Feuding Allies and Rising Taliban
In my Sept. 18 post, "The Terror War's Ugly, Slow Death in the Steamy Jungles of Realpolitik," I make the following statement:
"Bush's War on Terror has been checked by a potent combination of limitations. For the first time in the President's reign, the Administration has been put in a position where policy must be changed in order to work."
I believe I'm on target with this opinion. I will prove the validity of my earlier positions as they emerge in the media.
"The Terror War's Ugly, Slow Death..." focused on the following areas:
-Geneva/Legal -Military -Geopolitics -Legislative Politics -Image
In each of these areas, the goals of Bush's foreign policy embodied in the War on Terror have become unachievable. It's my intention to provide new and additional sources of evidence to support the positions I've previously taken on these various functional deficiencies.
Bush faces major Image problems in his foreign policy positions where Pakistan and Afghanistan are concerned.
Pakistan was in the news as Prime Minister Musharraf visited the US, alongside the impotentee derisively called "The Mayor of Kabul", Hamed Karzai.
The image of solidarity, two allies in the War on Terror locked hand-to-hand alongside Bush would seem to have worked on the Image level, a sort of Begin/Sadat/Carter Camp David achievement. Yet working insidiously beneath the storyline was a real life feud between the two leaders. I was surprised to see the MSM devote some coverage to the scope of the problem.
Today, Friday the 29th, Fox's Martha Weaver interviewed Martin Smith, a Frontline producer who has made a documentary "Rise of the Taliban" to be shown October 3rd.
During the interview, Smith talked about the difficulties of penetrating the tribal lands where bin Laden apparently has been sheltered. Anyone aware of just how hard it is to govern Pakistan and the fact Alexander was the last conqueror to pacify Afghanistan would know that the region is beyond the control of any government.
Smith also juxtaposed the Administration's "you're with us or against us" approach to dealing with terror in the immediate post-9/11 days, quoting Richard Armitage. I've tried to make a similar point in previous posts and articles, that this attitudal manifestation of a more robust foreign policy has failed miserably.
Smith said the US faces a crisis in Pakistan's inability to contain support for the Taliban. The Guardian provides coverage of the feud and problems in Pakistan in their article here.
Strong-arming Musharraf by threatening to bomb Pakistan back to the stone age achieves nothing as there is nothing Pakistan can do to rid itself of its tribes. As a matter of fact, the story about threatening Pakistan may not refer to the post-9/11 days but instead an exchange just a week or so ago where Musharraf revealed that bin Laden was in fact dead. According to one Tom Heneghan article (Link), Bush
"...threatened to bomb Pakistan just one week ago when Musharraf threatened to tell the world that Bin Laden has been dead for three years."
Pakistan has had a symbiotic relationship with the Taliban, described in this article transplanted from The Telegraph UK, "Pakistan 'caved in' to Taliban".
In it, there is mention of a deal between the Pakistani government and pro-Taliban tribal leaders, which I found in the Guardian article later.
Here are the details in the Massoud Ansari and Colin Freeman article:
"In return for an end to the US-backed government campaign in Waziristan, the tribal leaders - who have harboured Taliban and al-Qaeda units for more than five years - agreed to halt attacks on Pakistani troops, more than 500 of whom have been killed. The deal has been widely criticised as over-generous, with no way to enforce the Taliban's promise not to enter Afghanistan to attack coalition troops."
Where is the central axiom of Bush's stated "War on Terror"--that the nations who harbor terrorists will be treated no differently from the terrorists themselves?
The image that this kind of cooperation and acquiescence presents is politically explosive. Pakistan's negotiations with the harborers of terrorists indicates that Pakistan is in no position militarily to enforce Washingtonian edicts. At the very least the feud is a sign of a crack in the anti-terror "coalition"; more alarmingly, Pakistan appears to be incapable of controlling its own terrority, and too weak militarily to dominate the people who are sheltering Taliban.
The feud poses a massive Image problem. Karzai is right to be angry with its neighbor. The Telegraph article continues:
"While officially a US ally in the war on terror, Pakistan has been repeatedly accused by Afghanistan of not doing enough to clear Taliban militants out of its border regions, allegations it denies."
Pakistan has a long and illustrious history with bin Laden's elusive harborers, the Taliban. The Pakistani intelligence community has had well-known ties to the Taliban and played a suspicious role in their rise to power. Pakistani military officials have profitted personally through controlling the only border open to trade allowed into Afghanistan under the Taliban.
