War on Terror
Afghanistan is not Iraq
In a country already teaming with militiamen, more militias are being set up. But just as the existing Afghan militias took to terrorism after being armed during the Ronald Reagan presidency to fight Soviet forces, the new militias will begin terrorising local populations before long. Yet such is the rush to establish new militias that in an unusual decision to remove a wartime commander, the Obama administration last week fired the top American general in Afghanistan, David McKiernan, because he was overly cautious in creating such militias.
It is unlikely that the dubious Iraq experiment can work in Afghanistan, whose mountainous terrain, myriad tribes, militants operating from across national frontiers, patterns of shifting tribal and ethnic loyalties, low level of literacy, lack of natural resources, special status as the global hub of poppy trade and a history of internecine civil conflict set it apart from any other Muslim country. Also, unlike the internally confined Iraq conflict, the AfPak belt already is the springboard of international terrorism. -- Brahma Chellaney
ALL THE components of the state seem to have finally come out of the state of confusion and ambiguity.
They seem to have all determined that the Tehreek- e- Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is the gravest danger to the Pakistani society. The government has called on the military to take action against the rapidly advancing Taliban, in spite of the much touted deal between the provincial and federal governments and Sufi Mohammad’s Tehreek Nifaz- e- Shariah Muhammadi in Malakand Division.
The deal stipulated that in return for enforcing the Sharai Nizam- e- Adl ( Islamic system of justice), the dreaded Taliban would not only cease their activities in the division, but would lay down their arms. Instead, of disarming themselves, the Taliban pushed into the nearby districts of Buner and Shangla. There they did exactly what they had done in other places. They extorted money from the locals, closed down schools, barber shops, CD and video shops, and eliminated anyone who tried to resist them. -- A. H. Nayyar, Pakistani scholar
Pakistani elite now willing to counter militants with force
The Obama administration counts on pinning down Pakistan to a military campaign against extremists. On the eve of the Washington consultations, the Pakistan military launched a high-profile operation against the extremists in the Swat region. The operation commenced against the political backdrop of an apocalyptic threat posed by the Taliban to the Pakistani state. Senior U.S. officials underscored the threat perceptions in existential terms as threatening Pakistan’s survival. Yet, they apparently fell on deaf ears. What probably swung the case was the ultimate threat on April 30 by Centcom commander Gen. David Petraeus of dramatic changes in U.S. policy if the Pakistani government and military did not take more concrete action within the next two weeks. The “psywar” helped. The slide in the Pakistani thinking is supposed to have been sparked by an ill-advised slur against democracy by Sufi Mohammed, which ended his détente with Pakistan’s Islamist politicians (who enjoy links with the security establishment) and set the stage for a war of words that questioned the Taliban’s religious legitimacy. At any rate, the Pakistani elite is no longer questioning the wisdom of countering the militants with force. -- M.K. Bhadrakumar
‘Islamic Terrorism’ receives consistent support from the West
Adil said officers with machine guns told him to put his hands up, grabbed his wrists and tied his hands behind his back while pointing guns at him. They told him he was being arrested as a terror suspect. He was taken to police station where he was kept for several hours before being released. Adil, who came to Britain two years ago, said his experience had changed his view of Britain. “They are clearly identifying Muslim students. It’s a big insult…The first thing I will do is leave this country as soon as possible,” he told The Guardian. So, thanks to the police, we have another “alienated” young Muslim out there. Which is exactly what the extremists need. -- Hasan Suroor
Tomgram: Filling the Skies with Assassins
In 1991, after 73 years, the Soviet Union, that Evil Empire, simply evaporated, leaving but a single superpower without rivals astride planet Earth. And then came the unexpected thing: the arms race, which had been almost a century in the making, did not end. Instead, the unimaginable occurred and it simply morphed into a "race" of one with a finish line so distant -- the bomber of 2018, Earth-spanning weapons systems, a vast anti-ballistic missile system, and weaponry for the heavens of perhaps 2050 -- as to imply eternity.
The Pentagon and the military-industrial complex surrounding it -- including mega-arms manufacturers, advanced weapons labs, university science centres, and the official or semi-official think tanks that churned out strategies for future military domination -- went right on. After a brief, post-Cold War blip of time in which "peace dividends" were discussed but not implemented, the "race" actually began to amp up again, and after September 11, 2001, went into overdrive against "Islamo-fascism" (aka the Global War on Terror, or the Long War).
