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Pakistan’s subservience to lukewarm defiance   Brig.Gen(Retd) Asif Haroon Raja, Pakistan Army

This article was written before the fall of Kabul to the Taliban Forces

Pakistan’s subservience to lukewarm defiance

 

Asif Haroon Raja

9/11 changed the global dynamics

On the morning of 9/11/2001, unknown hijackers flying two passenger planes struck the twin towers in New York with short intervals, the third plane headed for Washington and struck part of the Pentagon building and the 4th plane on its way to Pennsylvania was shot down. The flummoxed US security watched the gory drama for hours helplessly.

The US media blared earth-shaking news and cried hoarse over the air terrorism which took the lives of little over 2700 Americans. The world was shocked and the world leaders shed tears of anguish and sympathy over the great tragedy, while the Zionists drew satisfaction that they were successful in hoodwinking the world. 9/11 changed the global dynamics and from that time onwards the world moved differently.

All the three successive regimes of the USA led by George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump played into the hands of the Zionists, American Jewish lobby and Israel, and used excessive military force to destroy the targeted Muslims countries, and to kill, maim and displace the Muslims ruthlessly under a pre-planned agenda.

Each year, wreaths were laid on the graves of the innocent Americans who died in New York, but no tear was shed for the millions of Muslims who were killed by the revengeful Americans for no fault of theirs.

Al-Qaeda blamed without evidence

Since Osama bin Laden (OBL) hailed from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) and most of the 19 hijackers were from KSA, it was assumed that OBL based in Afghanistan and heading Al-Qaeda had masterminded the attacks. Al-Qaeda was squarely blamed on the basis of assumptions that it had been involved in attacks against American targets since 1997 and had carried out attacks on the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1999.

A crusade against the Muslims

Fuming George W. Bush declared that the US was at war and pledged to avenge. He avowed the Global War on Terror (GWoT) as a ‘crusade’ against the perpetrators without collecting a shred of evidence. The Americans sitting in the hall stood up from their seats and cheered him thunderously, while the world leaders extended their support to bludgeon the ones who had dared to attack the mighty sole super. Not a single country spoke in support of the Taliban regime which had no role to play in the attacks. Their only fault was that they had refused to hand over OBL without providing them proof of his involvement.        

The overall agenda was to demean Islam, which after the demise of communism in Russia was viewed as a major threat to capitalism, the arms, drugs and pharmaceutical barons and the unjust global international order run by the sole superpower.

Israel and India, the two strategic partners of the US, didn’t take part in the GWoT initiated by the US in Oct 2001 but drew maximum benefits from the war.

The UN-recognized freedom movements of the Palestinians and the Kashmiris to free their lands from the illegal occupation of Israel and India were categorized as terrorism, thereby giving a free hand to the two fascist and racist countries, Israel and India, to brutalize the Palestinians and the Kashmiris unpityingly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Denuclearization of Pakistan

In order to disable the nuclear program of Pakistan covertly, Pakistan was deceitfully made an ally and Pakistan readily fell into the honeycombed trap.

India was assigned the responsibility to plan and execute the biggest covert war against Pakistan from Afghan soil, and make it politically unstable, economically and militarily weak and socially divided; subsequently, launch a limited war under Cold Start Doctrine and the nuclear overhang to destroy Pak armed forces. 

RAW along with 14 intelligence units, seven Pakistan specific Indian Consulates and Indian Embassy in Kabul set up a huge terror infrastructure in Afghanistan with 70 training camps and centres in 2002 and were given full support by the CIA, Mossad, MI-6, BND and NDS.

The proxy war against Pakistan

Initial objectives of destabilization were FATA in the northwest and Baluchistan in the southwest of Pakistan. This was done through proxies hired from Pakistan. In FATA, the Pakistani Taliban were used as mercenaries. In Baluchistan, the Balochi tribes of Bugtis, Marris and Mengals were brought in line and proxies like BLA, BRA and BLF were created.

The proxies were funded, trained and equipped to carry out acts of sabotage and subversion in the two combat zones. The flames of terrorism were to be subsequently spread to all parts of Pakistan. The MQM was also roped in to destabilize Karachi, the hub of Pakistan’s economy.

 

Pakistan coerced to join GWoT

Pakistan under Gen Musharraf who had been bullied to ditch the ruling Taliban regime of Mullah Omar and to extend full support to the US to capture Afghanistan was later on coerced to send regular troops into South Waziristan (SW) in 2003 to flush out the Al-Qaeda and the ones harbouring them. This was in violation of the agreement signed in 1948 by Quaid-e-Azam and the elders of FATA to keep the tribal belt outside the ambit of Pakistan’s penal laws and parliamentary system and to let them be governed by the British enacted Political Agent system and the Frontier Constabulary Rules. The Frontier Corps could only operate in FATA.  

The intrusion of regular troops into SW fueled Talibanization and by Dec 2006, with the active support of the CIA and FBI, Tehreek-Taliban-Pakistan (TTP) was born. Well over 600 pro-Pakistan Maliks, elders and religious leaders were killed to create space for the TTP under Baitullah Mehsud. After the death of Akbar Bugti in a mountain cave in 2006 because of a mysterious blast at a time when the Army’s delegation approached him to sign a peace agreement, the insurgency in Baluchistan morphed into a separatist movement and several Baloch Sardars fled abroad who are being patronized by their western hosts and India. Insurgencies in the two regions were well-synchronized by the master planners.   

Pakistan’s hands tied

When armed insurgency suddenly erupted in Indian Occupied Kashmir in Oct 1989 and gave a chance to Pakistan to even up the score of 1971 with India, the US threatened Pakistan to stay out of it or else it will be declared a terrorist state. Pakistan under Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif (NS) complied meekly and quietly watched the massacre and torture of Kashmiris by the occupying 700, 000 Indian forces.

Pakistan once again became powerless to initiate a proxy war to counter the RAW-NDS covert war after 9/11 that had become an existential threat to its security by 2009, because its hands were tied by the new laws on terrorism framed by the US. Those abetting terrorists were to be held equally responsible for terrorism. India and its partner the Kabul regime were given a free hand and have still not been held accountable since the framers of anti-terrorism laws are themselves involved in this game.   

Pakistan’s fault lines attacked

The band of conspirators in Kabul hatched a series of conspiracies and kept funding and arming the paid proxies to bleed the Pak security forces and to create instability and insecurity in the country. To boost the covert war, the propaganda war was upgraded to hybrid war and the moles of foreign agencies deployed in Pakistan aided by purchased Pakistani media started accentuating ethnic, sectarian, religious and political fault lines of Pakistan in order to foment intolerance, extremism and hatred among various sects and political parties.

Keeping the model of East Pakistan where the Bengalis were successfully brainwashed, the minds of the people of smaller provinces were poisoned to fill their hearts with hatred against the ruling government, Punjab and Pak Army/intelligence agencies. The focus has mainly been on weakening the trunk of the army and the ISI which have blunted all the conspiracies and dangerous plans of the adversaries.

Pakistan’s subservience

 

Pakistan’s successive regimes have pursued a policy of appeasement due to which its adversaries have been taking full advantage. Subservience to the US dictates touched new heights during the tenure of Gen Musharraf. Each and every demand of Washington was obsequiously obeyed and no eyebrow was raised on the never-ending mantra of ‘Do More’ or the insults and accusations hurled by the US leaders. It was incomprehensible for every Pakistani as to what compelled nuclear Pakistan to mollify the two US-installed Kabul regimes which took dictations from the US and India. Hamid Karzai and the unity regime of Ashraf Ghani (AG)-Dr. Abdullah never spared any opportunity to bad mouth Pakistan. Till as late as 2017, Pakistan kept appeasing India as well. Pakistan’s 80,000 human and 150 billion dollars financial losses were the doings of RAW and NDS.

Pakistan’s successive regimes from the time of Gen Musharraf to Zardari and NS ignored the hard fact that RAW and NDS couldn’t have carried out massive covert and propaganda wars from Afghan soil without the full support of the CIA and approval of the US. The trio as well as Israel and the West are on one page. The Quad apart from achieving their global ambitions, they are continuing to demean Islam as a policy.

So what could be the compulsion of Pakistani leadership was a million-dollar question asked? The only obligation is that our leaders are too infatuated with the USA and cannot get out of its magic spell irrespective of whatever cost the nation has to pay.

The devastating impact of this one-sided appeasement was that Pakistan lost its nuclear deterrence, its honour and dignity, and anyone could insult or slap Pakistan and get away with it. Pakistan was blamed for all the sins of the Indo-US-Afghanistan nexus and was declared ‘nursery of terrorism, ‘the most dangerous country and a ‘failing state’. Pakistan took the barbs without a whimper and kept promising to do more to please the double-dealing USA, which never wanted Pakistan to become a self-reliant country. 

 

Pak-China equation and CPEC

 

Apart from Pakistan’s nuclear program, other eyesores that were unacceptable to the Indo-US-Israel nexus were Pak-China closeness and the CPEC. Terrorism was stepped up by RAW-NDS to scuttle CPEC. Pakistan was lured by KSA and UAE by granting heavy loans and promising establishment of an oil refinery at Gwadar, and the US promising activation of ROZs in former FATA and an economic zone at Karachi as an alternative to the CPEC.

A sustained media warfare was launched against China. Major themes played up were: CPEC passes through the disputed territory of Gilgit Baltistan; China is a replica of East India Company; Pak-China trade is heavily tilted towards the latter; 90% of the benefits of CPEC are taken by China; China is buying properties in Pakistan at a vast scale and weighing down Pakistan under its loans; Chinese are luring Pakistani girls to marry them, and after taking them to China are being tortured and sexually exploited; Chinese are inhumanly torturing the Muslim Uighurs in Xingjian province.

While the Pakistan military made no compromise on the nuclear program, cracks appeared in the Pak-China friendship in 2018/19 over CPEC due to irresponsible statements made by Razaq Dawood and some other PTI ministers saying that all the CPEC agreements will be revised. Resultantly CPEC which had galloped fast in the first phase came to a halt for almost a year.

