Imperial power strikes again

For those who don’t follow foreign affairs, here’s the news on America’s latest invasion. This time America has invaded the sovereignty of Pakistan, a state with nuclear weapons. It’s worth noting that this move is inspired by Barack Obama’s foreign policy (isn’t he supposed to be about “change”?). I suppose it just reinforces the point that neo-conservativism is now a bipartisan policy – most Democrats and Republicans are in favour of military interventions.

Thanks to the constant “threat-mentality” prevalent in the United States, those who advocate peace, commerce and honest friendship with all nations are dubbed the “fringe” and are outside mainstream discourse. There are only two political groupings that have consistently supported fewer wars: libertarians and Marxists. An odd alliance, but a necessary one if we are to prevent further needless deaths.

Regarding Pakistan’s nukes, James Ostrowski had this to say: “The U. S. attacked Pakistan the other day. Remember when George Bush didn’t know much about Pakistan? I wonder if he knows that Pakistan has nuclear weapons. On the other hand, if you have nukes but do nothing when another government attacks, maybe those weapons aren’t worth very much”.

38 thoughts on “Imperial power strikes again

  1. Of course what you mean is they have sent troops into areas which the shithole state can’t even govern itself to take out some nuisances causing grief for everyone. Boo frigging hoo.

  2. What Jason said Sukrit with the added point that if those fuckers can’t take care of what’s happening on their side of the border someone (or a drone) will do it for them and it will be messier.

  3. If some prick was coming over a border to shoot me and I had the chance of shooting him before he crossed, I wouldn’t do it. I’d just sit there and wait till he crossed, and hope I had the chance to shoot him before he shot me.

    [This is me being empathetic to Sukrit.]

  4. Not if you’re an American, David. In Sukrit’s world everyone gets a fair deal except Americans.

    Now Indian’s of course can protect themselves against Pakistani extremist incursions into the troubled state, that’s because Sukrit doesn’t have a problem with that.

  5. Sukrit,

    How much do you know about Meshud and how do you think the Taliban and AQ can be defeated and bin laden captured if Meshud is not defeated as well?

    Did the US really *attack* Pakistan?

  6. Sukrit, I am all for going after this guy. Bush has made the right decision.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/7163626.stm

    “Profile: Baitullah Mehsud
    The BBC’s Syed Shoaib Hasan profiles Baitullah Mehsud, the man the Pakistani authorities say ordered the killing of Benazir Bhutto.
    Baitullah Mehsud, the 34-year-old pro-Taleban militant commander, fits the part of the Pakistani tribal guerrilla leader to the hilt.

    But there is something extra about him as well.

    The few journalists who have met him speak of his earnest desire to support his actions by his interpretation of Islamic ideals.

    The emphasis here is on jihad (holy war) against foreign occupying forces in Afghanistan and the establishment of an Islamic state.

    These include the use of suicide bombers and cross-border attacks on international forces based there.

    Only jihad can bring peace to the world

    Baitullah Mehsud,
    speaking to the BBC in October

    There is also his aversion to publicity in general, and to photography in particular.

    “He does not allow his picture to be taken,” says a journalist who has met the commander.

    It is an aversion he shares with Taleban supreme commander Mullah Omar, with whom he is said to have a “good relationship”.

    Afghan ‘duty’

    Baitullah Mehsud, as his name suggests, belongs to the Mehsud tribe in Pakistan’s troubled South Waziristan region.

    The area is now said to be a safe haven for al-Qaeda and the Taleban.

    In this regard, Baitullah Mehsud is said to have played a major role, especially in providing a sanctuary for fighters to operate in Afghanistan.

    Commander Mehsud makes no bones about this, and says it is in fact the duty of every Muslim to wage jihad against “the infidel forces of America and Britain”.

    Talking to the BBC in an exclusive interview earlier in 2007, he said the militants were dead set on their goal of freeing Afghanistan through jihad.

    “Only jihad can bring peace to the world,” he said.

    The militant leader on several occasions has openly admitted to crossing the border to fight foreign troops.

    When another BBC team visited his area in October 2007, his spokesman Zulfiqar told us he was away fighting in Afghanistan.

    Bin Laden link

    Since 9/11 he has grown in strength and stature, making him the most important pro-Taleban militant commander in the Waziristan region.

    He is said to operate under a legendary Afghan Taleban commander, Jalaluddin Haqqani.