-- Tom Engelhardt
The future of Afghanistan is inextricably linked to the future of its neighbour, Pakistan. In the nearly eight years since 9/11, al Qaeda and its extremist allies have moved across the border to the remote areas of the Pakistani frontier. This almost certainly includes al Qaeda's leadership: Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri. They have used this mountainous terrain as a safe-haven to hide, train terrorists, communicate with followers, plot attacks, and send fighters to support the insurgency in Afghanistan. For the American people, this border region has become the most dangerous place in the world. ...
A campaign against extremism will not succeed with bullets or bombs alone. Al Qaeda offers the people of Pakistan nothing but destruction. We stand for something different. ...
There is an uncompromising core of the Taliban. They must be met with force, and they must be defeated. But there are also those who have taken up arms because of coercion, or simply for a price. These Afghans must have the option to choose a different course. That is why we will work with local leaders, the Afghan government, and international partners to have a reconciliation process in every province. As their ranks dwindle, an enemy that has nothing to offer the Afghan people but terror and repression must be further isolated. And we will continue to support the basic human rights of all Afghans - including women and girls. -- President Barack Obama
Support for the Taliban, as well as other militant groups, is coordinated by operatives inside the shadowy S Wing of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence. The Taliban’s widening campaign in southern Afghanistan is made possible in part by direct support from operatives in Pakistan’s military intelligence agency, despite Pakistani government promises to sever ties with militant groups fighting in Afghanistan, according to American government officials. The support consists of money, military supplies and strategic planning guidance to Taliban commanders who are gearing up to confront the international force in Afghanistan that will soon include some 17,000 American reinforcements. Support for the Taliban, as well as other militant groups, is coordinated by operatives inside the shadowy S Wing of Pakistan’s spy service, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, the officials said. There is even evidence that ISI operatives meet regularly with Taliban commanders to discuss whether to intensify or scale back violence before the Afghan elections. - Mark Mazzetti and Eric Schmitt
The 'Minimalist' Path Is Wrong for Afghanistan
Let there be no doubt: The war in Afghanistan can be won. Success -- a stable, secure, self-governing Afghanistan that is not a terrorist sanctuary -- can be achieved. Just as in Iraq, there is no shortcut to success, no clever "middle way" that allows us to achieve more by doing less. A minimalist approach in Afghanistan is a recipe not for winning smarter but for losing slowly at tremendous cost in American lives, treasure and security.
Yes, our vital national interest in Afghanistan is to prevent it from once again becoming a haven for terrorists to plan attacks against America and U.S. allies. But achieving this narrow counterterrorism objective requires us to carry out a far broader set of tasks, the foremost of which are protecting the population, nurturing legitimate and effective governance, and fostering development. In short, we need a comprehensive civil-military counterinsurgency approach backed by greatly increased resources and an unambiguous U.S. political commitment to success in Afghanistan over the long haul. -- John McCain and Joseph Lieberman
Ironically, the real X-factor in how the Afghan War will be pursued in the years to come probably lies nowhere near Afghanistan. Just how severely, and for how long and in what complex ways, the global economic collapse will affect the United States and Washington's revenues may be the true determinative factor in whether the Obama administration slowly makes its way further into, or out of, the war. Will this president, with so many giant programs and problems on his plate, really be capable of fighting an Afghan war at more intense levels and in more expensive ways for long? Certainly, the Europeans and the Canadians, who think they've seen which way the wind is blowing, doubt it. According to an unidentified "senior French official" speaking to Agence France Press, "We are lowering our ambitions... The Americans are now looking for a way out; they no longer regard Afghanistan as strategic. It'll take two to five years, but we're in a logic of disengagement."
