After recently reading an excellent article in Asia Times by Syed Saleem Shahzad (“Bring ’em on: Militants in Pakistan await US” ) concerning the very real possibility that Pakistan is on the verge of joining the widening front-lines of the Middle Eastern and Asian war with the U.S. and its proxies, I did some more reading on the Pashtuns.
From my own travels in the area years ago, I can, of course, affirm the very strong militant independence of the people in western Pakistan and Afghanistan. While being aware of the fact that the Pashtuns are the largest ethnic/tribal group without a homeland (numbering at least 40 million or so), and that the British Durand Line drawn by British colonialists to demarcate Pakistan and Afghanistan goes right through the center of Pashtun territories (and is therefore not terribly respected by the Pashtuns — something the Bush administration can’t seem to figure out in calling repeatedly for Musharraf to “seal” the border), I was surprised to find out that they consider their Greater Pashtun homeland to extend from within Afghanistan right to the Indus river in Pakistan.
One can imagine Musharraf is desperate to remove the prospect of the Americans striking targets with bombs and missiles within western Pakistan (read Pashtunistan) where the Pakistani government has almost no writ. An attack there against supposed Al Qaeda or Taliban “high-value targets” would boost Pashtun militant forces fighting NATO troops in Afghanistan, and almost certainly trigger a much vaster Pashtun uprising within Pakistan, rendering the entire area even more ungovernable for Islamabad than it is right now, possibly right to the Indus river.
Even worse, in addition to the Pashtun reaction, a broader Islamist reaction within Pakistan could trigger a larger regional war involving nuclear weapons. Many within the Pakistani military, right up to top generals, are Islamists, or very much sympathetic thereto, and the threat of a coup is very real. The Bush/Cheney regime has precious few options left globally as they are distrusted everywhere with good reason, but they still have a last card to play in their global game of RISK—a rain of bombs and missiles from the air. As they don’t really have any spare troops for anything above small Special Forces insertions, to risk seeing the secular Musharraf regime over-turned as an asset for tempting air strikes has to be the height of folly.
In any case, if they don’t attack the militant centers in western Pakistan they will lose the war in Afghanistan in the near future; if they do attack, they will probably lose it even faster. The opportunity to make good as an occupier by the U.S. and NATO in Afghanistan is long-gone and the air strikes, if sent in, should be viewed within the context of a failed war, as in Nixon’s Christmas bombing of Vietnam 1972.
A certain result of this development, if it occurs along with the predicted Cheney attack on Iran in August, would be Islamic regimes or anarchic regions at war with the U.S., NATO, and probably Israel, from Pakistan to Hezbollah in southern Lebanon. The rise of a militant “Caliphate” thereby—another bogeyman used to scare Americans by Bush/Cheney—becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Add another jolting terrorist attack in the U.S. “homeland” and the senatorial Gauleiters will ditch all resistance to the Bush regime and applaud or remain silent as a martial law regime is instituted. The “Enabling Act” has already been drafted and passed allowing Bush to do just that with no chance of avoiding it other than impeachment before it happens, or an American military putsch to remove him at the last minute. Sound far-fetched? Bush’s Martial Law Act of 2007 modified the Insurrection Act. Section 333 states that in the event of
“….major public emergencies; interference with State and Federal law, the President may employ the armed forces, including the National Guard in Federal service, to restore public order and enforce the laws of the United States when, as a result of a natural disaster, epidemic, or other serious public health emergency, terrorist attack or incident, or other condition in any State or possession of the United States, the President determines that domestic violence has occurred to such an extent that the constituted authorities of the State or possession are incapable of (’refuse’ or ‘fail’ in) maintaining public order, ‘in order to suppress, in any State, any insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combination, or conspiracy.’”
Note in particular the specter of “States Rights”—the real underlying issue that started the American Civil War, not black emancipation—contained in the parenthetical inclusion of the specific scenario of a U.S. State “refusing” or “failing” to maintain “public order” as defined by the cabal in Washington, this being sufficient cause to deploy outside forces against the State itself. I am surely not the first to note this parallel.
Beyond U.S. borders the prospects are even grimmer as an attack on Iran would “logically” have to involve small nukes to get at underground Iranian nuclear facilities and this would start WW III in the sense of an unpredictable but almost certain shock wave drawing in other countries into the maelstrom rapidly, even Russia and China in particular, and Syria certainly as it has a defense pact with Iran. Israel would likely be involved in the air attacks (perhaps even leading them to give the US an excuse) and that would almost certainly be the proverbial straw for the Arab/Moslem world—the days would be numbered for all the “atheist” dictator regimes like Mubbarak’s in Egypt, the Saudis, and all the Gulf States that have allowed the American military to base in their countries. As noted, WW III would be started even sooner with an Islamist putsch in Pakistan. Pakistani nukes even remotely falling into the hands of an Islamist regime in Islamabad would result in the pulverization of all Pakistani military and nuclear sites from the air by the U.S., Israel (with submarine-launched missiles), and even India, within hours.
But back to the present crisis of the U.S. threatening to unilaterally attack targets within Pakistan/Pashtunistan… From a military/historical point of view, this will be the latest example of a completely misplaced confidence in airpower to carry the day, the last being the abject failure of the Israeli attack on Lebanon in the summer of 2006.
The first was the futile butchery in WWII of hundreds of thousands of German civilians by British “Bomber Harris”, followed close on by the even more appallingly gratuitous atomic slaughter of Japanese civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the U.S. in 1945. The American military still just loves to bomb from the air, especially now with very limited ground assets available to deploy. One doubts they will be able to resist in Pakistan, especially with this bloodthirsty regime in Washington, and more specifically given their lack of options, now, to get at the hearts and minds of those they have so effectively turned into enemies. The bogus “War on Terror” launched by this sociopath in Washington remains the most spectacular public relations disaster for a government since the Germans torched Louvain in late August 1914.
DANIEL R. McBRIDE is a writer and wargame designer in Montreal. He can be reached at: email@example.com