    

Pakistan’s defiance

The first brick of defiance was laid by PM Liaqat Ali Khan by refusing the USA to convince/pressurize Iran not to nationalize its oil. The second brick was laid by the PM ZA Bhutto when he refused Henry Kissinger to close Pakistan’s nuclear program. Both had to pay a big price; Liaqat was murdered and Bhutto was hanged. Nawaz Sharif in May 1998 rejected pressures from Bill Clinton and Tony Blair, turned down the inducement of $ 5 billion and went ahead in carrying out six nuclear tests in response to five conducted by India. In 1999, he was unseated. Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kayani as army chief lost his cool after NATO’s Apache gunship helicopters attacked Pakistan army posts in Salala (Mohmand Agency) on Nov 26, 2011, killing several officers and men. This offensive act was a follow up of incidents of Raymond Davis in January 2011 followed by a stealth helicopters attack in Abbottabad to get OBL on May 2, and the Memogate scandal in Oct. In reaction, Pakistan Army discontinued military cooperation, intelligence sharing and training of Frontier Corps by the US trainers, and cancelled all visits and courses. The two supply routes used by the NATO containers were blocked and the Shamsi airbase in use by the CIA since 2003 was closed. The situation was normalized in July 2012 after Washington tendered an apology with an assurance that such an act will not be repeated.  

In 2017, Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa took a bold stand by stating that ‘We will not do more, and ‘it is time for others to do more. The next was his perseverance to erect a fence along the border with Afghanistan and Iran. Both the Kabul regime and the US exerted extensive pressure to stop the erection of a fence along the western border. 92% fencing of western border and 47% of the southwestern border has been completed and both will be completed by Aug 2021 and end of this year respectively. Radical improvement of border management was another feat that has been accomplished. Next will be the fake national identity cards issued by NADRA in millions to foreigners, mostly the Afghans including the one held by AG.    

PM Imran Khan (IK) showed the mirror to the arrogant West for the first time in his maiden address to the UN in 2019 reminding them that no money laundering was possible from the third world without the tax havens in the European capitals. He also exposed the ugly face of India comparing RSS with Nazis and Modi with Hitler and this has been his consistent theme. Standing up to India’s belligerence in February 2019 and giving a befitting response goes to his credit.

Extreme American pressure on Pakistan by the US to detach itself from the CPEC was resisted. Thankfully, dormant CPEC has been fully reactivated and now the lost time is being recouped with full vigour.

Pak-China friendship has blossomed into a strategic partnership, which is analogous to the US-Israel and the US-India partnership. 

The biggest jolt given to the US by Pakistan was IK’s refusal to meet the CIA Director and Foreign Secretary and then refused to give it a military base for so-called counter-terrorism operations against the Al-Qaeda, Daesh and Taliban. IK’s ‘Absolutely Not’ became a buzzword in Pakistan. Such acts of defiance from the compliant state were stupefying for the totalitarian USA.    

Drop scene for the USA and India

The arrogance and prestige of the USA boasting to be the mightiest and invincible military power have been rolled in the dust by the ragtag, ill-equipped, ill-dressed and ill-fed Taliban after they forced the US-NATO forces to exit from Afghanistan. The Taliban outwitted the occupation forces and the collaborating forces, and the way they overpowered the country was a textbook example of military brilliance. They also displayed diplomatic finesse by engaging with all the neighbours to set aside their fears. Politically they played their cards shrewdly by keeping their Doha political office active, treated the surrendering troops and the people of the captured cities with compassion, and won the confidence of all segments of the society.   

The pugnaciousness of six-times bigger India and constant machinations of five intelligence agencies in collusion with RAW to break Pakistan into four parts spread over 16 years have been foiled by Pakistan armed forces and the ISI, which is a big achievement and an embarrassment for India.

Having spread its tentacles in all the departments of Afghanistan and spent $ 3.5 billion in various projects including a dam in Herat, India is today in a fix. After the hurricane-like advance of the Taliban capturing one city after another, India winded up all its Consulates and RAW operatives have fled away. They have destroyed or shifted all the incriminating documents showing their dirty works against Pakistan.            

Ramifications for the USA

The ignominious departure of the occupying forces and ending of the 20-year war in Afghanistan will have grave ramifications for the USA, as was the case with the former USSR in 1989. It had taken only two years for the USSR to fragment and be reduced to the Russian Federation in 1991. The US not only lost the war in Afghanistan, but it is also withdrawing its troops from Iraq by the end of this year as demanded by the Iraqi PM Mustafa al-Khademi. It has withdrawn its support to the Saudi coalition against Yemen and is likely to exit from Syria where Bashar al-Assad has been re-elected. China is on the rise and Russia under Putin is resurging. Joe Biden is facing criticism on account of the hasty exit of the US troops from Afghanistan, which in view of the critics emboldened the Taliban to race to Kabul. He and his predecessors are likely to face the music of the Americans as to why they fought the longest war, what objectives they achieved and at what cost and why they consistently lied to them.

The spoilers are still in action

The spoilers of peace with India in the lead wanted to keep Afghanistan unstable. While the Taliban kept gaining ground, RAW and NDS continued with their proxy war in Pakistan, demeaned the Taliban and resorted to disinformation campaigns.

Lahore blast, followed by a spate of terrorist attacks in Waziristan and Baluchistan, the Dassu attack in which 9 Chinese and 3 locals lost their lives, and the engineered drama of abduction of the daughter of ambassador of Afghanistan in Islamabad were masterminded by RAW-NDS. There are indications that the CIA was also involved in the Dassu incident.  

In July, India’s transport planes flew over Iran’s airspace four times to deliver 80 tons of war munitions to Kandahar military base and the same quantity to Kabul for the ANA. The US jets flew from the UAE airbase over Tajikistan’s airspace to attack the Taliban in Kandahar. Indian pilots flew gunship helicopters in support of the besieged ANA troops.

The eight warlords were asked by the Kabul regime to reactivate their militias and to confront the Taliban but the prominent warlords fled abroad and Ismail Khan in Herat is in the custody of the Taliban.

The current situation in Afghanistan

All the efforts of the spoilers misfired and the Taliban have taken full control over the whole of the country without much fighting. Their 6000 prisoners locked up in provincial capitals and Bagram airbase which the Kabul regime was not releasing were freed by the Taliban themselves.

After moving closer to Kabul and tightening the noose around it, their fighters entered Kabul on August 15, forcing AG to flee to Tajikistan with his whole team on the afternoon of 15 August without tendering resignation. The same evening the Taliban fighters captured the presidential palace, but the Taliban leadership announced general amnesty to all and announced that Kabul will not be captured forcibly.

The Taliban leadership rejected the proposal of an interim setup for which Dr. Abdullah, Hamid Karzai and Gulbadin Hikmatyar as members of the Afghan Rabita Council are working, and want the power to be directly handed over to them. The Taliban are in a commanding position to arrive at a political settlement of their choice, but they are likely to share power with others as well.  

In case AG doesn’t tender his resignation in the next 1-2 days, he may possibly establish a government in exile on the advice of his patrons. The Northern Alliance might be once again activated duly patronized by the West and India to brew instability in Afghanistan.

Russia and China are likely to provide full support to the Taliban.

Pakistan is of two minds, either to go along with the international community influenced by the USA or to support the Taliban.  

UK’s PM Boris Johnson who had termed the Doha Agreement as ‘a rotten deal’, and had also declared Biden’s decision to pull out ‘a big mistake’, has called for an emergency meeting of the UNSC to discuss the situation in Afghanistan. He has advised all not to recognize the Taliban regime if they take over power by force.    

   

Lessons for Pakistan

After learning several lessons from the repeated betrayal and the duplicitous double game played by the US, and the unrelenting hostility of the US-installed regime in Kabul, and not so trustworthy relations with Iran which is still aligned with India, Pakistan’s leadership seem to have started differentiating between friend and foe. Most problems have occurred from Pakistan’s enchantment of the USA due to which it had to appease India and Afghanistan.  

The first bold action taken by Pakistan was to give a clear message that the days of fighting someone else’s war and provision of bases are over and Pakistan would only extend cooperation for peace and not for war and conflict.  

China is the only neighbour which has never let down Pakistan and has gone out of the way to help Pakistan during its testing times. Strong bondage between the two iron brothers would help in keeping the enemies at bay.

A deeper understanding of Pakistan’s with its partners, China, Russia, and Central Asian Republics is a good omen. If Afghanistan under the Taliban and Iran join this grouping, it can keep the spoilers of peace checkmated, but Iran has its own ambitions.  

The Taliban could not have achieved success with such lightning speed without the support of the people. Irrespective of the outsiders advocating a broad-based and inclusive government in Kabul, the Taliban’s return to power and re-establishment of an Islamic Emirate is irreversible.    

Future government in Kabul with the Taliban in the driving seat will be in the interest of Pakistan since it would radically diminish India’s perverse influence in Afghanistan, and Pakistan will get rid of the RAW-NDS cross border terrorism. However, in case the insensitive and biased international community dominated by the US decides to ostracize the would-be Taliban regime, Pakistan in its bid to remain in the good books of the US, might mellow down its defiance and refuse to recognize the Taliban regime, thereby once again putting the country in jeopardy.

It must not be forgotten that while Pakistan is good at losing friends, India is good at befriending its enemy’s friends. Twice betrayed by Pakistan, the Taliban could be swayed by India.

The writer is a retired Brig Gen, war veteran, defence & security analyst, international columnist, author of five books, Chairman Thinkers Forum Pakistan, Director Measac Research Centre, Member CWC PESS & Think Tank. asifharoonraja@gmail.com    

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Question Everything! Bless our American traitors By Chris Hedges -Pakistanis Will Never Forget Shah Wali Pakistani Baby Killed By US Drone

Question Everything!

