Sunday, November 1, 2009

Self-Destruction in Pakistan and Afghanistan

Hal Pepinsky,,
November 1, 2009
Pakistani and US military actions endanger themselves and their own people. I do not celebrate that Pakistani/Coalition/Afghani actions escalate the toll we bear for their preoccupation with conquering the enemy.
I think of the first long song I sang with granddaughter a year ago when she was born: “The old lady who swallowed the fly.”
For her: [Mila, sweetie, may you get off the political train toward trying to identify and take out “the bad guys,” and enjoy the love your own mom and dad give you so wholeheartedly. I hope you come to understand that escalating wars to avoid surrender only makes it harder to tell your enemies from those with whom folks like you and me are committed, as in my case with you, from life until one of dies first (almost certainly me long before you, and how wonderful to know you while we are alive together)]…[for mom and dad, please keep this for Mila’s records.]
What is the Pakistani military thinking!? As refugees pour out from in front of your military offensive, how many new “militant” sympathizers can you fail to imagine cross behind your lines? Then they hook up with other earlier angry refugee members and assorted cousins and such, and you have created a new, interconnected but in terms of when and where to strike next, free to act independently or coordinate attacks, fraternal organization and defender of the homeland and its allies.
Up through World War II, you could win a war because your enemy was headed by an emperor or president or chancellor or prime minister or general. Someone was clearly in charge; someone could surrender and all his followers would lay down their arms. The UN Charter reflected the fantasy that henceforth, “the war to end all wars” having concluded, the five biggest national winners of WWII would be empowered to take care of any really serious threat of war. They would tell their colonial or national subordinates to get in line if need be, and the only wars left to fight would be those all five permanent members of the security council agreement to authorize force for. No member nation could otherwise launch an armed attack except in self-defense under Art. 57(under which, as “collective self-defense,” the US government justified its escalating invasion of the former French Indochina). How many times has the US government, by this or that bending of the rules, overtly and covertly, made a lie of the US Constitution’s injunction that “Congress shall declare war” and that as a treaty, the UN Charter ranks beside the Constitution as “the supreme law of the land.”
The road to hell is paved with good intentions. No one has to give consequences for bad choices on any side in contemporary struggle; karma is at work. There is no justice in the logic that what goes around comes around. Afghani and Pakistani civilians, predominantly women and children, suffer most in any war I have heard about, including for instance the women and children of Dresden, Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, by which the US achieved victory—celebrating that in major confrontations we killed so many more of “them”---primarily civilian non-combatant women and children—that got killed in return. Now drones are the US ultimate weapon: kill while never risking being killed back. Never mind how many women and children around the national enemies you target in the house your kid on a joystick blows up when he drops the bomb or launches the missile. Equally to the point, what responsibility do we as a nation accept for taking care of people who drop these bombs from rooms in Virginia and Colorado, and can’t talk with anyone when they go home that they have blown up households of people they never knew, day by day? Apparently, US policy is to bar no holds on political assassination by us, while decrying “terrorist” threats against our own leaders. Hey, it’s only a drone, not a terrorist.
These days I’m a little pessimistic. We and our military allies concertedly kill and destroy other peoples “on the ground” and don’t recognize the pleas we hear from people who live in Afghanistan and Pakistan: Please, outsiders, leave us to work out our own feuds and whatever among ourselves; please leave us alone; please leave us in peace. I only wish…
Meanwhile, bombs go off in urban centers in our two countries. The Chinese Communists were the first in the post-WWII era to show that indigenous guerrilla warfare wears down and ultimately outlasts superpower-sponsored attempts at domination. I hear that many urban Pakistanis, like students at the National Islamic University bombed last week, blame the primary foreign patron, us. How many friends and family do they nurture resentment among, behind military lines in Pakistan and my country? Why is our military risking our own lives further by waging offenses that can conquer nothing? I’m not an insider. I don’t know, but I’m discouraged to see how steadfastly my government and others persist in growing resort to military firepower. L&p hal

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