Saturday, October 02, 2010

Should we start saying "Pakistan War"?

One of the lessons of the Cheney-Bush administration's 2003 invasion of Iraq on the grounds that they had "weapons of mass destruction," while North Korea's actual nuclear bomb program was handled through diplomacy, was that the US would attack and invade countries without a nuclear bomb, but not those with them.

Given that Pakistan has nuclear weapons, I wonder if that "lesson" of 2003 holds any longer, in light of recent developments in the Pakistan theater. In theory, Pakistan is supporter the American position in its attacks on mujahideen/terrorist/warlord forces in western Pakistan. But as time goes on, it starts to sound more and more like a war on Pakistan itself. Charley Keyes, Key senator lashes out at Pakistan government CNN 10/02/2010:

A top senator slammed Pakistan's government Friday, urging more action against terrorists and less complaining about American drone strikes.

"They have gone after some terrorist targets inside Pakistan but the ones they go after are the ones that threaten the Pakistan government," Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Michigan, said.
Is the White House notion that the way to rally your domestic political allies is to scold them and tell them to quit whining seems to be spreading to foreign policy?

Joe Biden can call it whining if he wants. But the Democratic Party should be trying to de-escalate and contain the "AfPak" War and seeking an early withdrawal of American soldiers and mercenaries.

Levin met Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and other officials Thursday. They discussed improved accuracy of U.S. drone attacks on terrorists targets inside Pakistan, Levin told an audience at the Council on Foreign Relations. The United States has intensified attacks on terrorists but while also increasing efforts to limit civilian casualties.

"There is a significant improvement in the accuracy. The minister, the foreign minister of Pakistan, acknowledged this yesterday to me," Levin said. "There are mistakes made but there is a huge improvement in the accuracy and the reduction of mistakes."
This touches on a basic confusion about military technology that antiwar citizens need to challenge more. The military since the Gulf War of 1991 in paticular has made a point of claiming that increased accuracy of bombs and other munitions mean less civilian casualties. If you're bombing cities and getting more accurare in hitting them, that's increases civilian casualties. In the so-called targeted assassinations by drone strikes, if you're firing missiles into a village to assassinate one target, civilian noncombatants are likely to be killed. Improved accuracy will mean more of that happening.

"They object when we make mistakes," Levin said. "I mean we hit some Pakistani troops by mistake the other day and there is some strong blowback on that," he said. "This is understandable."
Yeah, killing troops in the army of your own allies tends to irritate your allies. I'm glad we have wise Senators like the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to explain such complex matters to us.

Rachel Maddow's reporting on the "end of combat" in Iraq was pretty credulous. But here she has a substantive report on the esclation of the US war in Afghanistan via Pakistan: Maddow: US quietly test driving escalation of war in Pakistan C&L Video Cafe 10/01/2010. She makes a good point that is obscured in the official rhetoric over the war. We can say that our "war on terrorism" is a worldwide war with no fixed boudaries. But the actual fighting takes places in particular countries.

The most dinguisshed statesmen and most talented generals have repeatedly found out over the millenia that the human race has been practicing war that the beast is very hard to control. It's anything but a trivial matter that we are shifting toward a shooting war with nuclear-armed Pakistan.

Juan Cole discusses the escalation in Pakistan in 27 US Fuel Trucks Torched as Pakistan Blocks US Supplies at Khyber Pass for 2nd Day Informed Comment 10/01/2010.

This is serious stuff. And not good for the United States. This is one of Obama's politicies that needs to be criticized no matter which elections are scheduled or when.

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