by Asif Haroon Raja
In September 2001, the whole world comity was behind USA. The UN had authorized US call to invade Afghanistan and combat terrorism so as to make the world peaceful. The world response to invasion of Iraq in March 2003 was different. Millions came out in the western world to dissuade George W. Bush and Tony Blair from undertaking the venture. Today very few support US imperial pursuits and majority wish termination of war on terror at the earliest. Desire for peaceful resolution of the conflict through political settlement among all stake holders has overshadowed the voices of those wishing continuation of war. This change in perceptions has occurred on account of the belated realization that neither Taliban can be defeated nor terrorism curbed. The world instead of becoming peaceful has become more insecure.
George W Bush the crusading son of cautious father of Bush senior and his team of neo-conservatives like Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Armitage, Donald Rumsfeld, Robert Kagan, Lewis Scooter Libby, John R Bolton, Eliot Abrams, James Woolsey, Douglas J Feith, Richard Perle are responsible for waging crusade against the Muslims under phony charges and giving false hopes that the world will be made free of the curse of terrorism. Tony Blair, the poodle of Bush was most vocal among the crusading bunch.
When the neo-cons managed to enter the corridors of power in January 2001, they actuated their long drawn plans. Although war against terrorism was named as global war on terror so as to entice greater number of allies, counter terrorism was Muslim specific. Bush had described the war as ‘the struggle against Islamic radicalism…the great ideological conflict of the early 21st century’. To weaken the citadel of Islam, Islamists in Afghanistan and Iraq were targeted. Attacks on sovereign states were justified under the pretexts of teaching virtues of democracy, freedom and human rights to the uncivilized and uncouth.
Massive military force was applied to capture Afghanistan, one of the most impoverished states of the world where it was alleged that the mastermind of 9/11 Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda were located and where women were being tyrannized by monstrous Taliban. Iraq was also invaded and occupied under fake charges of WMDs. Pakistan also became victim of terrorism because of fallout effect of Afghanistan and covert war launched by CIA and its allied intelligence agencies. Bigoted key figures of Republican Party led by Bush stand accountable for initiating clash of civilizations and are fit cases for trial on charges of war crimes for committing immense crimes against humanity. .
Mindful of the deep rooted revulsion evoked against USA in the Muslim world in particular and the world in general, a black half Muslim Barack Obama was pushed into White House for the first time. His selection was a strategic deception to mislead the Muslims and make them hate al-Qaeda instead of USA. Obama made many alluring promises during the presidential campaign in 2008 in his bid to washout the ill-effects of reviled Bush era and to win the confidence of Muslims. He promised to put an end to US interventionist policy, wrap up war in Iraq that was being condemned by all and sundry, find a democratic solution to Afghanistan, help in energizing Middle East peace process towards settlement of chronic Palestinian dispute, and in finding amicable solution to Kashmir issue.
He also made a commitment to close down dreadful prison in Guantanamo Bay and stressed that the US would abide by international law. In his bid to reach out to the Muslims and remove their sense of alienation, he stated in Cairo in June 2009 that the US did not have any enmity with the Muslim world. Efforts were made to de-link al-Qaeda from the folds of Islam terming it both terrorist and criminal. Hearing him, it was wishfully assumed that Obama would put a stop or at least scale down atrocious policies of his predecessor against Muslim countries.
It is over two years since he took over reins of power; so far all his tall promises have proved hollow. His words have not matched his actions. Though he has deceptively changed the title of ‘global war on terror with war against al-Qaeda, and terms like Islamic radicalism are avoided, in practical terms nothing has changed on ground. Since the Muslims continue to remain the main targets, the old phrase of ‘war on terror’ remains in common use by affected countries including Pakistan. Instead of curbing he has accelerated practice of death and destruction. He considers use of drones legal and morally just.
Although he has scaled down US troop level in Iraq to 50,000 only, the occupied country remains messy. Prospect of withdrawal of left over troops by end 2011 is uncertain due to fragile political situation under government of Maliki installed by Washington. Afghanistan is being continuously brutalized with a vengeance where the situation has become more volatile. He intensified covert operations and sprinkled more oil on the raging war on terror to make it ominous. Afghanistan provides an excellent base to CIA-Mosad-RAW-MI6 nexus to unleash clandestine operations all over Middle East, Horn of Africa and Central Asia as well as Philippines, Colombia, Pakistan and Iran. Latter was constantly threatened to be invaded. Guantanamo Bay is still functional and so are several CIA run detention centres infamous for torture.
As a sequel to his Af-Pak policy, the US military and its allies got heavily involved in Afghanistan and Pakistan, turning Pak-Afghan border region into single war zone. Purpose was to accelerate ground operations in Pashtun inhabited regions in Afghanistan and to step up invisible covert war in Pakistan. Clandestine operations were padded up with aerial violations, hot pursuits and intensified drone attacks against suspected targets in FATA. Brutalization of Afghanistan and Pakistan together with ruthless persecution of Kashmiris by Indian security forces in Indian occupied Kashmir has given rise to extremism and has made the whole region unstable and explosive. Things have gone from bad to worse for occupation forces in the last two years. In their desperate bid to arrest the resurgence of power of Taliban and regain initiative, ISAF has stepped up air blitz which in turn has increased casualty rate of civilians.
