Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The CIA War in Pakistan

       I thought of a long lead-in to this post, but I think I'll just mention a few facts and then conclude with a personal opinion.

       Fact.   It is reported -- I believe reliably -- that CIA drone strikes in Pakistan have killed over 1600 tribesmen in Pakistan since President Obama took office.  (In the last three years of the George Bush administration, over 400 were killed in the drone wars, which brings the total above 2,000.)  Drones, in this case, are unmanned aircraft that are loaded with explosives and remotely controlled by operators in front of computer screens at a command center.

       Fact.  The target area is in what Pakistan calls its "Federally Administered Tribal Area."  This area is in Pakistan as a result of convenient boundary-drawing during the heyday of the British Empire (as are many of the other borders in the Middle East and Southern Asia).  These boundaries did not reflect the homelands of different nations or ethnic units, but served the administrative and geo-political objectives of foreign intruders and overlords.  This target area is occupied mostly by the Pashtun and other mountain tribespeople, who are not especially distinguishable from their Pashtun brethren on the Afghan side of the border.

        Fact.  I am told -- I believe reliably -- that for centuries the Pashtun mountain people have not liked, and have in fact quite actively and successfully resisted, the civilization that is centered in the valley cities of Pakistan.  Pakistan therefore has a very limited ability to control what goes on in this area; and what with other stresses in Pakistan these days, the central government has very little stomach for "pacifying" the Pashtun, regardless of the US Government's insistence that they do so.

       Fact.  Since the world's earliest memory, the mountain regions of Afghanistan-Pakistan have been populated by a very independent and (it seems to me, at least) fierce people.  They did not learn these ways, nor did they change their essential behaviors, because of the Prophet, or British missionaries, or Soviet troops, or any other form of foreign influence.  (Opinion:  These tribespeople cannot possibly have anything to do with "threatening our freedoms."  Further opinion:  Since a real war must have a real reason, and the stated reason cannot be real, the real reason must be something else.  I wonder what it is.)

       Fact.  I am informed -- I believe reliably -- that these tribesmen, and others, have grown opium for uncounted generations.  They not only use it for their own pleasure and medicine, but have been known to sell it to outsiders for a long, long time.  I am further informed that among their most eager customers have been (for a couple of centuries) prominent British (and later American) merchandising families.  These specially gifted and anointed families like to establish -- um, shall we say "vertical monopolies" (control the production at the source) -- utilizing "security services" (public or private mercenaries) in order to um, "assure market stability with a view to long-term profit maximization."

       Fact.  These British families (and later American) were tightly linked to the military and security apparatus of the British Empire, and there is no way of saying where one begins and the other ends.  The colonial arrangements evolved directly into the "modern" global intelligence and security arrangements and functionaries of the 20th century and today. A direct descent can be traced to British MI5 and to the American OSS and its successor organization, the CIA.

       Fact.  Favored British and American families have been prominently involved in drug trafficking. They find it most convenient to make drugs "illegal" so they can control the entry points, control the traffic, control the judicial system, and hopefully eliminate competition.  You can research this easily on the Internet by searching with keywords which will occur to you.

       Many More Facts.  Follow your curiosity and see where it leads.  (Hint.  It leads beyond Internet "conspiracy theory" to books written by solid historians.)

       *       *       *

       Now for a bit of personal opinion.  Purely personal opinion, mind you.

       I hate to hear about people being stoned to death, whether it is by mob violence or culturally sanctioned for crimes.  Yes, I know that for a long time Middle Eastern cultures both Jewish and Islamic have found religious justification for this custom.  Often, they can plausibly appeal to God for approval of their actions -- though I observe that Saul of Tarsus was neither the first nor the last person who sanctioned a stoning only to find out later that the Divine Will was quite opposite to his own.

       I can surf the net and quickly find accounts of girls being stoned -- in such countries as Somalia, Kurdistan, and Pakistan -- for crimes ranging from adultery, to having been raped by a family member, to walking in public with a male fellow religionist.  The reporters of these events purport to be horrified, as I am.  As, I think, you are.  They decry the action and variously blame the Taliban, Islam, or "the insane elements in society."  Anyway, they blame people who are not us.

       If I am horrified at the sight, or the thought, of a young girl being stoned for violating a cultural norm . . . I am also horrified when I learn that the CIA persistently use drone aircraft to target assemblies of civilians in Afghanistan and Pakistan, including girls on the way to their own weddings, blowing them into wounded or dead fragments of themselves, stoned by chunks of metal instead of chunks of rock.

