Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Invitation to a Coup - or a Revolution - in Pakistan

The NY Times (in a piece co-authored by Dexter Filkins) is reporting that "Senior American military commanders in Afghanistan are pushing for an expanded campaign of Special Operations ground raids across the border into Pakistan’s tribal areas."  As the NYT further notes, this is "a risky strategy reflecting the growing frustration with Pakistan’s efforts to root out militants there."  The AP is now reporting "NATO's deputy chief of communications, U.S. Rear Adm. Gregory Smith, said there was no truth to a report published in The New York Times." - and a "senior US defense official" confirms this.

They're circling the wagons.

And as for this possible move being "risky"?  How about dangerous - and bloody stupid?!

As usual, the military seems to be all about "success" in "the mission" - which now means killing as many "bad guys" as possible, rack up higher scores, and thereby demonstrate that they (= David Petraeus, the would-be maharajah of Afpak) can achieve "victory" if only Obama backs off the impending start of the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan.  Underpinning all of this, of course, is the neocon-inspired doctrine that in the defense of our "freedoms" and the promotion of the "American way," the trashing of the domestic economy and infrastructure cannot be an obstacle.

But the senior military commanders seem to be oblivious to the possible long-term (or even shorter-term?) consequences of such an expanded campaign.  Such a significant ramping-up of US/NATO (= let's face it, essentially US) incursions into Pakistan - especially by Special Forces conducting surprise night-raid operations - would be viewed by an already angry Pakistani population as a huge, completely unacceptable affront to their country, as both a sovereign nation and a predominantly Muslim one.  Mr. Zardari's civilian government is very weak and extremely unpopular as is.  Pakistan has a long history of military take-overs during times of internal conflict.  The army is the single most powerful institution  - and the current head of Pakistan's military, General Ashraf Kiyani, is arguably the single most powerful  leader in Pakistan today.  The advocates for Pakistani democracy cheered the earlier removal of General Pervez Musharraf.  But neither the US military, nor President Bush, were especially pleased to see Musharraf depart, and Pakistan's pro-democracy movements reviled Bush, and the US's hypocrisy, for that very reason.  To see the civilian government toppled, and replaced by a new military dictatorship, would unquestionably arouse public, anti-American violence on a potentially massive scale.  The military would have to be called in to control it (which would divert them from the very kind of anti-al-Qaeda operations that the US has been pushing them so hard to do).

And the potential for an Islamist revolution in Pakistan as the eventual outcome is substantial.  If that were to happen, one of the US's - and Israel's - most nightmarish dreams would be realized: an Islamist, anti-US, anti-Zionist regime with an arsenal of nuclear weapons and systems with which to deliver them.

I pray that our "senior military commanders" think this through.

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