Saturday, June 30, 2007

It Gets Worse: From Afghanistan to Iraq to Pakistan

In another world, in another time, this would be considered not only heartbreaking but bizarre. From the Observer:
Air strikes in the British-controlled Helmand province of Afghanistan may have killed civilians, coalition troops said yesterday as local people claimed that between 50 and 80 people, many of them women and children, had died.

In the latest of a series of attacks causing significant civilian casualties in recent weeks, more than 200 were killed by coalition troops in Afghanistan in June, far more than are believed to have been killed by Taliban militants.

The bombardment, which witnesses said lasted up to three hours, in the Gereshk district late on Friday followed an attempted ambush by the Taliban on a joint US-Afghan military convoy. According to Mohammad Hussein, the provincial police chief, the militants fled into a nearby village for cover. Planes then targeted the village of Hyderabad. Mohammad Khan, a resident of the village, said seven members of his family, including his brother and five of his brother's children, were killed.
Got that? Americans were attacked, and the response was such indiscriminate bombing that 50 to 80 innocent civilians were massacred. Murdered. For simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time. For the month of June, more than 200 innocents were murdered for the same reason. Anything familiar about this situation? Americans attacked, innocents massacred. That's the way things work in George Bush's America. Indiscriminate death, with no strategic value whatsoever. Except to make us more hated.

Remember Iraq? You know, that country we decided to destroy because it was there. Because our strategic stupidity allowed the September 11 perpetrators to get away, and God knows someone had to pay, and it didn't actually matter if that someone actually had anything to do with the September 11 attacks, just so there were big booms, and people who didn't look like us or speak like us or worship like us died. In very large numbers. Because that would make the Faux News people hot and randy, and Chris Matthews could bloviate with shrill enthusiasm, and the Beltway power elite could preen and fawn over Commander Codpiece, and lots of very well-connected soul-sucking psychopaths could make lots and lots and lots of money. Except that it could cause problems. Not the death and destruction problems, which weren't problems at all, but the Pandora's Box problems. Like what the hell happens when you blow a big hole through the center of the Middle East? Well, one of those problems might be that the hole will expand and explode. Become regional. Maybe global. Not that the Bush Administration would worry about that, or even consider the possibilities. But others did. People with brains. People who didn't work for the Bush Administration. Some talked about Iraq being torn apart by a factional civil war. Some suggested that a factional civil war could pour over the borders and cause problems in neighboring countries, and that those neighboring countries might decide to respond. Most countries don't like when their neighbors' civil wars spill over their borders. Oops.

As the Guardian reported, on Saturday:
Turkey has prepared a blueprint for the invasion of northern Iraq and will take action if US or Iraqi forces fail to dislodge the guerrillas of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) from their mountain strongholds across the border, Turkey's foreign minister Abdullah Gul has warned.

"The military plans have been worked out in the finest detail. The government knows these plans and agrees with them," Mr Gul told Turkey's Radikal newspaper. "If neither the Iraqi government nor the US occupying forces can do this [crush the PKK], we will take our own decision and implement it," Mr Gul said. The foreign minister's uncharacteristically hawkish remarks were seen as a response to pressure from Turkey's generals, who have deployed some 20,000-30,000 troops along the borders with Iraq, and who are itching to move against the rebels they say are slipping across the border to stage attacks inside Turkey.

Among other things, Turkish military planners have been working on a scheme to establish a buffer zone on Iraqi soil to try to stop the rebels' movements.
Well, wouldn't that be helpful? Turkish generals itching to go into Iraq to establish a "buffer zone" just might cause further problems, don't you think? So, let's just say that the expansion of the Iraq War into a regional conflict is inching a little closer.

But back to those perpetrators of the September 11 attacks. The Bush Administration may have forgotten about them, but you probably haven't. They were back in Afghanistan, where we didn't catch them, and where we're now busily making up for that by bombing innocent civilians. They had been allied with and enabled by the religious fanatic Taliban, whom we also did not catch, and who fled into the mountainous border region that connects Afghanistan and Pakistan. And you remember Pakistan. The ones with the nuclear bombs? The ones who haven't even punished the guy who sold their nuclear bombmaking technology on the open market? Well, guess what?

From the New York Times:
The Pakistani president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, was warned this month that Islamic militants and Taliban fighters were rapidly spreading beyond the country’s lawless tribal areas and that without “swift and decisive action,” the growing militancy could engulf the rest of the country.

The warning came in a document from the Interior Ministry, which said Pakistan’s security forces in North-West Frontier Province abutting the tribal areas were outgunned and outnumbered and had forfeited authority to the Taliban and their allies.

“The ongoing spell of active Taliban resistance has brought about serious repercussions for Pakistan,” says the 15-page document, which was shown to The New York Times. “There is a general policy of appeasement towards the Taliban, which has further emboldened them.”
Of course, just a week ago, the BBC reported:
The Taleban in Afghanistan are changing their tactics to mount more attacks on the capital, Kabul, a spokesman for the militant group has told the BBC.

The spokesman, Zabiyullah Mujahed, said Taleban were recovering after Nato had infiltrated the group and killed some of its leaders.

But more people were volunteering to carry out suicide bombings, he said.
And there had already been reports, in April, that our puppet government in Afghanistan was meeting with the Taliban.

So, let's summarize what the Bush Administration has accomplished:

The Taliban are growing stronger, not only in Afghanistan, where we never succeeded in catching them, but in Pakistan, too. Nuclear armed Pakistan. Meanwhile, the Iraq War is on the verge of going regional. And all we're successfully accomplishing is to massacre civilians.

The "worst strategic mistake in the entire history of the United States."? Can anyone name anything even close?

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