Whatever the truth of the matter -- and the Obama administration may be the last to know what that is right now -- here's the saddest thing: When it's all over and we finally do leave, as Pratap Chatterjee, the author of a new must-read book, Halliburton's Army: How a Well-Connected Texas Oil Company Revolutionized the Way America Makes War, discovered on a visit in November, the Afghans of Bamiyan Province will be at least as poor as they ever were in what will remain a devastated country. It's rare for us to get a view of the areas of Afghanistan where Americans are
Reflections on the bombing of the mausoleum of 17th century Pashto poet Abdul Rahman
What I see instead is an attempt to relinquish responsibility by blaming the “other” without, on the basis of that very logic, looking inside and taking care of those who might be carrying out such an agenda (I am, of course, going by the logic of the argument). This is most amazing and incredibly disturbing. Also, such an attitude can only be begotten of either utter naivety or deliberate perfidy. I suspect the latter is at work here since the logic of the argument of “othering”, which supposes which supposes help from inside, is so obvious that it could not escape anyone save a village idiot. …
It becomes our war not because America is fighting for its interests but because we are under threat ourselves (even if we accept that this is a foreign conspiracy against us). Posited thus, even if America were to pack up and leave, we would still be left holding the baby. Do we want that? -- Ejaz Haider
Afghan Faces, Predators, Reapers, Terrorist Stars, Roman Conquerors, Imperial Graveyards, and Other Oddities of the Truncated American Century -- Tom Engelhardt
The U.K. government’s sins in the war on terror are catching up with it, but ministers want to shift blame on to the country’s Muslim community.
I never imagined I would say this, but Stella Rimington is right. The former head of the British Security Service — MI5 — who made her career running her department’s dirtiest operations in the 1980s, against the U.K.’s miners’ union and the IRA, has warned that Gordon Brown’s government has given terrorists the chance to find “greater justification” by making people feel they “live in fear and under a police state.”...
A leak of the government’s latest draft counter-terrorist strategy includes the extraordinary proposal to label “extremist” any British Muslim who supports armed resistance anywhere, including the Palestinian territories; favours sharia law; fails to condemn attacks on British occupation troops in Iraq or Afghanistan; regards gay sex as sinful; or supports the restoration of a pan-Islamic caliphate in the Muslim world....
This is the most transparent folly. Since polling shows most Muslims hold one or more of these views (as do millions of non-Muslims, in the case of resistance), the effect would be to brand the whole community extremist and further alienate Muslim youth. Seumas Milne, Guardian, London.
Whistling Past the Afghan Graveyard, Where Empires Go To Die
It is now a commonplace -- as a lead article in the New York Times's Week in Review pointed out recently -- that Afghanistan is "the graveyard of empires." Given Barack Obama's call for a greater focus on the Afghan War ("we took our eye off the ball when we invaded Iraq..."), and given indications that a "surge" of U.S. troops is about to get underway there, Afghanistan's dangers have been much in the news lately. Some of the writing on this subject, including recent essays by Juan Cole atSalon.com, Robert Dreyfuss at the Nation, and John Robertson at the War in Context website, has been incisive on just how the new administration's policy initiatives might transform Afghanistan and the increasingly unhinged Pakistani tribal borderlands into "Obama's War." -- Tom Engelhardt
At a time when the world’s eyes are focused on Pakistan and what it will do about the terrorist hubs in its territory, there are few areas of concern bigger than Swat. The picturesque valley in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) was once a bustling tourist hub before the Taliban overran the area. Unlike the proxy wars raging in the fringes of Pakistan’s territory, Swat is much closer to Pakistan’s heartland — a three-hour drive from Islamabad. Radical cleric Maulana Fazlullah’s band of footsoldiers have made sure that the place once called ‘Pakistan’s Switzerland’ is now a valley marked by destruction. -- Manjusha Madhu
The Pakistani government has "lost control" of the settled district of Swat to the Taliban, a senior politician said. The military is losing the battle that began more than a year ago in the former vacation paradise once known as the Switzerland of Pakistan, according to Haji Adeel, the Senior Vice President of Awami National Party, the ruling party in the Northwest Frontier Province. --- Bill Roggio
If America were infected with terrorists, we would not need the government to tell us. We would know it from events. As there are no events, the US government substitutes warnings in order to keep alive the fear that causes the public to accept pointless wars, the infringement of civil liberty, national ID cards, and inconveniences and harassments when they fly. The most obvious indication that there are no terrorist cells is that not a single neocon has been assassinated. I do not approve of assassinations, and am ashamed of my country’s government for engaging in political assassination. The US and Israel have set a very bad example for al Qaeda to follow. The US deals with al Qaeda and Taliban by assassinating their leaders, and Israel deals with Hamas by assassinating its leaders. It is reasonable to assume that al Qaeda would deal with the instigators and leaders of America’s wars in the Middle East in the same way. -- PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS, Author of The Tyranny of Good Intentions who was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration.
