Friday, 16 October 2015

Normalising Terror and 'Af-Pak' : The War and Western Media Drones On.

Stan Grant is serious. Really serious. He has been there himself and seen with his own eyes the effects of 'extremism'. Lived in danger. Been on the edge while close to the camera as a presence there. He's bound to relate the truth of what he saw of brainwashed Taliban child suicide bombers in Pakistan.
'They were kept awake for days on end. They were forced to recite the Qur’an – Islam’s holy text – over and over. Hour after hour they would rock back and forth chanting the verses until in a trance.
Broken down, the boys would then be poisoned against the west.

Every sin proclaimed in the Qur’an was ascribed to the Americans.In their eyes this is what we were, all of us infidels, we were Americans. This is how the Taliban created suicide bombers. When I met them their eyes were empty.

I am reminded of this now when I hear that the Islamic community doesn’t do enough to fight extremism. The overwhelming number of victims of terrorism are Muslims. I have seen what extremism can do. I can see how hate can fester in the minds of people.'

More than 30,000 Pakistanis have been killed in terrorist attacks since 9/11. Muslims lose their children, their husbands, mothers and sisters to terrorism. And still they are told they don’t do enough.'
This news report, recycled in the Guardian newspaper, pretends to deal with what really causes 'radicalisation' and 'extremism' in Pakistan without mentioning the fact the Western Powers are still conducting continued air and drone strikes against the Taliban in various parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Of course, Grant seems to have been oblivious to the fact the Taliban showing him those radicalised children were doing so precisely because they want to send the message that they control the future Even if the older Taliban get killed off, there are always new members ready to stand in as their replacements.

Grant is a CNN telejournalist so the style matches the form of snappy soundbite style media outlet he ivariably represents even in print. CNN reported, as thought it were a major news revelation, that the US is still fighting a war in Afghanistan since it declared combat operations officially over in December 2014.
'So, you thought the U.S. military pulled out of Afghanistan? In fact, about 9,800 U.S. troops provide training and support in Afghanistan. They are to remain until the end of the year -- a change from the Obama administration's initial plan to reduce the number to 5,500".
There is, of course, no real surprise at all in this and it has only briefly become put back in the glare of the Western media spotlight because of the NATO bombing of the MSF hospital near Kunduz where the Taliban and Afghan and Western troops battling it out once more to defend the capital city Kabul.

Just as the BBC and Guardian passively and uncritically recycled claims that NATO and the US were ending their combat role through "drawdown", few Western media outlets have challenged this or even examined the wording of public diplomacy statements that stress drawdown rather than withdrawal.

As a consequence the propaganda line has to shift back to the evil Taliban narrative and the inhumanity of violent 'extremism' from out of the 'Af-Pak' borderlands. Consequently, the public would be able to make the correct connection between them and the need for NATO bombing and drone strikes.

As terrible as the MSF hospital bombing was, the mistake only goes to highlight the fact that air power used in Afghanistan has played as much of a role in 'radicalising' people, especially children, in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. This is entirely omitted as by Grant and CNN's reporting generally..

To be fair, Grant does attempt to proffer scientific explanations for the phenomenon of suicide bombing and how it works,
'Science can explain part of how is happens. When we listen to charismatic speakers – preachers, politicians, generals and warlords – or when we are under severe stress, our prefrontal cortex shuts down. This controls abstract thought. We surrender our disbelief. We give them our minds.'  
Far from suicide bombings arising wholly in vacuo, as though out of some mysterious sinister force of evil, in which children are brainwashed by a cult version of Islam, the Taliban is able to recruit and indoctrinate because of the stress in regions of Pakistan on the border with Afghanistan ( North and South Waziristan ).

Where civilians in the mountainous tribal regions separating Kabul and Peshawar live in terror of sudden death, from drones known to kill civilians in numbers that could be far higher than current figures estimate, death in suicide blasts against Pakistan government targets certainly becomes normalised.

The Bureau of Investigate Journalism, which has done some real journalism based on real investigation, breaks down the date for drone strikes in Pakistan as follows on their website : "Total strikes: 421. Obama strikes: 370. Total killed: 2,476-3,989. Civilians killed: 423-965. Children killed: 172-20. Injured: 1,158-1,738."

The war against the Taliban is claimed to be part of the struggle against terrorism and "extremism". However, the fact Vice President Joe Biden and Western allies have attempted to broker peace talks and negotiations with the Taliban proves it cannot quite be the war to end evil as has been long supposed.

The usual response to mentioning facts about the drone wars further radicalising people in the Af-Pak region, or elsewhere in Afghanistan, is this 'makes excuses' for the terrorists who 'started' the war on 9/11, that the Taliban are evil and so not fighting them with drones effectively allows evildoers to flourish.

In fact, the Taliban is mostly a regional threat as Grant himself points out, the majority of victims are other Muslims, 30,000 in Pakistan. That statement is handy when trying to claim the war against the Taliban really is about the global struggle against terrorism at home and abroad i.e 'extremism'. Doing nothing means more deaths on balance.

But the reality is that Afghanistan War is not over and shows no signs of ending because of resource interests ( rare earths and precious minerals ) and certain geopolitical objectives which include the renewed effort to secure the way for the construction of the TAPI pipeline, a project vital for US strategy in the region.

The war is about rolling back the Taliban, now covertly backed by Iran, so as to hasten the TAPI pipeline project as part of the New Silk route Initiative. US strategists and ideologists such as Robert Kaplan, husband of US State Dapartment's Victoria Nuland, routinely factor TAPI in as an established war objective.

An article makes this clear in a geopolitical journal by Rohullah Osmani. He is an an international security scholar at John Hopkins University and former adviser to the Afghan government. The piece entiteled,  TAPI pipeline – is the Iran nuclear deal a threat or an opportunity? makes the real stakes clearly apparent.

'On August 6, 2015, the 22nd TAPI Steering Committee approved Turkmenistan’s Turkmengaz as the consortium leader to oversee efforts in constructing, financing and operating the 1,600 kilometer natural gas pipeline.

Although an agreement over Iran’s nuclear program has been reached, it will take time for the sanctions to be lifted and for Iranian gas to flood back onto the market. Nevertheless, the Iran deal has created a sense of urgency and a breakthrough for the TAPI project. As Robert Kaplan urges in his book “Monsoon,” “… stabilizing Afghanistan is about more than just the anti-terror war against Al-Qaeda and the Taliban; it is about securing the future prosperity of the whole of Southern Eurasia.” The U.S. needs to play a more active role in the process by engaging participating states like India and Pakistan to cooperate and Pakistan to support a successful Afghan peace process.

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