Quintessentially Authoritarian Foreign Policy


Pakistan’s military will not take action against the Haqqani militant group that Washington blames for an attack against its embassy in Kabul, despite mounting American pressure to do so, a Pakistani newspaper reported on Monday.

…The Pakistani commanders agreed to resist U.S. demands for an army offensive in North Waziristan, where the United States believes the Haqqani network is based, the Express Tribune reported, quoting an unnamed military official.

“We have already conveyed to the U.S. that Pakistan cannot go beyond what it has already done,” the official told the newspaper on condition of anonymity.

The root of the US anger over Pakistan’s reluctance to fight the Haqqanis is that it is a prime contributor to the Afghan insurgency against US occupation forces (harmful to the ‘national interest’). But something tells me this piece of news – coming after weeks of aggressive rhetoric and accusations – is an even more dire offense. Pakistan is “resisting US demands.” Disobedience is the cardinal sin in the American Empire. It has led prominent psychotic Senator Lindsey Graham to publicly warn that attacking Pakistan is an option if “we need to elevate our response.” Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, too, has implied the potential for a violent response.

Of course, this is not a two way street. A few months ago, the Pakistani government decided the US drone base in Balochistan was destabilizing and harmful to their national interest and so ordered the US to leave it and stop all drone strikes from there. The Obama  administration’s official response was pretty straight forward: screw off, Pakistan. US officials insisted that Shamsi would not be vacated, now or in the foreseeable future. (After all the agitation, the US announced that the Shamsi base hadn’t been used for drone strikes in months, but this seemed more a PR move than anything.) Few were saying then what insolence the US displayed in not following orders.

And when Pakistan displayed disapproval for the high profile US attack inside Pakistan with the raid on bin Laden’s home, the US used its leverage and halted hundreds of millions of dollars in aid. “Talk back to me, and lose your treats,” Uncle Sam seemed to say. “You’re meant to follow my orders and welcome my breach of your sovereignty. How you dare object.”

Furthermore, as I’ve pointed out before, the US has repeatedly violated Pakistani sovereignty without permission, conducting kill/capture operations with special operations forces across the Pakistani border an undisclosed number of times. Obama has expanded the drone program exponentially, resulting in untold numbers of civilians casualties and increasing instability along Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan. One of the primary effects of the war in Afghanistan has been to push militants across the border into Pakistan, destabilizing the country. Indeed, the whole ten years of war in Afghanistan has been a detriment to Pakistan, who has laid virtually prostrate in the face of US demands. Yet, the US leadership sees fit to threaten Pakistan with attack for their intransigence.

This is the nature of US hegemony. It is the quintessential authoritarian relationship and it extends to most of our “allies,” laid prostrate. Rules are rules because we can annihilate you. These rules are meant to be broken, by us. You must follow them.

And again, another perfect example of this approach is US policy in Afghanistan. As the US accuses Pakistan of conducting a proxy war, the US is conducting its own mere miles away.

US-supported Afghan militias are committing widespread human rights abuses, but neither Washington or Kabul are holding them accountable or changing policy in light of the crimes, according to a new Human Rights Watch report.

The report “documents serious abuses, such as killings, rape, arbitrary detention, abductions, forcible land grabs, and illegal raids by irregular armed groups in northern Kunduz province and the Afghan Local Police (ALP).”

…In March 2011, General Petraeus told the US Senate that the ALP is “arguably the most critical element in our effort to help Afghanistan develop the capacity to secure itself.”

…The ALP has been accused of “beating teenage boys and hammering nails into the feet of one boy,” although no arrests were made. “In April,” the report documents, “four armed ALP members in Baghlan abducted a 13-year-old boy on his way home from the bazaar and took him to the house of an ALP sub-commander, where he was gang raped.” The perpetrators are well known, but no arrests have been made.

The US has the right to call Pakistan out on its proxy terrorism. The Afghan government does not, nor does anyone else, have the right to call the US out on its own terrorism. Rules apply to others. Not to America.