Sunday, December 19, 2010


I think it’s time for the utterly criminal USA to tell the truth about the real reason they are at war in IRAQ, Afghanistan and Pakistan....and from Quetta to Darfur..... The official US narrative justifying these wars makes no sense whatsoever. However more and more Pakistani commentators feel it relates to fierce US competition with our major economic rival (China) for limited oil and natural gas resources. They point to the Chinese-built port in Gwadar in the tribal areas and to all the highways and other infrastructure the Chinese have built to transport Iranian oil and natural gas (liquefied) from the port – via Pakistan – to China. And they point to CIA and support for the Balouch separatist movement, in the hope energy and mineral rich Baluchistan will secede from Pakistan and become a US client state, just like energy and mineral rich Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and other former Soviet Republics. It’s an open secret in Pakistan that the CIA is training young Balouch separatists in bomb making and other terrorist activities, which are very effectively disrupting the energy transit route China has set up for itself....


Professor of International Affairs, University of Pittsburgh.

Michael Brenner

Nations deserve the heroes they get. A hero usually is one part the actuality of person and performance; three parts need of the observer for confirmation, reassurance, hope. Heroes are made more by the yearnings of others than by their own features and feats. Where the intensity of those needs stunts critical faculties, the powers of illusion and self-delusion grow. That holds for the object of hero worship as well - for the emotional currents flow both ways.

Heroes are enemies of truth. For they evoke powerful feelings that give distorted meanings to inchoate emotions. They provide the personified symbols of legendary dimension that inspire unjustified confidence and offer the comfort of a cult. Thoughtless loyalty follows.

Contemporary America’s craving is exceptional. It is diffuse yet at the same time self centered. Each one of us badly wishes to have the mythology of our collective identity and meaning restored. Abstract yet omnipresent, few can cope without it. The personal resources of our fabled individualism quickly run dry without the steady sustenance provided by the blind belief in our exceptional virtue, competence and claim on the future. Suspicions that we may not be destiny’s child born under a providential star erodes the optimistic self confidence that is our lifeblood.

Those who have emerged as saviors offer no plan to resolve our tangible problems, no exciting doctrine of salvation, no fresh vision. Instead, they are amplifiers of our discontents with a gift for bolstering faith that restoration of the true and authentic America is within our grasp. It’s the eternal American story of self redemption and self-realization that admits of no flaw in our basic character. Whatever is out of kilter just has to be fixed.

There is one celebrity with the makings of a national hero, someone who has the qualities that might carry him right into the White House. It is David Petraeus. He is almost universally credited with the brilliant achievement of saving American honor and gaining an approximation of ‘victory’ in Iraq. President Obama himself is in awe of this warrior intellectual to whom he defers on all matters in the Greater Middle East. Petraeus’ mythic standing is a perfect example of how the compelling demand for a hero creates the illusion that indeed a savior has arrived. The so-called ‘surge’ for which Petraeus takes unabashed credit did not change anything fundamental in Iraq. The record is clear that the decline in violence, sectarian and anti-American, was due to three factors independent of our actions. They were: the emergence among the Sunni militants of the sawa’h movementthat turned on al-Qaeda in Iraq for their own tribal and cultural reasons; the Sunnis defeat by the Shi’ites in the civil war of 2005-2007; Iranian political intervention to persuade Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army to stand down so as to strengthen Prime Minister Maliki’s hand in the Iraqi-U.S. negotiations on a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA). Iran won its bet as Maliki indeed did turn the tables on Petraeus et al in Washington, severely restricting the American military’s presence in Iraq. All this was in the works well before the surge troops arrived, troops that never got beyond Baghdad. Moreover, Iraq today is an economic and political shambles, without a government for nine months, that teeters on the brink of a three-way civil war while Tehran’s influence mounts steadily.

Petraeus, the most political general America has seen since MacArthur, eagerly accepted the unearned laurels. He plays Presidents and public opinion with the deftness he describes in his counter insurgency writings as required to win the propaganda campaign against the native rebels. The doctrine has been far more effectively executed in Washington than in Afghanistan. In Fall 2004, he penned a series of articles lauding George Bush for his brilliant and bold leadership. In them, he proclaimed success in personally building an Iraqi army ready to take over responsibility for the country’s security. That was a complete fiction. In fact, Petraeus had made a series of blunders in recruiting a nearly 100% Shi’ite army composed mainly of party militia members. One of the very few capable units, the notorious Grey Wolves, took the lead in the bloody ethnic cleansing of Sunnis from Baghdad and surrounding districts. 6 years later, the Iraqi National Army of which their American general boasted is still a work in progress.