Bless our American traitors

By Chris Hedges

July 20, 2021
Daniel Hale, an active-duty Air Force intelligence analyst, stood in the Occupy encampment in Zuccotti Park in October 2011 in his military uniform. He held up a sign that read “Free Bradley Manning,” who had not yet announced her transition. It was a singular act of conscience few in uniform had the strength to replicate. He had taken a week off from his job to join the protestors in the park. He was present at 6:00 am on October 14 when Mayor Michael Bloomberg made his first attempt to clear the park. He stood in solidarity with thousands of protestors, including many unionized transit workers, teachers, Teamsters and communications workers, who formed a ring around the park. He watched the police back down as the crowd erupted into cheers. But this act of defiance and moral courage was only the beginning. 

At the time, Hale was stationed at Fort Bragg. A few months later he deployed to Afghanistan’s Bagram Air Force Base. He would later learn that while he was in Zuccotti Park, Barack Obama ordered a drone strike some 12,000 miles away in Yemen that killed Abdulrahman Anwar al-Awlaki, the 16-year-old son of the radical cleric and US citizen Anwar al-Awlaki, who had been killed by a drone strike two weeks earlier. The Obama administration claimed it was targeting the leader of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Ibrahim al-Banna, who it believed, incorrectly, was with the boy and his cousins, all of whom were also killed in the attack. That massacre of innocents became public, but there were thousands of more such attacks that wantonly killed noncombatants that only Hale and those with top-security clearances knew about.

Starting in 2013, Hale, while working as a private contractor, leaked some 17 classified documents about the drone program to investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill, although the reporter is not named in court documents. The leaked documents, published by The Intercept on October 15, 2015, exposed that between January 2012 and February 2013, US special operations airstrikes killed more than 200 people. Of those, only 35 were the intended targets. For one five-month period of the operation, according to the documents, nearly 90 per cent of the people killed in airstrikes were not the intended targets. The civilian dead, usually innocent bystanders, were routinely classified as “enemies killed in action.”

Hale was coerced by Biden’s Justice Department on March 31 to plead guilty to one count of violating the Espionage Act, a law passed in 1917 designed to prosecute those who passed on state secrets to a hostile power, not those who expose to the public government lies and crimes. Hale admitted as part of the plea deal to “retention and transmission of national security information” and leaking 11 classified documents to a journalist. He is being held in the Alexandria Adult Detention Center in Virginia, awaiting sentencing on July 27. If he had refused the plea deal, he could have spent 50 years in prison. He now faces up to a decade in prison.

Tragically, his case has not garnered the attention it should. When Nick Mottern, of the Ban Killer Drones campaign, accompanied artists projecting Hale’s image on downtown walls in Washington, D.C., he found that everyone he spoke to was unaware of Hale’s plight. Prominent human rights organizations, such as the ACLU and PEN, have largely remained silent and uninvolved. The group Stand with Daniel Hale has called on President Biden to pardon Hale and end the use of the Espionage Act to punish whistleblowers, mounted a letter-writing campaign to the judge to request leniency and is collecting donations for Hale’s legal fund. 

“Daniel Hale is one of the most consequential whistleblowers,” Edward Snowden said on a May Day panel held at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst on the fiftieth anniversary of the release of the Pentagon Papers.  “He sacrificed everything — an incredibly courageous person — to tell us that the drone war, that, you know, is so obviously occurring to everyone else, but the government was still officially denying in so many ways, is here, it is happening, and 90 per cent of the casualties in one five-month period were innocents or bystanders or not the target of the drone strike. We could not establish that we could not prove that, without Daniel Hale’s voice.”

Speaking on Democracy Now! with host Amy Goodman a few weeks later, Daniel Ellsberg agreed that Hale “acted very admirably, in a way that very, very few officials have ever done in showing the moral courage to separate themselves from criminal activities and wrongful activities of their own administration, and resist them, as well as exposing them.”

Because Hale was charged under the Espionage Act, he, like other whistleblowers, including Chelsea Manning, Jeffrey Sterling, Thomas Drake and John Kiriakou, who spent two-and-a-half years in prison for exposing the routine torture of suspects held in black sites, was not permitted to explain his motivations and intent to the court. Nor could he provide evidence to the court that the drone assassination program killed and wounded large numbers of noncombatants, including children. He faced trial in the Eastern District of Virginia, much of whose population has links to the military or intelligence community, and whose courts have become notorious for their harsh sentences on behalf of the government. 

The 2012 “Living Under Drones” report by the Stanford International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic provides detailed documentation of the human impact of US drone strikes in Pakistan. Drones often fire Hellfire missiles that are equipped with an explosive warhead of about 20 pounds. A Hellfire variant, known as the R9X, carries “an inert warhead,” The New York Times reported. Instead of exploding, it hurls about 100 pounds of metal through a vehicle. The missile’s other feature includes “six long blades tucked inside,” which deploy “seconds before impact to slice up anything in its path” — including, of course, people.

The numbers of civilians dead from US drone strikes run into the thousands, if not tens of thousands. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ), an independent journalist organization, for example, reported that from June 2004 through mid-September 2012, drone strikes killed between 2,562 and 3,325 people in Pakistan, of whom an estimated 474 to 881 were civilians, including 176 children.

Drones hover 24 hours a day in the skies over Iraq, Somalia, Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria. Without warning, the drones operated remotely from Air Force bases as far away as Nevada, fire ordinance that obliterates homes and vehicles or kills whole groups of people in fields or attending community gatherings, funerals and weddings. The leaked banter of the young drone operators, who often treat the killings as if they are an enhanced video game, exposes the callousness of the indiscriminate killings. Drone operators refer to child victims of drone attacks as “fun-sized terrorists.”

“Ever step on ants and never give it another thought?” Michael Hass, a former drone operator for the Air Force told The Guardian.  “That’s what you are made to think of the targets — as just black blobs on a screen. You start to do these psychological gymnastics to make it easier to do what you have to do — they deserved it, they chose their side. You had to kill part of your conscience to keep doing your job every day — and ignore those voices telling you this wasn’t right.”

The ubiquitous presence of drones in the skies, and the awareness that at any moment these drones can kill you and your family, induces feelings of helplessness, anxiety and constant fear.

“Their presence terrorizes men, women, and children, giving rise to anxiety and psychological trauma among civilian communities,” the 2012 report reads of the drone war in Pakistan. “Those living under drones have to face the constant worry that a deadly strike may be fired at any moment and the knowledge that they are powerless to protect themselves. These fears have affected behavior. The US practice of striking one area multiple times, and evidence that it has killed rescuers, makes both community members and humanitarian workers afraid or unwilling to assist injured victims. Some community members shy away from gathering in groups, including important tribal dispute-resolution bodies, out of fear that they may attract the attention of drone operators. Some parents choose to keep their children home, and children injured or traumatized by strikes have dropped out of school.”

Drones have become killing machines that mete out random death and usually permanently cripple those victims who survive.

“The missiles fired from drones kill or injure in several ways, including through incineration, shrapnel, and the release of powerful blast waves capable of crushing internal organs,” the report reads.  “Those who do survive drone strikes often suffer disfiguring burns and shrapnel wounds, limb amputations, as well as vision and hearing loss.”

Hale, now 33, always had doubts about the war, but he enlisted in 2009 when Obama assumed office. He hoped that Obama would undo the excesses and lawlessness of the Bush administration. Instead, Obama, a few weeks after he took office, approved the deployment of an additional 17,000 troops to Afghanistan where 36,000 U.S. troops and 32,000 NATO troops were already deployed. By the end of the year, Obama increased troop levels in Afghanistan again by 30,000, doubling U.S. casualties. He also massively expanded the drone program, raising the number of drone strikes from several dozen the year before he took office to 117 by his second year in office.  By the time he left office, Obama had presided over the killing of at least 3,000 suspected militants and hundreds of civilians. He authorized what are known as “signature strikes” allowing the CIA to carry out drone attacks against groups of suspected militants without getting positive identification. He spread the footprint of the drone war, establishing drone bases in Saudi Arabia, Turkey and other overseas locations to expand attacks to Syria and Yemen. The Obama administration also indicted eight whistleblowers under the Espionage Act, more than all previous administrations combined. The Biden administration, like the Trump and Obama administrations, continues to launch widespread global drone strikes.

“Before I joined the military, I was well aware that what I was about to enter was something I was against, that I disagreed with,” Hale says in the 2016 documentary film “National Bird.” “I joined anyway out of desperation. I was homeless. I was desperate. I had nowhere else to go. I was on my last leg. The Air Force was ready to accept me.”

National Bird / a film by Sonia Kennebeck

Three courageous whistleblowers break the silence around the U.S. drone war – a decision that will change their …

In the film, Hale alludes to a difficult and chaotic childhood.

“It’s kind of funny, a little ironic too because so far I’m the only adult male in my entire family, immediate and external, who had not been to prison so far,” he says. “I come from a long lineage of prisoners, actually, a very proud tradition of fuck-ups who get drunk and go driving, or sell pot, or carry a gun when they shouldn’t be carrying a gun, in the wrong place at the wrong time, a lot of that where I’m from.”

He was assigned to the Joint Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg and underwent language and intelligence training. He worked for the National Security Agency (NSA) in Afghanistan as an intelligence analyst identifying targets for the drone program. His Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information (TS/SCI) security clearance gave him access to the vast, global drone war hidden from public view and Obama’s huge secret “kill lists.”

“There are several such lists, used to target individuals for different reasons,” he wrote in an essay titled “Why I Leaked the Watchlist Documents,” originally published anonymously in the book “The Assassination Complex: Inside the Government’s Secret Drone Warfare Program” by Jeremy Scahill and the staff of The Intercept. The book is based on the leaked documents provided by Hale that first appeared as an eight-part series called “The Drone Papers” published by The Intercept.

“Some lists are closely kept; others span multiple intelligence and local law enforcement agencies,” Hale writes in the essay. “There are lists used to kill or capture supposed ‘high-value targets,’ and others intended to threaten, coerce, or simply monitor a person’s activity. However, all the lists, whether to kill or silence, originate from the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment, and they are maintained by the Terrorist Screening Center at the National Counterterrorism Center. The existence of TIDE is unclassified, yet details about how it functions in our government are completely unknown to the public. In August 2013 the database reached a milestone of one million entries. Today it is thousands of entries larger and is growing faster than it has since its inception in 2003.” 

