Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Bombing didn’t win the Vietnam War and it’s not going to “win” the “War on Terror” either. Would someone explain this to the White House? Before it’s too late? Please!

with 8 comments


I was struck by another amazing headline today: US might strike in Pakistan: White House. And upon reading the story, the headline is accurate. At a press conference the White House spokesman said that indeed the US might strike “actionable” targets in Pakistan, and that it wouldn’t comment on whether or not the president of Pakistan would be consulted first. The White House has been increasingly critical in recent days of Mr Musharraf’s truce with tribal leaders in the hinterlands of Pakistan, calling on him to take “aggressive action” against Taliban militants believed to be using Pakistan as a base to operate in Afghanistan. Sigh, there are so many things wrong with this thinking I hardly know where to begin. If Bush is trying to widen the war in the region and make things worse, he’s on the right track.

I guess it’s the almost mind numbingly sanctimonious attitude that gets me first off. We created the problems in Pakistan, Iraq, and Afghanistan with our ill considered invasions, now it’s Pakistan’s fault that the violence and terrorism has spread? This sanctimonious “we know better” attitude is straight out of the nineteenth century. It’s depressing really, millions of Americans think that it’s perfectly OK for Americans to go into another part of the world and tell people not only how they are supposed to govern themselves, we even have the God given right apparently to tell them how their women should dress! Nothing has changed since the missionaries told the Polynesians that their women had to cover their breasts, like this is somehow any of our goddamn business?

More specifically though, how would Americans react if Mexico or Cuba announced they might launch military strikes at their enemies inside the US? Show of hands, any American readers out there who have no problem with Cuban jets bombing Cuban dissidents in Miami? I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that Americans would go absolutely ape shit if another nation threatened to use military force against their enemies hiding in the US. And that any American government that allowed this would make Bush look like a popular and admired president in comparison. Yet Americans can’t grasp that the typical Pakistani might feel the same way about their country?

These threats and criticism literally put Musharraf in a position where anything he does is likely to make the situation worse. If he does take military action, he will be seen as a tool of the Americans, his popularity will sink and more Pakistanis will take up arms against their government. If he does nothing and the Americans start attacking targets in Pakistan, his popularity will sink and more Pakistanis will take up arms against their government. What exactly is he supposed to do now? He has been walking a tightrope for years because of the American war in Afghanistan, and until recently has managed to do a pretty good job of keeping the lid on the trouble in Pakistan.

Sadly there is a terrible historical analogy here that the White House seems completely unaware of. This is very similar to the situation in Cambodia in the late sixties. The Viet Cong had secret bases in Cambodia that they were using to support their fighters in South Vietnam. For years the US had a quiet arrangement to secretly bomb these secret bases. It wasn’t the best deal for Cambodia but it limited the violence to their border regions and kept them out of the war. This wasn’t good enough for Nixon though, he engineered a right wing coup in Cambodia that brought Cambodia into the war on the US side, despite being warned that this would massively destabilize Cambodia. And that’s exactly what happened, the new government was wildly unpopular with Cambodians, the Cambodian insurgents were strengthened enormously. Not only was Lon Nol, the new right wing Cambodian leader, unable to do anything about the Viet Cong bases, very soon he was faced with a communist insurgency that swept him from power and ushered in the Khmer Rouge years. Yeah, we all know how well that turned out.

The other aspect of this that is so troubling is that the White House seems to think that air power is going to be helpful in fighting an insurgency. Let’s review, air power is very effective at destroying: Infrastructure, factories, airports, bridges, large warships, large military bases, and large concentrations of troops and weapons. How many of these things does an insurgency rely on? None of the above. Air power is virtually useless at finding and destroying the small scale units and installations that insurgents rely on, it’s easy to hide such things from the sky. The very predictable result of using air power to fight insurgents is that the insurgents are harmed little (if at all) by the attacks, and their popularity and support grows with every attack that misses its target and blows up innocent civilians.

And yet the White House thinks that US air raids in Pakistan are going to help? It’s a crazy idea, and it is baffling to me that it is even being suggested. What is most troubling is that this indicates that the White House is either completely out of touch with reality, or that they are deliberately trying to start a widespread Islamic uprising in Pakistan. Do we really want a nuclear armed fundamentalist Islamic state? Is that the goal? There’s times when in my despair I think that the White House really is trying to bring on the End Times by triggering a nuclear holocaust in the Middle East. And after reading today’s headline, this is one of those times. God help us all if I’m right.

(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It is not being used for profit and is central to illustrating the post. I believe it is a US Air Force image which would make it public domain as well. Credit: USAF)


Written by unitedcats

July 20, 2007 at 7:56 am

Posted in Bush, History, Terrorism, War

8 Responses

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  1. Very interesting analysis. This is couple of days old news. Pervez Musharraf is already in deep trouble in Pakistan and Bush air strikes certainly will make the situation worst. Pervez Musharraf will only have one option to hold on to power with giving Islamic Militants the support they require to keep fighting US troops in Afghanistan. The air strikes most probably kill the innocent civilians and if Bush order US troops to cross Pakistan border than it will be direct war between US and Pakistan with Tribal support and tens of thousands volunteer joining the fight.


    July 20, 2007 at 3:12 pm

  2. Agreed. If Bush keeps weakening the US position and reducing our options by sticking to his failed “strategy,” it will get to the point where people like Musharraf will find that war with the US is their best option. I mean, it’s not like the US can invade Pakistan.


    July 20, 2007 at 8:38 pm

  3. You might focus a little attention on the vice president, who has built his own independent branch of government answerable to no one, and which seems to be driving executive branch policy. The fact that he claims to be immune from executive orders because he is not a member of the executive branch but a unique constitutional officer with responsibilities in both executive and legislative branches.


    July 20, 2007 at 11:18 pm

  4. The US policies since 9/11 are not based on facts but stupidity. US policy will not based on “CAN”, if they decided to cross Pakistan border. Bush regime might avoid this move but it is possible that new elected Democrat President (if get elected) will do it for fighting “war on terror” to show Americans they are tough on security and terrorism.


    July 21, 2007 at 7:22 am

  5. The whole Cheney situation is a bit disturbing, but as I frequently state, I don’t think we’re about to turn into a fascist police state just yet. So I’m holding off judgement on him until he leaves office. And the Cheney thing is mostly about politics and personalities, both of which I am pretty much leaving to other bloggers. I’m trying to step back and look at things from a wider perspective. Still, a few posts touching on politics are in the works.


    July 21, 2007 at 8:57 am

  6. The premiss that “we” created the situation is off to begin with. The ultraconservative groups in the border regions have been around for many years and were the backbone for the formation of the Taliban. Musharraf in trying to appease the warring tribesmen offered to leave the territories in return for peace with Pakistan. He didn’t get it. In the mean time these tribal areas have been a breeding ground for more terrorists (supported by opium money and donations from terrorist wellwishers). These groups often make thier trek into Afganistan, blow someone up and retreat back to the refuge that noone has control over except the Taliban. I don’t remember hearing that aircraft would be used to strike targets. But they could have meant that. There are several options available other than an airstrike that are available. Precision weapons reduce the chance of “innocent” civilian casualties, while eliminating cold blooded killers working for no other reason than to terrorize and kill the innocent you so fondly speak of.


    July 23, 2007 at 12:36 pm

  7. Oh, it’s the precision weapon canard again.


    July 23, 2007 at 1:34 pm

  8. The truth is we have no intelligence that would even let us distinguish innocent targets, and what Gerry suggests is in reality a call for unlimited and unending war.


    July 23, 2007 at 1:38 pm

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