Mission Creep in Afghanistan / Pakistan

  • By Eric Margolis

    October 04, 2010 -- The focus of the Afghan War is clearly shifting south into Pakistan, drawing that nation and the United States forces ever closer to a direct confrontation. This grim development was as predictable as it was inevitable.

    In fact, this writer has been warning for years that US and NATO efforts to defeat resistance by Afghanistan’s fierce Pashtun tribes to Western occupation would eventually lead to spreading the conflict into neighboring Pakistan, a nation of 175 million.

    Last week, Pakistan temporarily closed the main US/NATO supply route from Karachi to the Afghan border at Torkham after the killing of three Pakistani soldiers by US helicopter gunships. Two US/NATO fuel supply convoys were burned by anti-American militants.

    Eighty percent of the supplies of the US-led forces in Afghanistan come up this long, difficult route. Along the way, the US pays large bribes to Pakistani officials, local warlords, and to Taliban. The cost of a gallon of gas delivered to US units in Afghanistan has risen to $800.

    US helicopter gunships have staged at least four attacks on Pakistan this past week alone, in addition to the mounting number of strikes by CIA drones that are inflicting heavy casualties on civilians and tribal militants alike. US special forces and CIA-run Afghan mercenaries are also increasingly active along Pakistan’s northwest frontier.

    Pakistan’s feeble government has long closed its eyes to CIA’s drone attacks. Washington does not even seek permission for the raids or give advance warning to Islamabad. Pakistani civilians bear the brunt of the attacks.

    The failing government in Islamabad is caught between two fires. Pakistanis are furious and humiliated by the American attacks. Each new assault further undermines the inept, US-installed Zardari government. Even Interior Minister Rehman Malik, the government’s strongman, protested last week’s US attacks.

    But Pakistan is on the edge of economic collapse after its devastating floods. Islamabad is now totally reliant on $2 billion annual US aid, plus tens of millions more “black” payments from CIA. Washington has given Islamabad $10 billion since 2001, most of which goes to financing 140,000 Pakistani troops to join the US-led Afghan war.

    As Osama bin Laden just pointed out in a new audio tape, the Muslim nations have been derelict in coming to Pakistan’s aid. He blamed the massive flooding in Pakistan on global warming.

    An influential former Pakistani chief of staff, Gen. Mirza Aslam Beg, just demanded Pakistan’s air force shoot down US drones and helicopters violating his nation’s sovereignty. His sentiments are widely shared in Pakistan’s increasingly angry military.

    Pakistan’s senior generals are being blasted as “American stooges” by some of the media and are losing respect among Pakistanis. A video this week of the execution of six civilians by army troops has further damaged the army’s good name.

    However, Washington’s view is very different. Pakistan is increasingly branded insubordinate, ungrateful for billions in aid, and a potential enemy of US regional interests. Many Americans consider Pakistan more of a foe than ally. The limited US financial response to Pakistan’s flood was a sign of that nation’s poor repute in North America.

    Fears are growing in Washington that the nine-year Afghan War may be lost. American popular opinion has turned against the war. The Pentagon fears a failure in Afghanistan will humiliate the US military and undermine America’s international power. In short, just what happened to the Soviet Union in Afghanistan.

    America’s foreign policy establishment is venting its anger and frustration over the failing Afghan War by lashing out at Pakistan and the US-installed Karzai regime in Kabul.

    Pakistan’s President, Asif Ali Zardari, is seen in Washington as hopeless and incompetent. Full US attention is now on Pakistan’s military, the de facto government, and its respected but embattled commander, Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, whose tenure was just extended under US pressure. Kayani is still regarded as an “asset” by Washington. But like Zardari, he is caught between American demands and outraged Pakistanis – plus concerns about the threat from India and Delhi’s machinations in Afghanistan. The recent upsurge of violence in Indian-ruled Kashmir has intensified these dangerous tensions.

    The neoconservative far right in Washington and its media allies again claim Pakistan is a grave threat to US interests and to Israel. Pakistan must be declawed and dismembered, insist the neocons. Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is reportedly being targeted for seizure or elimination by US Special Forces.

    There is also talk in Washington of dividing Afghanistan into Pashtun, Tajik and Uzbek mini-states, as the US has done in Iraq, and perhaps Pakistan, as well. Little states are easier to rule or intimidate than big ones. Many Pakistanis believe the United States is bent on dismembering their nation. Some polls show Pakistanis now regard the United States as a greater enemy than India.

    Now that America is in full mid-term election frenzy, expect more calls for tougher US military action in “AfPak.” Already unpopular politicians are terrified of being branded “soft on terrorism” and failing to maximally support US military campaigns. Flag waving replaces sober thought.

    If polls are right and Republicans achieve a major win, it’s likely there will be more and deeper US air and land attacks into Pakistan. The Pentagon is convinced it can still defeat resistance by Taliban and its allies “if only we can go after their sanctuaries in Pakistan,” as one general told me.

    Where have we heard this before? Why in Cambodia and Laos, that’s where, during the Vietnam War. The frustrated US expanded the war into Cambodia and Laos to go after Communist base camps. The war spread; these two small nations were largely destroyed, but the war was ultimately lost.

    Victory in war is achieved by concentration of forces, not spreading them ever thinner and wider.


    (Posted specially for nota. I can't imagine anyone else being specially interested in Eric Margolis' views.)

  • "Full US attention is now on Pakistan’s military, the de facto government, and its respected but embattled commander, Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, whose tenure was just extended under US pressure. Kayani is still regarded as an “asset” by Washington". Is he an asset of Pakistan or US? It’s indeed a disgrace for an army general to be regarded as an asset for enemies!!!!