Pakistan had been a funnel for US aid to anti-Soviet mujhadeen so control over secret trade conduits didn't end with the departure of the Soviets. Now, as record poppy harvests buoy billions in financial support to the Taliban, much of the illicit cargo flows through Pakistan, where corruption must be quite rewarding to a privileged few. Apparently the Taliban are purchasing weapons in exchange for poppy or its derivatives.
Trafficking in Death
Karzai must face the threat of terror on another dimension: narco-trafficking, with distribution ties to large population centers in the West. This provides cash to fuel the insurgency, and the residual consequences can only be considered a satisfactory conclusion for terrorist forces intent on destablizing the West itself.
It's questionable if Muslims involved in the narcotics trade would be interested in terrorism. Acts of terror and mass victimization serve no purpose but to increase police scrutiny and threaten their business model. Then again Atta was a boozing, gambling womanizer, so maybe there is a case for recruiting drug dealers; perhaps a devout Muslim fundamentalist could think he was doing the right thing by distributing drugs, then sending the profit home. Taking drugs, however, would be taboo under Islam's covenant against intoxicants.
Regardless of the potential overlap between narco-terror and the fundamentalist kind, the channels for the transference of WMD open and co-exist easily alongside along covert drug trade routes. Both heroin and WMD are deadly, so in one sense the terrorists win by flooding the West with highly addictive heroin at irresistable prices. And it may well be that heroin is more effective relative to its transport risk and impact than the complications involved in moving WMD, not to mention the swift and severe reaction of law enforcement to a single terror act of massive proportions.
Rising rates of drug addiction may do more harm than outright murder in the name of Jihad; the ongoing cash flow such operations provide is an added bonus. A WMD may provide a dividend of fear, but it remains unclear just how much their use will benefit the terrorist cause. (Similar questions have been raised about al Qaeda's role in 9-11, considering the destructive reaction to the premise that hijacked planes had been able to down the towers and strike the Pentagon. Still, al-Qaeda's popularity soared, where it mattered: in the Arab world. Recruitment is up.)
As the story of Pakistani infirmity creeps into the American mainstream, the clear failure of Bush Administration policy to succeed geopolitically--over there--will come clear in a union of foreign policy failure and image discord. The Taliban and their leader Mullah Omar are household names, and their revitalization may encourage the public impression that the US was soft on efforts to apprehend bin Laden and eliminate the ongoing menace. [See Additional Resources at bottom of this section for more.]
I would liken the failure to catch Mullah Omar with the very first American foreign military adventure--tromping off to fight the pirates of the Barbary Coast, the basis of the 'shores of Tripoli' line in the Marine Corps Anthem. In our present day case, we declared victory, stretched the intervention into Occupation, only to have the very same people re-emerge 5 years later to continue their pirating. This would have hardly been a satisfactory outcome for the fledgling country then and still isn't for the pre-eminent World Power we consider ourselves now.
Another Geopolitical Jungle
[The title of my last post was "The Terror War's Ugly, Slow Death in the Steamy Jungles of Realpolitik." These jungles may not be real, but the thorny bog we now face may not be so diiferent from Vietnam, where we chaperoned a succession of unstable, obnoxious regimes in our never-ending quest to implement military solutions for political problems.]
I did find a tidbit on just how screwed things up are in Pakistan. This in an unsourced, unconfirmed source through http://www.batr.net/neoconwatch/ :
"Former Baluchistan Governor and Chief Minister Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, who served Pakistani leaders like President Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto...and ousted and jailed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, was recently brutally assassinated by...security forces of Pakistan's dictator General Pervez Musharraf..."
"Bugti, the charismatic 79-year Baluchi leader, was killed after he went underground in support of Baluchi autonomist forces who have become increasingly opposed to Punjabi human rights violations against ethnic Baluchis."
The blog post goes on to say:
"...The Baluchi Liberation Army responded to Punjabi aggression against Baluchis by launching attacks against natural gas pipelines in Baluchistan — tactics that immediately earned the wrath of the oil-centric Bush-Cheney regime."
Now the assassination hardly surprised me, but the following statement did:
"...Musharraf's actions received the full backing of the Bush administration, which defended the action as necessary to preserve a 'strong and unified' Pakistan."