    Jalaluddin Haqqani is believed to have helped Osama Bin Laden escape US bombing in Afghanistan’s Tora Bora mountains in early 2002.

    Baitullah Mehsud himself is said to command about 20,000 pro-Taleban militants.

    A majority of these belong to the Mehsud tribe.

    Intelligence reports claim that a large number of foreigners are also present in the number.

    However, when this reporter in October visited the Mehsuds, no foreign fighters were visible in the area.

    Driving out the army

    Pakistan’s military has launched several operations to take control of the Waziristan tribal region.

    These were largely unsuccessful and led to the signing of two highly controversial peace accords with the militants.

    The second of these was signed by Commander Mehsud in February 2005 and effectively signified his status as the premier militant commander in South Waziristan.

    Initially Baitullah Mehsud says he was reluctant to fight the army, which he considered a “national institution”.

    His militants have since waged a guerrilla war that has virtually pushed the army out of South Waziristan.

    When the BBC visited the area in October, the militants were holding nearly 300 soldiers hostage.

    The soldiers were later handed over in exchange for imprisoned militants, some of them convicted of being involved in suicide bombings.

    Bomb denial

    The militant commander is said to be the man who has masterminded most of the recent suicide attacks in the country.

    While he has admitted to targeting military personnel in reprisal attacks, he denied attacking any political figures.

    In particular, he denied he had anything to do with the attack on Benazir Bhutto on 18 October.

    But there was a strong anti-Benazir feeling among the militants when this BBC reporter spoke to them in October, days before the first attack.

    Most regarded her as an “American pawn” and some condemned her for belonging to the minority Muslim Shia sect.

    As we took our leave, Zulfiqar said Benazir Bhutto would get what she deserved, sooner or later.

    Some investigators maintain that extremists from radical groups such as the sectarian Lashkar-e-Jhangvi could have been responsible for the October attack.

    For the moment, however, the reclusive pro-Taleban commander could well have grabbed first spot as Pakistan’s public enemy number one.”

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  8. The Monroe doctrine gives America all the authority it needs to do whatever it wants! If you want to get technical about it, Pakistan is not in Central or South America, but let’s not quibble over details!

  9. I don’t get the foreign policy preferences of a lot of the contributors here. You would have to adhere to a very loose interpretation of libertarianism to support this move. The US government has no right to invade a sovereign country, regardless of the intentions. Blaming the current issues totally on the Pakistani government isn’t fair anyway – the US have been heavily involved in the internal affairs of Pakistan (and their neighbours) for years. The only sensible libertarian policy is total US government disengagement from the area. I sometimes think I’ve wondered into a Liberal party forum when I come here and you guys are discussing foreign policy. What gives?

  10. Greego:

    When did libertarian suddenly morph into pacifism. Are you actually arguing that the US had no right to take out the taliban? What gives with you?

  11. The pakis have nothing to clean up that rat infested area where Osama is holed up. And it’s basically no man’s land anyway.

  12. @jc: Pursuing al Qaeda after 9/11 was arguably justifiable but the actual US military response has been well and truly overblown (and the US have never actually caught bin Laden anyway.) Not to mention the very presence of US troops in the Middle East for so long has increased resentment of the US and has been a motive behind terrorist acts like 9/11. BTW, I’m not a pacifist – military defence is justified. But the US government have no right to invade and occupy rogue states and try to nation-build regardless of the atrocities happening internally. Just as they had no right to help Afghanistan fight the Soviets in the 80s which contributed to the creation of both Al Qaeda and the Taliban. You don’t fix previous mistakes by doing the same thing over and over again. The results of intervention speak for themselves anyway.

    @pommygranate: Are you claiming that the BBC’s report is wrong and the US haven’t actually conducted unauthorised military activity within Pakistan? Or is ‘invaded’ just too strong a word for you?

  13. So you argue that US action against the Taliban was justified. What do you think would happen if the coalition were to leave?

    There’s no choice other than trying to stabilize the hell hole otherwise the bearded buffoons get back into power. Your argument would apply if the Afghan’s were able to handle their affairs and the coalition didn’t leave.

    The US has not invaded Pakistan, dude. Stop misusing terms you don’t seem to understand.

  14. JC – so long as the bearded buffoons that allowed AQ to perpetrate 911 are all locked up or dead then leaving the place to a new bunch of bearded buffoons shouldn’t be too much of a concern. So long as those new bearded buffoons know that the USA will be back if they attack the USA like the old bearded baffoons. The war in Afghanistan should have been about killing leaders not nation building.

