Webster G. Tarpley
Obama’s West Point speech of December 1 represents far more than the obvious brutal escalation in Afghanistan — it is nothing less than a declaration of all-out war by the United States against Pakistan. This is a brand-new war, a much wider war now targeting Pakistan, a country of 160 million people armed with nuclear weapons. In the process, Afghanistan is scheduled to be broken up. This is no longer the Bush Cheney Afghan war we have known in the past. This is something immensely bigger: the attempt to destroy the Pakistani central government in Islamabad and to sink that country into a chaos of civil war, Balkanization, subdivision and general mayhem. The chosen strategy is to massively export the Afghan civil war into Pakistan and beyond, fracturing Pakistan along ethnic lines. It is an oblique war using fourth-generation or guerrilla warfare techniques to assail a country which the United States and its associates in aggression are far too weak to attack directly. In this war, the Taliban are employed as US proxies. This aggression against Pakistan is Obama’s attempt to wage the Great Game against the hub of Central Asia and Eurasia or more generally.
US DETERRED FROM OPEN WAR BY PAKISTAN’S NUKES
The ongoing civil war in Afghanistan is merely a pretext, a cover story designed to provide the United States with a springboard for a geopolitical destabilization campaign in the entire region which cannot be publicly avowed. In the blunt cynical world of imperialist aggression à la Bush and Cheney, a pretext might have been manufactured to attack Pakistan directly. But Pakistan is far too large and the United States is far too weak and too bankrupt for such an undertaking. In addition, Pakistan is a nuclear power, possessing atomic bombs and medium range missiles needed to deliver them. What we are seeing is a novel case of nuclear deterrence in action. The US cannot send an invasion fleet or set up airbases nearby because Pakistani nuclear weapons might destroy them. To this extent, the efforts of Ali Bhutto and A.Q. Khan to provide Pakistan a deterrent capability have been vindicated. But the US answer is to find ways to attack Pakistan below the nuclear threshold, and even below the conventional threshold. This is where the tactic of exporting the Afghan civil war to Pakistan comes in.
The architect of the new Pakistani civil war is US Special Forces General Stanley McChrystal, who organized the infamous network of US torture chambers in Iraq. McChrystal’s specific credential for the Pakistani civil war is his role in unleashing the Iraqi civil war of Sunnis versus Shiites by creating “al Qaeda in Iraq” under the infamous and now departed double agent Zarkawi. If Iraqi society as a whole had lined up against the US invaders, the occupiers would have soon been driven out. The counter-gang known as “Al Qaeda in Iraq” avoided that possibility by killing Shiites, and thus calling forth massive retaliation in the form of a civil war. These tactics are drawn from the work of British General Frank Kitson, who wrote about them in his book Low Intensity Warfare. If the United States possesses a modern analog to Heinrich Himmler of the SS, it is surely General McChrystal, Obama’s hand-picked choice. McChrystal’s superior, Gen Petraeus, wants to be the new Field Marshal von Hindenburg – in other words, he wants to be the next US president.
The vulnerability of Pakistan which the US and its NATO associates are seeking to exploit can best be understood using a map of the prevalent ethnic groups of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, and India. Most maps show only political borders which date back to the time of British imperialism, and therefore fail to reflect the principal ethnic groups of the region. For the purposes of this analysis, we must start by recognizing a number of groups. First is the Pashtun people, located mainly in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Then we have the Baluchis, located primarily in Pakistan and Iran. The Punjabis inhabit Pakistan, as do the Sindhis. The Bhutto family came from Sind.
The US and NATO strategy begins with the Pashtuns, the ethnic group from which the so-called Taliban are largely drawn. The Pashtuns represent a substantial portion of the population of Afghanistan, but here they are alienated from the central government under President Karzai in Kabul, even though the US puppet Karzai passes for a Pashtun himself. The issue involves the Afghan National Army, which was created by the United States after the 2001 invasion. The Afghan officer corps are largely Tajiks drawn from the Northern Alliance that allied with the United States against the Pashtun Talibans. The Tajiks speak Dari, sometimes known as eastern Persian. Other Afghan officers come from the Hazara people. The important thing is that the Pashtuns feel shut out.
