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Archive for category US FOREIGN POLICY & INTERNATIONAL LAW

Pakistan & regional undercurrents   by Asif Haroon Raja

Pakistan & regional undercurrents  

Asif Haroon Raja

Global upheavals

 

 

Recent times have seen upheavals at the global, regional and domestic levels. At the global level, much against the expectations of a thaw in the strained relations between the US under Joe Biden and China-Russia, ego and arrogance have come in the way of the change. The US considers China to be the chief threat to its global monopoly since China’s rise has brought about a ‘tectonic’ shift in the global balance of power’. The world order has transitioned to a new power equation where the US and China are two poles with other centres of power adjusting to co-exist. Shifting power alliances and realignments currently underway portend a new power structure whose shape is yet to evolve. The pivot of geo-economics has shifted from the West to the East, where China in concert with Russia would play a key role. The Indo-Pacific policy of containment of China by the QUAD (USA, Japan, Australia, and India) is bound to fail. Similar will be the fate of the US desire to make India the policeman of South Asia through multiple defence pacts. Far-Right has gained strength in the western world while fascism and racism have heightened in the USA, Israel and India. The US policy of military adventurism has narrowed its circle of friends, while the policy of peace, friendship and shared dividends pursued by China has helped it in enhancing its influence and circle of friends.

Unresolved Palestinian issue

Gaza was once again viciously bombarded and the Al-Aqsa mosque desecrated by the Israeli forces in the holy month of Ramadan. During the 11-day slaughter and destruction, 265 Palestinians including 66 children were killed and hundreds wounded, while only 12 people were killed in Israel by the rockets fired by Hamas. The homemade rockets, however, for the first time dodged the invincible Iron Dom, which has become a cause of concern for Israel. Except for some token condemnations and protest marches, the Muslim world stood aloof. The two-state solution as envisaged in the Oslo Accord still remains a forlorn hope. 

Turbulence in Jammu & Kashmir (J&K)

Although the Line of Control (LoC) in J&K has been quietened after the secretive understanding arrived at between the DGMOs of the two arch-rivals, no breakthrough has been achieved at the state level. India is not prepared to restore the special status of Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK), or to lift the lockdown and stop persecuting the Kashmiris. The Modi regime has intensified its efforts to change the demography of IOK. Like the Palestinian issue, the Kashmir issue is the oldest unresolved dispute lying pending in the tray of the UN since 1948.

Cross border terrorism

Cross border terrorism against Pakistan by RAW-NDS from Afghan soil continues unceasingly. Apart from striking targets in Waziristan and Baluchistan, Johar Town in Lahore was also targeted by the combined nexus of RAW-NDS-CIA-Mossad to kill interned Hafiz Saeed who has always been viewed by India as a big threat to its security particularly in IOK because of his huge followings both sides of the LoC as well as in Punjab. Objectives were to get rid of this threat and also trigger religious Far Right backlash in Punjab. Within four days the whole network was rounded up and the masterminds identified by Punjab Police.  

Various anti-Pakistan terrorist groups like TTP, Jamaatul Ahrar Lashkar-e-Islam based in Afghanistan, Baloch rebel groups (BLA, BRA, BLF) and Sindh based separatist groups have been unified by these agencies to create trouble in provinces. At the same time, the PDM has been instigated to recommence rallies to foment political instability. The hybrid war is targeting the Pak Army and the ISI to tarnish their image.

India’s penchant for falsehood

False narratives and stories are still being woven by India’s Chronicles which was busted by the Disinformation Lab in Brussels last year. The sole purpose of India’s media war is to disrepute Pakistan and its institutions. The latest cooked up story is the imaginary plot of some senior Pak Army officers to assassinate Gen Qamar Bajwa. It’s a clear indication that Indian military leadership is fearful of him and see him as a big threat to their sinister plans.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The other woolly story circulated by Indian media is about the drone attacks on the Indian airbase in Jammu, which have been pinned on Pakistan. Logically the two bombs allegedly dropped on the airbase should have destroyed it including the warplanes and helicopters parked in the aprons and on the runway. Interestingly, the bombs could only make two small holes in one of the barracks and didn’t cause any human or material damage which itself speaks of the lunacy of the allegation made. The purpose was to deflect the attention of the world from its fiasco in Lahore where RAW was caught with its pants down, to create another sensation, hide its atrocities in IOK, and to win the sympathies of the world. It backfired since India once again failed to substantiate its accusations.