  15. “So long as those new bearded buffoons know that the USA will be back if they attack the USA like the old bearded buffoons. The war in Afghanistan should have been about killing leaders not nation building.”

    Whilst I a partly agree that they should not waste too many resources nation building, your view that the next lot of “bearded buffoons” will have learned their lesson seems somewhat misguided. These guys don’t think rationally, and seem to enjoy the idea of going out in a blaze of glory. When a scorched earth outcome is considered an acceptable policy by your opponent, you have to play your moves in advance.

  16. It’s not about nation building terje but making sure there is a chance at some sort of stability in the same way that the allies remained in Germany and Japan after hostilities ceased.

    By your reckoning then the US should have left Europe as soon as they reached Berlin made sure Hitler was dead and hanged the rest of the thugs. That would have been just dandy, wouldn’t it? I bet Stalin would have been a happy dude.

    That’s your

  17. Oh wait, The US shouldn’t have intervened in Europe’s internal affairs because, you know that’s imperialism and nation building.

    i did’t notice neither you or Sukrit complaining about the nation building closer to home. Link to any comments you’ve made where you voiced opposition to our activities in Timor. How about you Sukrit.

    No of course you can’t. Sukrit can’t because he suffers from an unnatural hate of the US and you, Terje are simply being mindlessly oppositional because you like to be when I have an opinion.

    Sukrit get over your hatred.

  18. fleeced’s right – we shouldn’t credit the Taliban and AQ with so much intelligence and reason. greego’s having a field day searching for logical ‘root causes’. the truth is more mundane – this is a psychopathic death cult (OBL even admits as much) that needs wiping out.

  19. Who was it that wrote the Monroe doctrine says: a. You can’t interfere in other peoples’ countries b. We can c. Ha ha ha?

    Of course what you mean is they have sent troops into areas which the shithole state can’t even govern itself to take out some nuisances causing grief for everyone. Boo frigging hoo.

    Mmm well I used to live in that very ungovernable province. And, y’know, most people there are, well, human. Just like you and me. And, y’know, they don’t like being bombed any more then we would.
    .
    It’s worth remembering that if such figures like Mill or Jefferson were around to see what the US was doing these days, they’d spew chunks.

  20. Adrien

    No they wouldn’t. the US has been interfering in Arab and north African affairs since the time of the north African pirates. In fact the US navy was partially established to do them in once and for all.

  21. Adrien

    We Brits were very glad of the help provided by the US to rid us of the Germans in 1942. in fact, the whole country had to practically beg the US to get involved. luckily the Japanese moved things along a little faster.

  22. It really is worthwhile ignoring all the spurious agitprop about defeating Jihadism and spreading democracy. These conflicts are geopolitical chess games designed to give US/UK interests: a. access to the resources of Central Asia b. a military base from which to strike at Iran, Russia and China if there be such need.

    No I don’t get my information from [insert name of your favourite leftwing rag here]. I get it from people like Kissinger.

    The game of realpolitik has nothing to do with philisophical niceties like liberty or justice or progress. It is about what it has always been about: the acquisition and maintainence of power. That’s it.

    It’s a lot harder to stop then you’d think. After all if the US/UK didn’t play these games then the Russians and the Chinese would and we’d be fucked. What can you do? I personally prefer the Roman attitude. We’re taking over your country because we can. 🙂

  23. In fact the US navy was partially established to do them in once and for all.

    JC there’s a big difference between defending your own territory from seabound poachers on your mercantile trade and invading other peoples’ countries. Classic liberalism took a very dim view of European imperialism. When the socialists arose, the libertarians switched to the Right and, I think, possibly are reluctant to bang this drum too much as they don’t want to be slotted in with the Left.

    This is unfortunate because the Left’s response to these issues is largely one of Romantic symbolism and a total lack of knowledge of why states behave as they do. For people like Pilger and Chomsky it’s all about America being evil. America isn’t evil. It’s activities are the inevitable consequence of power.

    Believe me I get very pissed off when I talk to some left-leaning bonehead whose entire knowledge of geopolitics comes from The Chomsky Reader.

    If you want to change it you have to change the way the power is used. That’d be a long hard struggle akin to establishing rights and democracy in states. Between states things are pretty much the same as they’ve always been: the big kids hit the little kids on the head and steal their lunch money.