The terror war rhetoric is a trap which forces the Bush to preserve the lie that Pakistan is an ally, even as Musharraf systemically assassinates any threat to power that he seized in a coup himself. Geopolitically, this creates a Shah-type issue where US foreign policy ends up supporting dictatorship, in this case not to fight communism but terrorism. As a matter of fact, Pakistan's ISI was modeled on the Shah's brutal SAVAK.
As the extent of real support for the Taliban emerges in emboldened cross-border raids, the Bush Administration is caught denying two truths. First, not only is the group that hosted Bin Laden alive, but it is entrenched essentially permanently as a result of Pakistani support originating from the Taliban's tribal links in that country.
If Pakistan is in fact ruled by tribal chieftains and uncontrollable from its capital, even with massive US aid ($4-5 billion according to Frontline's Smith), what's to say the Afghan side of the border will be any more controllable? There are after all the same tribes, regardless of the location of the border; the people there possess 'the border crossed us' type attitude we see with Mexicans in the southwestern US.
By signing a deal with Pakistani tribes, Musharraf is simply acknowledging the failure of his government to rule. Rather than stubbornly deploying finite resources to a problem unsolvable and unwinnable, he submitted to the status quo wherein support for the Taliban was tacitly acknowledged, which could seen as appeasement.
Observers following cross-border activity have seen a marked increase in Taliban activity since the September 5th agreement, so it is clear the changes have help the Taliban. Less clear is what Musharraf's government gets, perhaps the reduction of some internal threat the tribal forces pose to his regime or life.
Apparently, the US is slower than Musharraf to recognize the loss of control over the tribes and the spillover effect on the worsening Afghan situation. The predicament the US faces is the product of strategic limits on military effectiveness, constrained by realities on the ground, in this case insufficient Pakistani support for any effort to impose dominance militarily. Violent door-to-door fighting, Pakistani on Pakistani, undoubtedly threatens Musharraf's tenuous hold on power and could threaten to spread civil war to Pakistan aka Iraq.
The geopolitical ambush which lies ahead comes out of reality-adverse and image-conscious rhetoric (and the idea that we are making a more or less linear progression towards victory) in the War on Terror. The hubris of an overbounding presumption of victory simply cannot exist alongside the possibility that the "terrorists" and/or "those who harbor them" are getting stronger.
We saw this miscalculation previously in the failure of the military occupation in Iraq to adequately size up the scope of the insurgent movement there in late 2003. The insurgent threat in Iraq was not treated seriously until the momentum of opposition fully flowered, at which point nothing pre-emptive could be done. Ironically, the rush by Donald Rumsfeld to compensate by harsh interrogations opened the door to graphic legal and image problems the Administration's enemies feed on today.
Now if Pakistan is ungovernable, Musharraf can't resolve the problem of cross-border infiltration and support for the Taliban through military efforts. Any alternative to Musharraf's rule would be equally ineffective in implementing US foreign policy aims, so regime change is not going to help the effectiveness of the War on Terror. Therefore the US can only take on the Taliban supporters directly themselves, yet it appears incapable of eradicating the presence of the Taliban in Afghanistan. The price of changing the underlying dynamic will no doubt be unfathomable.
The covert supplying of "terror" forces in Afghanistan from Pakistan sets up a near-identical repitition of the Ho Chi Minh trail scenario. In that case, the only possible military course of action--interdiction--broadened the war to Laos and Cambodia where it had been fought covertly. The border may not matter in the deepest military sense, but it does set up major Geneva/Legal barriers (see my 9-18 post) to the serious detriment of broader global US policy goals.
In realpolitik, the global study of the realities of political, social, and material domination, the Pakistan problem only festers, creating a potent limit on the continued viability of the War on Terror.
" Osama bin Laden, R.I.P.?" a Justin Raimondo piece on the truth about bin Laden.
"Lost at Tora Bora," a NYT article describe how our armed forces failed miserably to find Bin Laden.
Update on US Energy Concerns' Involvement in the War on Terror
In a previous post (September 6th,Whose Oil Is It Anyway?) I dabble in Big Oil economics, basically concluding that the price of oil is largely a product of its costs of extraction and demand, and the system of oil leases favors the commercial effort at the expense of lower gas prices.
The energy industry has been labelled a villain by many skeptical of its strong ties tothe Bush Administration, and even labelled an active conspirant in plans of conquest before 9/11.
