Wednesday, March 19, 2008

American Drones

Jackie Northam emerged from Think Tank World to catch us up on how critical "relations with Pakistan's military US national security." Her story simply endorses and builds on the US government's long policy of focusing on maintaining (and engorging) the Pakistani military at the expense of Pakistani civil society.

Ahmed Rashid in an interview in Harper's Magazine offers a stinging assessment of this kind of approach:
"The U.S. has relied upon the Pakistan army in the Cold War in the 1950s and 1960, in the Afghan war against the Soviet Union in the 1980s and so for it to depend again on the army in the war on terrorism is not unusual. The problem is that this is not an external war but an internal war or even a civil war in parts of NWFP [Northwest Frontier of Pakistan]. Here what is needed is a government and local authorities which have the confidence of the people so that they can fight the extremists but also deal with public problems and deliver services. None of this the army is capable of doing and the Americans have utterly failed to realize this."
NPR's Jackie Northam likewise has "utterly failed to realize this," too. But, God forbid history or critical thinking get in the way. NPR can always go dipping into the pro-US government think tanks for backup help. Northam turns to
In and of itself, there's nothing wrong with NPR interviewing these people about Pakistan, but their perspectives are all grounded in an approval of the US as a "soft" imperial power in the world. All are believers in the essential goodness of the US imperial mission in the world. There is no significant range of opinion - which is typical of NPR.

I guess you can't expect much from a story that begins with Steve Inskeep saying, "Here's a question for you: What does Pakistan's military have in common with the game of cricket?
Well, they both have intricate traditions and rules, they're both difficult for outsiders to follow, and according to some observers, the army and the popular sport may be the only two things still holding Pakistan together."

Northam closes her report by noting that the US has stepped up its "counterterrorism" role in Pakistan and states that "there have been several air strikes recently on suspected al-Qaeda hideouts - reportedly from American drones."

Inskeep opening, Northam closing: I'd definitely say American drones.


big!pink!fuzzy!bunny! said...

Ack! I shuddered when I saw the 'Kreep when loading the page for my after-work mischief. Oh ladies, isn't he just the droniest?!

And we don't call 'em 'All Thinktanks Considered' for nuttin'! - even in the AM (but then I'm merely yapping vicariously since I've gone blissfully dark to their crude awakenings)

Porter Melmoth said...

This one's hard to comment on.

The US has proven time and again that it is a flop in playing the Great Game (i.e. the sophisticated and daunting game of power politics centering on the pivotal state of Afghanistan). This region, which used to be called 'where three empires meet' (Russia, China and British India) needs careful (and loving) attention by passionate and compassionate devotees schooled in diplomacy and culture, not some damn Neocon playbook as enacted by aging cold warrior sissyhawks.

If it's one thing I can't stand, it's NPR's mucking about in Pakistan. I don't include Philip Reeves in this; he's a reporter, as opposed to an NPR 'interpretive journalist'. Anyway, I've yet to hear one helpful or informative bit of anything from a Northam report out of Pakistan. She covers things as if she were Kansas or somewhere, talking about a state legislature. It's very frustrating, as she engages in all this NPR-Speak, like 'some say', 'certain parties feel that' etc. etc. The verbiage adds up to very little. I guess Phil just can't 'get inside' a story like Northam can. And then we've got Inscreep at the other end, offering us some Will Shortzy teaser to get us into the segment and at the end of it, he offers us a gumball as a prize 'just by clicking on'. Or whatever.

Me gettin' burnt out again...

Anonymous said...

I'm going to put in a good word for Anatol Lieven... he's a fantastic scholar with tons of integrity (God knows why he's at the War College, last I heard he was at the Carnegie Endownment along with Jessica Tuchman Mathews). I'm not sure that describing him as a believer "in the essential goodness of the US imperial mission in the world" accurately captures his beliefs. Anyway, I always look forward to the rare instances that he is able to talk at length in the US media, and during the 2002-2004 dark days he was one of the few scholarly voices of sanity on, say, CSPAN or Charlie Rose. I didn't hear the NPR piece so i can't comment on how he came across.

larry, dfh said...

My interpretation: our govt. is trying to do with Pakistan to China what we did with Afghanistan to Russia before they invaded: stir up trouble with disenfranchised muslim populations. I wouldn't be surprised at all if the secretive U.S. military presence in Pakistan is funding discontent along the border with China.

Porter Melmoth said...

Right, Larry. That's what I mean. You can bet the US is playing some covert imperialistic game in the region. Hell, if the US could 'take back' BOTH Iran and China via the Great Game, wouldn't THAT be something, huh?

Porter Melmoth said...

I would add that such a scenario might be a Neocon wet dream, but not necessarily condoned by less-insane elements in this or any other administration (hopefully).