The Terrorist Screening Center, he writes, not only stores names, dates of birth, and other identifying information of potential targets, but also stores “medical records, transcripts, and passport data; license plate numbers, email, and cell-phone numbers (along with the phone’s International Mobile Subscriber Identity and International Mobile Station Equipment Identity numbers); your bank account numbers and purchases; and other sensitive information, including DNA and photographs capable of identifying you using facial recognition software.”

Data on suspects is collected and pooled by the intelligence agencies known as the Five Eyes, the intelligence alliance formed by Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States. Each person on the list is assigned a TIDE personal number or TPN.

“From Osama bin Laden (TPN 1063599) to Abdulrahman Awlaki (TPN 26350617), the American son of Anwar al Awlaki, anyone who has ever been the target of a covert operation was first assigned a TPN and closely monitored by all agencies who follow that TPN long before they were eventually put on a separate list and extrajudicially sentenced to death,” Hale wrote.

He also exposed that the more than one million entries in the TIDE database include about 21,000 United States citizens.

After leaving the Air Force in July 2013, Hale was employed by the private defense contractor National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency as a political geography analyst between December 2013 and August 2014. He said he took the job, which paid $80,000 a year because he was in desperate need of money and hoped to go to college. But by then he was disgusted with the drone program and determined to make the public aware of its abuses and lawlessness. Inspired by the peace activist David Dellinger, he, like Dellinger, had decided to become a traitor to “the American way of death.” He would make amends for his complicity in the killings, even at the cost of his own security and freedom. 

“When the president gets up in front of the nation and says they are doing everything they can to ensure there is near certainty there will be no civilians killed, he is saying that because he can’t say otherwise, because anytime an action is taken to finish a target there is a certain amount of guesswork in that action,” Hale says in the film. “It’s only in the aftermath of any kind of ordinance being dropped that you know how much actual damage was done. Oftentimes, the intelligence community is reliant, the Joint Special Operations Command, the CIA included, is reliant on intelligence coming afterwards that confirms that who they were targeting was killed in the strike, or that they weren’t killed in that strike.”

“The people who defend drones, and the way they are used, say they protect American lives by not putting them in harm’s way,” he says. “What they really do is embolden decision-makers, because there is no threat, there is no immediate consequence. They can do this strike. They can potentially kill this person they are so desperate to eliminate because of how potentially dangerous they could be to the US. But if it just so happens that they don’t kill that person, or some other people involved in the strike get killed as well, there are no consequences for it. When it comes to high-value targets, every mission you go after one person at a time, but anybody else killed in that strike is blanketly assumed to be an associate of the targeted individual. So as long as they can reasonably identify that all of the people in the field view of the camera are military-aged males, meaning anybody who is believed to be age 16 or older, they are a legitimate target under the rules of engagement. If that strike occurs and kills all of them, they just say they got them all.”

Drones, he warns, make a remote killing “too easy, too convenient.”

On August 8, 2014, the FBI raided his home. It was his last day of work for the private contractor. A male and female FBI agent shoved their badges in his face when he opened the door.

“Immediately behind them came about 20 agents, basically all of them with pistols drawn, some wearing body armor,” he says in the film. “At this point, I was extremely scared. I did not understand what was going on. Altogether, there might have been at least 30 to 50 agents in and out of the house at different points throughout the evening taking photos of every room and everything, searching for different things.”

By the time they finished his house was stripped of all electronics, including his cell phone.

For the next five years, he lived with the uncertainty of his fate. He struggled to find work, fought off depression and contemplated suicide. He was barred, by law, from speaking about his plight, even with a therapist. In 2019, the Trump administration indicted Hale on four counts of violating the Espionage Act and one count of theft of government property. 

The thousands of targeted assassinations carried out by drones, often in countries that are not at war with the United States, are an egregious violation of international law. They are turning huge swaths of the planet against us. The secret kill lists, which include US citizens, have transformed the executive branch into judge, jury and executioner, obliterating the right to due process. Those that commit these killings are unaccountable. Hale sacrificed his career and his freedom to warn us. He is not a danger to the country. The danger we face comes from the secret drone program, which is spiralling out of control and ominously being adopted by domestic law enforcement agencies. If left unchecked, the terror we impose on others we will soon impose on ourselves.

Chris Hedges spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He has reported from more than 50 countries and has worked for The Christian Science Monitor, National Public Radio, The Dallas Morning News and The New York Times, for which he was a foreign correspondent for 15 years.

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The Rumsfeld/Cebrowski doctrine

The Rumsfeld/Cebrowski doctrine

by Thierry Meyssan

 

For two decades, the Pentagon has been applying the “Rumsfeld/Cebrowski doctrine” to the “wider Middle East”. Several times, it thought of extending it to the “Caribbean Basin”, but refrained from doing so, concentrating its power on its first target. The Pentagon acts as an autonomous decision-making centre that is effectively outside the power of the president. It is a civil-military administration that imposes its objectives on the rest of the military.

Voltaire Network | Paris (France) | 25 May 2021

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The maps of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff in 2001, published in 

2005 by Colonel Ralph Peters, still guide the actions of the US 

military in 2021.

 

In my book L’Effroyable imposture [1] [2], I wrote, in March, 2002, that the attacks of September 11 were aimed at making the United States accept :
– on the inside, a system of mass surveillance (the Patriot Act) ;
– and, externally, a resumption of imperial policy, about which there was no documentation at the time.

Things only became clearer in 2005, when Colonel Ralph Peters – at the time a Fox News commentator – published the famous map of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the map of the “reshaping” of the “broader Middle East” [3]. It came as a shock to all chancelleries: the Pentagon was planning to redraw the borders inherited from the Franco-British colonization (the Sykes-Picot-Sazonov Agreements of 1916) without regard for any state, even an ally.

From then on, each state in the region did everything in its power to prevent the storm from falling on its people. Instead of uniting with neighboring countries in the face of the common enemy, each tried to deflect the Pentagon’s hand to its neighbors. The most emblematic case is that of Turkey, which changed its position several times, giving the confused impression of a mad dog.

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Two visions of the world clash. For the Pentagon since 2001, 
stability is the strategic enemy of the United States, while 
for Russia, it is the condition for peace.

 

However, the map revealed by Colonel Peters -who hated the Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld- did not make it possible to understand the overall project. Already, at the time of the September 11 attacks, he had published an article in the US Army magazine, Parameters [4]. He alluded to the map that he did not publish until four years later, and suggested that the Joint Chiefs of Staff were preparing to carry it out by means of atrocious crimes that they would have to subcontract in order not to dirty their hands. One might think that he was referring to private armies, but history showed that they could not engage in crimes against humanity either.

The final word on the project was in the “Office of Force Transformation,” created by Donald Rumsfeld at the Pentagon in the days following the 9/11 attacks. It was occupied by Admiral Arthur Cebrowski. This famous strategist had been the designer of the computerization of the armed forces [5]. One could believe that this Office was a way to finish his work. But no one disputed this reorganization anymore. No, he was there to transform the mission of the U.S. armed forces, as the few recordings of his lectures in military academies attest.

Arthur Cebrowski spent three years lecturing to all senior U.S. officers, thus to all current general officers.

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The target determined by Admiral Cebrowski is not only the 

“wider Middle East”, but all regions not integrated into the 

globalized economy.

 

What he was teaching was quite simple. The world economy was becoming globalized. To remain the world’s leading power, the United States had to adapt to financial capitalism. The best way to do this was to ensure that developed countries could exploit the natural resources of poor countries without political obstacles. From this, it divided the world into two: on the one hand, the globalized economies (including Russia and China) destined to be stable markets and, on the other, all the others that were to be deprived of state structures and left to chaos so that transnationals could exploit their wealth without resistance. To achieve this, the non-globalized peoples were to be divided along ethnic lines and held ideologically.

The first region to be affected was to be the Arab-Muslim area from Morocco to Pakistan, with the exception of Israel and two neighboring micro-states that were to prevent the fire from spreading, Jordan and Lebanon. This is what the State Department called the “broader Middle East. This area was not defined by oil reserves, but by elements of the common culture of its inhabitants.

The war that Admiral Cebrowski imagined was to cover the entire region. It was not to take into account the divisions of the Cold War. The United States no longer had any friends or enemies there. The enemy was not defined by its ideology (the communists) or its religion (the “clash of civilizations”), but only by its non-integration into the globalized economy of financial capitalism. Nothing could protect those who had the misfortune not to be followers, to be independent.

This war was not intended to allow the US alone to exploit natural resources, as previous wars had done, but for all globalized states to do so. Moreover, the United States was no longer really interested in capturing raw materials, but rather in dividing up work on a global scale and making others work for them.

All this implied tactical changes in the way wars were waged, since it was no longer a question of obtaining victory, but of waging a “war without end”, as President George W. Bush put it. Indeed, all the wars started since 9/11 are still going on on five different fronts: Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen.

It doesn’t matter if allied governments interpret these wars in accordance with the US communication: they are not civil wars, but stages of a plan preestablished by the Pentagon.

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              Esquire Magazine, March 2003

 

The “Cebrowski Doctrine” shook up the US military. His assistant, Thomas Barnett, wrote an article for Esquire Magazine [6], then published a book to present it in more detail to the general public: The Pentagon’s New Map [7].

The fact that in his book, published after Admiral Cebrowski’s death, Barnett claims authorship of his doctrine should not be misleading. It is just a way for the Pentagon not to assume it. The same phenomenon had taken place, for example, with the “clash of civilizations”. It was originally the “Lewis Doctrine”, a communication argument devised within the National Security Council to sell new wars to public opinion. It was presented to the general public by Bernard Lewis’s assistant, Samuel Huntington, who presented it as an academic description of an inescapable reality.

