Objectives of Pakistan’s adversaries remain unaccomplished

By Asif Haroon Raja


The US is the strongest military and economic power of the world but its behavior is amateurish and childish and doesn’t correspond to its stature, strength and capability. After 2nd World War, it never clashed directly with an adversary matching its capabilities but always attacked very weak foes. Like a typical bully, it prefers tiny David over giant Goliath and clobbers the former mercilessly but as luck would have it, USA didn’t even succeed against David. After North Korean fiasco in 1953-54, its physical strength was put to test in Vietnam where it got embroiled with small-height, impoverished and ill-equipped Vietcong under inspiring leadership of Ho-chi-Minh in North Vietnam who were no match to the well fed, tall and strongly built GIs backed up with massive sophisticated military and technological resources. They wanted to succeed where French had failed against Vietminh led by Gen Giap (1946-54). During its ten-year stay (1964-1974), the US military applied maximum force to annihilate the opponents. It dropped 7.8 million tons of bombs including napalms and mustard gas, sprayed 75 million litres of defoliants including Dioxin over fields, forests and villages causing 7 million casualties including 3 million dead. Despite wholesale massacre and destruction the Americans failed to break the will and resilience of Vietnamese to fight back. The resistance forces were covertly backed by USSR and China since the two considered it their moral duty to provide material assistance to the beleaguered neighbor believing in same ideology.

When the casualties of US soldiers began to mount and reached the figure of 58000 fatalities and home pressure intensified, adamant US leadership instead of winding up the war extended it to Cambodia under the warped logic that unless safe sanctuaries of Vietcong in neighboring Cambodia were neutralized, victory in Vietnam War was not possible. Additional troops were sought to expand the scope of war. When this experiment failed after massacring tens of thousands of Cambodians, USA had to finally eat a humble pie and order retreat in sheer disgust and disgrace.

Stewing in the juice of humiliation, the US got an opportunity to avenge its disgrace when Soviets forces barged into Afghanistan and Mujahideen backed up by Pakistan confronted them at their own. Instead of jumping into the fray and battling with Soviet forces in an even match, USA decided to resort to indirect strategy. It provoked and backed Mujahideen to directly take on Soviet troops and Afghan Army to liberate Afghanistan. It also lured Pakistan through $3.5 billion aid package to act as a frontline state and undertake a proxy war. Its forces stayed out of the Afghan war since USA had learnt a bitter lesson of direct confrontation in North Korea and North Vietnam.

Thanks to outstanding fight put up by rag tag Mujahideen and immense sacrifices rendered by them and Pakistan, Afghan war was decisively won and Soviet forces pushed out. When it came to collecting awards, the US stood alone on the victory stand and gathered all of them leaving the actual winners high and dry. The US having avenged its dishonor in Vietnam with the help of others declared itself a winner without losing a single soldier.

This grand success which drastically truncated USSR and reduced it into Commonwealth of Independent States, ended bi-polarism and made USA the sole super power. This unprecedented elevation went into the heads of arrogant US leaders and they started viewing America as the mightiest and invincible. They forgot that their military had played no role in the defeat and demise of Soviet Union. Drunk with power and megalomania, they wanted to punish the very forces that had elevated USA to prestigious position of unchallenged super power and had put their lives at stake. Afghanistan under Taliban was among the most impoverished countries of the world, devoid of armed forces and technological base.

Regardless of their handicaps, the Americans forgot that Afghanistan was the traditional graveyard of many mighty empires where it was easy to get in but far more difficult to get out. They wanted to succeed where none had succeeded. Soviet Union jumped into the inferno of Afghanistan because of paranoia of Islamic resurgence. It had the advantage of geographic contiguity and dedicated logistic tail. It had strong political roots in Afghanistan in the form of Khalq and Parcham parties, had a heavy presence of military advisers and had committed 150000 troops at the outset. Yet it failed in its mission and had to withdraw. US leaders were so buoyed up with the prospects of commercial gains from Central Asia that they completely overlooked US military handicaps. To hide their real motives they raised false slogans of freedom and democracy and demonized Taliban, with whom US UNOCOL was in secret contacts. They ignored over 1.5 million human losses of Mujahideen, mostly Afghans and the brilliant work done by ISI under Gen Akhtar Abdur Rahman and later under Gen Hameed Gul. Read more of this post

The Toy Boxes Of Arabia

I expected it but not so soon. Eat your heart out, O you Sheikh of Dubai. The dung head next door is going to build a 1 km tall Tower of all Towers. While the Palestinians are shackled and the Chosen Ones overlord the whole of Middle East this enlightened luminary of House of Saud, aka The Corrupt of the Earth, can find no better use for his petro dollars than building another sand tower. Al Waleed once was the largest stockholder of Citi group and CNN’s Riz Khan a few years ago eulogised him in a widely publicised biography as the man with vision. Well, some vision. Fisk puts the absurdity of the situation succinctly thus:

“Afghanistan is collapsing in blood; Iraq remains a state of semi-civil war; the Israelis continue to thieve land for Jews and Jews only from the Arabs who hold the title deeds to that property – and Prince al-Waled wants to build a tower reaching a kilometre into the sky. Do the Saudis – who gave so much largesse to the Taliban (we have to forget this, of course, along with the fact that the Saudis provided most of the murderers of 9/11, which is why we bombed Kabul rather than Riyadh) – not have the slightest idea of what is going on around them?”



