5 Ways Nevada Rancher Militia Resembles Pakistan’s Taliban

(By Juan Cole)

1. Federal versus local control of land

Pakistan The Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA) of Pakistan is ruled directly from the capital, Islamabad, rather than having an elected provincial government or legislature. The local tribes such as Mehsud, from which the Taliban are recruited, want more local autonomy.

Nevada The Federal government owns 87% of the land in Nevada and rules on land use there. Some local ranchers, such as Cliven Bundy, want local, state and county control over this land instead.

2. Conflicts over Resources

Pakistan: Local tribes in the FATA region often clash over resources such as access to irrigated land, and the Federal government has intervened: “the government would not allow any group or tribe to take arbitrary actions in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata)”

Nevada : Cliven Bundy is grazing his cattle on Federal land in order to take advantage of its pasturage (a sort of water resource) but has come into conflict with Bureau of Land Management officials.


3. Rejection of Federal authority

Pakistan The Taliban of Northern Waziristan in FATA have their own local Emirate, rejecting the Federal government.

Nevada Cliven Bundy and the Militia movement that supports him reject Federal ownership of land in Nevada, and only recognize the Nevada government.


4. Taking up Arms

Pakistan: Local clans in FATA have taken up arms against Federal forces where the latter have tried to assert themselves there.

Nevada When Federal officers of the Bureau of Land Management attempted to confiscate some of Bundy’s cattle because of non-payment of grazing fees, he and his 1000 militia supporters brandished guns at the scene, threatening violence.

5. Resistance to taxes

Pakistan : Although FATA residents are exempted from Federal income tax, the government is imposing retail and other taxes on them, as with a tax on cell phones. They reject paying this phone tax to the Federal government.

Nevada Bundy refuses to pay a grazing fee to the Federal government.

That Sean Hannity and other far right wing pundits are supporting the regional militiamen and their mooching hero rather than the US government gives you an idea what side they’d be on if they were in Pakistan…

30 Responses

  1. Here is what I don’t understand: Homeland Security and the national security state has been built up to unprecedented levels in the last 12 years; however, if, as you say, Bundy and his followers are advocating/threatening violence and terrorism, why aren’t they arrested under the Patriot Act? Forget the grazing fees, how about terrorism charges? I have the answer: Bundy and his militia have popular support across the country, even many elected officials are coming to his aid. Interesting comparison.

    • It’ll get more interesting if Obama sends in a couple of drones to keep a close watch on these dangerous, gun-toting right-wing kooks. Bringing the drones home will allow Obama to send ’em to Nebraska after he gives the go ahead for the Keystone pipeline. They can keep a close watch on all the envirowackos, old hippies from the 60s, and other radical types. It’ll be like Woodstock without the bands. All they need is a Nebraska farmer to play Max Yasgur….


      Obama will go to Nebraska and give his own “Mission Accomplished” speech.

      “We all know this pipeline is very dirty and oh-so-STINKY. I can smell it from here, but the real issue is JOBS, JOBS, JOBS for all Americans.”

      A couple of drones will be circling overhead.

      No guns means all the protestors get locked up until the pipeline is finished.

      • For the Keystone pipeline to be built, they’ll have to use a lot of eminent domain (government taking of private property). If the pipline is stopped, it could be due more to the objections of property rights supporters than to the complaints of environmentalists. Anti-government feelings have caused headaches for the NSA. Now, the right needs to step up and oppose the use of eminent domain in those cases where the stolen property is to be given to a foreign corporation (like Transcanada).

  2. Bundy seems to have attracted the support of all the gun-totin’, gummint-hatin’ yahoos in the vicinity, and those who could afford to drive/fly in from other parts of the country. Freedom-lovin’ men who are just itching to get themselves a shot at those federal jackbooted thugs with the BLM – over the heads of their sacrificial wimmenfolk, who will be stationed in the front row, of course, so’s to take the bullets for their brave hubbies.

    Huh? Where are the wimmen? Didn’t ANYONE bring their wife? Girlfriend? Ex-wife? Whadda ya mean, she didn’t want to come along?

  3. I think another comparison is to Reagun’s “Welfare Queens”. The big difference being skin color and gender. Skin color and gender may also help explain the ‘popular support’.

  4. The list gets even longer when you start considering how both groups treat the rights of women and children. A rancher supporter recently opined that he would be OK using his wife and kids as human shields.
    link to rawstory.com

  5. Oh, you just conveniently happened to leave out the fact that the Taliban kill innocent people and terrorize the globe, while Bundy and the militia do not. The “right wing pundits”, as you like to refer to them as, would never promote terrorism or their organizations.

    Stop trying to use extremes like this to compare things that are not comparable.
    Here is an example of why you are crazy:
    You are supporting a government that is trying to run everything and tell everyone one what to do. You must also think Hitler was amazing, and you would be supporting him if he was around right now.

    I digress.

    • You’re leaving out the Oklahoma City bombing and lots of shooting incidents connected to the American Militia movement.

