Thursday, March 5, 2009

If this becomes Obama's war, it will poison his presidency

Pakistan is being ripped apart by the fallout from the Afghan occupation. If the US escalates, the impact will be devastating

Seumas Milne
The Guardian, Thursday 5 March 2009

"The armed assault on Sri Lanka's cricket team in Lahore has been a brutal demonstration, if any more were needed, that the war on terror is devouring itself and the states that have been sucked into its slipstream. Pakistan is both victim and protagonist of the conflict in Afghanistan, its western and northern fringes devastated by a US-driven counter-insurgency campaign, its heartlands wracked by growing violence and deepening poverty. The country now shows every sign of slipping out of the control of its dysfunctional civilian government - and even the military that has held it together for 60 years.......

The grip of conservative Islamism on both sides of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border is the legacy not just of George Bush, of course, but decades of US meddling in the region, and its sponsorship of the anti-Soviet mujahideen in the 1980s in particular. What Obama has inherited from Bush's war on terror is an arc of US and western-backed occupation from Palestine to Pakistan. If the administration's current review of "Afpak" policy were to lead to the negotiations with the Taliban Obama has hinted at and a wind-down of the occupation, that would cut the ground from under Pakistan's own insurgency. But if Afghanistan becomes Obama's war, it risks poisoning his presidency - just as Vietnam did for Lyndon Johnson more than 40 years ago."

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