President Obama's national security team gave a dire assessment Sunday of the war in Afghanistan, with one official calling it a challenge "much tougher than Iraq" and others hinting that it could take years to turn around. - Craig Whitlock, The Washington Post
The War Against the Taliban and the War Against Al Qaeda
This is not an argument that al Qaeda is no longer a threat, although the threat appears diminished. Nor is it an argument that dealing with terrorism in Afghanistan and Pakistan is not a priority. Instead, it is an argument that the defeat of the Taliban under rationally anticipated circumstances is unlikely and that a negotiated settlement in Afghanistan will be much more difficult and unlikely than the settlement was in Iraq — but that even so, a robust effort against Islamist terror groups must continue regardless of the outcome of the war with the Taliban. -- George Friedman
Promise and pitfalls of Obama’s South Asia policy
If there was any doubt about the military’s indulgence towards these elements, the recent interview of the ISI chief, Major General Shujaa Pasha, to Der Spiegel ought to settle the matter. “It is worth listening closely when the general explains why he too is unwilling to apprehend the Taliban leadership, even though many claim that Taliban leader Mullah Omar, for example, is in Quetta, a city where Pasha lived until a few years ago,” the German magazine wrote. “Shouldn’t they be allowed to think and say what they please? They believe that jihad is their obligation. Isn’t that freedom of opinion? he asks, defending extremist rabble-rousers, who are sending more and more Koran school students to Afghanistan to fight in the war there.” -- Siddharth Varadarajan
For two reasons it is necessary to return to the subject of Kashmir and the penchant of the United States and Britain to meddle in it, though the days of their mediation ended long ago. The first is the appalling behaviour of the British foreign secretary David Miliband who was visiting India from January 13-15, linked the Pakistani Lashkar-e-Tayyaba’s horrific attack on Mumbai with the Kashmir issue. He pontificated that India needed to "incentivise Pakistan" by showing "some movement on Kashmir". And, for good measure, he absolved the Pakistani establishment of any blame for the Mumbai outrage, thus contradicting on Indian soil a statement Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had made a few days earlier. -- Inder Malhotra
Right honourable intentions By Prem Shankar Jha
UK a sanctuary for jihadis By B Raman
The United States is eager to keep Pakistan from becoming a failed nuclear state and so are we. The last thing we want is for Pakistan to start coming apart because it would bring a swift end to our dream of becoming a developed country by the middle of this century. We have our own Muslim problem and we will not get any closer to dealing with it if armies of crazed religious fanatics start pouring across our borders to ‘save Islam’. If Pakistan shows signs of falling to pieces it would be in our interest to help it stay together. The Talibanisation that creeps slowly towards Islamabad from the West is as much a danger to us as it is to Pakistan but what are we to do about it? - Tavleen Singh
Help Pakistan TO SELF-DESTRUCT: India will have to fight its own war against Pakistan-sponsored terrorism. In essence, that would entail lending Pakistan a helping hand to stay embroiled in growing problems at home, with the hope that an ungovernable state that now is a threat to regional and international security would self-destruct. -- Brahma Chellaney
NEW AGE ISLAM IS BACK IN BUSINESS
Mr. Terrorist we are back in business. We were back in business within half an hour of your terrorist attack. BY THE GRACE OF GOD! We were able to discover your terror attack within minutes of your invasion and kill the Trojan Horse you had injected into our system soon. You must realise that you are a dastardly coward. Come out in the open if you have any grievance. We give ample space to anyone who has any grouse. But obviously you have nothing to say. You have no arguments. You are just a terrorist, an enemy of civilisation and want to spread terror in one form or other. You just want to kill, kill human beings, kill newspapers, kill websites. I hope you understand that you are not going to succeed. Taj Mahal Hotel is back with all its glory. So is Oberoi-Trident. And so is New Age Islam. We are back and we are going to be there. I admit you might attack again and may again succeed. But I can assure you this will be only for a little while. We are back and we will be back every time you attack. Insha Allah.
A word to my readers. Many Thanks for your patience. I know you kept trying to open our pages throughout the time the site was under attack. Do please bear with us if this happens in future too as it very well might. The terrorist is there, lurking in the dark, his nose rubbed in the dirt for now, but he will be back.