    But, despite my criticism of American nefarities, I feel for them. They really didn’t want to end up doing this y’know. The trouble is, good intentions are all very well, and good constitutions do have benefits. But there’s no border protection against arseholes and greedy piggies. Humans are shits, what can you do?

  24. And?

    how do you square that circle with the opposition to the Afghan intervention and hot pursuit across the border when people in the border territories are offering sanctuary to attackers?

  25. JC there’s a big difference between defending your own territory from seabound poachers on your mercantile trade and invading other peoples’ countries. Classic liberalism took a very dim view of European imperialism.

    I actually don’t see that much difference as a lot of the interference at sea was actually jihadi inspired according to a book on he subject. The US also direct intervened along that coast by attacking and overtaking the kings place at times threatening his execution if it happened again.

    The Taliban directly supported AQ offering Osama a safe haven.

    No I don’t that much difference at all.

  26. JC – in the case of Timor John Howards concern was the spillover of refugees into Australia. Killing the leaders that were causing the fundamental problems in Timor was not really a viable option because it would have entailed invading Indonesia. It was a humanitarian intevention however it included a heavy dose of self interest.

    I don’t mind overly if the USA kills evil arseholes in Iran or Pakistan. I don’t share Sukrits moral outrage in this regard. However I won’t pretend that I believe that the breadth and depth of US involvement around the world is strategically good for the USA. And it does concern me that by weilding so much hard power the USA is allowing it’s soft power (it’s economic eminence and moral suasion) to slowly atrophy.

  27. Actually, OBL was enraged into jihad by the presence of infidel troops in Saudi Arabia, at the time of Gulf War 1. (Or should that be called Bush Senior War?) That was caused by Saddam invading Kuwait- which did not seem to worry osama at all.
    The Infidel troops are there, ultimately, because the Kings of Saudi Arabia made deals with American Oil Companies. Troops follow trade, guys.
    Could we stop trade, or not protect nationals overseas? To stop Imperialism, nations would have to agree that national power stops at national borders, and trading companies must look after their own defences when trading internationally.

  28. Pakistan has nothing of value to the US. To call its recent military action an ‘invasion’ is ridiculous. The situation is that it has a backyard which it claims sovereignty over but isn’t actually able to govern. This backyard has the potential to leak its toxic sludge to the rest of the world including the US. The US is going in and cleaning out the toxic sludge for Pakistan. The fact that there are ex-Taliban still running around cravely in this place is outrageous. The only thing these Pashtun tribes respect is action. Every last member of the Taliban that gave aid to the terrorists of S11 should have his head on a stick lining the border of this tribal land.

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  30. I actually don’t see that much difference as a lot of the interference at sea was actually jihadi inspired according to a book on he subject.

    What we think of as Jihad is a modern geopolitical phenomena. It wasn’t Jihad inspired. What inspired Muslim pirates was the same thing that inspired Christian pirates – greed. According to the principles of ethnocentricity they simply decided that the rules of Islam (like don’t steal) only applied to other Muslims – open season on Christians.
    .
    We can’t complain we were exactly the same only much more successful.

  31. I’m not sure the teachings of Christianity actually could even be remotely associated with piracy.

    However there is a strong case to be made that in Islam stealing from a non-believer is okay or it’s such a trivial offense that it doesn’t merit much concern.

  32. That’s quite true. Islam is more ‘practical’ than Christianity. Islam, for example, allows for slavery, Christianity does not. However as we well know Christians did keep slaves. Unfortunately Muslims still do.

    It’s not about Christinaity v Islam tho’. It’s simply the old truism about morality and herd behaviour. The rules of morality have typically only applied to those within the group – outside the group it’s carte blanche barbarism.

    Applied to maritime conflicts and theft one should remember the function of the privateer: a privateer was a pirate licensed by one (European) power to attack the ships of others.

    But when we steal from the Other we don’t call it theft: we call it Empire.

  33. I agree with Jason that the US activities in Pakistan cannot reasonably be called “invasion”. I’m not convinced that they were necessary, but they don’t constitute invasion.

    While striking military targets in neutral countries is not ideal, I don’t think we can necessarily rule it out as a tactic a-priori. It is a better approach that outright invasion… and by confusion targetted strikes with invasion we are bluring an important distinction.

    I’m not saying that I support this particular situation. I don’t know enough about it.

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