Monday, July 26, 2010

Update - The Great Wikileaks leak . . .

After stirring a lot of concern (and anger from the US military) by its leak of film of civilians in Baghdad being mowed down by a US copter pilot, now Wikileaks seems to have hit the motherlode: 92,000 intelligence documents that, perhaps once and for all, blow the lid off the US-Pakistan relationship by detailing how the Pakistani army's intelligence service - the ISI - has been working hand-in-hand with the Taliban (and perhaps al-Qaeda) against Karzai and the US military effort.  The leaked documents were leaked to 3 papers: the NYT, Guardian, and Der Spiegel.

Stories and commentary are all over the net: here's the NY Times' coverage, the Guardian's, (which also notes that these docs also "reveal the hand of Osama bin Laden"). The ISI is, of course, furious about the leak and denies any alleged link to the Taliban; and the White House is furious, and claims that the leak "put the lives of Americans and our partners at risk."

Josh Mull at Firedoglake puts it plainly, and well:

If you need further evidence of why our war in Afghanistan is so de-stabilizing for Pakistan, or how Pakistan’s "Strategic Depth" is a threat to the United States, or, of course, why General Kayani’s "silent coup" in Pakistan means we need to accelerate our withdrawal, then look no further than this New York Times article:

    The documents. . . suggest that Pakistan, an ostensible ally of the United States, allows representatives of its spy service to meet directly with the Taliban in secret strategy sessions to organize networks of militant groups that fight against American soldiers in Afghanistan, and even hatch plots to assassinate Afghan leaders.[...]

    Some of the reports describe Pakistani intelligence working alongside Al Qaeda to plan attacks. Experts cautioned that although Pakistan’s militant groups and Al Qaeda work together, directly linking the Pakistani spy agency, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, with Al Qaeda is difficult. [...]

    The man the United States has depended on for cooperation in fighting the militants and who holds most power in Pakistan, the head of the army, Gen. Parvez Ashfaq Kayani, ran the ISI from 2004 to 2007, a period from which many of the reports are drawn. American officials have frequently praised General Kayani for what they say are his efforts to purge the military of officers with ties to militants.

Get it? Not only are we fighting a civil war in Afghanistan, which has nothing to do with Al-Qa’eda, but we are also fighting a proxy war against Pakistan. They don’t care about our US interests, they care about their own country’s interests, and it is in their interest to kill Americans in Afghanistan, as well as aiding Al-Qa’eda. All so that Pakistan can control Afghanistan and battle against India.

The US must stop escalating in Pakistan and end the war in Afghanistan. Afghanistan’s future government is already taking shape, and Pakistan has enough of a powerful progressive movement that they can stabilize their country, and bring their government into line, provided that we end our war in both countries. Our troops should not be dying for General Kayani’s proxy war with India and they should not be dying in a civil war on behalf of President Karzai.

Meanwhile, the Independent reports that the docs may reveal thousands of war crimes. . . . perhaps  another of which is also being reported today (although it's likely to be lost in all the Wikileaks furor).  At least 45 civilians (men, women, and children) were killed in a village in Helmand province, apparently by rockets fired from helicopter gunships. according to witness accounts.  The ISAF spokesman denies involvement; but last I heard, the Taliban had no helicopter gunships.

UPDATE: Wikileaks founder Julian Assange on US military reporting in Afghanistan (I think we have a  candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize . . . or perhaps our once-upon-a-time-shiny-brite president should hand his over to Mr. Assange.):
"The real story of this material is that it is war, it's one damn thing after another," he said.

"It's the continuous small events, the continuous deaths of children, insurgents, allied forces, the millions of people."

"You will find that the US military units when self-reporting of course often speak in self-exculpatory language, redefine civilian casualties as insurgent casualties, downplay the number of casualties.

"And we know this by comparing these reports to the public record for where there has been comprehensive investigation."

"The revelation of abuse by the US and coalition forces may cause Afghans to be upset, and rightly so.

"If governments don't like populations being upset, they should treat them better, not conceal abuses that have been undertaken."

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