War on terrorism and three lame ducks
Dr Shabir Choudhry 22 November 2006
‘War on terrorism’ whatever its real aim has changed the world politics. The attack on Afghanistan was apparently in response to the destruction of twin towers, even though no Afghan was involved in it. The attack on world’s poorest country and fall of Taliban government, which was projected as main source of terrorism, enhanced the image of Bush and Blair.
Armed with another feather in their cap and with help of strong media campaign they decided to resolve world’s problem by use of their superior weaponry. Soon it was clear that their next target was Iraq, even though they knew there were no WMD. More than a decade long sanctions made Iraq very weak; and under the pretext of inspections they got confirmed that Iraq does not have ability to defend itself.
Once it was established that Iraq had no WMD, and had no ability to fight back to inflict a serious damage, imperialists invaded in the name of ‘liberation’ and ‘democracy’. Those who always promoted and protected undemocratic governments and dictators as long as they were protecting their interests began their imperial campaign apparently to promote democracy.
Many experts and writers warned them against this but they were not in mood to take note of any rational advice. Even I wrote many letters to Tony Blair and Bush, and on 9th November 2004, I again wrote:
1. ‘Tony Blair, it is still not too late, you can stop or at least reduce the suffering of the people of Iraq. You don’t have to follow the Americans in international affairs. You could be proud in your heart that you are a friend or an ally of a ‘super power, but remember, Allah is the greatest and no super power could even remotely match His powers. Many tyrants and leaders in the past who assumed themselves as head of ‘super governments’ were punished by Him and destroyed.
2. You need to ask yourself, are people of Iraq better off after this aggression? Is world more safer place now? Are British interests and British lives safer now than they were before the start of this aggression?
3. With military might you can crush resistance in Faluja and in other places but you will never win peace because your prescription for achieving peace and democracy is flawed. You DONOT plant democracy by occupying a country, by dropping bombs in civilian areas and by killing innocent people.’
Thousands of other people wrote and millions demonstrated their resentment against the war, but double B- Bush and Blair pushed by greed, economic and strategic interests were determined to go ahead with their irrational and unethical agenda. Their immoral war has destabilised the entire region, and has resulted in death of more than six hundred thousand Iraqi people. They have managed to destroy the country and its infrastructure, looted and plundered natural and historic resources of the country, and yet still claim that it is war of ‘liberation’, and that people of Iraq are better off.
Increasingly under pressure from their electorates, growing cost of war and increasing number of body bags has resulted in more opposition and demands that they should leave Iraq. They have this classic excuse that if they leave now it will result in chaos but this is the situation they have created themselves- it gives them with an excuse to stay there. Iraq was not like this before their illegal war. Their presence is only fuelling the anger and it is time that they pack their bags and leave.
Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq at one time tremendously increased power and influence of Bush and Blair; it decreased power and influence of Taliban and Alqaeeda and resistance movement in Iraq. Despite this and despite all the military superiority at their command they could not win the war.
American Presidents generally become lame ducks towards the end of their tenure, and especially in the second term. Their ability to push their agenda through becomes more difficult when the opposing party controls the Congress. But these wars, especially the Iraq war has made President Bush a lame duck when he still has more than two years to rule. Power from Tony Blair was already slipping away before the American elections; and he was considered a lame duck Prime Minister with Gordon Brown waiting to take over from him.
In this war General Musharaf of Pakistan had a crucial role, and with him controlling all levers of power in Pakistan he was calling shots in Pakistan without any checks on his powers. Despite uniform and military might of Pakistan under his control, with time his power and influence also began to decline. This decline became very evident when he had to make compromises with pro Taliban leaders in the Wazirstan and other Tribal areas.
In view of many experts General Musharaf has made Pakistan more unstable with some provinces on the verge of rebellion and FATA areas in total opposition to the policy of Islamabad. Situation has come to that level that even war torn Afghanistan is telling Pakistan what to do and what not to do; and Pakistani government could only complaint to Washington.
Despite long parleys, CBMs and on - going peace process there has not been any tangible progress in dialogue with India. Both countries still see each other with suspicion and at times accuse each other of terrorism and meddling in internal affairs of others. Jammu and Kashmir is still bleeding; and people of Kashmir are frustrated that they are still not part of any process. This means that there is growing resentment against Pakistan and its Kashmir policy among the Kashmiris. Situation is so bad that many in the ranks of Pakistan army are also frustrated with the government approach to resolving the Kashmir dispute.
So with time and for different reasons all three leading players in the war against terrorism became lame ducks with opposition to war on increase domestically. To add to their problems war both in Afghanistan and Iraq was not having desired results. Resistance against occupation in both countries is becoming more organised and effective with growing causalities of those who are perceived as occupiers or their collaborators.
Whereas power and influence of those leading this war is declining considerably and opposition to their strategies is on the rise, power and influence of Taliban, Alqaeeda or resistance is increasing every day. It is very easy for them to find new recruitments and fight back with great impact; and increasing numbers of experts are saying that invaders cannot win this war.
Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger said in a television interview broadcast on Sunday 19th November 2006 that this war is not winnable. He suggested the US to seek help from countries like Iran and Syria. When a ‘superpower’ is forced to seek help from its foes, which Washington liked to call ‘axis of evil’ then one can visualise seriousness of the situation.
Kissinger further said that "A dramatic collapse of Iraq — whatever we think about how the situation was created _ would have disastrous consequences for which we would pay for many years and which would bring us back, one way or another, into the region. I think we have to redefine the course, but I don't think that the alternative is between military victory, as defined previously, or total withdrawal."
So it is no longer the position where countries were ‘ordered’ to fall in line, either you are with us or against us. These wars have brought Bush and Blair to this level that now they have to ‘request’ cooperation that there can be stability in Iraq, and leave the country with some pride. In case these countries refuse to cooperate it is not they will be bombed as was the situation previously now in the worst case scenario they will be ‘isolated’ from the ‘international community’.
Influence of America in world politics is on decline and Bush government has failed to make progress in many areas. Apart from the problems discussed above, American policy has failed with regard to North Korea, Iran, Lebanon and Palestine. Bush government is working overtime to seek help from its adversaries in Iraq. In other words policy on war on terrorism has changed; there is no longer reliance on the military might only.
This change could find a solution leading to some kind of respectful withdrawal for invaders from Iraq. But policy towards Afghanistan might not change, and this means more active involvement of Pakistan with long term impact on Pakistan and its society. In other words problems of Pakistan are likely to increase with its negative impact on the people of Pakistan. Since Pakistan still has a big say in matters of Kashmir dispute, and government of Pakistan getting deeper in to problems there is no light at the end of tunnel for Kashmiris in foreseeable future.
Writer is Chairman Diplomatic Committee of JKLF, Director Institute of Kashmir Affairs and author of many books on Kashmir. He could be reached at: email@example.com