Yet another bizarre concoction that was floated by India was about the spy drone flying over Indian Embassy in Islamabad. For argument sake, even if it is accepted as true, what was so strange about the drone flying within its own territory? While levelling this wonky complaint, India forgot that its spy drones have been repeatedly crossing deep inside AJK to photograph our posts and deployments along the LoC and in depth, and every intruding drone was shot down. This year, three intrusions were carried out.           

India’s quandaries

The belligerence of Modi and his hawks against Pakistan have considerably mellowed down because of multiple factors. Its venture of integrating disputed IOK and promulgation of anti-Indian Muslim laws have backfired. The Sikh movement together with Kissan Tehriq and the Naxalite movement has become existential threats. Covid-19 has spun out of control and the daily death rate is the highest in the world. It has plummeted India’s rising economy into negative and BJP’s popularity has declined as gauged from the results of recent by-elections.  Seculars in India have joined hands with the minorities to confront BJP’s fascism and racism.

Externally, India has suffered several setbacks. India’s plan to annex Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) was disrupted by China by taking control of important heights across the LAC in the Himalayas from where the PLA dominates the lone supply route to the KKH and GB. It is now faced with a twin threat for the first time. While Afghanistan has slipped out of its hands, it has also lost Iran after its ouster from Chahbahar and railway projects.

Both the US and Israel are unhappy with India over its poor performance against China, and its failure to accomplish any of the objectives against Pakistan. More and more voices of criticism are now heard in the West after exposure of scandal of India’s Chronicles, Goswami WhatsApp chat, continued lockdown of Kashmiris since August 5, 2019, denial of basic rights and demographic change.

Other regional countries

Iran has snuggled away from India and has come into the loop of China after the latter signed a $480 billion long term agreement with Iran.

While there is a thaw in Pak-Iran relations, Saudi Arabia and UAE have restored old ties with Pakistan and the former plans to install an oil refinery at Gwadar.

Pakistan has got closer to Turkey, Azerbaijan, Sri Lanka, some Central Asian States and is fast improving its relations with Russia and African countries.  

Situation in Afghanistan

The US has been forced to end the 20 years’ war in Afghanistan, which is a telling reminder of its failed policies. Pakistan played a pivotal role in bringing the Taliban and the US to the negotiating table and signing the historic Doha agreement as well as in starting an intra-Afghan dialogue to arrive at a political settlement. While Trump was keen to pull out occupying troops by May 1 this year, Biden, influenced by the spoilers of peace, had second thoughts and was inclined to extend the date of exit. In the face of a rise in attacks by the Taliban, he had to announce in April that the withdrawal would be completed by Sept 11. The bulk of US-NATO troops have already withdrawn, and 7 military bases including Bagram vacated and handed over to the ANSF. Reportedly, the withdrawal will be completed by end of August if not earlier, but the US intends to keep a small contingent of about 650 personnel in the Kabul military base for the protection of its diplomats in the US Embassy and probably for technical support to the ANA.

The Taliban will not accept the presence of a single foreign soldier and have also not welcomed Turkey’s offer of taking over the security of Kabul airport. Washington has requested Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan to temporarily house around 9000 Afghan drivers, translators and workers employed in Bagram airbase and their families. The Biden administration has pledged to expedite immigration visas for the Afghans who worked with the US forces, but the visa seekers are desperate to fly to safe havens at the earliest. To support the shaky regime in Kabul and the vacillating ANSF which lacks the capacity to confront the Taliban, Biden promised financial assistance to the visiting Ashraf Ghani and Dr. Abdullah.

