Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search

 


Sludge Report #108 - War and Delusion

In This Edition: War and Delusion

NOTE: Authors of this report will be anonymous and wide ranging, and occasionally finely balanced. Indeed you are invited to contribute: The format is as a reporters notebook. It will be published as and when material is available. C.D. Sludge can be contacted at sludge@scoop.co.nz. The Sludge Report is available as a free email service..Click HERE - http://www.scoop.co.nz/mason/myscoop/ to subscribe...

Sludge Report #108

War and Delusion

When US President George W. Bush, the Commander in Chief, returned from his weekend war retreat at the beginning of last week the talk was tough.

George junior talked of a crusade against evildoers. He talked of smoking the terrorists out of their holes and bringing them to justice.

Meanwhile, at the beginning of last week, even the more sober voices in the US administration were talking of imminent retaliatory strikes. Battle groups were dispatched and the Taliban were given an ultimatum. They had three days to decide whether to hand over public enemy No. 1, Osama bin Laden.

The deadline expired on Wednesday US Time (Thursday NZT). But there was no retaliation. In fact there wasn’t even much of a hint of such.

The US Ambassador to Pakistan appeared before the media on Wednesday local time and explained that not only were there no US service personnel in Pakistan, contrary to widespread rumour. In fact, the ambassador said, nor were there even any US technical negotiators in the country, and she didn’t know when they would be arriving.

In the world of real politik - as opposed to the world of CNN war, which has become our daily fare on TV - the odds of the kind of rapid-fire military strikes against the Taliban that we had all expected practically disappeared the day Pakistan’s President General Pervez Musharraf was summoned to the imperial table by US Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Powell was asked by the media at the time if Musharraf was trustworthy. He replied that the General - whose name G.W. Bush controversially could not recall during his election campaign - was considered completely trustworthy by the U.S. administration.

What this meant, to anyone who knew Musharraf, was that the chances of any knee-jerk military strikes had practically disappeared.

The U.S. could not at the same time enter into negotiations with Musharraf and at the same time completely undermine his authority by launching strikes against the Taliban.

On the timetable front Musharraf has paid lip-service to the U.S. demands for urgent action. However, as anyone might have told CNN had they bothered to ask, speed of action is not part of the makeup of diplomacy in this part of the world.

That the world’s greatest superpower the U.S. decided to in effect surrender its ability to make its foreign policy decisions in the wake of the World Trade Center attacks to Pakistan may at first glance seem remarkable. But in fact the US had no choice.

Any attack on the Taliban mounted by the US Air Force has to go through Pakistani air space. And without Pakistani intelligence cooperation on targeting any action at all would be wholly pointless.

General Musharraf appeared on TV early last week to explain his decision to cooperate with the U.S. Administration to the people of Pakistan. He explained his decision in largely practical terms.

Principal among the aims of the Pakistani regime at this time would appear to be obtaining concessions from the U.S. in return for any cooperation. In particular the Government of Musharraf is said to be seeking forgiveness of USD$30 billion of debt.

Musharraf however has not yet committed himself to any cooperation with US strikes against the Taliban, and whether he does so or not may ultimately be a decision that will be taken only once the pulse of his huge nation is fully assessed.

For Musharraf, and in fact for US too, the equation is simple. What profit would there be in winning the permission of Pakistan to mount a strike against Afghanistan, if the nation of Pakistan itself and its nuclear capacity is lost to extremists.

Meanwhile in the context of this judgment, in Islamic terms the deal that Musharraf is considering - debt forgiveness in return for cooperation - is far from attractive.

It will not be at all hard for anti-American hardliners to portray such a deal as a surrender to U.S. capitalism. Opponents will also be able to accuse Musharraf of accepting blood money, for the betrayal of an ally and a brother.

At about this point in the analysis of the U.S. attempts to form a “Global Alliance Against Terrorism” it starts to come clear that the White House, and Downing St, are living in a state of deep delusion.

As this column is being written UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw is departing for Iran where he intends to work on bringing the regime of Ayatollah Khomeini into this alliance.

Before he bothers, Minister Straw might be well advised to ring President Khatami and ask his opinion on the degree of flexibility indicated on such issues within Iran’s ruling mullahs. For this columnist the story of King Canute and the tide comes to mind.

The U.S. says it is seeking a global alliance against terrorism.

But in reality all they have achieved so far it is a global alliance of just two, or possibly three: the US, the UK and Australia. Interestingly these are the only nations presently backing the air war against Iraq. And even the UK is asking some fairly tough questions about the nature of President Bush's plans.

Other nations like Pakistan, France and Germany indicate support in theory for a US plan, but when it comes to the practical issues of who should be struck, by what and when, there is nothing that looks remotely like consensus emerging.

Perhaps more significantly for the US, in the Middle East where a broad alliance against Iraq was formed in 1991 by Colin Powell and his team, there is so far not a single nation signing on the bottom line to back strikes against either the terrorists themselves or the nations that harbour them.

And so, this writer thinks, it is not unreasonable for the peace movement to take some heart at this point in the aftermath of the horrendous events of September 11th.

On the other side of the debate however, spin masters will soon be working overtime in the White House, trying to extract the President from the risk of being hoist on his own petard.

Anti©opyright Sludge 2001

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Werewolf: Living With Rio’s Olympic Ruins

Mariana Cavalcanti Critics of the Olympic project can point a discernible pattern in the delivery of Olympics-related urban interventions: the belated but rushed inaugurations of faulty and/or unfinished infrastructures... More>>

Live Blog On Now: Open Source//Open Society Conference

The second annual Open Source Open Society Conference is a 2 day event taking place on 22-23 August 2016 at Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington… Scoop is hosting a live blog summarising the key points of this exciting conference. More>>

ALSO:

Buildup:

Gordon Campbell: On The Politicising Of The War On Drugs In Sport

It hasn’t been much fun at all to see how “war on drugs in sport” has become a proxy version of the Cold War, fixated on Russia. This weekend’s banning of the Russian long jumper Darya Klishina took that fixation to fresh extremes. More>>

ALSO:

Binoy Kampmark: Kevin Rudd’s Failed UN Secretary General Bid

Few sights are sadder in international diplomacy than seeing an aging figure desperate for honours. In a desperate effort to net them, he scurries around, cultivating, prodding, wishing to be noted. Finally, such an honour is netted, in all likelihood just to shut that overly keen individual up. More>>

Open Source / Open Society: The Scoop Foundation - An Open Model For NZ Media

Access to accurate, relevant and timely information is a crucial aspect of an open and transparent society. However, in our digital society information is in a state of flux with every aspect of its creation, delivery and consumption undergoing profound redefinition... More>>

Keeping Out The Vote: Gordon Campbell On The US Elections

I’ll focus here on just two ways that dis-enfranchisement is currently occurring in the US: (a) by the rigging of the boundary lines for voter districts and (b) by demanding elaborate photo IDs before people are allowed to cast their vote. More>>

Ramzy Baroud: Being Black Palestinian - Solidarity As A Welcome Pathology

It should come as no surprise that the loudest international solidarity that accompanied the continued spate of the killing of Black Americans comes from Palestine; that books have already been written and published by Palestinians about the plight of their Black brethren. In fact, that solidarity is mutual. More>>

ALSO:


Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news