The implementation of the Rumsfeld/Cebrowski Doctrine has had many ups and downs. Some came from the Pentagon itself, others from the people who were being crushed. Thus, the resignation of the commander of Central Command, Admiral William Fallon, was organized because he had negotiated a reasoned peace with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s Iran on his own initiative. It was provoked by… Barnett himself, who published an article accusing Fallon of abusing President Bush. Or again, the failure to disrupt Syria was due to the resistance of its people and the entry of the Russian army. The Pentagon has come to burn down crops and organize a blockade of the country to starve it; revengeful actions that attest to its inability to destroy state structures.

During his election campaign, Donald Trump campaigned against the endless war and for the return of the GI’s to their homes. He managed not to start new fronts and to bring some men home, but failed to tame the Pentagon. The Pentagon developed its Special Forces without a “signature” and managed to destroy the Lebanese state without the use of soldiers in a visible way. It is this strategy that it is implementing in Israel itself, organizing anti-Arab and anti-Jewish pogroms as a result of the confrontation between Hamas and Israel.

The Pentagon has repeatedly tried to extend the “Rumsfeld/Cebrowski doctrine” to the Caribbean Basin. It planned an overthrow, not of the Nicolás Maduro regime, but of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. It finally postponed this.

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The eight members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

 

It must be noted that the Pentagon has become an autonomous power. It has a gigantic budget of 740 billion dollars, which is about twice the annual budget of the entire French state. In practice, its power extends far beyond that, since it controls all the member states of the Atlantic Alliance. It is supposed to be accountable to the President of the United States, but the experiences of Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump show the absolute opposite. The former failed to impose his policy on General John Allen in the face of Daesh, while the latter was led astray by Central Command. There is no reason to believe that it will be any different with President Joe Biden.

The recent open letter of former US general officers [8] shows that nobody knows who is in charge of the US military anymore. No matter how much their political analysis is worthy of the Cold War, this does not invalidate their observation: the Federal Administration and the general officers are no longer on the same wavelength.

William Arkin’s work, published by the Washington Post, has shown that the federal government organized a nebulous group of agencies under the supervision of the Department of Homeland Security after the September 11 attacks [9]. In the greatest secrecy, they intercept and archive the communications of all people living in the United States. Arkin has just revealed in Newsweek that, for its part, the Department of Defense has created secret Special Forces, separate from those in uniform [10]. They are now in charge of the Rumsfeld/Cebrowski doctrine, regardless of who is in the White House and what their foreign policy is.

The Rumsfeld/Cebrowski doctrine, by Thierry Meyssan

Thierry Meyssan,Voltaire Network

For two decades, the Pentagon has been applying the “Rumsfeld/Cebrowski doctrine” to the “wider Middle East”. Se…

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The Pentagon has a clandestine Special Forces of 60,000 men. 

They do not appear on any official document and work without 

uniform. Supposedly used against terrorism, they are in fact the 

ones who practice it. The classic armies are dedicated to the fight 

against Russian and Chinese rivals.

 

When the Pentagon attacked Afghanistan and Iraq in 2001, it used its conventional armies – it had no other – and those of its British ally. However, during the “endless war” in Iraq, it built up Iraqi jihadist forces, both Sunni and Shiite, to plunge the country into civil war [11]. One of them, derived from al-Qaeda, was used in Libya in 2011, another in Iraq in 2014 under the name of Daesh. Gradually these groups have replaced the US armies to do the dirty work described by Colonel Ralph Peters in 2001.

Today, no one has seen US soldiers in uniform in Yemen, Lebanon and Israel. The Pentagon itself has advertised their withdrawal. But there are 60,000 clandestine, i.e. non-uniformed, US Special Forces creating chaos, via civil war, in these countries.

,

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U.S. Should Pay Iran Reparations by DAVID SWANSON, Counter Punch

FEBRUARY 5, 2021

U.S. Should Pay Iran Reparations

BY

DAVID SWANSON

 

Why would I say such an outrageous, treasonous, delusional, OBVIOUSLY-funded-by-Putin thing? Am I hoping to enrage war-crazed sadists who’ve seen too much television “news”?

Not at all. I want them to still be around when I say that it would actually be preferable for the United States to pay reparations to the entire rest of the earth.

Well, then, why would I say such a thing, and exactly what type of mental disorder would allow me to believe the Iranian government to be saintly perfection?

Ah, that’s the key question, isn’t it? Because, as we all know, in every court that has ever ordered anyone to compensate someone else, it’s been necessary to prove that the someone else was a flawless embodiment of paradise. Proving that someone was harmed has never been relevant at all. Nope. The burden of proof has always been on the victim to show that they have never once done any unpleasant thing to anyone. This is why reparations and compensation and restitution never ever happen. In fact these things don’t even exist as concepts. If they did, the following story might matter.

In the 1720s, the newspapers of the colonies that would become the United States wrote positively about the Persian Empire, that place that 2500 years ago held some 60% of humanity. Various U.S. “founding fathers” like Thomas Jefferson sought models in Persian history. From the 1690s to 1800s, based on their school books, U.S. children were unlikely to think of “xylophone” with the letter “x” and likely to think of “Xerxes.” In a staple of U.S. education for generations, Abbott’s Histories, four non-Westerners were included. Three of them were Xerxes, Cyrus, and Darius. Examples from Persian history were tossed around in Congressional speeches. U.S. towns named themselves (and they still are named) Media, Persia, Cyrus.

From the 1830s to 1930s Presbyterian missionaries from the United States lived and raised families in Persia with the goal of converting Christians there to a preferred flavor of Christianity. In that, they largely failed, but they succeeded in providing schools, medicine, and generally positive ideas about the United States.

From the 1850s to 1920s Persian newspapers promoted the United States as a model. Right up through the 1940s the Iranian government generally sought greater U.S. influence in Iran, and the U.S. government usually refused, usually contemptuously.

Iran, from the 1820s on was forced by Russia and Britain and other European nations into a cycle of debt and concessions. It was principally as an alternative to Russia or Britain that Iran was attracted to the United States, or at least to the idea it had of what the United States was. In 1849, with the United States never having had an ambassador in Iran, Iran began secret (don’t tell the British!) talks with the U.S. minister in Constantinople. In 1851 they signed a Treaty of Friendship, Commerce, and Navigation. It was incredibly fair and respectful by comparison with European treaties with Iran, but it was never ratified. To my knowledge Iran did not ask a single Native American nation what good ratifying it would have done. In 1854, the Shah of Iran asked the United States to put U.S. ships in the Persian Gulf and U.S. flags on every Iranian ship, but the U.S. government wasn’t interested. It wasn’t until 1882 that the U.S. Congress could be persuaded to send any U.S. representative to Iran, and then only because a key Congress Member had a sister there as a missionary and potential victim of “Mohammedan fury.” That representative would not be called an ambassador, due to Iran not being a European country, but his arrival in Tehran in 1883 was cause for a major celebration. Five years later, Iran sent its first envoy to Washington, where the U.S. government generally refused to pay any attention to him and U.S. newspapers were so cruel to him that he resigned after nine months.

In 1891 Iranians publicly rebelled against the Shah’s awarding of a tobacco monopoly to the British. In 1901, for 20,000 pounds, the Shah gave a Brit the right to drill almost anywhere for oil for 60 years. Meanwhile, in 1900 a new minister began representing Persia in the United States and significantly increased trade between the two nations, especially in Persian carpets. The Persian pavilion at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair was a great success (and gave the U.S. the waffle cone).

In 1906 Persia saw a major popular uprising, including widespread use of the sit-in as a tool of nonviolent action (hey, Iran-hating auto worker with a good salary, I’m looking at you), and won the creation of a representative parliament. In 1907, Russia and Britain sought to divide Persia into zones for their respective control. The parliament (Majles) resisted, and the Shah tried hiring bands of thugs to instigate a coup against the Majles. The nation descended into civil war. In 1909 an American named Howard Baskerville became a hero still honored in Iran when he was killed by the royalists.

In 1909 the Majles asked the United States to provide a treasurer-general to oversee the nation’s finances. W. Morgan Shuster got the job. He became more than an accountant. He became a leader of the constitutionalist resistance to the efforts of royalists to overthrow the Majlis. In this, he was not acting on behalf of the U.S. government. When Russian forces demanded Shuster’s ouster, the Majles wrote to the U.S. Congress for help, but Congress had no interest (it did get a good laugh). A violent coup followed. Shuster was out. A Russian puppet government was in. Back in the United States, Shuster was a star. Persian fashion was hot. The U.S. Post Office took its motto from Herodotus’ description of the postal system of the Persian Empire. But actual Persia was of no concern.

 

 

 

 

 

When Europe launched the insanity of World War I, Persia declared neutrality. This was simply ignored by both sides, which proceeded to use the place as a battlefield and to cut off supply lines, resulting in some 2 million Persians starving to death or dying of disease. When Christians massacred Muslims, with the complicity of U.S. missionaries, the good impression those missionaries had made for decades were ruined. Persia nonetheless kept asking the U.S. government for help and for the return of Shuster. In 1916, the Shah asked permission to hide in the U.S. legation and to fly the U.S. flag from the Imperial Palace — both of which requests were turned down. At the end of the war, Persia hoped for some justice out of the negotiations in Paris, but was shut out by British maneuvering, including bribing the Shah. This left Iran without the chance to have its hopes in Woodrow Wilson shattered like the rest of the world’s, blame going instead to Britain. The U.S. minister in Tehran handed out a public statement claiming that the United States had tried its best to get Persia included in the Paris Peace Conference. The country was shut down by pro-U.S. riots. Read that last sentence twice.

The secret dealings of Britain with Persia, behind Wilson’s back, was a key argument in the U.S. Senate for refusing to join the League of Nations. Persia offered the United States oil and continued to implore it to become more involved, but the U.S. government had a higher priority, namely not offending the British. In 1922, the U.S. State Department sent a new financial advisor, but he was no Shuster. When a U.S. oil company was finally chosen to work in Persia, it immediately was hit by the Teapot Dome scandal, and those plans collapsed. Then, in a case of mistaken identity combined with insane murderousness, a mob beat a U.S. consul to death, and the U.S. government insisted that three boys be killed as compensation, and so they were.

