Monday, September 22, 2008

Can You Imagine US-Pakistan Role Reversal?

Earlier in February this year, Haq's Musings blog brought to you the "Pakistani View of US Nuclear Weapons Safety" by Hugh Gusterson, a parody of Pakistani position regarding US nuclear weapons safety. With the increasing frequency of US incursions into Pakistan's FATA region, have you ever wondered how things would look to an independent observer if the US and Pakistan found themselves in each others' shoes? Well, Pakistani-American Junaid Levesque-Alam has imagined such role reversal. Here's a post he recently wrote for his blog "Crossing the Crescent".

Pakistan Invades America -- "Without Permission"

By M. Junaid Levesque-Alam

September 17, 2008

The U.S. State Department lodged a sharp protest over ongoing Pakistani missile strikes and ground raids today, saying the Islamic Republic was violating American sovereignty.

"We will try to convince Pakistan . . . to respect [the] sovereignty of the United States -- and God willing, we will convince," State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters.1

The controversy stems from the Pakistan Army's recent decision, leaked in a prominent Pakistani newspaper, to mount intensifying air attacks and new ground assaults against extremists hiding in American safe havens across the ocean.

American papers reported that under the new policy, the Pakistani military will no longer seek America's permission in killing Americans, but will inform American diplomats about these killings as a friendly gesture between close allies.2

Pakistan Army General Ashfaq Kayani told reporters outside Islamabad late last night that the new strategy was justified. "We are working to prevent more attacks on the Pakistani people," he said.3

The general's stance signified strong Pakistani dissatisfaction with America's reluctance to crack down on religious fundamentalists and neoconservatives, who, experts note, have deep ties to American intelligence services and military leaders. The largely unchecked extremists, experts observe, have used America to bolster the agenda of their ideological counterparts across the ocean in Israel, and to strike directly against Pakistan and other parts of the Muslim world.

"We have to strike them over there so that they cannot order strikes against us here at home," General Kayani said, referring to American firepower that has terrorized hundreds of thousands of civilians on either side of the Pak-Afghan border and in the Middle East.

As Kayani spoke, new precision attacks and commando raids were being conducted against ranches in Texas, small towns in Alaska, the offices of AIPAC and energy-related lobbying firms in Washington, D.C. Commandos were also dispatched to America's unruly federally-administered Bible Belt, where resentment of government authority runs high.

Several high-value targets were killed in the attacks. Local media outlets claimed 50 civilians were also killed, but these assertions could not be independently verified. Pakistani officials said they would send in their own team to investigate the claims, time permitting.

Seeking to assuage domestic concerns, American officials downplayed the actions of their staunch ally. "The nation should not be upset by the statement of Pakistani General Kayani," White House Press Secretary Dana Perino said in an official statement.4 "Pakistan respect U.S. sovereignty and looks at us as partners," she added.5

U.S. officials also insisted no secret deal had been reached beforehand allowing Pakistanis to strike inside American territory. "Media reports about authorization for Pakistani raids into the U.S. are incorrect," the American ambassador to Pakistan, Anne Patterson, told Fox News last night. She added that the South Asian country had "no aggressive designs or postures" toward America.6

Regimes allied to Pakistan, including those in Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Venezuela, Bolivia, and Palestine, expressed support for the new Pakistani strategy, citing the need to "remove and destroy" strongholds where key militants have masterminded attacks against their countries.7

Informed of this, Ambassador Patterson appeared unfazed, saying, "Pakistan respects American sovereignty." She insisted that Pakistani officials provided her with assurances that "no such order had been given" for new rules of engagement.8 Finally, the ambassador explained, America had already carried out its own recent military offensive that left hundreds of rural Americans dead, relieving the need for further Pakistani intervention.

But in Islamabad, Pakistani corps commanders said their new strategy would see continued implementation in the coming weeks. Speaking on condition of anonymity, one commander said that as far as Pakistan was concerned, "most things have been settled in terms of how we're going to proceed."9


Except for note 2, all the above-quoted statements are real quotes; only the roles have been switched.

1 Quote actually taken from Pakistani PM Yousaf Gilani. Reuters, Sept. 12, 2008.

2 It was actually the Pakistan daily, Dawn, which reported on the U.S. policy shift as follows: "Under this new policy, the US military will notify Pakistan's government when it conducts raids, but will not seek its permission." Sept. 12, 2008.

3 Quote actually taken from US Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen. Dawn (Pakistan Daily), Sept. 12, 2008.