The US strategy can best be understood as a deliberate effort at persecuting, harassing, antagonizing, strafing, repressing, and murdering the Pashtuns. The additional 40,000 US and NATO forces which Obama demands for Afghanistan will concentrate in Helmand province and other areas where the Pashtuns are in the majority. The net effect will be to increase the rebellion of the fiercely independent Pashtuns against Kabul and the foreign occupation, and at the same time to push many of these newly radicalized mujaheddin fighters across the border into Pakistan, where they can wage war against the central government in Islamabad. US aid will flow directly to war lords and drug lords, increasing the centrifugal tendencies.
On the Pakistani side, the Pashtuns are also alienated from the central government. Islamabad and the army are seen by them as too much the creatures of the Punjabis, with some input from the Sindhis. On the Pakistani side of the Pashtun territory, US operations include wholesale assassinations from unmanned aerial vehicles or drones, murders by CIA and reportedly Blackwater snipers, plus blind terrorist massacres like the recent ones in Peshawar which the Pakistani Taliban are blaming on Blackwater, acting as a subcontractor of the CIA. These actions are intolerable and humiliating for a proud sovereign state. Every time the Pashtuns are clobbered, they blame the Punjabis in Islamabad for the dirty deals with the US that allow this to happen. The most immediate goal of Obama’s Afghan-Pakistan escalation is therefore to promote a general secessionist uprising of the entire Pashtun people under Taliban auspices, which would already have the effect of destroying the national unity of both Kabul and Islamabad.
The other ethnic group which the Obama strategy seeks to goad into insurrection and secession is the Baluchis. The Baluchis have their own grievances against the Iranian central government in Tehran, which they see as being dominated by Persians. An integral part of the new Obama policy is to expand the deadly flights of the CIA Predators and other assassination drones into Baluchistan. One pretext for this is the report, peddled for example by Michael Ware of CNN, that Osama bin Laden and his MI-6 sidekick Zawahiri are both holed up in the Baluchi city of Quetta, where they operate as the kingpins of the so-called “Quetta Shura.” Blackwater teams cannot be far behind. In Iranian Baluchistan, the CIA is funding the murderous Jundullah organization, which was recently denounced by Teheran for the murder of a number of top officials of the Iranian Pasdaran Revolutionary guards. The rebellion of Baluchistan would smash the national unity of both Pakistan and Iran, thus helping to destroy two of the leading targets of US policy.
OBAMA’S RUBE GOLDBERG STRATEGY
Even Chris Matthews of MSNBC, normally a devoted acolyte of Obama, pointed out that the US strategy as announced at West Point very much resembles a Rube Goldberg contraption. (In the real world, “al Qaeda” is of course the CIA’s own Arab and terrorist legion.) In the world of official US myth, the enemy is supposed to be “Al Qaeda.” But, even according to the US government, there are precious few “Al Qaeda” fighters left in Afghanistan. Why then, asked Matthews, concentrate US forces in Afghanistan where “Al Qaeda” is not, rather than in Pakistan where “Al Qaeda” is now alleged to be?
