Saturday, July 16, 2011

US and internationalism

 The International News
Brian Cloughley

At least we now know Pakistan’s standing with the US government: slightly above Burkina Faso but below Outer Mongolia. Recent statements about Pakistan by central figures in Washington have made it clear that the US demands and expects nothing but total obedience and subservience from those nations unfortunate enough to be associated with it. It’s similar to the way Rupert Murdoch has treated successive British governments – with a combination of insolent menace and patronising disdain.

US international influence is immense, but Washington chooses to ignore the fact that power should involve responsibility. It is apparent that internationalism is acceptable to the US government only if America’s authoritarian dominance is unquestioned.

On July 10 the New York Times reported that “the Obama administration is suspending and, in some cases, cancelling hundreds of millions of dollars of aid to the Pakistani military, in a move to chasten Pakistan for expelling American military trainers and to press its army to fight militants more effectively.” The story was fed to the NYT by the usual anonymous sources who were “congressional, Pentagon and other administration officials granted anonymity to discuss the politically delicate matter.” In other words, the campaign of anti-Pakistan invective has the direct authorisation of Mr Obama and Congress. The gloves are off, and outright bullying is official policy.

But the discarded gloves of Washington are somewhat bloodstained. Take, for example, the case of the CIA ‘contractor’ Raymond Davis who went free after murdering two Pakistani citizens. This squalid affair encapsulated Washington’s attitude to internationalism and to Pakistan in particular. Imagine what would have happened if an ISI employee – or any foreigner – had shot dead two Americans on the streets of New York. There would have been hysteria throughout the country, and not the slightest possibility that the killer might ever be released. The frenzy of the media and Congress would have equalled the post 9/11 passion. But the CIA can, with impunity, kill people on the streets of a nation which the US treats as a petty puppet, even going so far as to proclaim that the Pakistan Army does not fight militants “effectively”, which is not just grossly insulting, but also sheer nonsense.

Since the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001-2002, before which Pakistan had no suicide bombings and no insurrection in the tribal areas or Taliban terror attacks in its cities, the army has suffered the deaths of over 3,000 soldiers at the hands of extremists, which is double the number that the US has had killed in Afghanistan. And now Pakistan has over 140,000 troops in the west of the country fighting a war that was caused directly by the influx of militants from Afghanistan after the US Crusade.

The current instability in Pakistan is almost entirely the responsibility of the US whose politicians and generals whine that Pakistan is “not doing enough” and which intends to “press its army to fight militants more effectively.” (The Pakistan army’s decisive defeat of the Taliban in the Swat region in 2009 is ignored because it doesn’t fit in with the propaganda.)

The insults don’t stop at accusing Pakistan’s soldiers of incompetence. The senior military figure in the US, Admiral Mullen, appeared intent on denigrating the country’s leaders with his bizarre declaration that the vile murder of Saleem Shahzad, the brilliant investigative journalist, “was sanctioned by the government” of Pakistan. This is a statement with grave implications of criminality. The US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has made a public proclamation to the effect that the government of Pakistan authorises murder. To make such an important pronouncement requires solid intelligence, so incontrovertible evidence must exist that details precisely how and by whom Saleem Shahzad was killed, and on exactly whose orders the murder was committed.

The crime has international connotations, in that one country has declared another responsible for an action that is patently in violation of the principles of International Law, because the alleged offending nation, Pakistan, could be guilty of a crime against humanity. So International Law and procedures should now be invoked, and the evidence that has been gathered by the United States must be produced to the world at large.

The problem is that the US detests internationalism. The International Court and the United Nations Organisation are anathema to Washington which does as little as possible to further their objectives. Take, for example, UN peacekeeping.

Pakistan has 9,582 soldiers serving with UN peacekeeping missions worldwide. Guess how many the US has on such duty. Go on -10,000, perhaps? That would be a reasonable number. But perhaps it’s not quite so many. Maybe half that would be a better guess, given American troop deployments at over 800 bases all round the world. So could we suggest 5,000? We could, but we would be wrong, because the United States of America, with military forces totalling 1,477,896, contributes exactly thirteen uniformed personnel to UN global peacekeeping. This, alone, is a clear indication of Washington’s approach to its international responsibilities.

But in spite of the US attitude, let there be an independent UN inquiry into the death of Saleem Shahzad. It could run concurrently with an International Criminal Court investigation of the murders committed by Mr Ray Davis. That would demonstrate real international accountability by all concerned. Are you holding your breath?

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