu Kush betrays the underlying schism in American foreign policy-thinking that is losing America its “empire” by the minute. Despite the Secretary of State’s recent conciliatory statements on her visit to Islamabad regarding Pakistan’s ISI and their support for the Haqqani Network, U.S. tensions with Pakistan will remain high. In the months since the U.S. Navy Seal raid that killed Osama bin Laden, 55 cross border rocket attacks (a substantial increase from the same period a year ago) have been waged on U.S. forces in Afghanistan across what the U.S. military refers to as the Zero line with Pakistan. Afghanistan’s sovereignty has routinely been violated since Pakistan’s creation in 1947. In fact, Pakistan’s sole value as a Cold War ally of the U.S. was to shore up what western military analysts called, “the crescent of crisis” as a strategically pivotal “frontline state” against the Soviet Union. During the Cold War Pakistan gained a reputation for inflating the threat of Soviet subversion as part of the Washington money game and was duly rewarded for playing. Pakistan’s repressive military bedeviled Afghanistan’s moderate government at every turn, saw Moscow’s hand behind every public demonstration and independence movement and used the specter of a grand Soviet design, to suppress them all. The old adage that most countries have a military but Pakistan’s military has a country is perhaps the most useful in understanding the ongoing standoff. Pakistan’s military operates its own business conglomerates which run thousands of businesses. During the 1980s under General Zia Ul Haq, the military employed its own trucking company the National Logistics Cell to ship weapons along with opium to and from the port of Karachi. Had the U.S. vigorously fostered democratic movements in the 1960s, 70s and 80s instead of empowering a succession of ruthless military regimes and radical Islamists in the name of Cold War containment, today’s Pakistan would be a different place. During the 8 years of the Bush administration’s “war on terror,” Pakistan pretended to be an ally and the U.S. pretended to believe them. Now the U.S. pays for its Cold War policy-blindness and Bush-era delusion with the blood of its soldiers and diplomats as well as its tax dollars to service a hopelessly failed policy and a Pakistani military that acts more like an enemy than an ally.

Hillary Clinton’s Islamabad statements stand in stark contrast to her stern warning on a recent visit to Kabul that Pakistan’s continued support for terrorism would incur “a very big price.” Recently, former CIA officer and senior fellow at the Brookings Institute, Bruce Riedel recommended that the United States should now apply a policy of “containment” to Pakistan, whereby the U.S. would reduce aid, cut military assistance “deeply” and resort to a “more hostile relationship” in order to restrain the Pakistani Army’s ambitions.

Riedel’s use of the premier Cold War term is a sign that some in the administration are shifting away from supporting Pakistan in its game with arch-rival India. But is America’s Secretary of State so under pressure from the Pakistan lobby in Washington that she dare not sway from a U.S. Cold War alliance whose questionable benefits have long since come and gone?  The idea that such an antiquated Cold War practice as containment would even be an option when Pakistan is already waging a de facto Hot War on American and Afghan forces, should be taken as another sign of how far out of touch the debate in Washington is.

According to numerous scholars, the Cold War should never even have happened in the first place and was renounced by no less than its creator George Kennan, who believed at the time that any policy of containment should have been limited to political measures, not military. Senator J. William Fulbright in a 1972 New Yorker article bemoaned the flawed assumptions behind the Cold War and how the “perniciousness” of the ideology of the Truman Doctrine gave rise to the “distortion and simplification of reality.”

According to America’s own military thinkers, mechanical Cold War planning and programming made America’s defense strategists virtual prisoners to static and obsolete methods and practices that masqueraded as a coherent defense strategy after the Cold War. But this strategy proved wholly inappropriate to the complex, evolving geopolitical environment that gave rise to 9/11.

Yet, ten years later the U.S. continues to pursue policies toward Afghanistan and Pakistan that not only rely on these Cold War tools, but fail to accept that even in their own time these tools were criticized as unsound and not based in reality.

Pakistan takes American money but acts toward the United States as if it has nothing to lose by harassing the NATO engagement and supporting the Haqqani network. Pakistan allows the transport of NATO equipment to Afghanistan by caravan from the port of Karachi, but curries favor with China’s military to offset American pressure. Pakistan plays a waiting game as the U.S. draws down its forces, believing it can resume its pre 9/11 dominance of Afghanistan once the U.S. leaves. But with the U.S. lobbying Afghan president Hamid Karzai to forge a permanent relationship with the U.S. military, Washington’s dysfunctional Cold War relationship to Pakistan will have to give.

Pakistan’s problems run deep and wide. According to Harvard’s Dr. Charles Cogan, who served as chief of the CIA’s Near East-South Asia division in the directorate of operations from 1979 until 1984, Pakistan isn’t just a bad marriage for the U.S., it’s a country that should never have happened. Pakistan’s military fears a repeat on its western frontier of its 1971 war in East Pakistan (Bengal) which grew into a war with India and established the breakaway state of Bangladesh. It uses Pashtun Taliban to suppress Pashtun and Baluch independence movements. Its support for Islamism undermines Pakistan’s fragile secular state and threatens to bring it down, all the while provoking another and perhaps final war with India that would undoubtedly go nuclear.