One elected official who has criticized this incongruous mismatch is Democratic Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, who said in a television interview that ‘Pakistan, in the border region near Afghanistan, is perhaps the epicenter [of global terrorism], although al Qaida is operating all over the world, in Yemen, in Somalia, in northern Africa, affiliates in Southeast Asia. Why would we build up 100,000 or more troops in parts of Afghanistan included that are not even near the border? You know, this buildup is in Helmand Province. That’s not next door to Waziristan. So I’m wondering, what exactly is this strategy, given the fact that we have seen that there is a minimal presence of Al Qaida in Afghanistan, but a significant presence in Pakistan? It just defies common sense that a huge boots on the ground presence in a place where these people are not is the right strategy. It doesn’t make any sense to me.’ Indeed. ‘The Wisconsin Democrat also warned that U.S. policy in Afghanistan could actually push terrorists and extremists into Pakistan and, as a consequence, further destabilize the region: “You know, I asked the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mullen, and Mr. Holbrooke, our envoy over there, a while ago, you know, is there a risk that if we build up troops in Afghanistan, that will push more extremists into Pakistan?” he told ABC. “They couldn’t deny it, and this week, Prime Minister Gilani of Pakistan specifically said that his concern about the buildup is that it will drive more extremists into Pakistan, so I think it’s just the opposite, that this boots-on-the-ground approach alienates the Afghan population and specifically encourages the Taliban to further coalesce with Al Qaida, which is the complete opposite of our national security interest.”’1 Of course, this is all intentional and motivated by US imperialist raison d’état.
MALICK: “DID OBAMA DECLARE WAR ON PAKISTAN?”
Obama’s speech did everything possible to blur the distinction between Afghanistan and Pakistan, which are after all two sovereign states and both members of the United Nations in their own right. Ibrahim Sajid Malick, US correspondent for Samaa TV, one of the largest Pakistan television networks, called attention to this ploy: ‘Speaking to a hall full of cadets at the US Military Academy of West Point, President Barack Obama almost seemed like he might be declaring war on Pakistan. Every time he mentioned Afghanistan, Pakistan preceded mention…. Sitting at the back benches of the hall at one point I almost jumped out of my chair when he said: “the stakes are even higher within a nuclear-armed Pakistan, because we know that al Qaeda and other extremists seek nuclear weapons, and we have every reason to believe that they would use them.” I was shocked because a succession of American officials recently confirmed that the Pakistani arsenal is secure.’2 This article is entitled “Did Obama Declare War On Pakistan?”, and we can chalk the question mark up to diplomatic discretion. During congressional hearings involving General McChrystal and US Ambassador Eikenberry, Afghanistan and Pakistan were simply fused into one sinister entity known as “Afpak” or even “Afpakia.”
In the summer of 2007, Obama, coached by Zbigniew Brzezinski and other controllers, was the originator of the unilateral US policy of using Predator drones for political assassinations inside Pakistan. This assassination policy is now being massively escalated along with the troop strength: “Two weeks ago in Pakistan, Central Intelligence Agency sharpshooters killed eight people suspected of being militants of the Taliban and Al Qaeda, and wounded two others in a compound that was said to be used for terrorist training…. The White House has authorized an expansion of the C.I.A.’s drone program in Pakistan’s lawless tribal areas, officials said this week, to parallel the president’s decision…to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan. American officials are talking with Pakistan about the possibility of striking in Baluchistan for the first time — a controversial move since it is outside the tribal areas — because that is where Afghan Taliban leaders are believed to hide.”3 The US is now training more Predator operators than combat pilots.
BLACKWATER ACCUSED IN PESHAWAR MASSACRE OF WOMEN AND CHILDREN
The CIA, the Pentagon, and their various contractors among the private military firms are now on a murder spree across Pakistan, attacking peaceful villages and wedding parties, among other targets. Blackwater, now calling itself Xe Services and Total Intelligence Solutions, is heavily involved: ‘At a covert forward operating base run by the US Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) in the Pakistani port city of Karachi, members of an elite division of Blackwater are at the center of a secret program in which they plan targeted assassinations of suspected Taliban and Al Qaeda operatives, “snatch and grabs” of high-value targets and other sensitive action inside and outside Pakistan, an investigation by The Nation has found. The Blackwater operatives also assist in gathering intelligence and help direct a secret US military drone bombing campaign that runs parallel to the well-documented CIA predator strikes, according to a well-placed source within the US military intelligence apparatus.’ 4
As shocking as Scahill’s report is, it must nevertheless be viewed as a limited hangout, since there is no mention of the persistent charges that a large part of the deadly bombings in Peshawar and other Pakistani cities are being carried out by Blackwater, as this news item suggests: “ISLAMABAD Oct. 29 (Xinhua) — Chief of Taliban movement in Pakistan Hakimullah Mehsud has blamed the controversial American private firm Blackwater for the bomb blast in Peshawar which killed 108 people, local news agency NNI reported Thursday.”5 This was blind terrorism designed for maximum slaughter, especially among women and children.