  • time is coming closer for US and his allies (including Pakistan). Time is no one's friend. My Friends

  • Sorry, friends. I take back my short note above. True, Rivivalist, a shocking thing that Kiyani should be the number one asset of our number one enemy. True Super Soldier. Time is no one's friend. We may go down (though I doubt it), our enemy, in any case, is definitely on his way out - and high time too! In a couple of days' time the Afghan war will have entered its tenth year.

  • Mirzha Ghalib

    Can u distinguish between Enemy and Friend. Who is real enemy and who is real friend

    If i say enemy of my enemy is my friend (what do u say)

  • yes, the article sums up american helplessness in the geopolitical nicely.

    this is the reality, let alone taking on pakistan, they can't even sustain their operations in afghan without help of pakistan

    only our coward leadership spreads fear in the heart of citizens and hide actual reality from the people

    okay, if they want to sell pakistan, then at least put up a good price, but these guys are helpless even in price negotiations-

    kiyani's extension has exposed his loyalty, he is not going to last long.

  • SS, tough, tough question. Can I distinguish between Enemy and Friend. Off hand, I'd say: no, as a rule, I probably can't. I'm a trusting sort all in all. Can you establish that distinction to your heart's content?

    I know that my enemy's enemy is my friend is an ancient saying in human wisdom. But if by that you mean: Pak (enemy number one), US (Pak enemy and therefore my friend), I can only say Toba Allah! For the life of me NO. Let me go further: Destroy Pakistan so that the Khilafa can be ushered in? No, God forbid!

    Salam, loved para three. How cheaply they sell themselves, our so-called people in power. Power, they have to a certain extent. People, they've ceased to be quite some time ago.

  • Assalam-o-Alaikum-Warahmat-ULLAH ALL,

    This is all the result of;

    (1) 'Muslims' committing treason with Islam, with ALLAH ALMIGHTY

    (2) 'Muslims' 'consistently' 'showing' loyalty to non-Muslims who live in the west

    This situation will continue to escalate as this 'movement' against Muslims has been allowed to build up by! Muslims themselves for centuries, that is, unless Muslims 'do something' to 'stop' it.

    I say let the Muslims who show loyalty to their desires, and commit treason with Islam, with ALLAH ALMIGHTY face their end in a natural way. Let them go through the bloodshed they 'opted' for. They will be murdered mercilessly by our enemies, just like wild animals are murdered in the jungle.

    It is a fitting end for those among our ranks, who commit treason with Islam, with ALLAH ALMIGHTY, who love! to live like 'animals' (i.e., human being who are not honest, just, brave, self reliant, who do not adhere to any laws, any code of conduct).

    The time for them to face up to their death is coming. What worries me, is their 'after-life'. How will it be ? For unless they are loyal to ALLAH ALMIGHTY, they will have a 'seriously' painful after-life which will never end.

    Why is it that the notion each human being makes decisions, takes actions on his own, and therefore is 'solely' responsible for his/her decisions/actions, why doesn't knowing this fact comfort me ?

  • US strenthening her allies(northern alliance)

    پاکستا نی حکومت مضبو ط کرنے کیلئے مثبت اقدامات کررہے ہیں :امر یکی محکمہ خارجہ

    واشنگٹن (مانیٹر نگ ڈیسک)امر یکہ نے کہا ہے کہ وہ پاکستا ن کے سا تھ مل کر کا م کر تا رہے گا اورپاکستانی حکومت کو مضبو ط کر نے کے لیے مثبت اقداما ت کر رہے ہیں۔جیو نیوز کے مطا بق امریکی محکمہ خارجہ کاکہنا ہے کہ پاکستا نی عوام ایسی حکومت چا ہتے ہیں جو مسا ئل صحیح طو ر پر حل کر سکے۔انہوںنے مزید کہاکہ پاک فو ج کے ذرائع سیلا ب متا ثرین کی بحالی کے لیے استعما ل ہورہے ہیں۔


  • We do not need America or its filthy aid.

    In Pakistan who ever can afford a weapon should stand up and remove all known traitors from their immediate surroundings without blinking their eyes.

    Get rid of the traitors first of all and do not depend on police or law. They themselves are traitors.

  • Just a question in passing. Did anyone think to mark the sad anniversary which occurred yesterday, Oct 7? Today the Afghan war has entered its tenth year. Nine long years of death and destruction for Afghanistan and then Pakistan. I know the macho way is to say: who cares? We'll end up by winning and it will be a blow for Islam. I can only say I grieve for all the suffering that has been involved and is ongoing.

    As for Pakistan now being targeted, we with the 6th biggest army in the world, if we don't wake up, rack and ruin will also come upon us. From what I hear, we're not opening the Khyber Pass just yet and even the Baluchistan crossing has now been closed. Does anyone know anything more about this? Could it be that Pakistan has finally got the message: if we don't fight for our own, the country might cease to exist? Hungry India just round the corner. Or had we perhaps forgotten?

  • MG,

    You sell your soul to Satan only once, from that point on you just obey.

    If you really want to remain hopeful then pray for a change, through which you get a leadership with integrity and God-fearing hearts.

  • TL, I do that, daily and several times a day. But even those with satanc souls can occasionally hear the voice of God calling. While waiting for change that can really be called change, not Obama-style obfuscation, I keep hoping someone might still turn out to be human rather than a plain zombie.