On the day that American airstrikes in Pakistan killed 11 Frontier Corps soldiers a committee of the US Congress in Washington released a report indicating that America was hated round the world. It recorded that “Anti-Americanism is at record levels thanks to US policies such as the war in Iraq, and Washington’s perceived hypocrisy . . . [The report] based on expert testimony and polling data reveals US approval ratings have fallen to record lows across the world since 2002, particularly in Muslim countries and Latin America.”
It is hardly surprising that America is so unpopular. The Bush Crusade against Muslims, his unconditional support of Israel, his deliberate confrontation with Russia, and the barely concealed intention of Washington’s extremists to overthrow governments in South America that object to US economic domination, are hardly a recipe for world-wide approval.
And the word ‘unpopular’ is less than adequate. What about ‘detested, loathed, abhorred, scorned, feared and despised’? Because that’s what the policies and actions of President Bush have led to over the past dreadful years.
The criminal attack in which two F-15 fighter-bombers and a B-1 bomber thundered down a dozen 500 pound bombs to smash into Pakistan’s territory killing its soldiers was not unusual. In the past four years there have been some dozen recorded strikes by US drones, artillery and aircraft that have slaughtered scores of Pakistani citizens. But nothing can be done about it, because these assaults on Pakistan’s sovereignty are approved by powerful figures in Washington whose mouthpieces are told to say such things as: “They [the dead Frontier Corps soldiers] got caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Further, it was announced by the Pentagon that the attack that killed soldiers in blatant violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty was “a legitimate strike in self-defence.” One can only regard such utterances with contempt, because those who spoke in such a way, and those who ordered them to say what they did, have no concept of loyalty to a friendly country. Nor, for that matter, do they take the slightest heed of international law and custom. The Pentagon quickly distributed a video showing an attack that was said to be a strike on an “enemy” position. There was no indication of where it was, when it was, what ordnance was used, or results of the attack. It was a fatuously amateur exercise in attempted damage control. And of course, later, in the inevitable reassessment (for which read : “We’ve been found out and had better think up a more believable version of the lies we told”), it was revealed that “a US Air Force document indicates bombs were dropped on buildings near the border, and Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman conceded there may have been another strike that occurred outside the view of the drone’s camera.”
Yes : like the one that killed 11 Pakistani soldiers in “self-defence”. (Major Akbar, the regular army officer who was killed, was an fine soldier. He leaves a widow and two daughters, aged two and eight months. Any army that suffered such a loss by reason of an attack from a ‘friendly’ nation would be understandably angry.)
Pakistan’s Prime Minster, Mr Gilani, took a courageous and properly patriotic stance in condemning the attack when he said “We will take a stand for sovereignty, integrity and self-respect and we will not allow our soil [to be violated];” and Islamabad’s formal protest to Washington stated that the “senseless use of air power against a Pakistani border post” is “totally unacceptable”. The army was forthright in observing, again rightly, that the airstrikes that killed the Frontier Corps soldiers and an army major were a “completely unprovoked and cowardly act,” which was the sort of statement one would expect from the Chief of the Army Staff, an upright and civilized man, and his spokesman, Major General Athar Abbas (ditto).
It was slightly disturbing, however, that Pakistan’s representative in Washington, the highly intelligent Mr Hussain Haqqani, who has lived in the US for seven years and is still a professor at Boston University, was apparently instructed to deny that the government in Islamabad had considered the airstrikes as an intentional hostile act. He told Reuters that the incident would not cause Pakistan to reconsider its relationship with Washington, “but rather find ways of improving that partnership”.
So there appear to be two messages coming from Islamabad about the killing of Pakistani citizens : “totally unacceptable” and “cowardly act” on one hand ; and an opening to “improving partnership” on the other. But what partnership, what trust, can there be with a nation whose artillery, drones and bombers regularly kill citizens of Pakistan, be they civilians or soldiers?
There is little wonder that Bush America is so hated throughout the Muslim world – and elsewhere, come to that. It is difficult to deny that attacks such as those that killed Pakistan’s soldiers the other day are a demonstration of arrogance ; the open evidence of overweening complacency. America under Bush has become a conceited and insolent empire that cannot be held accountable for its acts of savagery. And there is little room for optimism concerning the next person in the White House, because in Washington the lust for domination, the determination to maintain total military, political and economic supremacy, has reached heights from which dislodgement is verging on the impossible. The world has become an even more dangerous and frightening place, thanks to the brazen barbarity and total unaccountability of the Bush regime.
BRIAN CLOUGHLEY’s website is www.briancloughley.com