The US is also urgently in need of a military base outside Afghanistan, supposedly for counterterrorism against Al-Qaeda, Daesh and the Taliban. With the fizzling out of Ladakh as a base, the US persuaded Pakistan to provide a military base and besides promising some goodies, it used coercive tactics with the help of FATF and IMF but Pakistan firmly refused. Imran Khan stated that Pakistan is ready to cooperate with the US for peace and development of Afghanistan but not for war and conflict. Air corridor and land routes have been made available till the completion of the withdrawal of US-NATO troops. The three Central Asian states have also refused to provide military bases to the US because of Russian influence.

The desire for a military base outside Afghanistan after losing the war and the stated purpose of counter-terrorism is ludicrous. Al-Qaeda and ISIS were CIA creations. Obama had made a declaration in 2012 that the Al-Qaeda network in Afghanistan had been effectively disrupted, dismantled and destroyed. Factually, the bulk of Al-Qaeda operatives had shifted to Arabian Peninsula in 2004 after the Bush administration opened the second front in Iraq in March 2003. More than 600 Al-Qaeda leaders and operatives were caught by Pak security forces and handed over to the CIA who were shifted to Gitmo. So, against which Al-Qaeda the new US administration want to carry out counter-terrorism?

As regards ISIS, after using it in Iraq and Syria, sizeable numbers of its fighters were airlifted in helicopters from the Middle East by CIA-RAW to Nangarhar in Afghanistan in 2014. After marrying them with Jamaatul Ahrar, an offshoot of TTP, they were pitched against the Taliban and also launched into Baluchistan and Karachi. After the Doha agreement, most of the attacks on civil targets were the doings of Daesh, but the spoilers blamed the Taliban to disrepute them and the peace agreement. Lastly, the US has no moral right to carry out counter-terrorism against the victorious Taliban with whom it has signed a peace agreement and the Taliban are restraining themselves from attacking the foreign targets.  

Having lost the war and forced to withdraw, and failing to acquire a military base, the only option left with the spoilers of peace is to resort to dirty tricks to keep war-torn Afghanistan simmering in the cauldron of instability and insecurity. India and the puppet regime in Kabul whose days are numbered are fully involved in the game of USA. This is the only way to lessen their pangs of shame and humiliation. They will make all-out efforts to create as many hurdles and problems for the Taliban to ensure that they fail in restoring peace and order in the country.

With this aim in mind, the losers are frenetically circulating frightening scenarios and painting the Taliban as man-eating beasts, once again on the verge of snatching power. They are scaring the regional countries that in case of takeover by the Taliban and establishment of Islamic Emirate, all hell will break loose and it will spell disaster for the people of Afghanistan and for its neighbours. Influenced by the propaganda, Russia, China, Central Asian States, Iran as well as Pakistan are keen that a broad-based Republic regime is established in Kabul and are uncomfortable with the idea of Islamic Emirate.   

While upholding this stance, seemingly they ignore certain historical facts and ground realities. Soon after toppling the Taliban regime led by Mulla Omar in Nov 2001, the US spent $ 3 billion to form a Northern Alliance heavy regime in Kabul led by President Hamid Karzai. It accommodated all the notorious warlords and drug barons. The puppet regime ruled at a stretch till Aug 2016, after which an unnatural unity regime of Ashraf Ghani-Dr. Abdullah was formed, in spite of their incompetence and corruption are still in power, and wants to remain in power in future as well. The two regimes completely failed to bring peace and prosperity to the country, which had remained peaceful, stable and crime-free during the 5-year rule of the Taliban.  The Taliban achieved this feat because of the imposition of the Islamic system based on justice.