Sultan Shahin, editor, NewAgeIslam.com
Your recent assertion that "We should try to resolve the Kashmir crisis so that [Pakistan] can stay focused--not on India, but on the situation with those militants," is misguided. Raising the specter of an international role in the dispute could encourage unrealistic expectations for a favorable settlement among Pakistanis, thereby fueling support for Kashmiri militants. Former President Pervez Musharraf initiated the Kargil incursion into Indian-administered Kashmir in 1999 precisely to raise the profile of the Kashmir issue and encourage international mediation.
The U.S. can play a more productive role in easing Indo-Pakistani tensions by pursuing a quiet diplomatic role that encourages the two sides to continue confidence-building measures like the recent opening of a road between Indian and Pakistani Kashmir. The Indians would be unreceptive to a more direct U.S. role on the issue, and any such move in this direction would raise suspicions in New Delhi that Washington is reverting to policies that view India only through the South Asia lens rather than as the emerging global power it has become.
Special Report by Lisa Curtis and Walter Lohman
Union cabinet minister Abdur Rahman Antulay has done a great disservice to the nation at a very critical time. He has particularly harmed the interests of the Muslim community and in a way undone all the good the exemplary Muslim response to the Mumbai terror attack had done.
Readers may recall my article: Muslim response to Mumbai terror in sync with the national mood, but what is wrong with our intellectuals?
It was posted on 7 Dec 2008, but today after more than a fortnight I received a comment from Ashok Chowgule, vice-President, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, asking: “Given the fact that Antulay was mobbed, in favourable terms, when he went to a mosque near the parliament, how do you say that the Muslim response was in sync with the national mood?”
Mr. Chowgule is a regular contributor to NewAgeIslam.com. A prolific writer himself, he is kind enough to share with me his thoughts, send me his suggestions, urls of interesting articles, etc. regularly and this site benefits from his contribution. New Age Islam’s readers must be very familiar with this fact. But he never questioned the premise of my above article until today. What has happened between then and now? Obviously, Antulay happened to us. …
Sultan Shahin, editor, NewAgeIslam.com
Until Pakistan government succeeds in demolishing the terror machines on their soils, India should have nothing to do with that nation. How can our team of eleven contemplate playing cricket in Lahore within weeks of their team of ten invading our country to kill our people so mercilessly?
Dr A R Mookhi, columnist, Mumbai
NO FUTURE SPORTING TIES WITH PAK UNTIL PAK DISMANTLE ALL INFRASTRUCTURE OF TERROR OPERATING FROM THEIR SOIL
We do not need such contacts with those people who come and enjoy our friendship and hospitality but behind the back, plan terrorist attacks.
jamsheed basha abumohammed, columnist, Chennai
A Realistic Collective Strategy for both Pakistan and India to Prevent Terrorism
"India has to have positive counter-terrorism methods so that we can end terrorism once for all. If evil minds combine, good minds have to cooperate and combat them." -- Former President APJ Abdul Kalam
Violent extremism is a human problem requiring human solutions. The underlying cause of extremist social violence is accumulated social stress. Therefore, to protect their nations effectively, the armed forces of both India and Pakistan need first to reduce the collective societal stress in their nations.
A new technology of defence now exists that can accomplish this goal. It is based upon the latest discoveries in the fields of physics, neuroscience, and physiology. Ultimately, it is based on the discovery of the unified field of all the laws of nature -- the most fundamental and powerful level of nature’s dynamics. Extensive research has confirmed its effectiveness. This new technology is easily applied, highly cost-effective, and can prevent disruption and attack from within the country or outside the country. -- By Maj Gen Kulwant Singh, Dr John Hagelin and Dr David Leffler
Saif Shahin,New Age Isalm
Muslims must not risk the goodwill they have built by linking Karkare's death with Hindutva terror
INDIA HAS probably suffered more violent deaths this year than Iraq – much of it in terror attacks attributed by their perpetrators to Islam. Yet the big story of 2008 has been Indian Muslims’ categorical rebuttal of Islamist terrorism, their unprecedented zeal to prevent zealots from maligning their name and the name of their religion. They would now do well to deal a similar blow to vote bank politics, which has yet again raised its ugly head to undo the good work of the year. -- Saif Shahin in Mail Today, New Delhi