None of this is of interest to our leaders, to our media, to our public. Hero worship is blind – especially when there is a desperate emotional need to make the country feel good – or, at least, less bad – about its tragic, farcical intervention that tarnished every principle our Republic supposedly holds dear.

Petraeus understands all this. He plays his role skillfully. A shy half-smile for a people that prefers the boy next door variety of hero to the grim hard-edged military man we associate with the bad guys. A chest full of ribbons and medals that, to a few jaundiced eyes, makes him look like a caricatured Ruritanian Field Marshal. Army regulations on decorations say wear only 3 or wear them all. It is highly doubtful that Petraeus ever considered the former option. Modesty is not ‘in’ when it comes to American celebrity culture. Oddly, none of Petraeus’ decorations are for actions in combat. He never has seen combat; he never has been under fire. The very model of a modern hero-general. His big battles were won in the corridors of the Pentagon and the antechambers to presidential power. However confected Petraeus’ legendary triumphs are, they serve no less well as credentials that a sorely tried nation may take as signaling that here is the man who can set the country straight.

Audacity is the key to turning celebrity into hero status. Sarah Palin has it. So too does David Petraeus - in abundance. It took audacious nerve to throw himself into the 2004 presidential election while a serving officer, and do so by misrepresenting a key element in the Iraq debate - one for which he was individually responsible. It took audacity to maneuver to undercut two of his former commanding officers, General David McKiernan and Admiral William Fallon, whose careers met an untimely demise as a consequence. It took audacity to sideline Ambassador General Karl Eikenberry from last year's critical Afghanistan strategic review (with the backing of Robert Gates) because his views ran against the grain of Petraeus' own plans for being producer and director of SURGE II. It took audacity to qualify in public the White House's publicly stated commitment to begin a withdrawal of troops by July 1 2011 within days of its being made. It has taken even greater audacity to plant stories via his aides that he has the necessary 'moral authority' in effect to reset the mission's coordinates and resource needs as he deems fit. “Team Kabul,” as Petraeus refers to his Afghanistan staff, says openly that the July 2011 date is “meaningless.” It takes audacity to launch a campaign of village destruction in Kandahar province, cleansing the countryside of its civilian population, so as to chalk up a larger tally of enemy kills in time for the year end review - even if this means turning on its head the core precept of his own counterinsurgency doctrine. It takes audacity to spread word of a breakthrough success in the bringing of “a very high level Taliban leader,” Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour, to Kabul for “promising” talks (literally as well as figuratively bringing him); and then when the ‘Taliban no. 2’ is exposed as an imposter, a Quetta shop keeper in fact, for Petraeus brazenly to offer the laconic comment that “I was not surprised.” And, to cap it all, to blame the British for the entire episode. That is the kind of audacity that points a general in the direction of the White House whose incumbent is your Commander-in-Chief.

By the way, the Editors of the TIMES have offered no comment on the ‘Taliban leader’ episode – a humiliation for Petraeus, a humiliation for America.... Americans may pay it little attention; others in Kabul, Islamabad and Teheran do.....


Why does Pakistan continue to support the Taliban and its killing of US troops? It concerns India, Pakistan's arch-enemy, which is increasing its influence in Afghanistan.

from General McChrystal's Aug 2009 report:

"Indian political and economic influence is increasing in Afghanistan, including significant efforts and financial investment. In addition, the current Afghan government is perceived by Islamabad to be pro-Indian. While Indian activities largely benefit the Afghan people, increasing Indian influence in Afghanistan is likely to exacerbate regional tensions and encourage Pakistani countermeasures in Afghanistan or India."

Monster Holbrooke was no help:

"Holbrooke assured [India FM] Rao that he is in favor of Indian assistance programs in Afghanistan and is not influenced by what he hears in Islamabad." -- CIA/wikileaks

This conflict which is based upon Pakistan-India enmity will go on forever. Pakistan will not stand for an India-allied country on its western flank. You can't blame them. The current Kabul "government" is allied with the Northern Alliance which is allied with India.

Under these conditions there is no way US involvement will ever end. The US will continue to be caught between Pakistan and India.

It is not only AfPak, it is really AfPakIndia. But there is no mention of India in the report summary, and nobody asked about it. Why is this not a matter of concern?

Unfortunately, Foreign Policy has joined the ranks of the privileged who want to protect their privileges by slavishly following the government line, How can democracy function if the government is able to cover up its stupidity, utter criminality, utter corruption and screw-ups by merely classifying them?