Stability couldn’t be achieved by the US-installed regimes in spite of the US spending $ 1.5 trillion. Throughout the period of occupancy, the country saw bloodshed, death and destruction. The US never made sincere efforts to build Afghanistan, eliminate poverty and illiteracy, provide jobs and make the lives of the people comfortable. Peace talks with the Taliban in 2011 and the opening of a political office in Doha in 2013 were ruses to divide the Taliban movement and not to restore peace. Even after the Doha agreement in Feb 2019, the spoilers have been stoking instability in Afghanistan to find an excuse to delay the exit of occupying forces.

The US-NATO-ANA forces were not showering flowers on the Afghans during their longest war, but raining molten lava causing over 5 lacs civil casualties. About 5000 ill-clad, ill-equipped ragtag resistance forces were kept on the run for 20 years at a stretch. It was a nightmare for them and they tried to survive in hell. Pakistan which was forced to fight the US war suffered the most, but India as well as those in power drew maximum benefits from the US largesse.

With this background, what greater calamity can befall upon the Afghan Pashtuns in general and the Taliban in particular after the departure of occupying forces whose three generations have seen nothing but war? How will it become more unstable, lawless and insecure under the rule of the Taliban which has learnt lessons, gained maturity and experience, and know the pitfalls of a civil war?

In 1990, there were 7 Mujahideen groups of various ethnicities with no unity of command under one ruler. Conversely, the Taliban movement has remained united and focused, and it saw three Ameers, Mullah Omar, Mullah Mansour and incumbent Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada succeeding each other with no discord. Haqqanis under Sirajuddin remain loyal to the Ameer.

It is befuddling that Pakistan is toeing the US line to let the Ghani-Abdullah regime share power with the Taliban under a Republic despite having suffered the most in the US imposed war on terror due to the perverse role of ANA heavy regime in Kabul which is in collusion with India.                        

White House and the Pentagon once again tried to win over Pakistani leaders and officials. Given her long-term strategic interest as well as past experience, Pakistan cannot afford to even think of aligning herself with a power that is openly at loggerheads with China, Russia and Iran, and strategically aligned with India. Pakistan’s nuclear program and the CPEC are eyesores for the US. More than that, it will be a mortal sin to betray the people of Afghanistan once again. Only fools rush in where angels fear to tread. Moreover, it must not be forgotten that the U.S still has unfinished business in Pakistan.

Pakistan’s contrasting relations with the USA and China

Our Western friends never provided a security umbrella against expansionist India, and wasted our precious seven decades by making Pakistan run on a treadmill and obstructed its economic take-off. Pakistan-US relations overshadowed by mistrust and unequal partnership are still transactional in nature. The sword of the FATF hangs over the head in spite of Pakistan fulfilling 26 of its 27 points. Pakistan Foreign Minister rightly questioned whether the FATF is a technical forum or political? The IMF loan has become more burdensome after Saudi Arabia and UAE at the behest of the US took back their loans and facility of deferred oil payment.

Conversely, the spectrum of the Pakistan-China relationship spread over 70 years has become multifaceted. The CPEC which is the flagship of $ 1.3 trillion BRI has elevated the relationship to an all-weather strategic cooperative partnership. The CPEC which is equally beneficial to both has bound China to help in safeguarding Pakistan’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity. Successful completion of the CPEC by 2030 will realise the dream of Pakistanis for a prosperous, secure and self-reliant country.  

Domestic squabbling

Internally, the ruling PTI regime is up against formidable challenges. So far it has not been able to steady the dwindling economy or fulfil any of its lofty promises. Notwithstanding slight improvements made in the macro-economics, at the micro-level, no relief has been provided to the masses. Inflation and price hike are at a new high which has frustrated the people. Its lack of performance has diminished the charisma of Imran Khan as could be seen from the results in the by-elections in all the four provinces. It gave space to the PDM to push the government against the wall, but its disunity has given a welcome breather to the rulers who are also faced with internal cracks because of the emergence of a new group under Jahangir Tareen. This group has made the position of the PTI in Punjab and in the Centre tenuous.

