Month: September 2011

Endgame in Afghanistan

by Khalid Aziz- Dawn. THE current tensions in Pakistan-US ties have convinced many Pakistanis that the US will undertake an operation in North Waziristan thus breaching Pakistani sovereignty. Such a conclusion became likely after Adm Mike Mullen’s uncharacteristic outburst recently at a US Senate hearing. He held the ISI responsible for the recent attacks in Kabul. His ire is more a product of expectations gone sour than a warning. It is likely that there were promises made by Pakistan for undertaking such an operation but that later the idea was dropped. The important statement issued after the extraordinary meeting of Pakistan’s military commanders last Sunday made it clear that Pakistan will not undertake an operation in Fata. But at the same time the commanders wished for good relations with the US.

The age of high-tech war: after Libya

Paul Rogers, 09th September 2011 There is intense rethinking in the Pentagon about the “war on terror”. The outcome of the Libyan conflict will reinforce its principal trends. When Donald Rumsfeld was appointed George W Bush’s defence secretary in 2001, he had the clear aim of fighting wars with minimal “boots on the ground”. From that point, the United States would fight its enemies mainly from the air and the sea. This vision of a high-tech military age saw armies as increasingly redundant.

9/11, and the lost decade

Paul Rogers, 08th September 2011 What are the principal lessons of the ten years of war since the 11 September 2001 attacks? Paul Rogers, whose first openDemocracy column was published a few days after 9/11, responds to three questions. About the author Paul Rogers is professor in the department of peace studies [10] at Bradford University. He has been writing a weekly column [10] on global security on openDemocracy since 28 September 2001, and writes an international-security monthly briefing for the Oxford Research Group [10]. His books include Why We’re Losing the War on Terror [10] (Polity, 2007), and Losing Control: Global Security in the 21st Century [10] (Pluto Press, 3rd edition, 2010). He is on twitter at: @ProfPRogers What has been the biggest single impact of 9/11 on the public and political world?

America’s wars: the logic of escalation

Paul Rogers, 22nd September 2011 The United States’s political-military strategy for drawdown in Afghanistan is in trouble, even as Washington is tempted by increased high-tech military engagement in other theaters of war. The killing of Afghanistan’s former president Burhanuddin Rabbani in a suicide bomb-attack at his home in Kabul on 20 September 2011 removes  a senior player who for decades was at the centre of the country’s political scene. A major incident in itself, which led the current Afghan president Hamid Karzai to return home from New York to attend the funeral, Rabbani’s death follows the concerted assault on key targets in central Kabul on 13-14 September that lasted twenty hours. The exact responsibility for Rabbani’s death is still  to be established. But this and similar operations  – such as attacks on Kabul hotels, and on the offices  of the British Council in the city on 19 August – reflect the ability of the Taliban to hone tactics in recent months in response to the “surge” in United States troops into Afghanistan.

Every casualty: the human face of war

OpenDemocracy The idea of recording, identifying and acknowledging each individual victim of armed conflict – and holding to account those responsible – extends the principles underlying the laws of war. From the Soviet Union to Libya, the story of a single American submarine – the USS Florida – throws light on the transition to the post-cold-war world. The Florida was an Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarine launched in 1981, at the start of the most dangerous period of that conflict, and commissioned two years later. It was then one of the most powerful warships ever built.

VIEW: The power of the patwari – From DailyTimes

Dr Irfan Zafar To my immature understanding, I was under the illusion that the bribe that has to be paid to this sacred soul has to be given in a secretive manner but, to my utter surprise, the amount was collected by the patwari without any fear, remorse or hesitation As the story goes, the wife of a deputy commissioner walks up to her husband angrily asking him when he will be ‘promoted’ to the designation of a ‘patwari’ (village accountant): “How long will we have to live in poverty while the patwaris make fortunes around us?” The lady was not wrong in her understanding of the dreaded patwari for the fact dawned on me when I had the misfortune of visiting the patwari of my village after repeated requests for an appointment, which were finally granted once I had agreed to pay for his valuable time. Who is this man whose authority and power can throw even the prime minister’s importance to the lowest ebb of our civilian establishment’s role to govern the country?

Our Fantasy Nation?

Nicholas D. Kristof On the Ground Nicholas Kristof addresses reader feedback and posts short takes from his travels. It has among the lowest tax burdens of any major country: fewer than 2 percent of the people pay any taxes. Government is limited, so that burdensome regulations never kill jobs. This society embraces traditional religious values and a conservative sensibility. Nobody minds school prayer, same-sex marriage isn’t imaginable, and criminals are never coddled. The budget priority is a strong military, the nation’s most respected institution. When generals decide on a policy for, say, Afghanistan, politicians defer to them. Citizens are deeply patriotic, and nobody burns flags. So what is this Republican Eden, this Utopia? Why, it’s Pakistan.