Sunday, February 7, 2010

Drone War on Pakistan Parallels Nixon's Bombing of Cambodia

This article should give pause on the latest strategy in the so-called War on Terror, Pakistan Front, involving the use of drones as a military tactic - in a country, Pakistan, against which we have not declared war:

Like President Obama today, Nixon had come to power promising stability in an age of unrest and with a vague plan to bringing peace to a nation at war. On the day he was sworn in, he read from the Biblical book of Isaiah: "They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks." He also spoke of transforming Washington’s bitter partisan politics into a new age of unity: "We cannot learn from one another until we stop shouting at one another, until we speak quietly enough so that our words can be heard as well as our voices.

Sound familiar? The description of Nixon's bombing of Cambodia, ostensibly to "target" the "headquarters" of enemies bent on "harming Americans" sounds just like Obama's drone war in Pakistan - both, notably, targeted areas inhabited by civilians, both were against a nation against whom we were not at war in order to target a supposed leadership of a supposed group against whom we were at war...

In the late 1960s, Cambodia was ruled by a “neutralist” king, Norodom Sihanouk, leading a weak government that had little relevance to its poor and barely educated citizens. In its borderlands, largely beyond its control, the North Vietnamese and Vietcong found “sanctuaries.”

But it gets worse, if the comparison is taking to its ultimate conclusion.

In the meantime, sheltered by local villagers in distant areas of rural Cambodia was a small insurgent group, little-known communist fundamentalists who called themselves the Khmer Rouge. (Think of them as the 1970s equivalent of the Pakistani Taliban who have settled into the wild borderlands of that country largely beyond the control of the Pakistani government.) They were then weak and incapable of challenging Sihanouk -- until, that is, those secret bombing raids by American B-52s began. As these intensified in the summer of 1969, areas of the country began to destabilize (helped on in 1970 by a U.S.-encouraged military coup in the capital Phnom Penh), and the Khmer Rouge began to gain strength.

Ahhh, the drone war, if this analogy works, could lead to a Taliban strengthening, perhaps a win, or a new killing field...

Just to get the idea, think about how the invasion of Iraq became a motivating tool for Al-Qaeda in Iraq (not to mention elsewhere). Think about how the American drone attacks on civilians in Afghanistan alienated those civilians. And think about how drone attacks on civilians in Pakistan could alienate Pakistani civilians, living under a weak ruler in an unstable political environment, where things are going not-so-good. Then look at history:

Like the Taliban of today, many of the Khmer Rouge were, in fact, teenaged villagers who had responded, under the pressure of war and disruption, to the distant call of an inspirational ideology and joined the resistance in the jungles.

If you ask me why I joined the Khmer Rouge, the main reason is because of the American invasion," Hun Sen, the current prime minister of Cambodia, has said. "If there was no invasion, by now, I would be a pilot or a professor."

What's worse was of course the Khmer Rouge's genocide of its own population, starting with enemy number one, those who are educated. It's a sort of war of resentment. And who do you think the Taliban would want to eliminate first? Then ask, does the war in Pakistan, conducted, like Nixon's "Operation Breakfast", at arm's length in the cold, dispassionate, calculating distance of the gamer (referred to commonly as strategist) where human lives don't bleed in your that drone-safe war really a war on terror? Or a seed? Is it, in reality, the instigator, the generator of terror?

Are we really fighting a war on terror? Or are we just playing with guns, posturing for political - international and domestic - power, and in the process victimizing all the soldiers involved in one big, testesterone-fueled, destructive, destabilizing, demoralizing, planet-threatening, hope-and-change-eliminating, peace-blasting runaway train to hell?

1 comment:

Mark Prime said...

I used to say how unattached we were to bombing those 40,000 feet below to a bomber on a run over let's say Iraq, but this, this takes over the unattached and sad usage of any lethal mechanism.

Humanity where are you?