Political polarization has blocked the government’s efforts to carry out essential reforms and it is left with no choice but to rule by presidential ordinances. Sharif family continues to pose a political threat since the PML-N vote bank in Punjab remains intact. The PPP under Bilawal in Sindh is exploiting the provincial autonomy under the 18th Amendment and has adopted a posture of non-cooperation. Bilawal and Sindh Chief Minister are flying to Washington to offer their good services if brought to power. Disturbing law and order in rural-urban Sindh and in Baluchistan where the foreign paid proxies have again stepped up terrorism, and negativism of social media are causes of consternation for the government.    

Covid-19 is another big challenge for the ruling regime which has slowed down its development and socio-economic programs. It handled the first and second waves of the pandemic intelligently and is handling the third wave skillfully. The fourth wave is reportedly round the corner. China has extended full support to tackle the disease and provided vaccines free of cost. Now Pakistan has started manufacturing the vaccines locally, which will speed up the vaccination campaign. But the majority of the people living in rural areas are averse to vaccination and see it as a ploy of Dajjali forces to depopulate the world.

What is encouraging is fast track construction of the hydel power projects including the Mohmand dam which would greatly help in ridding the nation from the curse of the IPPs and would provide cheap electricity and overcome water crisis. It will be very satisfying if the GDP rises to 3.8% to 4% as assured by the new Finance Minister. The graph of exports, revenue collection and remittances from the expatriates are on the increase.

Pakistan needs to learn from China and take concrete steps to eradicate corruption, crimes and poverty, to increase exports, improve governance, reform the state institutions, boost up agriculture and industry, and encourage the private sector.

The writer is retired Brig Gen, war veteran, he took part in the epic battle of Hilli, defence & security analyst, international columnist, author of five books, his sixth book is under publication, Chairman Thinkers Forum Pakistan, Director Measac Research Centre, Member CWC PESS. asifharoonraja@gmail.com       

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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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US leadership has stumbled from one military debacle to another, a trajectory mirroring the sad finales of other historical imperial powers.

US leadership has stumbled from one military debacle to another, a trajectory mirroring the sad finales of other historical imperial powers.

 

America’s defeat in Afghanistan is one in a string of catastrophic military blunders that herald the death of the American empire. With the exception of the first Gulf War, fought largely by mechanized units in the open desert that did not – wisely – attempt to occupy Iraq, the United States political and military leadership has stumbled from one military debacle to another. Korea. Vietnam. Lebanon. Afghanistan. Iraq. Syria. Libya. The trajectory of military fiascos mirrors the sad finales of the Chinese, Ottoman, Hapsburg, Russian, French, British, Dutch, Portuguese and Soviet empires. While each of these empires decayed with their own peculiarities, they all exhibited patterns of dissolution that characterize the American experiment.

Imperial ineptitude is matched by domestic ineptitude. The collapse of good government at home, with legislative, executive and judicial systems all seized by corporate power, ensures that the incompetent and the corrupt, those dedicated not to the national interest but to swelling the profits of the oligarchic elite, lead the country into a cul-de-sac. Rulers and military leaders, driven by venal self-interest, are often buffoonish characters in a grand comic operetta. How else to think of Allen Dulles, Dick Cheney, George W. Bush, Donald Trump or the hapless Joe Biden? While their intellectual and moral vacuity is often darkly amusing, it is murderous and savage when directed towards their victims.

There is not a single case since 1941 when the coups, political assassinations, election fraud, black propaganda, blackmail, kidnapping, brutal counter-insurgency campaigns, U.S. sanctioned massacres, torture in global black sites, proxy wars or military interventions carried out by the United States resulted in the establishment of a democratic government. The two-decade-long wars in the Middle East, the greatest strategic blunder in American history, have only left in their wake one failed state after another. Yet, no one in the ruling class is held accountable.

