US Foreign Policy / enclosures / cc: Presidential Nominees
Hillary, Obama, Edwards, Guiliani, McCain etc .. it’s just a matter of time before one of these is the world’s next
superpower president. The world watches our nominees debate and for a while it seemed hopeful. For a while..
Democratic nominees while having a consensus about pulling out of Iraq differed on when and how but it was clear they were willing to pull us out. The bickering focused on lack of experience vs. experience of assisting in the Iraqi mistake. The result a wash if not the latter holding slightly stronger ground.
It took a tough anti-terrorism speech from Barak Obama to shed light on the fact that while our democrats were willing to pull our heads out of the sand that didn’t necessarily mean that they weren’t willing to bury their heads in a new hole. Edwards followed suit with agreeing with Obama’s stance. Hillary, in all her glory, in all of her scolding after Obama’s statement that going nuclear on Pakistan was not option in which she argues that all things should not be said found herself making her own identical statements on Pakistan:
“I’ve long believed that we needed tougher, smarter action against terrorists by deploying more troops to Afghanistan, and if we had actionable intelligence that Osama bin Laden or other high-value targets were in Pakistan I would ensure that they were targeted and killed or captured,” she said.” (source)
So here we sit and watch another competition feeding off of our fears; what’s your stance on terrorism?
Basically, this stance on Pakistan isn’t really anything new. It’s not even as though the current administration hasn’t heard of this or thought of it. Heck, they’ve done it. However, the statements of the democratic party nominees show lack of regard for promising events that have been taking place in Pakistan as well as the efforts that Pakistan has been taking in terms of assisting the war on terror.
The facts, however uncharitably we may want to interpret them, remain thus: Pakistan is actually fighting a determined and pitched battle inside its borders for just the purposes outlined by Senator Obama. Pakistan has deployed 100,000 troops across its northwestern borders, and suffered thousands of casualties, both military and civilian. Just since the July 3rd Lal Masjid stand-off, there have been a dozen suicide bombings across Pakistan, killing over 200 civilians. Pakistan has killed or captured the majority of key operators of Al Qaeda. Pakistan has, in addition, permitted US military strikes on its sovereign territory in our global war against Al Qaeda: such as the November 10, 2006 missile strike that aimed to kill Zawahiri at a madrasa – and hit mostly children. And even as they have seen their cities and deserts flooded with the detritus from the forgotten war of Afghanistan, the Pakistani Press and people have publicly demonstrated – many hundreds of time – their hate of extremism and extremists and their enthusiasm for democracy and a just life. The case in point being, what I term, the Penguin Revolution, that swept Pakistan in the last three months – though making little dent in our media coverage here.
and goes on to say:
We are, in fact, reluctant to know, to understand, to investigate, to learn, to differentiate. We insist on our global, flat, binary world no matter how many facts continue to pile up proving us wrong. We distrust those “masses” populating the streets of Pakistan. And hence, we have no choice BUT to ignore the real “birth-pangs of democracy” happening – we can only insist on “democratization” since we remain convinced that the only conclusion to an election in Pakistan will be power for the extremists. We refuse to acknowledge that the majority has proven time and again its commitment to a safe, secure and free existence for all.
The pictures you see here are not the masks of rage you are accustomed to see – these are lawyers, civil servants, public officials, the great backbone – the middle class – of any country.
And they are fighting in the street for justice and democracy. These are the forces we should be supporting. These are the people who we need to be on our side. These are the people whom we should stand by.
You may call it ‘paradoxical’ but the only solution against extremists is democracy – not the support of dictatorships.
(please make sure to read the whole article and notice the pictures of demonstrations. also, he has a few more posts in regards to the issue that are extremely informative – you can read them here and here – these two allow comments on the articles.)
Furthermore, while they are all democratic nominees right now, these statements are all comming at a crucial time for Pakistan as it readies itself for elections. With republicans and democrats singing the same song in regards to Pakistan the impact could be far reaching. Our foreign policy and our attitudes towards solutions just may directly influence Pakistan’s fight for freedom and democracy a road they were on before our US led push for democracy in the near regions. Our direct actions through supporting Musharraf’s military are hypocritical to the very center of our core values. It is not liberty and democracy for all that we desire, rather it is liberty and democracy for those in which it suits our purpose – military regimes for others. Iraqis deserved liberty and democracy … Pakistanis .. eh.. not so much. And, so yay, our democrats have figured out that they can capitalize on fears, point the finger in the right direction to fight the right war, all the while picking up a few of those republican votes which have tired of the whole Iraq fiasco. However, while American public opinion could favor taking action in Pakistan, support is not unconditional according to this gallup poll:
Despite majority support for the general idea of U.S. military action in Pakistan, a much smaller percentage of Americans favor the United States acting unilaterally without regard for the Pakistani government. Only 30% of Americans say they favor military action against terrorist targets in Pakistan regardless of whether or not the Pakistani government supports it, while 19% favor action only if the government of Pakistan agrees with the steps taken. Three percent of Americans are unsure.
Sixty-one percent of Republicans support military action in Pakistan if the United States had intelligence information about terrorism activity in that country, while 33% opposes it. Democrats are more evenly divided, with 45% supporting and 50% opposing such action.
With the lack of wmd in Iraq, the humiliation of our own human rights violations within this war on terror and the massive instability that we have now brought upon this region with the absolute disregard for the high possibility of civil war the days of unconditional support of the American public for taking “action” and waging war are gone. Instead give us productive solutions. Get to the root of the problem. What makes a terrorist a terrorist and how do we fight that? Look at what Hamas has done in the Palestinian territories to gain political ground. Hamas offered medical services, social services, gave out pensions to widows and built schools. All the while, we handed out our money to a corrupt Fatah that was losing ground by offering much less than what Hamas had to offer. Of course we can’t support terrorist organizations like Hamas and our only way to provide assistance to the Palestian people was through an organization that we deemed legitimate .. there is no gripe with providing assistance .. only the point that maybe we have something to learn from this experience.
We need to ask ourselves how the Taliban became popular within Afghanistan. We need to ask ourselves why there are terrorist organizations up in the mountains of Pakistan and why locals are offering them protection and we need to learn how to fight wars on a new level. We need to listen to the experts that are allready giving us this information and utilize their research. Maybe wars do not need to be fought through sweeping air raids, tanks, artillery and arms, maybe, just maybe, wars need to be fought through sanitary and advanced medicine, educational structures, curriculum, clean water and water resources, agricultural technologies and minimizing casualties for the sake of fighting a war on terror whose homeland is in no country and every country. Politicians: Give us something new!
Can our Presidential nominees learn from the mistakes we’ve made in Iraq? Or will they continue down this road (pew global attitudes survey):
Global distrust of American leadership is reflected in increasing disapproval of the cornerstones of U.S. foreign policy. Not only is there worldwide support for a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, but there also is considerable opposition to U.S. and NATO operations in Afghanistan. Western European publics are at best divided about keeping troops there. In nearly every predominantly Muslim country, overwhelming majorities want U.S. and NATO troops withdrawn from Afghanistan as soon as possible. In addition, global support for the U.S.-led war on terrorism ebbs ever lower. And the United States is the nation blamed most often for hurting the world’s environment, at a time of rising global concern about environmental issues.
Of course what is said and what is done are two different things but considering where our leadership stands at the moment – what is said now is going to determine world opinion and trust for the remainder of the next Presidential term. I wonder if it’s too late for damage control.