Iran kept reaching out to the United States, turning over its archaeological efforts to Americans, welcoming new missionaries and their schools. Up through 1979, many Iranian government officials were graduates of a U.S. missionary school called the Alborz School.

The Shah flirted with Nazism. The theories of an “Aryan” (Iranian) origin of a superior Nordic race — theories largely of U.S. origin — were used by Nazi Germany to appeal to Iran. Yet Iran still declared its neutrality during the sequel to WWI, and it still didn’t matter. The Soviet Union and Britain invaded. Iran, of course, asked the U.S. government to object. The U.S. government, of course, ignored this. During the war, in fact, Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin used Tehran as a place to meet while doing their best to ignore the fact that anyone lived there. Stalin was effectively the host. Even the Shah was not invited to a birthday party for Churchill. But when the Great Men left, Roosevelt sent the Shah a note saying he hoped the Shah would someday visit Washington. The Shah clung to that hope and pushed to make it real for years after. Meanwhile some 30,000 U.S. soldiers were in Iran from 1943 to 1945 with the usual drunkenness and rape and Apartheid flaunting of wealth in the face of hunger that has been the trademark of U.S. bases around the world from that day to this.

Once the two world wars had ended, Iran began a golden age of democracy and relative well-being. It wouldn’t last long. In 1947, an Iranian democracy movement asked if it could hold a sit-in demonstration at the U.S. embassy as a symbol of democracy. It was of course told to get lost. The U.S. Ambassador from 1948 to 1951 had extremely Churchillian attitudes toward the irrational natives, who were of course incapable of and unready for democracy. He and the Shah got on well. It was in 1949 that the Shah finally got his first of many visits to the United States, land of democracy. In 1950, Iranians learned of U.S. complicity in British manipulation of their government, and persisted in criticizing the United States in tones of shock and disappointment, using all the language of straying from principles that is so routine in this-is-not-who-we-are speeches from U.S. politicians. Then the Iranians, despite Britain and the United States, elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh.

For the first time in forever, an Iranian representative government had represented the wishes of the Iranian public, not those of a king or his foreign sponsors and handlers. This outrage was not to be tolerated. Mossadegh, like most Iranians, believed that Iranians, rather than Britain, should profit from Iranian oil. He nationalized the oil, and his fate was sealed. But before it was, he would appeal in every way he could to the world and to the United States. He compared his actions to the Boston tea party. He traveled to New York and eloquently won his case at the UN Security Council. He immediately headed for Philadelphia to pose with the Liberty Bell. He got himself made Time magazine man of the year. He also negotiated with the U.S. to allow Britain to still play a major role in Iranian oil, but Britain threw that idea in his face. The oil was, after all, a British possession that had somehow found it way under Iranian soil. Gallup found that a full 2 percent of the U.S. public thought the U.S. should take Britain’s side against Iran. My guess is that’s about the percentage of the U.S. public that now know that the U.S. did just that.

Kermit Roosevelt, grandson of Teddy, claimed he and the CIA overthrew the Iranian government using $60,000. Norman Darbyshire of Britain’s MI6 claimed he spent over 1.5 million pounds and drafted the coup plans and assassinated the Mossadegh-loyal chief of police and talked Roosevelt out of quitting when their coup first failed. Col. Stephen J Meade of the CIA, who was also involved in the 1949 coup in Syria that is largely erased from coup histories even by those who know about Iran 1953, claimed he was the U.S. partner of Darbyshire in planning the whole thing. Indisputably this coup required electing Churchill in the UK and Eisenhower in the U.S., and Eisenhower appointing the Dulles brothers, who began planning the coup with the British before Eisenhower was inaugurated. It also required that Eisenhower, having campaigned on Cold War anti-communism, believe or pretend to believe his own propaganda and the ridiculous notion that Mossadegh was a commie sympathizer.

The coup at first failed, looking even less competent or threatening than the Beer Belly Capitol Putsch of 2021 in Washington. The Shah, whom the failed coup intended to install as dictator, looked ridiculous fleeing to Rome. But mobs on the streets and a visit of 28 tanks to Mossadegh’s house did the trick. Iran was liberated! The Shah returned! Democracy was out! Quoting Jefferson would now be left to various other Untermenschen banned from the Paris Peace Conference, such as Ho Chi Minh. Freedom was on the march! The Shah was empowered, armed, and turned into the world’s top weapons customer, and the United States into the world’s top weapons dealer. A philanthropic operation called SAVAK was established under the tutelage of the CIA and later the Mossad, specializing in torture and murder. All was right with the world, and the U.S. government was finally paying attention to Iran and funneling money into it. A leader even came to visit Iran for the first time (not counting FDR visiting Stalin), and it was Vice President Richard Nixon.

The Shah’s dictatorship learned well, bought weapons, provided oil, and even created a “two-party system” so ridiculously copied from the U.S. model that Iranians referred to them as the party of “Yes” and the party of “Yes, Sir.” U.S. influence was finally in Iran as a reality rather than a dream. By 1961, there were 5,000 Americans living in Iran, and Hollywood was all over the cinemas and televisions, Newsweek and Time on the news stands. Many were less than pleased at finally having gotten what they’d spent so long asking for. Saying that out loud could get you killed, which may have been a big part of the problem. In 1964 the U.S. got a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) to give U.S. troops immunity for crimes in Iran. Many were enraged. But someone fearlessly spoke against that basing SOFA, a man known as Ayatollah Khomeini.

When the United States elected Jimmy Carter president, the Shah worried momentarily about the “human rights” rhetoric, until realizing it was just for show. The weapons kept flowing as before. Carter even visited the Shah and toasted him as an “island of stability” one week before he was overthrown by a revolution with the slogan “Death to America’s Shah.” The revolution, however, was mainly nonviolent. The Shah was not killed. He spent the better part of a year searching the globe for someplace to live. When Carter let him into the United States, Iranians feared the worst. They did not believe the Shah needed U.S. medical treatment, because the Shah had hidden the fact that he was ill. They did believe that the United States would use its embassy in Tehran, as it had done 26 years earlier, to overthrow the Iranian government and re-install the Shah. So, Iranian students broke in and took over the U.S. embassy, creating a hostage crisis, ending Jimmy Carter’s presidency, and initiating Day 1 of the history of U.S.-Iranian relations in U.S. media, for whom nothing prior to the hostage crisis ever happened. Iran, in 2021 U.S. cultural understanding, came into existence in 1979.

In 1980 the despotic ruler of neighboring Iraq, a man who had been brought to power with U.S. assistance, Saddam Hussein, invaded Iran. The Iranian revolution, begun as a coalition including leftists and liberals as well as the religious, now moved in the direction of resembling what it had overthrown. It did so in the name of unity and survival. Ronald Reagan’s government aided both sides in the war, hoping to damage both sides and make money from both sides. Both sides unnecessarily prolonged the war. Both sides committed horrors. Iranian-backed militias blew up U.S. Marines in Lebanon. The U.S. helped Iraq know where to bomb people, and helped Iraq acquire and get away with using chemical weapons. The U.S. also secretly sold weapons to Iran, because, just like the Israeli government, the U.S. government had an agenda often at odds with its own propaganda. You, dear reader, are supposed to go on hating Iran and adoring Reagan, and quoting Reagan on “not dealing with hostage-takers,” but the reality was Reagan selling weapons to Iran to try to free hostages in Lebanon and to get money for a war in Nicaragua that Congress had forbidden him to fight. The Bush Senior government finally persuaded Iran to get those hostages freed, by making promises it immediately and casually broke, without so much as an “I’m sorry.” In fact, when the U.S. shot down an Iranian passenger plane full of men, women, and children, Bush announced that he would never apologize for anything and didn’t care what the facts were.

He and every other U.S. president since has, however, very much cared what Israel wanted. Iran offered the U.S. an oil deal in 1995 and Israel killed it. On September 11, 2001, while people across the Middle East cheered, Iranians mourned. The President of Iran offered to come to the site of the World Trade Center and condemn such barbarism. His offer was of course dismissed out of hand. Iran offered to assist the United States with its war on Afghanistan, and that offer was quietly accepted, used, and forgotten. Bush Junior then declared Iran a member of an Axis of Evil with the nation that had waged war on it, Iraq, and a nation it had virtually nothing to do with, North Korea. In 2003, Iran offered to negotiate away its nuclear program, to allow full intrusive inspections, to accept a 2-state solution in Palestine/Israel, and to keep participating in the “war on terrorism.” Iran was told to go Dick Cheney itself.

Since 1957, the United States had been providing Iran with nuclear technology. Iran has a nuclear energy program because the U.S. and European governments wanted Iran to have a nuclear energy program. The U.S. nuclear industry took out full-page ads in U.S. publications bragging about Iran’s support for such an enlightened and progressive energy source. The U.S. was pushing for major expansion of Iran’s nuclear program just before the Iranian revolution of 1979.

Since the Iranian revolution, the U.S. government has opposed Iran’s nuclear energy program and misled the public about the existence of a nuclear weapons program in Iran. This story is well-told in Gareth Porter’s Manufactured Crisis.

When the United States assisted Saddam Hussein’s Iraq in a war against Iran in the 1980s, in which Iraq attacked Iran with chemical weapons, Iran’s religious leaders declared that chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons must not be used, even in retaliation. And they were not. Iran could have responded to Iraqi chemical attacks with chemical attacks of its own and chose not to. Iran says it is committed to not using or possessing weapons of mass destruction. The results of inspections bear that out. Iran’s willingness to put restrictions on its legal nuclear energy program — a willingness present both before and after any U.S. sanctions — bears that out.