4 Quote actually taken from PM Gilani. (Source: note 3)

5 Quote actually taken from Pakistani Ambassador Husain Haqqani. (Source: note 3)

6 Quotes actually taken from Ambassador Haqqani. (Source: note 3)

7 Quote actually taken from U.S. ally and Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Washington Post, Sept. 12, 2008. ()

8 Quotes actually taken from Ambassador Haqqani. (Source: note 7)

9 Quote actually taken from anonymous U.S. official. (Source: note 7)
M. Junaid Levesque-Alam is a Pakistani-American who blogs about America and Islam at Crossing the Crescent. He writes about American Muslim identity for WireTap magazine and has been published in CounterPunch, Dissident Voice, The Nation (online), and The American Muslim. He works as a communications coordinator for an anti-domestic violence agency in the NYC area and obtained his undergraduate degree in journalism from Northeastern University. He can be reached at:


Anonymous said...

seriously speaking:
US is more prone to loss of N-weapons because it has tactical miniaturized weapons for artillery,bunker-buster and tomahawks etc.(artillery thing was a prototype I guess).
But it is unlikely to loose it to Al-Queda type people, more like misplacing it in wrong air bases etc.
Anyway, it requires authorization codes to be activated and therefore very unlikely that if accidentally launched or dropped in conventional bombing, it will detonate.

The issues faced by Pakistani nuclear arsenal is different in the sense that, the loss of control will most likely to be systemic. Al-Qeada have time and again stormed highly secure military targets in Pakistan. So the concern is real. Merely because Pak military is professionally trained does not guarantee that there is no scope for renegade tendencies. There are Al-Qeada sympathizers across the board and Pan-Caliphate organizations like Jamiat-e-Islami have long tried to infiltrate security agencies in Pak and Bangladesh quite systematically and results are all there to see. Even British security agencies are being infiltrated and so they have started weeding out asians/arabs from important security posts.

Riaz Haq said...

I think your underlying assumption is that the ideology that drives Oklahoma City bombers and abortion clinic attackers is less dangerous than the ideology of Al-Qaeda and Taliban.

You also assume that "infiltration" of the US government and military and the right-wing think tanks, to whom policy is outsourced, by neocons and religious fundamentalists in the US poses no threat to the world.

Both of your assumptions do not appear to hold water, given the use of overwhelming force by the US around the world to impose its will in the name of "war on terror" and describing all opponents as "evil".

Anonymous said...

I think your underlying assumption is that the ideology that drives Oklahoma City bombers and abortion clinic attackers is less dangerous than the ideology of Al-Qaeda and Taliban.
Abortion clinic attack or Oklahoma guys are known as "Lone-Wolf attacks" not internationally co-ordinated for massive annihilation and anarchy all over the world.
US strategists are more concerned about Al-qaeda acquiring the n-bomb than a fear of china or russia. Since, Al-qaeda have the skill and demonstrated doggedly intent. I dont term anyone as evil or good. Just the possibilities.

Riaz Haq said...

Lone Wolf attacks? What about Franklin Graham (Rev Billy Graham's son and successor) and Tancredo advocating nuking of Mecca? Or the right-wing think tanks pushing for pre-emptive attacks and use of "tactical" nuclear weapons as bunker busters? The deadly combination of politics, religion and hate under Bush administration has made the world far more dangerous than it was on 911. World surveys indicate that the majority of the people of the world see the US as the biggest threat to world peace. Most of the victims since 911 have been non-Americans but the trend is alarming for all of us. The primitive ideology of hate and revenge pervades all societies, particularly the US. Please do not underestimate the hatred, the arrogance, the chauvinism, and overwhelming desire for revenge that have driven US actions around the world.

Anonymous said...

First of all let me make this perfectly clear- I am an Indian and is not a fan of US policies.I am not for a argument over which hatred is headstrong over the other. The Oklahoma bombing ppl where white supremist neo-nazis. That particular incident dried up the support of that cause to a considerable extend. Did Mariott bombing anyway dried up support among Pashtuns? May be other elite segments like Punjabis and all might have perhaps got the trend way back.
About "infiltration" issues, do you think a few neo-cons like Cheney-Wolfowitz-Rumsfield in administration vs al-qaeda covert infiltration is a comparable one? Their agenda is overt and proclaimed, freely discussed and there are other pressure groups too. Like Rice-Gates group,Pentagon, Think-tanks etc. The Iraq war, and the axis of evil policy is logical(may be non-justifiable and untimely) becoz after 9/11 US got the message(again after Pearl harbor) that world is a very small place and things that go around comes around.I believe even with the Big Brother attitude, US is the best policeman around.Just imagine China taking its place or Russia. They deal with Sudan,Myanmar type regimes and do not even try to justify it. US did make elaborate case against Iraq before campaign began and Saddam could have averted the invasion,just like Iran could do now.China openly proliferated N-weapons,missiles to Pak even conducts Nuclear tests. And used Pakistan and North Korea to proliferate weapons to Iran,Libya and god knows who else etc. China gets away with all these and so do Russia because they are economically and strategically important countries in terms of their disruptive capabilities with regard to world economy and energy security. You obviously cannot label Barack Obama, Condeleca Rice or Collin Powell as white supremists or neo-cons.

Anonymous said...