US ALSO AT WAR WITH UZBEKISTAN?
Scahill’s report also suggests that US black ops have reached into Uzbekistan, a post-Soviet country of 25 million which borders Afghanistan to the north: ‘In addition to planning drone strikes and operations against suspected Al Qaeda and Taliban forces in Pakistan for both JSOC and the CIA, the Blackwater team in Karachi also helps plan missions for JSOC inside Uzbekistan against the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, according to the military intelligence source. Blackwater does not actually carry out the operations, he said, which are executed on the ground by JSOC forces. “That piqued my curiosity and really worries me because I don’t know if you noticed but I was never told we are at war with Uzbekistan,” he said. “So, did I miss something, did Rumsfeld come back into power?”’ 6 Such are the ways of hope and change.
The role of US intelligence in fomenting the Baluchistan rebellion for the purpose of breaking Pakistan apart is also confirmed by Professor Chossudovsky: ‘Already in 2005, a report by the US National Intelligence Council and the CIA forecast a “Yugoslav-like fate” for Pakistan “in a decade with the country riven by civil war, bloodshed and inter-provincial rivalries, as seen recently in Baluchistan.” (Energy Compass, 2 March 2005). According to the NIC-CIA, Pakistan is slated to become a “failed state” by 2015, “as it would be affected by civil war, complete Talibanization and struggle for control of its nuclear weapons”. (Quoted by former Pakistan High Commissioner to UK, Wajid Shamsul Hasan, Times of India, 13 February 2005)…. Washington favors the creation of a “Greater Baluchistan” which would integrate the Baluch areas of Pakistan with those of Iran and possibly the Southern tip of Afghanistan, thereby leading to a process of political fracturing in both Iran and Pakistan.’7 The Iranians, for their part, are adamant that the US is committing acts of war on their territory in Baluchistan: “TEHRAN, Oct. 29 (Xinhua) — Iran’s Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani said …that there are some concrete evidences showing U.S. involvement in recent deadly bomb explosions in the country’s Sistan-Baluchistan province, the official IRNA news agency reported. …. The deadly suicide attack by Sunni rebel group Jundallah (God’s soldiers) occurred on Oct. 18 in Iran’s Sistan-Baluchistan province near the border with Pakistan when the local officials were preparing a ceremony in which the local tribal leaders were to meet the military commanders of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).8
US GOAL: CUT THE PAKISTAN ENERGY CORRIDOR BETWEEN IRAN, CHINA
Why would the United States be so obsessed with the breakup of Pakistan? One reason is that Pakistan is traditionally a strategic ally and economic partner of China, a country which the US and British are determined to oppose and contain on the world stage. Specifically, Pakistan could function as an energy corridor linking the oil fields of Iran and possibly even Iraq with the Chinese market by means of a pipeline that would cross the Himalayas above Kashmir. This is the so-called “Pipelinestan” issue. This would give China a guaranteed land-based oil supply not subject to Anglo-American naval superiority, while also cutting out the 12,000 mile tanker route around the southern rim of Asia. As a recent news report points out: ‘Beijing has been pressuring Tehran for China’s participation in the pipeline project and Islamabad, while willing to sign a bilateral agreement with Iran, has also welcomed China’s participation. According to an estimate, such a pipeline would result in Pakistan getting $200 million to $500 million annually in transit fees alone. China and Pakistan are already working on a proposal for laying a trans-Himalayan pipeline to carry Middle Eastern crude oil to western China. Pakistan provides China the shortest possible route to import oil from the Gulf countries…. The pipeline, which would run from the southern Pakistan port of Gwadar and follow the Karakoram highway, would be partly financed by Beijing. The Chinese are also building a refinery at Gwadar. Imports using the pipeline would allow Beijing to reduce the portion of its oil shipped through the narrow and unsafe Strait of Malacca, which at present carries up to 80% of its oil imports. Islamabad also plans to extend a railway track to China to connect it to Gwadar. The port is also considered the likely terminus of proposed multibillion-dollar gas pipelines reaching from the South Pars fields in Iran or from Qatar, and from the Daulatabad fields in Turkmenistan for export to world markets. Syed Fazl-e-Haider, “Pakistan, Iran sign gas pipeline deal,” Asia Times, 27 May 2009.9 This is the normal, peaceful economic progress and cooperation which the Anglo-Americans are hell-bent on stopping.