The CentGas Pipeline
The post I've quoted claims: "The Bush crime cartel wants to clear Baluchistan of troublesome independence-minded tribal leaders like Bugti before construction gets fully underway on the Pakistan leg of the Central Asian Gas pipeline (CentGas) from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan and to the Arabian Sea in Baluchistan."
Pipelines are a popular theme in the Terror War dance, as an underlying motivation for Bush to militarize support for regimes friendly to Big Oil interests.
I don't know the extent of collusion between Big Oil companies and the 'istan governments. In the case of the Afghan', the US has perhaps not so coincidentally replaced a regime unfriendly to US energy concerns with one friendly to them, whose current president once served as an adviser for a planned UNOCAL pipeline now coming to fruition.
According to one waynemadsen article, "Hamid Karzai, the interim Prime Minister of Afghanistan, was a top adviser to the El Segundo, California-based UNOCAL Corporation which was negotiating with the Taliban to construct a Central Asia Gas (CentGas) pipeline..."
"Karzai was a key player on the Bush Oil team. During the late 1990s, Karzai worked with an Afghani-American, Zalmay Khalilzad, on the CentGas project."
Khalilzad is the present Ambassador to Afghanistan. More on him and the pipeline in this truthout.org article. Perhaps his and Karzai's rise to positions of authority coincides with US government efforts to protect oil and gas company interests, leading up to Cheney's secret Energy Task Force meetings in early '01.
Halliburton, Dick Cheney's former company from which the Vice President continues to receive "deferred" compensation, was apparently under some pressure to succeed on the CentGas pipeline, according to Madsen. Enron, the largest corporate contributor to the Bush-Cheney campaign, had collapsed; Halliburton's fall must have been considered unacceptable and seen as personally and financially injurious to the soon-to-be Vice President.
The Taliban supported an Argentine company for the pipeline. Basically, negotiating a deal the Taliban became problematic, and regime change desirable.
Secretary of State Rice have been personally and directly involved in pipeline planning as well, working alongside Karzai on the Chevron Board of Directors. The oil company has since named a tanker in her name.
The theory that Afghanistan was attacked in order to clear the way for a pipeline would not be implausible. Scarily, the notion of replacing the Taliban with a more sympathetic Afghan government may support the notion that 9-11 was meant to be a new Pearl Harbor-type event, and thus the product of a conspiracy.
Regardless of who's responsible for 9/11, the simple act of blaming Osama bin Laden exclusively and perhaps prematurely carries drastic geopolitical implications if replacing the Taliban had been a stated policy intent prior to the perfect excuse the terror attacks provided for regime change in Kabul.
Whatever the motives and possible conspiracies involved, our military resources are now being devoted to pipeline protection. According to Madsen, "far from being engaged in Afghan peacekeeping -- the Europeans are doing much of that -- our troops will effectively be guarding pipeline construction personnel..."
Also interesting in the prescient Madsen article from '02 are connections to the recent blow-up between former President Clinton and Fox News. One passage of how Clinton's attempts to stop terror may have been sabotaged I found especially relevant and timely:
"...Clinton administration also devised a plan with Pakistan's ISI to send a team of assassins into Afghanistan to kill Bin Laden. But Pakistan's government was overthrown by General Musharraf, who was viewed as particularly close to the Taliban. The CIA cancelled its plans, fearing Musharraf's ISI would tip off the Taliban and Bin Laden...The CIA's connections to the ISI in the months before September 11 and the weeks after are also worthy of a full-blown investigation..."
Madsen may fall for the cloak and dagger, but in light of Pakistan's persistent failure to deal with the Taliban, I thought his article--written in Jauary 2002--was eerily premonitory. It continues:
"The CIA continues to maintain an unhealthy alliance with the ISI, the organization that groomed bin Laden and the Taliban. Last September, the head of the ISI, General Mahmud Ahmed, was fired by Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf for his pro-Taliban leanings and reportedly after the U.S. government presented Musharraf with disturbing intelligence linking the general to the terrorist hijackers."
It was ISI general Ahmed (Ahmad) who was thought to be funding money to the Taliban, and is accused of wiring no one other than Mohammed Atta a large sum of cash.
"...both the Northern Alliance spokesman in Washington, Haron Amin, and Indian intelligence, in an apparent leak to The Times of India, confirmed that General Ahmed ordered a Pakistani-born British citizen and known terrorist named Ahmed Umar Sheik to wire $100,000 from Pakistan to the U.S. bank account of Mohammed Atta, the lead hijacker."