When the Soviet enemy disappeared, new ones were quickly found. According to both former NATO commander Wesley Clark and former UK prime minister Tony Blair, the Pentagon made a list of several nations’ governments to be overthrown, and Iran was on it. In the year 2000, the CIA gave Iran (slightly and obviously flawed) blueprints for a key component of a nuclear weapon. In 2006 James Risen wrote about this “operation” in his book State of War. In 2015, the United States prosecuted a former CIA agent, Jeffrey Sterling, for supposedly having leaked the story to Risen. In the course of the prosecution, the CIA made public a partially redacted cable that showed that immediately after bestowing its gift on Iran, the CIA had begun efforts to do the same for Iraq. In 2019, Sterling publishing his own book, Unwanted Spy: The Persecution of an American Whistleblower.

I can only make sense of one reason why the CIA hands out blueprints for nuclear bombs (and in the case of Iran planned to deliver actual parts as well). Both Risen and Sterling claim that the goal was to slow down Iran’s nuclear weapons program. Yet we now know that the CIA had no solid knowledge that Iran had any nuclear weapons program, or if it had one how advanced it was. We know that the CIA has been involved in promoting the false belief that Iran is a nuclear threat since the early 1990s. But even assuming that the CIA believed Iran to have a nuclear weapons program in 2000 (which the 2007 U.S. National Intelligence Estimate would later claim had been ended in 2003), we have not been offered any explanation of how providing flawed blueprints could have been imagined to slow such a program down. If the idea is supposed to be that Iran or Iraq would simply waste time building the wrong thing, we run up against two problems. First, they would likely waste vastly more time if working without plans, as compared to working with flawed ones. Second, the flaws in the plans given to Iran were obvious and apparent.

When the former-Russian assigned to deliver the blueprints to the Iranian government immediately spotted the flaws in them, the CIA told him not to worry. But they didn’t tell him that the flawed plans would somehow slow down an Iranian nuclear weapons program. Instead they told him that the flawed plans would somehow reveal to the CIA how far along Iran’s program was. But how that would happen has never been explained either. And it conflicts with something else they told him, namely that they already knew how far along Iran was and that Iran already had the nuclear knowledge that they were providing. My point is not that these assertions were true but that the slow-them-down rationale was not attempted.

One never wants to underestimate incompetence. The CIA knew next to nothing about Iran, and by Sterling’s account was not seriously trying to learn. By Risen’s account, around 2004 the CIA accidentally revealed to the Iranian government the identities of all of its agents in Iran. But incompetence does not seem to explain a consciously thought-out effort to distribute nuke plans to designated enemies. What does seem to explain it better is the desire to point to the possession of those plans, or of the product of those plans, as evidence of a hostile threat of “weapons of mass destruction,” which, as we all know, is an acceptable excuse for a war.

That we are not entitled to find out, even 20 years later, whether giving nuke plans to Iran was incompetence or malevolence, or to ask Bill Clinton or George W. Bush why they approved of it, is itself a problem that goes beyond incompetence and into the realm of anti-democratic tyrannical governance by secret agencies.

We have no possible way of knowing a complete list of countries the U.S. government has handed nuclear weapons plans to. Trump tried giving nuclear weapons secrets to Saudi Arabia in violation of the Nonproliferation Treaty, his oath of office, and common sense. The silver lining is that whistleblowers on giving nukes to the Saudis have apparently been listened to by certain members of Congress who have gone public with the information. Whether the difference is the individuals, the committees, the sides of Capitol Hill, the party in the majority, the party in the White House, the involvement of the CIA, the general culture, or the nation being given the keys to the apocalypse, the fact is that when Jeffrey Sterling went to Congress to reveal the giving of nukes to Iran, Congress Members either ignored him, suggested that he move to Canada, or — with horrible timing — died before doing anything.

Ignoring Iran was a long Congressional tradition before the establishment of the tradition of claiming Iran is a threat to the world. Now lying about Iran is a major industry. The United States now imposes deadly sanctions on the entire nation of Iran, in violation of the Geneva Conventions. Iran made an agreement for more thorough inspections than any other nation on earth to get sanctions relief. The United States violated and tore up the agreement, and now says that Iran had better change its ways if it wants the agreement back.

There are, not one, but two Iranian shah dynasties with descendants in the United States awaiting their turns.

One includes Crown Prince Reza Pahlavi, the son of the last dictator whom the United States imposed on Iran from 1953 to 1979. Pahlavi lives in Potomac, Maryland, (across the river from Langley) and openly advocates for an overthrow of the Iranian government (because 1953 has worked out so well?) or, as the Washington Post puts it, “runs an advocacy association that is outspoken about the need for democracy in his home country.”

Yet Iranians — like either saints or an abused spouse, you decide — persist in declaring their openness to negotiating with the U.S. government. I, for one, apologize and propose reparations. At the very least, end the sanctions!

Much of what I’ve described above can be found in America and Iran by John Ghazvinian. I also recommend watching a movie called Coup 53.

David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is executive director of WorldBeyondWar.org and campaign coordinator for RootsAction.org. Swanson‘books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at DavidSwanson.org and WarIsACrime.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio.He is a Nobel Peace Prize nominee, and was awarded the 2018 Peace Prize by the U.S. Peace Memorial Foundation. Longer bio and photos and videos here. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook

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Afghanistan yesterday, today, tomorrow Pakistan-US role by Brig.Gen(Retd) Asif Haroon Raja.

Afghanistan yesterday, today, tomorrow

Pakistan-US role

By

Brig.Gen(Retd) Asif Haroon Raja.

Part-One

 

                                      “While we all hope for peace it shouldn’t be peace at any cost but peace based on principle, on justice” Corazon C. Aquino

 

Background

Pakistan and Afghanistan never enjoyed friendly relations since the latter didn’t accept the Durand Line as an international border and laid claims over Pashtun inhabited areas in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Baluchistan. Afghanistan has traditionally remained close to India and hostile towards Pakistan. Relations dipped during the rule of President Daud after he seized power in 1973 from King Zahir Shah. Insurgents in Baluchistan were provided safe havens and Pakhtunistan movement was fueled.

 

When Afghanistan was occupied by Soviet forces in December 1979, and 4 million Afghans became refugees in Pakistan, Pakistan under Gen Ziaul Haq condemned the invasion and decided to support the Afghan resistance forces. The US and Saudi Arabia came in support of Pakistan led covert war in June 1981. The two provided funds and weapons only. The Soviet forces accepted defeat and pulled out by February 1989 but in the ten-year gruesome war, the country was devastated and two million Afghan civilians lost their lives. Pakistan had to face KGB-KHAD-RAW-Al-Zulfiqar sabotage and subversion.

 

No sooner the US achieved all its objectives, the US not only ditched Pakistan in 1990 and put it under harsh sanctions, but to rub salt on wounds of Pakistan, it made India its strategic partner which was the camp follower of USSR. The Mujahideen eulogized as holy warriors were abandoned as a result of which civil war broke out between the warring groups.

 

 

  

 

The Taliban under Mulla Omar started their Islamic movement from Kandahar in 1994 and after capturing Kabul in 1996, they established Islamic Emirate. Taliban were in control of 93% territory till 07 Oct 2001, and only 7% in the north was controlled by the Northern Alliance (NA) comprising Uzbeks, Tajiks and Hazaras. The military wing of NA was trained by the Indian and Iranian military trainers in Iran.

 

 

 

From 1997 onwards, the Taliban regime came in bad books of Washington because of cancellation of oil & gas pipelines project of UNICOL and was put under sanctions. Al-Qaeda under Osama bin Laden that had been created by CIA to fight the Soviets turned hostile and started hitting American targets in Gulf of Aden and African countries.

During the 5-year rule of Taliban, Afghanistan was made free of warlords, crimes and social vices including rapes and drug business. People could leave their houses and shops unlocked since none dared to commit theft. Justice was cheap and quick. For the first time since 1947, Pakistan enjoyed very cordial relations with Afghanistan and its western border became safe and Indian presence in Afghanistan faded. The closeness promoted the concept of strategic depth. After the forcible removal of Taliban regime by the US-NATO forces in November 2001, Pak-Afghanistan relations have strained and Indian influence has bounced back in a big way. It was owing to their social and judicial achievements that Talibanization crept into FATA and Malakand Division in Pakistan and later give birth to TTP and TNSM.   

 

Pakistan-US relations 1954-2000

 

Pakistan-USA relations have all along been transactional in nature and never developed into deep-rooted strategic relationship based on mutual trust and friendship. The 74 years history has seen many ups and downs; the US behaving like an overbearing mother-in-law and Pakistan put on a roller coaster ride behaving like a submissive daughter-in-law, taking her barbs without a whimper. Such an unfair treatment was meted out in spite of Pakistan having put its national security at stake three times and each time suffering a great deal.

 

The US embraced Pakistan for the accomplishment of its objectives in this region and no sooner the objectives were achieved, it was unceremoniously dumped. Each time the US ventured into this part of the world, it found Pakistan to be most suitable and most pliable to serve its ends. Pak-US relations were at their best during Eisenhower-Dulles era after which the US started wooing India and forced Pakistan to lean on China.

 

During the Cold War, Pakistan was reluctantly taken on board by the US in 1953/4 to help in containing communism in South Asia after India which was the camp follower of the Soviet Union refused to become part of the US defensive arc. Pakistan joined the western pacts due to its extreme security concerns from India and Afghanistan, both backed by former Soviet Union.

 

Although Pakistan earned the title of ‘most allied ally of the US’ and became totally dependent upon the US arms and technology, but the US disappointed Pakistan when its support was needed the most in the 1965 and 1971 wars with India. Pakistan was denied the crucially needed war munitions from the US as well as diplomatic support during the two wars, while India continued to receive arms from the USSR and kept the resolution of Kashmir dispute at bay due to Soviet vetoes. 

 

The US ignored India’s nuclear explosion in 1974 but promptly imposed sanctions on Pakistan in 1979 on mere suspicion that it was working on a nuclear program. However, soon after, when Pakistan’s services were needed to fight the occupying Soviet forces in Afghanistan, it once again hugged it in 1981 and doled out monetary and military assistance.