       These drone aircraft are authorized by Congress, paid for by American taxpayers and bankers, built by war profiteers, and operated by the CIA from remote bases and safe places staffed by young military personnel whose understanding of the morality of war comes chiefly from whatever they learned while playing computer games.  These young people will be among the veterans that we will honor in our American civic religion in five years time.  None of these people are Taliban; they are not Muslim.  They may or may not be "the insane elements in society"; but they are us.

       Alternatively we are told that (a) we aren't doing it  (b) we are investigating it  (c) we will see to it that it will never happen again (d) it is unavoidable (e) we are winning hearts and minds (f) it is Hamid Karzai's fault that we are not winning hearts and minds; (g,h,i,j).

       If the commanding general of the American forces had a strong conscience, he could order the CIA to cease and desist in his area of operations.  If they failed to comply, that would be very telling;  we would then know who is really in charge.  In that case he could resign his command, as the American General John Wool did when he was ordered by the Department of War to oversee the Cherokee Removal in 1838.

       If the American president had a strong conscience, he could shut down the entire war enterprise in southwest Asia, on his own authority as commander-in-chief.  If the War Party in the US Congress threatened to impeach him, which they probably would, we could all see how numerous they are; and we could also learn a lot from each other about how we all really think.

      The President, following his conscience, could then resign and turn the whole bloody mess over to the vice-president, who could then decide what he wanted to do -- maybe resign himself and turn it over to the new Speaker of the House, who would then become president and put this sordid affair back in the hands of the neo-conservative Republicans who have been the biggest cheerleaders of this war.  Then they could elect Dick Cheney in 2012.

       I'm sure I have left out important facts and considerations.  Your comments always welcome, pro and con.


  1. I don't think any of these people have a conscience. It's been sold to the Ruler of this world, who is bent on destroying this world, causing great pain and suffering to as many individual people as possible.

    So how to stop it? Educate the people with the facts of hidden government (drug trade, drone killing). Will there be enough uproar and outrage from the people that we can stop it?

  2. Castiron, I've been thinking and wondering the same things.

    Educate the people? Yes, yes, yes.

    Hope for uproar and outrage? Maybe, maybe not. Uproar and outrage tend to encourage violence from the mentally unstable.

    I've been thinking that resignation from government service by high-placed policy makers (who object to the nation's behaviors) might be effective. William Jennings Bryan resigned as Secretary of State in protest of Woodrow Wilson's moves toward engaging in World War.

    Also, if people in government service at any level became whistle-blowers (WikiPeople?), it could really help. They would mostly be risking their jobs and their retirement, rather than their lives -- I hope.

    Further thoughts?

  3. <'ve been thinking that resignation from government service by high-placed policy makers (who object to the nation's behaviors) might be effective.>

    But are there any left who would? Maybe I'm pessimistic, but I don't think there are any in high government positions who haven't sold out to the high powers or aren't only lusting after higher power, so will do anything.

    I hope too. But then I worry if all the whisleblowers lose their jobs, then that would take out all the good people in these positions and only leave the bad. (There's my pessimism again!)

  4. Sorry, the last comment didn't post right, the second paragraph is commenting on this sentence,

    "Also, if people in government service at any level became whistle-blowers (WikiPeople?), it could really help. They would mostly be risking their jobs and their retirement, rather than their lives -- I hope."

  5. Some thoughts about conscientious whistle-blowers.

    1. There are many, many conscientious people who are highly placed in government service. They have not all "sold out," not by a long shot.

    2. Perhaps the easiest form of "whistleblowing" would be if newly retired personnel became more vocal: retired politicians, retired bureaucrats, think-tankers, and the like. If they could bring themselves to a citizen-viewpoint rather than a party-apparatchik viewpoint, it would be a big help.

    3. There have been several brave whistle-blowers. If a there were a few more high-profile cases, we might get a 'critical mass' for a strong wave of honesty. I think there are a lot of people who would speak out if they were sure that they were in good company.

    4. At least, I hope so.

  6. I hope you are right and I am dead wrong!

    Whistle blowers tend to disappear before they get the word out (plane crash, crash into a tree skiing, by heart attack even tho they are young, die in routine surgery or shoot themselves in the head 2 times. (there's my pessimism again!)

  7. castiron, you are right. Or at least, you have history on your side, I must agree.

    It does appear, though, that some whistleblowers, if they CAN survive long enough to get the word out, tend to survive. I am thinking of four people, maybe five:

    Catherine Austin Fitts
    Sibel Edmonds
    Daniel Ellsberg
    Col. Lawrence Wilkerson
    Judge Andrew Napolitano

    (by the way, google on any of them whose stories you might not know -- but especially Sibel Edmonds)

    Of course, those five or so survivorts haveto be balanced by the dozens of people that we know were killed because of the JFK coverup.

    And surely there must be literally hundreds of others whose stories have never seen the light of day.

    So, I grant you: it is a risky business.