Rethinking the war on terror

January 09,2018

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I don’t have anything to offer in terms of advice on how to combat terrorism. Heck, I don’t even know who to call a terrorist. Is it someone who resists abusive foreign occupation or a person who avenges the rape, murder and excruciating torture at the hands of those supposed to protect his life, family and property? Or, should we call a white guy who shoots and stabs people in mosques, schools, pubs and night clubs a terrorist? Let the terrorism ‘experts’ dwell on that.

Instead, what should really worry all of us is the whole rhetoric of ‘fighting terror’ that has, of late, been losing credibility and calls for a closer and more critical reexamination of the whole phenomenon of the war on terror. In time, with all the data and statistics at hand, wars begin to make perfect business sense and the links between the engineered fragments of war, with their organic fallouts, become all the more apparent.

To be clear, wars are not waged for glory, but for money – ask the Medicis, Rothschilds and the Rumsfelds. This can either be done by directly occupying territories and extracting resources or through the currently-favoured means of destroying and/or diverting the wealth of your potential rivals.

Indeed, launching any major invasion calls for meticulous groundwork. The aggressors – typically rich, rude and filled with an inflated sense of superiority – use all possible means at their disposal to legitimise their act of oppression. The most powerful tool of gaining such legitimacy is to beat up a relentless propaganda by sucking in a clueless, consumerist public in a full-fledged campaign of demonising the target opponent.

Much like the cunning wolf who comes upon a vulnerable lamb and devours it without any remorse or concern for justice, the war in Iraq, like American wars elsewhere, symbolised the ruthlessness of a deceitful, bloodthirsty superpower and the abject impotence and shameful surrender of the global community that wilted in the face of US bullying – something Trump and his proxy at the UN have taken to an unprecedented level.

It seems like the wolf is hungry and gritting its teeth again – this time at Pakistan, which, one would argue, is not the meekest of lambs to swallow. But judging by the popularity of Trump’s scathing tweets against Muslims in – and Pakistan more recently – a sizeable portion of the American public seems to be rallying behind him like a dreadful bunch of zombies sniffing flesh on the streets. As Pakistan considers its options on how to respond to his latest tirade, accusing it of nurturing and exporting terror, there is something that needs to be made crystal clear and said aloud before the whole world: it is the amply-documented collusive role of the US in creating and fomenting terrorism for its own sake.

The time has come to expose the US and some of its Western allies for creating a belligerent enterprise under the banner of the war on terror and using it as a propaganda tool to launch invasions, orchestrate changes of regimes, force capital flights and promote the arms trade. This was all done in a bid to benefit a bunch of war profiteers who roam the corridors of power in key political capitals of the world.

The double standards and contradictions of the US have been all too obvious. And yet, the international reaction to such breaches of trust has been perilously indifferent. For instance, how many of us remember that only a couple of years ago the former CIA director, David Petraeus, had called for – believe it or not – recruiting Al-Qaeda to fight Isis. More shockingly, he got away with it without any fuss or furore whatsoever. Imagine anything remotely close coming out of another country that is not as privileged as the US and all hell would break loose.

The American obsession with destruction and chaos is subtly propagated through numerous Hollywood movies, many of which romanticise the total annihilation and extinction of the human race. No wonder ‘The Terminator’ remains one of the most celebrated hits of the last century.

The US leads the global arms trade and it alone accounts for well over 50 percent of all international arms export. There are no surprises that the weapons recovered by Isis are almost always American! It remains the only country to have ever used an atomic bomb, irrespective of the thousands of tonnes of white phosphorous poured over the ill-fated Vietnamese, Iraqis and Libyans. Ironically, they were quick to protest against Russia for allegedly doing so in Syria – apparently it’s their exclusive privilege.

What many among the Western public do not seem to grasp or care to understand is the fact that the Taliban, Isis and all their ghastly mutations are a direct consequence of the death game that is being played out by the US in the Middle-East for so many years. The Osamas, Saddams and Gaddafis were all once favourite allies and business partners of the US/Western elite. Those who dared to conduct business on their own terms were annihilated along with millions of innocent civilians. Pictures and footages of Reagan and the other macho men of his administration pampering and hailing the Taliban as the “moral equivalents of America’s founding fathers” are particularly revealing. But it’s equally distressing to see the world turning its back on Pakistan and exclusively blaming it for a marriage of “strategic convenience” – however ill-conceived it may have turned out to be.

The point is simple: unlike Pakistan, the US refuses to own up to its mistakes. It probably never will as it has always profited from creating chaos and intends to do so in the future. Trump’s allegations against Pakistan, even if they contain some element of truth, ridiculously lack moral authenticity – talk about the pot calling the kettle black. More importantly, the accusations are probably more reflective of the American frustration with the growing Chinese influence in the region.

Back to the business of war, the US spent around $611 billion in 2016 alone on building and sustaining its military installations – an amount that is sufficient enough to draw the whole of Africa out of poverty for generations to come. To refresh some fading memories, only less than a year ago the Trump administration proudly struck an arms deal worth $350 billion with our Saudi brethren all in the name of security. Well, there you have it: who needs peace when you can sell security?

I’m not making this up. As far as economic rationality goes, it makes perfect game-theoretical sense to stir chaos if it pays you back. And when it comes to playing games, let’s give it to the Americans. They are light years ahead of us all. Since we have always lacked our own brains, some suggest we should feel safe under the Chinese or, more romantically, Russian wings. Good luck with that.

America’s presence in the region is a concrete reality that cannot be tossed aside in a fit of rage. The same is true of Pakistan – something that the US should ponder. The game just cannot move on without acknowledging the role and importance of all the stakeholders involved. Perhaps the next time Donald Trump decides to take a dig at any country (never mind if it is an ally or not), a crash course in US history may come in handy.

The writer is a postgrad student of economics at the University of Bonn.

Email: asadullahkhan628


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