 

Throughout the 1990s, Pakistan was kept under the leash under the charges of developing an Islamic bomb, nuclear proliferation and cross border terrorism in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK). Holy warriors were dubbed as terrorists and hounded. Indo-US relations blossomed into strategic relationship during Bill Clinton rule and thereon it kept flourishing leaps and bounds.

 

Post 9/11 events

 

Pakistan was once again taken on board by the US after 9/11 for the achievement of its short-term regional objectives in Afghanistan. From the very outset, the US intoxicated with power ignored the geography, history, culture, sociology and ideology of Afghanistan. It didn’t bother that it had been a graveyard of empires where it was easy to enter but near impossible to exit safely. Not only Alexander the great fell, but the British also failed and the USSR disintegrated.

 

Blinded by rage to avenge the 9/11 attacks and immersed in the pool of arrogance and egotism, the US and its western allies jumped into the inferno of Afghanistan with full zeal and enthusiasm, and vaulted from one plan to another in pursuit of a hollow strategy, which was never changed to correct its course.

 

Gen Musharraf accepted all 7 demands of the US since he was denied the option of staying neutral. To save Pakistan from destruction, he ditched the Taliban and provided airbases, seaport, land routes and intelligence cooperation to the invaders. The US could not have so easily toppled the Taliban regime and occupied Afghanistan in a month if Pakistan had not provided full support.

 

Completely isolated and encircled from all directions, and the traditional fallback position of FATA denied, the Taliban could fight the ground forces of NA, but couldn’t have resisted the massive air bombing for long. Hence they wisely undertook a tactical withdrawal to regain strength and start bleeding the occupiers through prolonged insurrectional war. The euphoric George W. Bush sounded the victory bugles too prematurely and took it for granted that the Taliban were down and out.

 

Mistakes made by Bush administration

 

Much against Pakistan’s advice, the US installed NA heavy regime in Kabul which was pro-India and anti-Pakistan. The puppet regime ignored the Afghan Pashtuns and started giving more space to India to make it the preeminent player in Afghanistan as was desired by the US.

 

Ignoring the heavy majority Pashtuns and relying solely on the minority NA regime was the first mistake made by Bush administration. This blunder was followed by another when it imposed the US tailored constitution upon the tribal based society. 

 

Opening of the second front by USA in Iraq in 2003 without consolidating the gains in Afghanistan was another slip-up, since engagement on two fronts diluted the war effort of the US-NATO and allowed breathing space to the Taliban to regroup in FATA.

 

Yet another error was raising non-Pashtun heavy Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) which turned into a liability.

 

CIA and NATO as well as Afghan warlords indulged in drug business which had almost been eliminated by the Taliban. These distractions loosened the grip of ISAF led by weak military commanders over Afghanistan and enabled the Taliban to recover lost space in southern and eastern Afghanistan and also earn money from drug business for their war effort.

 

Since the two land routes from Pakistan used by NATO containers passed through the Taliban dominated rural belt, the US security contractors and Afghan officials had to pay toll tax to the Taliban for passage of every container which also became a source of income for them.

 

The US dual standards

 

Misled by misconceived victory, over confident Bush instead of fulfilling the promises made to the Afghans by promoting democracy, education and development works, he gave preference to covert operations against Pakistan and forced Pakistan to fight the Al-Qaeda in South Waziristan (SW). That way, Pakistan earned the hostility of Al-Qaeda and own tribesmen.

 

Ironically, while Washington waged war in Iraq and Afghanistan to bring democracy, it stoutly upheld Pakistan’s military dictatorship.

 

While Pak security forces fought the Pakistani Taliban and Baloch rebel groups in FATA and in Baluchistan that were funded, trained, equipped and guided by RAW-NDS combine to destabilize Pakistan, they didn’t confront the Afghan Taliban whose struggle was entirely confined to Afghanistan and they never fired a bullet against Pak forces.

 

Pakistan started taking measures to protect its national security in 2008 once it learnt that CIA-FBI had gained complete sway over FATA with the help of TTP formed in Dec 2006. Blackwater was inducted in 2008 to bolster CIA-FBI in urban areas of Pakistan. Nexus of CIA-RAW-NDS-MI-6-Mossad-BND in Kabul supported anti-Pakistan proxies in FATA and Baluchistan.

 

In order to keep the supply routes to the TTP open so that it could indulge in terrorism in FATA and KP, the US rejected Pakistan’s proposal to fence the western border, or to increase number of border posts on Afghan side to prevent infiltration.

 

A coordinated Indo-Afghan propaganda campaign backed by the west was launched to defame Pakistan and its premier institutions.

 

Obama’s Nightmare era

 

Based on Obama’s Af-Pak strategy of anvil and hammer, managed by Richard Holbrook, ISAF failed to provide the anvil when Pak forces delivered the hammer in SW in 2009, thus letting the TTP militants under Hakimullah Mehsud to flee to Afghanistan. Pak forces managed to retrieve 17 out of 19 administrative units under the influence of TTP and confined its presence to the last bastions of North Waziristan (NW) and Khyber Agency.

 

But for Pakistan which nabbed over 600 Al-Qaeda senior leaders and operators and handed them over to CIA, the ISAF couldn’t have dismantled and defeated them in Afghanistan as claimed by Obama. Bulk of Al-Qaeda fighters had otherwise shifted to Iraq in 2004 and formed Al-Qaeda Arabian Peninsula after the US-NATO forces occupied Iraq in May 2003.

 

Two troop surges in 2009 raised the strength of ISAF (an amalgam of 48 military contingents) to near 1,50,000, but it proved futile since it resulted in heavy casualties of the occupiers. Adoption of rearward posture and abandonment of boots on ground strategy by ISAF after suffering setbacks in battles of Helmand and Nuristan and putting ANSF in the forefront, and thereafter putting heavy reliance on airpower, was a wrong decision made by Gen McChrystal. It enabled the Taliban to snatch the initiative and build momentum of offensive, which couldn’t be reversed by the occupying force.   

 

Tensions between the US and Pakistan kept increasing when the US adopted a highly discriminatory policy of blaming Pakistan for the failures of ISAF-ANSF, and instability in Afghanistan; subjecting it to drone war; insulting and penalizing it and constantly pressing it to do more against Haqqani Network (HN) and Quetta Shura, and at the same time covering up the sins of India and Kabul regime and going out of the way to reward them. Extreme pressure was mounted to flush out HN from NW. Discriminatory policy brought in element of distrust.  

 

2011 was the worst year for Pakistan in which Raymond Davis, Abbottabad attack, Memogate and Salala attack took place which forced Pakistan to cut off military cooperation with the US and stop the two NATO supply routes for six months.  

 

The reason behind the discriminatory behavior was that while Indo-US-Afghan-West-Israel are strategic partners and work in collusion to achieve their common objectives, Pakistan doesn’t fit into the US security paradigm or the Indo-Pacific strategy, and as such was accepted as a tactical partner to fight terrorism both inside Pakistan and in Afghanistan.

The points of friction which kept the Pak-US relations dysfunctional are Pakistan’s nuclear program, the CPEC, its closeness with China, hostility against India mainly due to unresolved Kashmir dispute, its refusal to recognize Israel, and its refusal to fight Afghan Taliban.

Initiation of peace talks by Obama in 2011 which led to opening of Taliban’s political office at Doha in mid-June 2013 lacked sincerity since whichever Taliban leader came forward for a peace deal, whether from TTP or the Taliban, was droned. Wali, Baituallah Mehsud, Hakimullah Mehsud, Akhtar Mansour, were all killed by drones. Fight and talk strategy was aimed at dividing Taliban movement.  

After withdrawal of bulk of ISAF forces by Dec 2014, the Taliban rapidly captured more territory and gained a military ascendency over occupying forces and the ANSF. Demoralization set in among the occupiers and collaborators; green-over-blue attacks as well as suicide cases increased; rate of desertions in ANSF accelerated.

Installation of a unity regime in Kabul in 2016 by Obama regime was a bad decision. Due to poor governance, corruption and power tussle between Ghani and Abdullah, writ of the government got confined to Kabul.

The Taliban gained dominance over 56% rural territory through which major supply routes pass; its influence stretched to well over 80% area where they installed shadow governments; could strike any part of the country; developed war economy; had sound command, control & communication infrastructure; fair judicial system and dedicated fighters.

The Taliban succeeded in breaking their isolation and were wooed by China, Russia, Turkey, Iran, Qatar, UAE, KSA, and Germany. China signed a $ 3 billion development project with the Taliban. It reduced the clout of Pakistan over them.

Writ of the ANSF backed by the US led Resolute Support Group got restricted to capital cities which are often attacked by the Taliban.    

   

Landmark peace agreement

After maximizing force against the Taliban and pressure against Pakistan, Donald Trump reopened the stalled peace talks in July 2018 and finally inked the historic peace agreement with the Taliban on February 29, 2020, in which the Kabul regime was excluded. The UN, Russia, China and Pakistan endorsed the agreement.

The Taliban agreed not to allow Afghan soil for terrorism against the US/allies, reduce violence, desist from attacking western targets in Afghanistan, sever ties with al-Qaeda, and to open inter-Afghan dialogue for a comprehensive political settlement. The US agreed to pull out all troops by May 1, 2021 and to refrain from attacking the Taliban. 5000 Taliban prisoners and 1000 ANSF prisoners were to be released within 3 months after start of intra-Afghan talks on March 10, 2020, and Taliban leaders removed from the UN blacklist. 

Intra-Afghan dialogue got delayed due to Ashraf Ghani’s reservations and foot dragging over prisoner exchange. Firefight between the Taliban and ANSF supported by the US continued in which former had an upper hand.

Trump was keen to end the longest war and make a clean break from Afghanistan and he reduced the US troop level to 2500 only.  

To be continued

The writer is a retired Brig Gen, war veteran, defence & security analyst, international columnist, author of five books, 6th book under publication, Chairman Thinkers Forum Pakistan, Director Measac Research Centre, takes part in TV talk shows. Email: asifharoonraja@gmail.com     

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