Middle East process instead of making progress has retrogressed due to Israeli intransigence and Obama’s visible inclination towards Tel Aviv. Like his predecessors he remains subservient to Israel and beholden to American Jews who were instrumental in his victory in elections. Obama feel no compunction in openly supporting Israel’s aggressive and unjust policies in the region. He not only looked the other way to Israeli invasion of Gaza in December 2008-January 2009 but justified it. He refused to condemn Israeli raid on Peace Flotilla off Gazan Coast and its illegal settlements in occupied territories.
Obama has distanced himself from Kashmir under Indian pressure and his conspicuous tilt towards India is no secret. Gross human rights abuses by Indian security forces against hapless unarmed Kashmiris in disputed occupied Kashmir are being ignored by Washington but it is quick to point fingers at a Muslim country at the sound of a single bullet fired. The US dubs counter actions by security forces against separatist elements in Balochistan or against terrorists in Swat as violation of human rights, but anti-separatist operations of Indian security forces in several parts of India for over fifty years and application of inhuman laws and using rape as a weapon to suppress freedom movement evoke no response.
Concerted efforts were made by Christian powers to separate oil-rich southern Sudan from the mainland. For all practical purposes, Sudan stands divided but its woes are not over. In oil producing Darfur region of Sudan, rebellious forces are being supported by foreign powers. Besides the oil factor, application of Sharia laws by President Bashir and his softness towards Islamists are the main reasons of concern for the western world. While Sudanese President is demonised through media war and International Court of Justice (ICJ) declared him a war criminal, the ICJ, the UN and the civilized western world are tight lipped about the war crimes of George Bush and his squad of neo-cons. No voice is raised on use of drones by CIA against US ally Pakistan killing maximum innocent civilians and very few militants.
Somalia’s pirates were purposely instigated to make Somali coast and Gulf of Aden prone to sea piracy so as to provide an excuse for international naval force to fish in troubled waters. Drone war was extended to Yemen to fight rebellious forces in south and in the north of the country as well as Al-Qaeda so as to save its ally President Saleh. AFRICOM was created with mala fide intentions against African continent rich in mineral resources. Congo is a victim of US intrigues where insurrectional war is raging in the mineral heavy eastern region.
It is suspected that ongoing turbulence within the Arab world was engineered by CIA to get rid of aging puppets and replace them with younger ones more subservient to Washington so that oil could be monopolised. The US-UK-French forces have now physically intervened in Libya thus activating third battlefront. The latest intervention is in line with his predecessor’s plan to reconfigure the map of Middle East. Ignoring the killing spree of US-NATO forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, Obama hypocritically justifies air strikes in Libya on the false pretext of saving Libyans from the wrath of Qaddafi’s forces trying to quell foreign inspired rebellion.
USA and western powers have their eyes transfixed on Libyan oil and are least concerned with the safety of Muslims in Libya. Aerial attacks and cruise missiles have caused more deaths and destruction in Libya than what forces loyal to Qaddafi have incurred. If we take into account the massacres in Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan and Yemen, the figure of deaths come to well over two millions. Paul Craig Roberts rightly says that the sole super power prefers to murder Muslims in order to enhance profits of its defence industrial complex.
In line with US policy of subjugating Southern America, a coup was engineered in Honduras in 2009 to overthrow popularly elected ruler and to replace him with vicious dictator. Korean Peninsula was made turbulent and made into a flashpoint. Iran was subjected to heavy sanctions and repeatedly threatened to desist from pursuing nuclear program. CIA poured in million of dollars and indulged in subversive activities to affect a regime change. It patronised Jundullah terrorist group to destabilize Siestan Balochistan.
Obama is in his third year of rule but his popularity at home has sunk down substantially since his achievements on the domestic front are far from satisfactory. His external policies are widely criticized since he has neither been able to culminate the unpopular war on terror nor defeated al-Qaeda and Taliban in Afghanistan. He has so far not been able to spell out a clear cut strategy as to how he intends to play the endgame which enables safe and honorable return of foreign troops from Afghanistan. He has taken no steps to win the shattered confidence of the aggrieved Muslims and to bring down the rising graph of anti-Americanism and restore the lost image and credibility of USA. The US economy is in the melting pot while its chief rival China’s economy is surging. He has been unable to curtail debts and fiscal deficit due to ever rising expenditure on defence, security and covert war. With these minuses, his chances of re-election are getting slim, but who so ever returns to power in January 2013, he will also pursue old policies favoring the west, Israel and India and disfavoring the Muslims world.
About the writer: Asif Haroon is a defence analyst and author of several books. Email: asifharoon[email protected]
Brig Asif Haroon Raja an Member Board of Advisors Opinion Maker is Staff College and Armed Forces WarCoursequalified, holds MSc war studies degree; a second generation officer, he fought epic battle of Hilli in northwest East Bengal during 1971 war, in which Maj M. Akram received Nishan-e-Haider posthumously.
He served as Directing Staff Command & Staff College, Defence Attaché Egypt and Sudan and Dean of Corps of Military Attaches in Cairo. He commanded the heaviest brigade in Kashmir. He is lingual and speaks English, Pashto and Punjabi fluently.
He is author of books titled ‘Battle of Hilli’, ‘1948, 1965 & 1971 Kashmir Battles and Freedom Struggle’, ‘Muhammad bin Qasim to Gen Musharraf’, Roots of 1971 Tragedy’; has written number of motivational pamphlets. Draft of his next book ‘Tangled Knot of Kashmir’ is ready.
He is a defence analyst and columnist and writes articles on security, defence and political matters for numerous international/national publications.