Pakistan’s military is driven to win the endgame for control of the gateway to Central Asia, rule Afghanistan and fulfill its destiny as the Islamic Land of the Pure. From a position of pure self-interest, it would be to America’s benefit to reassess the entire policy and the assumptions under which the United States operates in Central Asia, support a strong Afghanistan along with the independence movements of Baluchistan, Pashtunistan, Sindh and Kashmir and find a workable solution that neutralizes the Pakistani military’s control of state policy.

A frustrated Obama administration wants to get reelected in 2012 but is committed to staying in Afghanistan long after 2014.  All that is needed now to justify a prolonged occupation of the Hindu Kush is an incident that will finally put the dysfunctional U.S./Pakistan relationship to the ultimate test.

If push comes to shove over Zero line, both may soon get more than they bargained for.

Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould are the authors of Invisible History: Afghanistan’s Untold Story  and   Crossing Zero The AfPak War at the Turning Point of American Empire . Visit their website here.

 

Copyright © 2011 Gould & Fitzgerald All rights reserved


Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould are authors of “Invisible History: Afghanistan’s Untold Story,” published by City Lights. They can be reached at  www.invisiblehistory.com

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
May 27, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
Silencing America as It Prepares for War
Rob Urie
By the Numbers: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are Fringe Candidates
Paul Street
Feel the Hate
Daniel Raventós - Julie Wark
Basic Income Gathers Steam Across Europe
Andrew Levine
Hillary’s Gun Gambit
Jeffrey St. Clair
Hand Jobs: Heidegger, Hitler and Trump
S. Brian Willson
Remembering All the Deaths From All of Our Wars
Dave Lindorff
With Clinton’s Nixonian Email Scandal Deepening, Sanders Must Demand Answers
Pete Dolack
Millions for the Boss, Cuts for You!
Peter Lee
To Hell and Back: Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Gunnar Westberg
Close Calls: We Were Much Closer to Nuclear Annihilation Than We Ever Knew
Karl Grossman
Long Island as a Nuclear Park
Binoy Kampmark
Sweden’s Assange Problem: The District Court Ruling
Robert Fisk
Why the US Dropped Its Demand That Assad Must Go
Martha Rosenberg – Ronnie Cummins
Bayer and Monsanto: a Marriage Made in Hell
Brian Cloughley
Pivoting to War
Stavros Mavroudeas
Blatant Hypocrisy: the Latest Late-Night Bailout of Greece
Arun Gupta
A War of All Against All
Dan Kovalik
NPR, Yemen & the Downplaying of U.S. War Crimes
Randy Blazak
Thugs, Bullies, and Donald J. Trump: The Perils of Wounded Masculinity
Murray Dobbin
Are We Witnessing the Beginning of the End of Globalization?
Daniel Falcone
Urban Injustice: How Ghettos Happen, an Interview with David Hilfiker
Gloria Jimenez
In Honduras, USAID Was in Bed with Berta Cáceres’ Accused Killers
Kent Paterson
The Old Braceros Fight On
Lawrence Reichard
The Seemingly Endless Indignities of Air Travel: Report from the Losing Side of Class Warfare
Peter Berllios
Bernie and Utopia
Stan Cox – Paul Cox
Indonesia’s Unnatural Mud Disaster Turns Ten
Linda Pentz Gunter
Obama in Hiroshima: Time to Say “Sorry” and “Ban the Bomb”
George Souvlis
How the West Came to Rule: an Interview with Alexander Anievas
Julian Vigo
The Government and Your i-Phone: the Latest Threat to Privacy
Stratos Ramoglou
Why the Greek Economic Crisis Won’t be Ending Anytime Soon
David Price
The 2016 Tour of California: Notes on a Big Pharma Bike Race
Dmitry Mickiewicz
Barbarous Deforestation in Western Ukraine
Rev. William Alberts
The United Methodist Church Up to Its Old Trick: Kicking the Can of Real Inclusion Down the Road
Patrick Bond
Imperialism’s Junior Partners
Mark Hand
The Trouble with Fracking Fiction
Priti Gulati Cox
Broken Green: Two Years of Modi
Marc Levy
Sitrep: Hometown Unwelcomes Vietnam Vets
Lorenzo Raymond
Why Nonviolent Civil Resistance Doesn’t Work (Unless You Have Lots of Bombs)
Ed Kemmick
New Book Full of Amazing Montana Women
Michael Dickinson
Bye Bye Legal High in Backwards Britain
Missy Comley Beattie
Wanted: Daddy or Mommy in Chief
Ed Meek
The Republic of Fear
Charles R. Larson
Russian Women, Then and Now
David Yearsley
Elgar’s Hegemony: the Pomp of Empire
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail