The stakes are perhaps as high as they have ever been for the post-Cold War United States as Senator John Kerry wades through the Central Asian quagmire in Islamabad. Ironies abound. A war begun ten years ago by Skull and Bonesman George W. Bush requires another Skull and Bonesman to end it. It all seems so personal, not to mention private. Two members of the same secret society flanking the (war on terror) like a set of parentheses. But then, that’s why secret societies are secret.
An article in the London Times on Thursday September 20, 2001 titled Secret plans for 10-year war, by Michael Evans laid out the plan. “AMERICA and Britain are producing secret plans to launch a ten-year ‘war on terrorism’ – Operation Noble Eagle – involving a completely new military and diplomatic strategy to eliminate terrorist networks and cells around the world.”
The article goes on to report that the whole “long-term American approach,” was being driven by Vice President Richard Cheney and Secretary of State General Colin Powell in the mold of the war on drugs or poverty with special attention paid to “hearts and minds” and the sensitivities of Islamic fundamentalists in Pakistan.
Most Americans don’t know what goes on inside the secrets halls of Skull and Bones anymore than what kind of secret dealings led to their country being embroiled in the war on terror. But it’s safe to assume that after ten years the only thing the war on terror shares with the war on drugs or poverty, hearts or minds or the sensitivities of Islamic fundamentalists, is failure.
John Kerry has a big job ahead of him as he meets to discuss U.S. predator drone attacks, accusations that Pakistan harbors Islamist militants, the failure of Pakistan’s military to engage the Taliban and the killing of Osama bin Laden.
But the biggest job of all may be coming to grips withthe growing list of conflicting interests that are hobbling American policy while rewriting the American narrative to reflect the unpleasant reality that the war on terror was only a stage in an evolving process leading to anendless escalation of war.
To the shock and awe of many both inside and outside the United States, instead of breaking with the national security policies of George W. Bush, the Obama administration has, in many cases only furthered programs and practices implemented by his predecessor. In fact it appears that President Obama has embraced the largely discredited 1992 program for America’s global dominance known as the Defense Planning Guidance crafted under another Bonesman, President George Herbert Walker Bush. It was assumed that following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United States would rethink the need for war. Instead, the ’92 Defense Planning Guidance set the stage for a whole new era of confrontation stating that “Our first objective is to prevent the reemergence of a new rival.”
The administration faces a rising coalition of regional rivals due to convene in Astana, Kazakhstan on June 15 under the banner of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). It also faces a self-imposed deadline for a troop withdrawal beginning this July, and the intensifying fear that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons will fall into terrorist hands.
Hints of a shockingly perverse response to a nuclear threat from political fanaticism or religious fundamentalism have been surfacing sporadically over the last few years. In January, 2008 the Guardian’s Ian Traynor reported on a “radical manifesto” for a pre-emptive nuclear attack put forward by NATO’s most senior military officers to “halt the ‘imminent’ spread of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction.” The manifesto called for the “first use” of nuclear weapons by NATO to prevent their potential use by terrorists or a rogue state.
California State Associate Professor of Political Science Cora Sol Goldstein’s August 2010 suggestion in Small Wars Journal that “the use of nuclear weapons is not yet justified,” hinted strongly that the time would soon come when they were. And Brookings Institute Senior Fellow Bruce Riedel’s comment in a February 2011 posting that if the U.S. had to fight a war with Pakistan to occupy it, it would be a “nuclear war,” suggested the option was already on the table.
The Hindu Kush has proved to be the ultimate crossroads for empires down through the millennia. Its graveyards and mountain passes overflow with the skulls and bones of invaders. Bonesmen have played an inordinate role in getting the United States to that crossroads. Let’s hope a Bonesman can get us through without triggering the end of the world.
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, both published in the Open Media Series by City Lights Books, www.citylights.com.