AfPak Dilemmas

Not only have Blackwater mercenaries (now Xe) helped the CIA kidnap people (“rendition”), but it is now coming out that they’ve been helping launch covert assassination drones in Pakistan. The revelations, which have outraged the Pakistani people, have forced the USG to cancel the contract.

reports on the fear gripping mosque-goers in the aftermath of a Taliban bombing of a congregation. One of the capital’s major mosques was half empty on Friday. Pakistan has important left and secular traditions and you wonder whether the Taliban are reinvigorating them by tying religion to mindless violence and Draconian repression.

Amy Goodman on the militarization of aid in Afghanistan

Aljazeera English also reports on the controversies around what critics call the militarization of aid in Afghanistan (you must be signed in to your youtube account to view it). adds to this analysis with a consideration of Obama’s nine surges in Afghanistan.

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Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Responses | Print |

6 Responses

  1. Thanks to Obama's escalation of an already questionable war, Pakistan is in for even tougher times. As Bette Davis said, Hey Pakistan, "Fasten your seat belts, its going to be a bumby ride."

  2. What seems to be eternally missing in the on-going discussion of Afghanistan is the need for economic development, providing the infrastructure and jobs so critically needed to allow people to provide the basic necessities for their families. Instead what we get is the unending focus on the military and defense side, admittedly a massive cost item, but totally out of balance with what's needed on the development side. Take a look at this defense vs. aid spending graph and it will hit you in the face.

    link to

    All of the news media, including bloggers and pundits such as yourself, Professor Cole, and Tom Engelhardt cited in your link, seem to be oblivious to a mountain of information pointing to extreme poverty and lack of the basic means of survival as perhaps the leading cause of extremism and violence. The Oxfam poll of Afghans released last month stated unequivocally:

    "Poverty and unemployment are overwhelmingly seen as the main reasons behind conflict in Afghanistan, according to a survey in that country.


    Oxfam said the survey showed that the country needed more than military solutions."

    (Link here: link to

    Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University wrote in the Guardian:

    "U.S. foreign policy 'has failed in recent years mainly because the U.S. has relied on military force to address problems that demand development assistance and diplomacy. Young men become fighters in places such as Sudan, Somalia, Pakistan and Afghanistan because they lack gainful employment. Extreme ideologies influence people when they can’t feed their families, and when lack of access to family planning leads to an unwanted population explosion.' "

    He added:

    "[T]he United States should reverse its priorities and fund major sustainable development programs, which would not only help reduce Afghanistan’s overwhelming poverty but would be a surer way to help achieve greater U.S. security."

    (Link here: link to

    And yet, job creation and poverty alleviation, two critical elements that almost every Afghan I talk with (I've been working in Kabul off and on for the past 20 months) says could significantly reduce the level of violence, were nowhere to be found in Obama's speech.

    You have a bully pulpit, Professor Cole. Would it be possible for you to focus on what's really needed to stabilize Afghanistan rather than continuing to reinforce the myth of the military solution? The Afghans are desperate and we must understand that desperate people do desperate things. We don't need to be focusing on what we're doing to increase their desperation.

    link to

  3. .
    I tried to watch the video from AlJazeeriyah on the militarization of aid, and I couldn't get it to run. A message said something about answering the sender's friend request.

    If the video didn't mention it, the whole concept of Provincial Reconstruction Teams, introduced under Ambassador Khalilzad, is this militarization of aid. In Afghanistan, USAID is an adjunct to kinetic military operations.
    This is what happens when top leadership is selected based on political loyalties, rather than understanding or competence.

  4. I find use of the term AfPak to be trivializing to Afghanistan and Pakistan. Sort of like VietCamLaoThai would have been.

    I am appalled enough at this needless American war.

  5. If it wasn't so odd, I would like to suggest the SW American approach to manual labor.

    Drive a truck down a road, tell every able male that you are going to make a project up the road, pay them if they want to help.

    Drop them off at the end of the day with a sack of wheat/corn/rice/lard/oil/etc…

    During that, hire some translators to come back a few days a month and see what else needs to be done. Work with the project leaders to see who or where hideouts are.

    Do this on a massive scale, and see if the Pak army can help coordinate some air drops to help their image. (even into Afghanistan with relief helicopters)

    The military is not supposed to be the civil support for a long term. They move in, clear out, secure, move on. That is the job, that is the reward.

  6. The Pakistani public objects to the drone attacks (due to collateral civilian losses) and NOT who loads the missiles!

    "The revelations, which have outraged the Pakistani people, have forced the USG to cancel the contract." is a total non-sequiter!!

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