Oil and natural gas pipelines from Iran across Pakistan and into China would carry energy resources into the Middle Kingdom, and would also serve as conveyor belts for Chinese economic influence into the Middle East. This would make Anglo-American dominion increasingly tenuous in a part of the world which London and Washington have traditionally sought to control as part of their overall strategy of world domination.
US domestic propaganda is already portraying Pakistan as the new home base of terrorism. The four pathetic patsies going on trial for an alleged plot to bomb a synagogue in the Riverdale neighborhood of the Bronx in New York City had been carefully sheep-dipped to associate them with the shadowy and suspicious Jaish-e-Mohammad, allegedly a Pakistani terrorist group. The same goes for the five Moslems from Northern Virginia who have just been arrested near Lahore in Pakistan.
INDIA AND IRAN
As far as the neighboring states are concerned, India under the unfortunate Manmohan Singh seems to be accepting the role of continental dagger against Pakistan and China on behalf of the US and the British. This is a recipe for a colossal tragedy. India should rather make permanent peace with Pakistan by vacating the Vale of Kashmir, where 95% of the population is Moslem and would like to join Pakistan. Without a solution to this issue, there will be no peace on the subcontinent.
Regarding Iran, George Friedman, the head of the Stratfor outlet of the US intelligence community recently told Russia Today that the great novelty of the next decade will be an alliance of the United States with Iran directed against Russia. In that scenario, Iran would cut off oil to China altogether. That is the essence of the Brzezinski strategy. It is urgent that the antiwar movement in the United States regroup and begin a new mobilization against the cynical hypocrisy of Obama’s war and escalation policy, which suprasses even the war crimes of the Bush-Cheny neocons. In this new phase of the Great Game, the stakes are incalculable.
2 Ibrahim Sajid Malick, “Did Obama Declare War On Pakistan?,” Pakistan for Pakistanis Blog, 2 December 2009. http://ibrahimsajidmalick.com/did-Obama-declare-war-on-pakistan/484/
3 Scott Shane, “C.I.A. to Expand Use of Drones in Pakistan,” New York Times, December 3, 2009. See also David E. Sanger and Eric Schmitt, “Between the Lines, an Expansion in Pakistan,” New York Times, 1 December 2009.
4 Jeremy Scahill, “The Secret US War in Pakistan,” The Nation, November 23, 2009
5 “Taliban in Pakistan blame U.S. Blackwater for deadly blast,” Xinhua News Agency, 29 October 2009, http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2009-10/29/content_12358907.htm
6 Jeremy Scahill, “The Secret US War in Pakistan,” The Nation, November 23, 2009
7 Michel Chossudovsky, The Destabilization of Pakistan, Global Research, December 30, 2007
8 “Iran says having evidences of U.S. involvement in suicide bomb attacks,” Xinhua, 29 October 2009.
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