For the past week the Obama Administration has been issuing daily statements accusing the Haqqani Network, a comparatively small Pakistani militant faction operating in North Waziristan, of being responsible for every press-worthy terrorist attack in Afghanistan. This has been interspersed with near-daily allegations that the Pakistani government is secretly behind the network, comments which the Pakistani government has warned could finally break their tenuous alliance with the US. The comments often come with US threats to invade Pakistan’s tribal areas with ground troops.
And if there’s a war to be shilled for, who better to help than the New York Times? To that end the amazingly convenient article “Brutal Haqqani Clan Bedevils US in Afghanistan” appears on the front page of the paper today.
The narrative, as always, is designed to be incredibly simple to follow. The Haqqani Network goes from terrorist group to militia to ministate to mafia throughout the piece, and is even likened to the Sopranos, in case Americans don’t get the picture. Funny, I always thought the Sopranos were more about humanizing what were on the surface stereotypical villains by showing the moral dilemmas and the family struggles they face. Apparently the Times was just wading through six seasons hoping for some drone strikes on New Jersey.
But I digress. The US, for its part, does what the US usually does in the New York Times, virtuously and selflessly helping the impoverished third world. The Afghan War, near as you could tell from the article, amounts primarily to “building roads and schools” and the mean old Haqqanistas are determined to stop both, demanding protection money and launching attacks on US embassies whenever the Pakistani military tells them to.
Which is another point at which the story breaks down. I mean, sure, they glossed over a decade of extremely ugly NATO occupation in the first paragraph, but if the Pakistani military, which is itself awash in US funds, is funding this ragtag tribal band for its terrorist attacks, and the article also hints at mysterious benefactors in the Gulf pumping money in as well, why does the group have to rely on extorting schoolbuilders for cash?
The answer, of course, is “because it makes them look like bad guys” and it gives the US an excuse to lob missiles at North Waziristan (grudgingly, the article claims, and with extreme CIA concern about civilian deaths) as well as a good reason to constantly browbeat Pakistan.