Advancing Security and Opportunity — US Style

The military effort to “advance security and opportunity, so that Pakistanis and Afghans can pursue the promise of a better life” is accelerating in both countries. It sounded good when President Obama said it at the White House:

    We meet today as three sovereign nations joined by a common goal: to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda and its extremist allies in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and to prevent their ability to operate in either country in the future. And to achieve that goal, we must deny them the space to threaten the Pakistani, Afghan, or American people. And we must also advance security and opportunity, so that Pakistanis and Afghans can pursue the promise of a better life.
    . . .But we must also meet the threat of extremism with a positive program of growth and opportunity. And that’s why my administration is working with members of Congress to create opportunity zones to spark development. That’s why I’m proud that we’ve helped advance negotiations towards landmark transit-trade agreements to open Afghanistan and Pakistan borders to more commerce.
    Within Afghanistan, we must help grow the economy, while developing alternatives to the drug trade by tapping the resilience and the ingenuity of the Afghan people. We must support free and open national elections later this fall, while helping to protect the hard-earned rights of all Afghans. And we must support the capacity of local governments and stand up to corruption that blocks progress
    . . .we must stand with those who want to build Pakistan. And that is why I’ve asked Congress for sustained funding, to build schools and roads and hospitals. I want the Pakistani people to understand that America is not simply against terrorism — we are on the side of their hopes and their aspirations, because we know that the future of Pakistan must be determined by the talent, innovation, and intelligence of its people.

Grow the economy? By burning kids? Afghanistan President Karzai has said “no more civilian casualties” for the 347th time. Some good it does:

    Afghans riot over air-strike atrocity
    Witnesses say deaths of 147 people in three villages came after a sustained bombardment by American aircraft. Patrick Cockburn, in Herat, reports
    Shouting “Death to America” and “Death to the Government”, thousands of Afghan villagers hurled stones at police yesterday as they vented their fury at American air strikes that local officials claim killed 147 civilians.
    The riot started when people from three villages struck by US bombers in the early hours of Tuesday, brought 15 newly-discovered bodies in a truck to the house of the provincial governor. As the crowd pressed forward in Farah, police opened fire, wounding four protesters. Traders in the rest of Farah city, the capital of the province of the same name where the bombing took place, closed their shops, vowing they would not reopen them until there is an investigation.

Build Pakistan? By exiling kids? There’s commerce in Pakistan, all right, of human beings in full flight from a military onslaught:

    Pakistanis flee Swat fighting
    Pakistan’s army has ratcheted up pressure against the Taliban in the northeast of the country
    A humanitarian crisis is looming in Pakistan as hundreds of thousands of civilians flee fighting between the Taliban and government troops in the country’s northwest.
    Officials of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on Friday said that about half a million people have been displaced by the fighting in the Swat valley in the last few days.
    Ariane Rummery, a spokeswoman for the UNCHR, told Al Jazeera that they had witnessed a “great many families arriving from Swat”.
    “I was in one of three refugee camps that the UNHCR has helped set up and people were arriving on trucks, rickshaws, cars, buses – any way that they can travel – and they were arriving very, very distressed,” she said.
    Government estimates suggest that 200,000 people have already fled. UNHCR officials said another 300,000 people were on the move or about to flee.

So much for advancing security and opportunity.
Don Bacon is a retired army officer who founded the Smedley Butler Society several years ago because, as General Butler said, war is a racket. Other articles by Don Bacon may be found here and here.

5 thoughts on “Advancing Security and Opportunity — US Style”

  1. Allied, in Afghanistan, to the warlords and racketeers and, in Pakistan, to the Feudal lords who treat the people like cattle, the United States is offering nothing but death from the air and slavery to the people.
    There is nothing unusual about this: the US invariably sides with the exploiters and the gangsters against the people. Nor does the grandiloquent speechifying change. It is business as usual in the new Cold War which, like the last one, is just a class war wrapped in cheap rhetoric, and spearheaded by torturers and assassins.

  2. Fully agree with Don on this one. We have no business in the Pakistan-Taliban internal battles. If Pakistanis want to shift to a Taliban society that is their right and their business. Why tens of Billions of dollars sent to Pakistan mostly for their military. Let’s leave Pakistan and let them deal with the Taliban monster they created. Similar for Afghanistan, Obama take us out of there and let them live any way they please, Sharia or worse, who cares?

  3. The former High Commissioner of Pakistan to Great Britain, Ambassador Akbar Ahmed, offered this wise advice once given by a British General who was a veteran of wars in the frontier area: “When you invade Pashtun areas, have a good exit strategy with you, because sooner or later you are going to need it.”

  4. It is frustrating to see the news of the disaster in Farah province have so little airtime. The issue about torture prosecutions, that didn’t go away even though Obama wanted to move on. I want to know how to keep this catastrophe visible. Have Obama face the consequences of our dependence on air strikes continuously, until the pressure there, too, forces him to change the strategy. The world has to stop the Taliban and al-Qaeda’s threat, but instead we have too few ground troops, not enough emphasis on political solutions, and blunt air strikes and attacks that kill and displace civilians instead.

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