Dr Aafia Siddiqui may or may not have lost her sanity due to torture but is there an end to the madness of American military misadventures that have destroyed hundreds of thousands of homes of innocent civilians?
Think about this.
Over a trillion dollars and nine years after 9/11, the Taliban instead of being eliminated are set to take over Kabul again, and Pakistan which hardly had a Taliban presence in 2001 has been rocked by bomb blasts and has had its worst year of violence since 2001. And the Americans still cannot see what the problem is?
But then if their policies had a bit of wisdom, we never would have had Vietnam, Cambodia would not have been ruined, the Shah of Iran would never have been allowed to suppress dissent, Afghanistan would not have been abandoned after 1989, and a just settlement of the Palestine conflict would have been achieved. It is easy to forget lessons of history in the confusion and noise of the day-to-day reporting and in the age of 30 second sound-bites of electronic media.
America’s intelligence budget alone has gone up by more than 250 per cent since 2001 to $75 billion and its defenders in Afghanistan and Pakistan do not see the irony of a mad campaign that has not achieved anything and destroyed much, including US credibility and standing in the world.
Dr Zbigniew Brzezinski, one of the foremost foreign policy experts in the US, warned the American government about the potentially disastrous consequences of its foreign policy on February 1, 2007. “If the United States continues to be bogged down in a protracted bloody involvement in Iraq, the final destination on this downhill track is likely to be a head-on conflict with Iran and with much of the world of Islam at large.”
One consequence of the bloody military and covert operations is that the control of many aspects slips out of the hands of the politicians and away from congressional oversight. Guantanamo Bay is one such example. Dozens were kept under detention without any trial and then released without much explanation. Abdullah Mehsud was one captured in December 2001 and released in May 2004.
The latest casualty of the US military and intelligence establishment’s — to quote Dr Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Jimmy Carter’s national security adviser — “mythical narrative”, is Dr Aafia Siddiqui. She may or may not have been involved with al Qaeda. I do not know. No court ever charged her with any terrorist act. So all that noise is irrelevant in so far it relates to her sentencing by a US court for 86 years on charges of committing a crime in Afghanistan as a Pakistani citizen. If the US defence and intelligence establishment wanted to delay the case and avoid provocation, which it knew it would cause in Pakistan, it could have easily delayed the trial as it did in the case of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed for reasons that remain obscure.
I won’t speculate on the motives for carrying on this trial at this time lest some naive or biased readers accuse me of a conspiracy theory but the repercussions are obvious. It is a clear provocation even if that was not the intent. It is mystifying that while on one hand, the US gives $405 million in aid for the floods; but it increases the frequency of drone strikes which for sure are going to destroy any good will it would have hoped to generate. Are they so stupid?
I quoted Dr Brzezinski at length to make the points that some of us make but are dismissed as anti-Americanism. I worked for an American bank for 20 years. I have nothing against Americans. But their establishment’s Middle East and Central Asian policies are wrong, short-sighted, counter-productive and ultimately self-defeating. There is no method to their madness but only one way to prevent more harm than they have already caused, belated though it might be. The world would be a better place if President Obama can focus on the ailing US economy, which is not only in long term decline but is not recovering well, and put an end to all costly overt and covert misadventures overseas.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 29th, 2010.