In a case of extreme coincidence, Ahmed was eating with prominent lawmakers the morning of September 11th. This article from globalresearch.ca reports:
"On the morning of September 11, the three lawmakers Bob Graham, Porter Goss and Jon Kyl (who were part of the Congressional delegation to Pakistan) were having breakfast on Capitol Hill with General Ahmad, the alleged "money-man" (to use the FBI expression) behind the 9/11 hijackers."
Someone obviously knew what would happen to the Towers and when it would occur. General Ahmad may have been trying to exonerate future allegations of involvement in 9-11 by mixing with prominent Washingtonians, men who had reputations to protect who would presumably shield Ahmad's involvement to protect their untimely associations with the head of Pakistan's ISI. One Congressman, Porter Goss, would go on to be CIA chief. He resigned suddenly, without any apparent reason.
Madsen sums up his article: "there is simply too much evidence that the War in Afghanistan was primarily about building UNOCAL's pipeline, not about fighting terrorism."
I'm now reciting add-on posts to the article by Madsen, dating from '02 and before, which I has some problems downloading at its original site:
"The one serious drawback companies have faced is getting the supplies to the right market, the energy-hungry Asian Pacific economies. Afghanistan---the only Central Asian country with very little oil---is by far the best route to transport the oil to Asia. Enron, the biggest contributor to the Bush-Cheney campaign of 2000, conducted the feasibility study for a US$2.5 billion trans-Caspian gas pipeline which is being built under a joint venture agreement signed in February 1999 between Turkmenistan, Bechtel and General Electric Capital Services."
"For years, US oil interests have been trying to build a pipeline across Afghanistan to access the oil and gas around the Caspian Sea; efforts that have continued past the 9-11 attacks." [Link.]
"Unfortunately, the talks broke down, and by late last summer, the US Government was threatening to commence war against Afghanistan (an attack which would have violated every precept of international law)."
Source: BBC Audio of report on US intentions to invade Afghanistan BEFORE Sept 11th
"At least twice, Bush conveyed the message to the Taliban that the United States would hold the regime responsible for an al Qaeda attack. But after concluding that bin Laden's group had carried out the October 2000 attack on the USS Cole, a conclusion stated without hedge in a Feb. 9 briefing for Vice President Cheney, the new administration did not choose to order armed forces into action."
Just how much did Bush do about OBL when he took office? Can we really believe that he was more responsive to the terrorist threat in the days before 9-11 than Clinton? Long before the recent blow-up with Chris Wallace, Bush's Administration had, according to democrats.com, softened our anti-terror posture:
"...Bush took a number of actions to make the US decidedly more vulnerable to a terrorist attack. He ordered the Naval strike force, which Clinton placed in the Indian Ocean on 24 hour alert so he could hit Osama as soon as he had solid intelligence, to stand down. Bush threatened to veto the Defense Appropriations Bill after Democrats tried to move $600 million out of Star Wars and into anti-terror defense. Bush opposed Clinton's anti-money-laundering efforts, which were designed to stop al Qaeda's money. Bush abandoned Northern Alliance leader Ahmed Shah Massoud..." [Link]
Massoud's Northern Alliance played a pivotal role in the defeat of the Taliban. Militarily, the scope of anti-terror efforts under Bush's command were also limited.
"...as the two star general Donald Kerrick told the Washington Post, reflecting on his service to both President Clinton and President Bush: Clinton's advisors met nearly weekly on how to stop bin Laden and al Qaeda. "I didn't detect that kind of focus" from the Bush Administration.
The above links are dated. Still, because of the sheer volume of noise about terror, I think it's essential to revisit older sources and theories. We must re-examine the underlying assumptions that have formed the shaky foundations of our War on Terror.
President Clinton vehement responses to Wallace's pointed questions may be the product of Clinton's erstwhile belief he had done more to fight terror than Wallace and his Republican proxy Fox accused him of. Clinton's outburst has been represented as a challenge to the flawed basis of Wallace's questions. Progressive spin has framed Clinton's reaction around the premise that no Republican assumption, theory, or uncontested fact can be allowed to go beneath the radar at this juncture.
I hope you can learn more about the secret motives held by those in power, and challenge the Official Explanation on every front, to support truth and accountability.