      • Those were not actual militia as the groups that went to aid Bundy and you do realize there are extremists in ever aspect of society, you cant lump them all into one group because of one issue. No one was attacked, No one was killed, No one was even hurt except for the individual that was tazed.
        “All Catholics are bad because of some of the scandals in the church” “All Christians are bad because some bombed abortion clinics” “All of our military is bad because some of them raped and killed women” and I could go on and on.

        • Picky – Picky. So the shooters from gun bizzaro world did not dot the I’s or cross the T’s on their militia applications.
          Pleas do NOT go on-and-on.

        • “Those were not actual militia as the groups that went to aid Bundy and you do realize there are extremists in ever aspect of society, you cant lump them all into one group because of one issue.”

          Fail in logic. Just plain ole FAIL.

          So, naive one. What percentage of a group, as deemed “extremist”, would tip the scales into calling the group “terrorist”? In fact, you do know that the Oklahoma City bomber was actually two who were active in several “militias”.

        • The point is, the Republican Party and Fox News are throwing their mantle of respectability over people who call for the overthrow of the elected Federal and even state government in favor of a patriarchal oligarchy which I guarantee you does not accept the right of non-whites or non-Christians to vote. The GOP is mainstreaming those politics, just as it has mainstreamed shooting black males in the street because they looked “threatening”, or starving the poor because they’re “takers”, or eliminating all pollution and financial regulation because only the rich make anything of value. These were NOT positions of conservatives 40 years ago. This is all being done on purpose, step by step, so that there will be mass, armed support for the “restoration” of the undemocratic, elitist republic of the Founding Fathers. Just as the Taliban carry out the geostrategic aims of the Pakistani Army and its Saudi bankrollers.

    • The American Taliban supported the invasion of Iraq and wanted armed intervention in Libya, Egypt, Syria and now the Ukraine. Darn right they kill innocent people and terrorize the globe. They also advocate Fundamentalist Religion and the suppression of women. The only difference is that Obama does not send troops and drones to kill the American Taliban in their houses or at their weddings.

      • Matt, Prof. Cole titled this piece “five ways _____ resembles Pakistan’s Taliban.” The existence of shared traits does not imply either that the two groups must either be on average alike in *all* respects, or that all of their members are like each other (aside from the first question.) To pretend that the latter was implied, is the straw man fallacy. Are you aware of the logical and background to rational debate, and of the responsibilities expected of those who engage?

        • Neil, firstly, please do not insult my intelligence by asking “Are you aware of the logical and background to rational debate, and of the responsibilities expected of those who engage?”,
          Second, you completely avoided my point, you can essentially compare anything even if they have no correlation. This whole article is like comparing apples and oranges, sure they have similarities. An apple is pretty much round and so is a orange, they are both edible, they both have a layer of skin, but does this mean they are the same? No. What if I wrote a paper about how similar you are to the Taliban? would you like it? but you have so many similarities, you both have skin, you both have a brain, legs, arms, you both eat, sleep, argue, lie, have faith is something etc…this does not mean you are “the same” as them. My whole point is, there is no point in the article, it has no meaning or clout at all and I do not understand what the point of making this comparison would be.
          Juan, if you wrote this article on the reasons Cliven Bundy was in the wrong, and why the militia shouldn’t have gone to his aid, I could understand, there is a point. To me it seems like you are just trying to turn them into terrorists which I do not understand or agree with.

    • Furthermore, baiting about Hitler is widely recognized as reprehensible. Nor is our government particularly controlling now compared to most other nations.

      • Just so you are aware, I was not baiting about Hitler I was showing extremes of why his statements are comparing two things which are not comparable.

    • “You are supporting a government that is trying to run everything and tell everyone one what to do.”

      And that is just not true. It is Right-wing ‘pull-the-wool-over-your-eyes’ scare tactics. Like “rampant voting fraud” which I wonder if you will say, “Yes there is!” (There are Many claims – Zero proof, BTW)

      Look at GOP states: Highest in Fed. “entitlements,” while highest in poverty rates.

  6. As a historian, we really are reaching the same tipping point as 1933-35 in the US. After machine-gunning union strikers, Bonus Army, coal miners, etc., the US government was quite unpopular during that period. We even had a near coup, financed by bankers, exposed by Gen. Smedley Butler. If we don’t get an FDR to help restore a sense of justice, this is just a prelude. History does repeat.

  7. Right wingers, like Hannity, attack people on food stamps & unemployment insurance as “moochers & takers” but when a anti-goverment rancher won’t pay us taxpayers for the use of our land, he’s a hero. These people are traitors.

  8. I am wondering how wealthy Bundy is. 1000 cattle are likely worth more than $1 million. People must remember that the issues (of Bundy using the federal land rent free or not) have been litigated and a federal court ruled against Bundy. That is called due process.
    I would not want to risk my life, in a gun fight with the government, in support of a wealthy rancher.