War, when it is waged to serve utopian absurdities, such as implanting a client government in Baghdad that will flip the region, including Iran, into U.S. protectorates, or when, as in Afghanistan, there is no vision at all, descends into a quagmire. The massive allocation of money and resources to the U.S. military, which includes Biden’s request for $715 billion for the Defense Department in fiscal year 2022, a $11.3 billion, or 1.6 percent increase, over 2021, is not in the end about national defense. The bloated military budget is designed, as Seymour Melman explained in his book, “The Permanent War Economy,” primarily to keep the American economy from collapsing. All we really make anymore are weapons. Once this is understood, perpetual war makes sense, at least for those who profit from it.

The idea that America is a defender of democracy, liberty and human rights would come as a huge surprise to those who saw their democratically elected governments subverted and overthrown by the United States in Panama (1941), Syria (1949), Iran (1953), Guatemala (1954), Congo (1960), Brazil (1964), Chile (1973), Honduras (2009) and Egypt (2013). And this list does not include a host of other governments that, however despotic, as was the case in South Vietnam, Indonesia or Iraq, were viewed as inimical to American interests and destroyed, in each case making life for the inhabitants of these countries even more miserable.

I spent two decades on the outer reaches of empire as a foreign correspondent. The flowery rhetoric used to justify the subjugation of other nations so corporations can plunder natural resources and exploit cheap labor is solely for domestic consumption. The generals, intelligence operatives, diplomats, bankers and corporate executives that manage empire find this idealistic talk risible. They despise, with good reason, naïve liberals who call for “humanitarian intervention” and believe the ideals used to justify empire are real, that empire can be a force for good. These liberal interventionists, the useful idiots of imperialism, attempt to civilize a process that was created and designed to repress, intimidate, plunder and dominate.

The liberal interventionists, because they wrap themselves in high ideals, are responsible for numerous military and foreign policy debacles. The call by liberal interventionists such as Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Susan Rice and Samantha Power to fund jihadists in Syria and depose Muammar Gaddafi in Libya rent these countries — as in Afghanistan and Iraq — into warring fiefdoms. The liberal interventionists are also the tip of the spear in the campaign to rachet up tensions with China and Russia.

Russia is blamed for interfering in the last two presidential elections on behalf of Donald Trump. Russia, whose economy is roughly the size of Italy’s, is also attacked for destabilizing the Ukraine, supporting Bashar al-Assad in Syria, funding France’s National Front party and hacking into German computers. Biden has imposed sanctions on Russia – including limits on buying newly issued sovereign debt – in response to allegations that Moscow was behind a hack on SolarWinds Corp. and worked to thwart his candidacy.

At the same time, the liberal interventionists are orchestrating a new cold war with China, justifying this cold war because the Chinese government is carrying out genocide against its Uyghur minority, repressing the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong and stealing U.S. patents. As with Russia, sanctions have been imposed targeting the country’s ruling elite. The U.S. is also carrying out provocative military maneuvers along the Russian border and in the South China Sea.

The core belief of imperialists, whether they come in the form of a Barack Obama or a George W. Bush, is racism and ethnic chauvinism, the notion that Americans are permitted, because of superior attributes, to impose their “values” on lesser races and peoples by force. This racism, carried out in the name of Western civilization and its corollary white supremacy, unites the rabid imperialists and liberal interventionists in the Republican and Democratic parties. It is the fatal disease of empire, captured in Graham Greene’s novel “The Quiet American” and Michael Ondaatje’s “The English Patient.”

The crimes of empire always spawn counter-violence that is then used to justify harsher forms of imperial repression. For example, the United States routinely kidnapped Islamic jihadists fighting in the Balkans between 1995 and 1998. They were sent to Egypt — many were Egyptian — where they were savagely tortured and usually executed. In 1998, the International Islamic Front for Jihad said it would carry out a strike against the United States after jihadists were kidnapped and transferred to black sites from Albania. They made good on their threat igniting massive truck bombs at the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that left 224 dead. Of course, the “extraordinary renditions” by the CIA did not end and neither did the attacks by jihadists.