A nuclear bunker buster is an inevitable development and all countries who have nuclear weapons are trying their hand at it. It is becoz, the silos and bunkers of the command and control structure have become really formidable. Saddam's bunkers made by German experts could even survive a direct nuclear strike on surface(not a nuclear bunker buster strikes).So tactical nuclear bunker buster is meant for penetrating deep which otherwise might require lots of sorties. Since the targets like mobile solid fueled Ballistic missiles can be moved around easily (in silos with underground rail networks and all), by the time a next wave of attack on that target comes, that will not be there to hit. A radiation issue will be minimum or mostly confined like underground nuclear tests. But hitting active reactors like Iranian ones will be dangerous for population.

Riaz Haq said...

Thanks for clarifying you are Indian. Unfortunately, India is one of the few countries of the world where Bush and his policies have relatively high approval ratings, according to various public opinion polls. Even the Americans and America's closest West European allies have rejected the Bush policies and he is deeply unpopular. Your positions are very similar to the extreme right wing in America and the neocons who have brought the world close to disaster in political, military and economic terms. It is time for change and it is coming, regardless of who become the US president: McCain or Obama.

BRADEN said...

I believe as an American I should interject because even though I am new to the politics of both your countries.i like to think i know something about American policy. the fact is that both of you are right and wrong.
this sad song has its roots before world war 2. but i believe our real blunders began at that wars end.Winston Churchill lived in a bunker as he saw his beloved London bombed. the strong headed decisions that I mark as mistakes in his leadership, since some of those bad decisions existed in your parts of the world I shouldn't have to explain those mistakes. I only mention them because you have to remember his stubborn mindset.
Hitler showed the existing powers that their power was not absolute. so as people paraded in the streets proclaiming world war 2 was the war to end all wars. the powers that be remained in their bunkers and began to think. you see much of world war 2 was our fault as Americans. before entering the war, we where supplying both sides of the front. a good example was Indian motorcycles was selling to the allies while Harley motorcycles was selling to the Germans. they where making so much profit that they didn't see the danger lying in their sales. so while civilians danced our leaders debated "how can we prevent another Hitler from ever surfacing again?" even though our allies at the time we focused our sights on made sense considering that Russia first then later china, both having a large enough population and military force to pose a threat.using our recently expanded intelligence community operation stopwatch/gold started. between 1954-56 we dug a tunnel underneath our side of occupied Berlin to the Russian side tapping their cable lines and documenting massive amounts of information for the united states they began attacking communism as an ideology. allot of Americans where blacklisted during those years for having very vague connections to communist organizations. although most of them where false it kept communism in the news and the new bread of fear politics emerged. you see your countries use too many acronyms its harder for the people to remember who's the major u.s. intelligence they brought propaganda to a whole new level.they eliminated these complications by catorgorizing vast things into two groups good and evil. what followed was years of bad policy decisions that led to Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Iraq and Afghanistan. the CIA throughout this time enjoyed unlimited freedom. they sponsored our future enemieswith training and supplies everywhere in the world from South America, Cuba's bay of pigs, Iran Contra scandal, Africa,Tibet, and in India. sometimes even supplying both sides of the battle so they could destroy themselves. it also heavily debated that they killed a U.S. president(both kennedys), Martin Luther King. civil unrest throughout the world would insure an American dominant world.
so Riaz your fears of the military complex and neo-conservatism are sound. although the article sites bombings in abortion clinics anonymous is right in the point that these are bad examples.but these examples are not worse because of the government we live in. no one has absolute power for too long and where never given too much sway at home because of our constitution or I can assure you anonymous they would be far worse. conservatives have played a major role in two u.s elections Ronald Reagan and George w Bush JR. and we see the horrors(further proving the u.s. being the first terrorists) of both administrations in the world but at home its nothing more then economic strife. so theres much to fear from what we call neo-cons. but do not think too hard on what these think tanks say about Muslims because you forget the civil unrest of the 60's or the WTO riots in the mid 90's, or protests for this very war that continue to this very day. in America itself for generations now there has been a war of politics concerning the very mindset i've described. this war has been long,cost lives and many battles lost or are currently losing. this is a time when most of us in America are hoping to see that war finaly end(but it probably won't).Bush's presidency saw collectively the most experience militarily and intelligence personal quit(might be a good thing). never in American history has cabinet members leaked the identity of a CIA operative to the press or the intelligence community leaking confidential reports to the press in order to cover their butts from the inept decisions of bush. this shows the internal conflicts that has never before appeared in such a well organized group of people.
its hard, as i've read in a previous post you guys where kind of pointing fingers at each others intelligence agencies. unfortunitly in my country we understand that security isn't the only thing they provide. what they provide is an organization of people that tend to be far smarter then the people it protects and the government its supposed to serve. so learn from history and don't defend them too much, they have no soul, they have to throw it away in order to perform their job well. Also it brings me great fear because I know the CIA has trained them both.
also as an American vet., my father was in dessert storm, most of my family have fought in almost every American war except this one(thank god) and the revolutionary war. so the sins of our fathers weigh heavely on my soul as it does for many other Americans.
also at no time has any armed service member lost a nuke. you obviously don't know the inner workings of our military because if one was lost somebody high up wanted it that way. the security is amazing for these things take it from experience.