  9. I grew up in Wyoming and my father worked for a rancher his whole life. I got to see with my own eyes the vast difference between ranchers. Some like this cheapskate had too many animals for his allotment,so the poor animals would eat all the green plant material on our side of the barbed wire that they could reach by sticking their necks through the fence.It would be bare dirt for two feet all along the fence. The myth of the land cherishing rancher is just that a myth. As a taxpayer that land is as much mine as it is this crooks,and I don’t want his cows on the land we all share!

    • The old “commons” worked, as well as it did, because of social controls that kept the greedy bastards from taking more than their share of grass and turves and gleanings. There seems to be yet another positive-feedback “fail” in play here, amplifying the over-taking by a few from the commons.

      Of course, as pointed out by many, first the First People did what they did with the continent, then the forefathers of these nascent Mad Max types came, saw and took, then of course there were the railroads and the taking, theft really, of huge swathes of what was thought to be everyone’s “heritage,” and of course you have all the Kochers and the dudes that find the seams and bribe-workable pathways to doing stuff like not paying even the pittance for leaseholds and extraction values for all that oil and gas and uranium and other stuff that’s on what was sort of supposed to be like a big Commons for all Americans. At least those dudes in suits and string ties and expensive cowboy boots make a show of faux legitimacy by “following the letter of the law,” law that they have carefully lobbied into existence over decades, centuries even. Stuff like this: “Vanishing Lake Michigan Sand Dunes: Threats from Mining.” link to greatlakes.org

      Use it all up, folks — Jesus is coming back Real Soon, riding a horse of flame and brandishing the Covenant, the Sword with the Arm of the Lord… And he is going to be REALLY pissed if you haven’t used it all up yet, the whole planet over which you tell yourselves he gave you “Dominion…”

  10. Considering the history of land takings by government entities and the use of imminent domain by corporations for everything from urban renewal, power lines, parks, game refuges, pipelines, solar “parks,” sports stadiums, any old reason. Heavy handed and corrupt.
    Forced relocation and cleansing. Check the Shenandoah or Monongahela. Many families lost their homes. Tens of thousands lost with urban renewal. That was a boon for real estate and gentry. Poor people got sweet tail.
    If we were talking about good g’ment that would be one thing but we’re not.
    It’s just the mindset of the US. We been running folks off land for so long we got to liking it.

    • The rancher and the corporation are ultimately both capitalist entities. And it was the capitalist property owners of America, including this rancher’s ancestors, who drove the ethnic cleansing of Native Americans by the government. The solution is not to let property owners replace the government as our rulers. That is called feudalism, and it’s a hundred times worse that anything you’ve experienced.

  11. Hell this is the first time that the ranchers have felt the sting of the BLM bullwhip. Interestingly enough it has finally led to some common ground between ranchers and wild horse advocates. If combining forces keeps the BLM from leasing to fracking interests I’ll take the strange bedfellows-hand out the pillows—we may be here awhile!

  12. I so wish it were just about as simple as opposing the Federal govt/military, about autonomy, taxes, resources, alone with the Pak Taliban.

    But the TTP is an umbrella organization for all kinds of ethnic Sunni extremist militant groups, despite the dominating Pashtun makeup and strategic tribal location. Its a religious-political movement, with national and regional ambitions, rather than simply being a local ethnic tribal issue alone, or even about freedom from the state or revenge against it. What compounds it is also the Alice in Wonderland relationships between all manners of pro or anti-Pak militants and the duplicitous Pak govt/military establishment.

    Even if the questionable reasons of grievances of the Pak Taliban’s violence above were accepted at face value, its still quite a stretch to compare with the Nevada US militia, violence wise, though I’m aware there’s a history of right-wing radical extremism that may just be waiting to burst into violence and terrorism today. Also worrying is the sympathizing sentiments from some US media, personalities and common folks, which reminds of the common Pakistani’s conspiracy, denials and delusions. Still not at that level though with anything in Pakistan…

  13. “That Sean Hannity and other far right wing pundits are supporting the regional militiamen and their mooching hero rather than the US government gives you an idea what side they’d be on if they were in Pakistan…”

    And whose side you would be on if you were in Pakistan.

  14. There is only one way to confront the extremist movement that now encompasses the entire GOP and political Christianity, the militias, the neo-Confederates, the Kochs, and the ALEC shadow-parliament-in-waiting.

    History. Make them talk about the details of the past they want to restore, and then refute their lies around the clock.

    If they lie about how “free” the early US was, make them explain why less than 1% of Americans participated in the first presidential election. If they lie that the Civil War was about states’ rights, hit them with the Fugitive Slave Act. If they claim they can bring back 18th century government without bringing back white supremacy, then make them explain Jefferson’s remarks in “Notes on the Commonwealth of Virginia”, that emancipated blacks would have to be ethnically cleansed from the state for his system to work.

    And all you so-called progressives who are willing to sacrifice minorities and the poor so you can help these monsters destroy the federal government, you will share their inevitable fate at the hands of their rebellious victims. Remember what JFK said about peaceful revolution. I would rather wipe out this country rather than have any of us go back to being ni**ers on Cliven Bundy’s future plantation, because a better future is the only excuse it has ever had for its crimes, and this is no future at all.

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