When the Guns Fizzed and the Gizmos Fizzled

All the “Daisy Cutters”, Nuclear tipped bombs, and the finest drones on the planet could not stand up to the raw grit of those that opposed occupation. All the kings horses and the all the kings men could not put humpty back together or subdue the fierce fighters of Afghanistan and Pakistan. There are clear signs of operationalization of the peace plan in Kabul. The surge was imply to assuage the hawks in the Republican Party–the real Afghan reassessment was to get American boys out of the treacherous Hindu Kush. Defeat is a clichéd word–there are no winners in war. Victory is exaggerated concept. Absolute defeats have never been able to quell the resistance. Absolute victories have always lead to future wars–be it Sparta, Versailles or Kabul.

As Shakespeare would say “when the hurly burly’s done, and the battle is lost and won“–there is time to make a fresh start.

When a country is not able to impose its will and might–it is some sort of defeat. The Americans today need a face saving exit strategy from Afghanistan. The Taliban, Pakistan and all other countries of the world should assist the US in a phased, expeditious and honorable withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Over the past several years, we have predicted that the US will exit Afghanistan in 2011 right before the US elections. The tell tale signs of the operationalization of this policy is writ in large all over the billboards called newspapers.

There are numerous indications confirming our well calculated predictions: the polite decline to Delhi on their exuberance to begin training the Afghan forces; the offering of Shadow drones to Pakistan; the peace talks with the Afghan Taliban; the mood and the statements of the big boys in preperation of the Afghan Conference on January 28th, 2010; the acceptance of the Pakistani point of view on halting further operations in FATA; the usage of Pakistani mediators in back channel diplomacy to include the Taliban in the current Kabul government; and the offer of further US military and financial aid to Pakistan. The carrots offered to Pakistan are not for free–Milton Friedman was right “that ain’t no such thing as a free lunch”. Pakistan is being offered new toys and more Dollars for her assistance in helping the American extricate themselves out of the Afghan quagmire.

America had a decision to make. Stick with General McChrystal’s policy of more soldiers, more mercenaries and more war–supplemented with more drone bombing and more targeted murders (drones and otherwise). More war has always created more enemies. This has never been more true than in Afghanistan and Pakistan today.

Washington’s other choice was less war, less soldiers and less enemies. President Obama hedged his bets with the first option, and then is pursuing the 2nd option aggressively.

While some may claim that the Great Game is over–and Pakistan won. However, this is not the time for crowing from the rooftops. This is the time to let loose the doves from the allow them to to fly into the sun. There are many steps between the lips and cup. There are many impediments to peace in the Panshir and tranquility in Waziristan. We believe that the right steps are being taken.

A show of strength followed up with massive financial aid and assistance will yield the right results. Once the troops begin leaving, the civilian surge, accompanied with suitcases full of Dollars will persuade the warlords to switch sides (just like the Northern Alliance switched sides in 2001).

There are huge dangers to he peace deal. Bharat (aka India) keenly aware of its sagging influence in Central Asia (specially after the ignominious eviction from Tajikistan) may play the chagrined loser, and stage another Mumbai type of false flag, and try to wage war on Pakistan. This would derail the peace plan. Some of Bharati surrogates in Balochistan and the TTP may be allowed to torpedo peace in the Khyber Pass by assassinating another Pakistani leader, in trying to create ethnic strife in Pakistan. Other international powers may have vested interests in ensuring that the Taliban do not come into power or even share the government in Kabul. Both Israel and Iran are scared of The Talibs.

If President Obama is able to pull this off–it will be a miracle. He has to keep the Indians at bay by selling them toys (double advantage, dollars and Peace); he has to appease the Pakistanis so that they continue their assistance in achieving peace; he has to browbeat Iranian resistance through sanctions and threats; he has to assuage the Chinese that Afghan venture is over with no threat to Beijing; and he has to keep the Russians cool so that they do not think that Central Asia has been taken from them. If he can do this tap dance, the US corporations can make huge profits.

Delhi needs Viagra to prove its manhood. The US can offer the blue pills in many forms–obsolete nuclear plants declared unsafe for America, stripped down F-16s (with lots of spare parts and services), and tons of below quality equipment that the Indians would love to plunk down hard cash for. After all the business of America is doing business. If the US can figure out how to sell billions of Dollars of machines (which will rust in a few years) to Delhi that would be a great achievement. If the US can make a profit out of the Afghan war to recuperate some of its losses, it will be a happy camper. 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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