Our decades-long military fiascos, a feature of all late empires, are called “micro-militarism.” The Athenians engaged in micro-militarism during the Peloponnesian War (431-404 B.C.) when they invaded Sicily, suffering the loss of 200 ships and thousands of soldiers. The defeat triggered successful revolts throughout the Athenian empire. The Roman empire, which at its height lasted for two centuries, created a military machine that, like the Pentagon, was a state within a state. Rome’s military rulers, led by Augustus, snuffed out the remnants of Rome’s anemic democracy and ushered in a period of despotism that saw the empire disintegrate under the weight of extravagant military expenditures and corruption. The British empire, after the suicidal military folly of World War I, was terminated in 1956 when it attacked Egypt in a dispute over the nationalization of the Suez Canal. Britain was forced to withdraw in humiliation, empowering Arab nationalist leaders such as Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser and dooming British rule over its few remaining colonies. None of these empires recovered.

“While rising empires are often judicious, even rational in their application of armed force for conquest and control of overseas dominions, fading empires are inclined to ill-considered displays of power, dreaming of bold military masterstrokes that would somehow recoup lost prestige and power,” the historian Alfred W. McCoy writes in his book “In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of US Global Power”: “Often irrational even from an imperial point of view, these micromilitary operations can yield hemorrhaging expenditures or humiliating defeats that only accelerate the process already under way.”

The worse it gets at home the more the empire needs to fabricate enemies within and without. This is the real reason for the increase in tensions with Russia and China. The poverty of half the nation and concentration of wealth in the hands of a tiny oligarchic cabal, the wanton murder of unarmed civilians by militarized police, the rage at the ruling elites, expressed with nearly half the electorate voting for a con artist and demagogue and a mob of his supporters storming the capital, are the internal signs of disintegration. The inability of the for-profit national health services to cope with the pandemic, the passage of a Covid relief bill and the proposal of an infrastructure bill that would hand the bulk of some $5 trillion dollars to corporations while tossing crumbs — one-time checks of $1,400 to a citizenry in deep financial distress — will only fuel the decline.

 

Because of the loss of unionized jobs, the real decline of wages, de-industrialization, chronic underemployment and unemployment, and punishing austerity programs, the country is plagued by a plethora of diseases of despair including opioid addictions, alcoholism, suicides, gambling, depression, morbid obesity and mass shootings — since March 16 the United States has had at least 45 mass shootings, including eight people killed in an Indiana FedEx facility on Friday, three dead and three injured in a shooting in Wisconsin on Sunday, and another three dead in a shooting in Austin on Sunday. These are the consequences of a deeply troubled society.

The façade of empire is able to mask the rot within its foundations, often for decades, until, as we saw with the Soviet Union, the empire appears to suddenly disintegrate. The loss of the dollar as the global reserve currency will probably mark the final chapter of the American empire. In 2015, the dollar accounted for 90 percent of bilateral transactions between China and Russia, a percentage that has since fallen to about 50 percent. The use of sanctions as a weapon against China and Russia pushes these countries to replace the dollar with their own national currencies. Russia, as part of this move away from the dollar, has begun accumulating yuan reserves.

 

 

 

 

 

The loss of the dollar as the world’s reserve currency will instantly raise the cost of imports. It will result in unemployment of Depression-era levels. It will force the empire to dramatically contract. It will, as the economy worsens, fuel a hyper-nationalism that will most likely be expressed through a Christianized fascism. The mechanisms, already in place, for total social control, militarized police, a suspension of civil liberties, wholesale government surveillance, enhanced “terrorism” laws that railroad people into the world’s largest prison system and censorship overseen by the digital media monopolies will seamlessly cement into place a police state. Nations that descend into crises these severe seek to deflect the rage of a betrayed population on foreign scapegoats. China and Russia will be used to fill these roles.

The defeat in Afghanistan is a familiar and sad story, one all those blinded by imperial hubris endure. The tragedy, however, is not the collapse of the American empire, but that, lacking the ability to engage in self-critique and self-correction, as it dies it will lash out in a blind, inchoate fury at innocents at home and abroad.

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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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