Sunday, May 17, 2009

'Their loathing for the US is even greater'

The Writing on the Wall for Obama's 'Af-Pak' Vietnam
Tony Karon, Rootless Cosmopolitan: It requires a spectacular leap of faith in a kind of superheroic American exceptionalism to imagine that the invasion of Afghanistan that occurred in November 2001 will end any differently from any previous invasion of that country. And it takes an elaborate exercise in self-delusion to avoid recognizing that the Taliban crisis in Pakistan is an effect of the war in Afghanistan, rather than a cause -- and that Pakistan's turmoil is unlikely to end before the US winds down its campaign next door.

The Obama Administration has linked the fate of its campaign in Afghanistan to its efforts to persuade Pakistan to fight the Taliban on its own soil... following weeks of hysteria in Washington about the country falling to the Taliban, nukes and all. That was nonsense, of course... But the operation already appears to be following a familiar pattern: Anger at the Taliban will quickly give way to revulsion at the military operation to dislodge the militants in Swat, which has now -- together with similar operations in Bajaur Agency, turned 1 million Pakistanis into refugees in their own country...

The majority of Pakistanis are hostile to the Pakistani Taliban... but they see it as a problem stirred up by the US invasion of Afghanistan. Pakistanis don't blame the Taliban for the US drone strikes that kill Pakistani civilians. I suspect they won't blame the Taliban for the civilian suffering inflicted in the battle to retake Swat. While they may loathe the Taliban, their loathing for the United States is even greater.

Pepe Escobar, in TomDispatch: In its first hundred days, the Obama presidency introduced us to a brand new acronym, OCO for Overseas Contingency Operations, formerly known as GWOT (as in Global War on Terror). Use either name, or anything else you want, and what you're really talking about is what's happening on the immense energy battlefield that extends from Iran to the Pacific Ocean. It's there that the Liquid War for the control of Eurasia takes place... Once the Soviet Union collapsed, control of the energy-rich former Soviet republics in the region was quickly seen as essential to future US global power...

Afghanistan, as it happens, sits conveniently at the crossroads of any new Silk Road linking the Caucasus to western China, and four nuclear powers (China, Russia, Pakistan and India) lurk in the vicinity. 'Losing' Afghanistan and its key network of US military bases would, from the Pentagon's point of view, be a disaster... The country itself is a lot more than the towering mountains of the Hindu Kush and immense deserts: it's believed to be rich in unexplored deposits of natural gas, petroleum, coal, copper, chrome, talc, barites, sulfur, lead, zinc, and iron ore, as well as precious and semiprecious stones...

The US is now building in Dasht-e-Margo ('the Desert of Death') a new mega-base to host President Obama's surge troops... Meanwhile in 'transit corridor' Pakistan, where Predator drones soaring over Pashtun tribal villages monopolize the headlines, the shady New Great Game slouches in under-the-radar mode.
Image source here.