Robert Fisk’s World: The stakes get higher as Arab princes try to outdo each other

Do the Saudis not have the slightest idea of what is going on around them?

Prince al-Waleed bin Talal of Saudi Arabia is quite a man.

He says he doesn’t want to be the prime minister of Lebanon – everyone who wants to be the prime minister of Lebanon says that – but he is immensely wealthy. True, his bank balance has sunk from $23.7bn to a mere $13.3bn since 2005 (thus sayeth Forbes magazine). But he’s just announced that he wants to construct the world’s tallest building – a 1km-high goliath which will dwarf his neighbour emir in Dubai who last month opened the paltry 25,000ft Burj Khalifa amid the sand dunes of his bankrupt creditors. The nephew of King Abdullah, al-Waleed understandably calls his company Kingdom Holdings. He also happens to be a major shareholder in Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp – which is why you won’t be reading these words in The Times. Long live Kingdom Holdings, I suppose.

Because yesterday morning, I was taking an al-Jazeera television crew around the repulsive, obscene, outrageous, filthy, stinking slums of the Sabra and Chatila refugee camps not far from my home in Beirut, a place of such squalor that the gorge rises that human beings even live there. Sabra and Chatila – yes, the site of that infamous massacre in 1982 when Lebanese Christian militiamen allied to Israel slaughtered up to 1,700 Palestinian civilians while the Israeli army surrounded the camps, watched the killings – and did nothing. They were the survivors of the great exodus or ethnic cleansing of 1948 – or their sons or grandsons – who fled Galilee for the “temporary” safety of Lebanon and, like the visa applicants of the movie Casablanca, wait and wait – and wait – to go home. Which they will never do. “I am very positive,” Prince al-Waleed said when he announced his new priapic tower, to be constructed in the Red Sea port of Jeddah. “We are always looking for new investments.”

Now I know that there are a lot of fine philanthropists in the Gulf, Prince al-Waleed among them, but what is one to make of all this? Afghanistan is collapsing in blood; Iraq remains a state of semi-civil war; the Israelis continue to thieve land for Jews and Jews only from the Arabs who hold the title deeds to that property – and Prince al-Waled wants to build a tower reaching a kilometre into the sky. Do the Saudis – who gave so much largesse to the Taliban (we have to forget this, of course, along with the fact that the Saudis provided most of the murderers of 9/11, which is why we bombed Kabul rather than Riyadh) – not have the slightest idea of what is going on around them?

For example, we all know that the Americans maintain stocks of weapons among their allies. They keep munitions in South Korea and, indeed, in the Arab Gulf (aka Saudi Arabia). But very quietly this week, they agreed to double their munitions supplies in Israel from $400m of weapons to $800m. Of course, Washington’s gift of $9bn to Israel up to 2012 – never, of course, to be spent on those illegal colonies which are built against international law on Arab land but which Barack Obama now pusillanimously ignores – has nothing to do with this. But don’t imagine that – in the event of a new “preventive” war – Israel cannot draw on these supplies for its own army and air force. After all, it was a missile taken to Saudi Arabia by the US marines for use against Iraq in 1991 that ended up in the hands of the Israeli air force as part of a quid pro quo for not joining in the war against Baghdad – and which was subsequently used to kill civilians in a Lebanese ambulance in 1996.

But these days, Arab compliance reaches new heights every day. Now, for example, we have the Egyptian government – and its ever popular president (see the American-approved presidential election results which are way above 90 per cent) – building a wall around Rafah, part of the vast mass of poverty which constitutes Gaza, thus preventing food, gasoline (and, no doubt, weapons) from reaching the trapped Palestinians of this prison camp. A camp, one has to add, which meets with the full approval of Lord Blair of Kut al-Amara, whose honourable involvement in the invasion of Iraq has now been outdone by is extraordinary success as peace envoy to the Middle East.

Egypt’s intelligence boss (a certain Mr Sulieman who might be the next president of Egypt were it not for his pattern of heart attacks) approves of this wall, which is a very definite assistance to Israel and which will yet further impoverish the Palestinians of Gaza to the point at which the inhabitants of Sabra and Chatila might actually feel themselves lucky they don’t live in “Palestine”.

In Israel itself, the deputy foreign minister humiliates the Turkish ambassador – while complaining about an anti-Semitic series on Turkish television – by forcing the diplomat to sit on a low sofa, refusing to shake hands and addressing him, with two colleagues, from higher chairs. The foreign minister himself, our dear friend Mr Lieberman, has now acquired the habit – every time poor old (and I mean old) US envoy George Mitchell raises the question of Jerusalem – of walking out of the room. That’s what Obama’s point man is worth. Israel’s crazies – Netanyahu is a moderate chap by comparison – now prove that Israel can be just as much a banana Raj as the rest of the Middle East.

But fear not. The princes and the emirs and the caliphs and the presidents will be able to outbid each other in towers and hotels. I have a bigger painting set than yours. I have a sharper pencil, more crayons, a larger train set (Qatar, please note), a bigger bear than yours. And the world will watch this tragedy and marvel at the toy boxes now being opened in the Middle East. And, by the way, how many crayons do the children of Sabra and Chatila have?

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