Understanding Blowback and our Current Foreign Policy
Pakistan, Afghanistan, Osama Bin Laden and the United States. Most people will read those words and instantly be transported to September 11th, 2001. They will picture two planes slamming into the World Trade Center and another into the Pentagon, and still another hurling at top speed into a nondescript field in Pennsylvania... and almost 3000 American deaths. American citizens had never seen anything like it. We live in one of the few countries on Earth that have no civil wars going on, nor armed military roaming our streets. We live in a society that is blissfully unaware of history, and it's consequences. Ignorance had been bliss. Sadly, most Americans would rather return to ignorance than face the truth and demand that our government take responsibility for the actions that we so callously do not want to hear...as the truth tends to interrupt our ease and apathetic attitudes.
We have traded our dignity and honor, for ease and apathy. 3000 Americans paid the price for that on 9/11 and almost 5000 more of our men and women in uniform have died in service to continue the now power hungry ways of what was once the greatest nation that the world has ever seen. A nation who awoke when Hitler tried to decimate Europe with his insanity, racism and need for power. A nation who gave freedom to it's citizens in ways the world had never before seen. A nation who said they believed that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness were the inalienable rights of ALL men. A nation who produced such people as Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Martin Luther King, Jr., Henry Ford, George Washington, and Harriet Tubman. I believe that each of those men/women would be ashamed of what we have become and would admonish our ignorance...and our ease and apathy.
It is estimated that almost 1,000,000 Iraqi citizens have paid the price for that ease and apathy, as well. Not to mention the Pakistanis, and Afghans. You cannot picture all of these men and women as jihadist sitting around a provincial mountainside dreaming of ways to kill the Americans. You must picture them as they are: Real, live men and women merely making ends meet and trying to better the lives of their families. Real flesh and blood humans who laugh, cry, fight, hurt, love their children, hope for peace, wish for something more, pray, scream, sob, make love, have babies...lose babies... for that is what most of them are. Like Americans, they are not directly, or in their case not even indirectly, involved in their countries political machinations. Americans are more comfortable thinking of those 1 million dead people as radical fundamentalists who must be brought down...no matter the cost. Dignity, truth, honor, and democracy be damned. So, for those that actually care about little things like truth, honesty, dignity, honor, democracy, life and liberty, here is a short synopsis of the history that is removed from all American history books, but the information is freely available if you care to look.
Our historical lesson will begin on July the 5th, 1977 in Pakistan. The country, which had first gained it's independence from the British Empire and British India in 1947, finally had it's first ever Constitution by consensus in 1973. This Constitution was implemented by the ELECTED Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. It gave opportunities to the Pakistanis that they had never known, and allowed for a parliamentary system where the President was head of state and the popularly elected Prime Minister was head of government. Bhutto was also the first civilian who had ever held the title as Chief Marshall Law Administrator. This is relevant because civilians in Pakistan understand Marshall Law in ways that the previous military holders of this title simply could not understand. Civilians who have been detained by Marshall law will respect both the good and bad that come with such a decision. Those who hold the swinging baton rarely care to understand the person on the receiving end of the swinging baton...this is the way of absolute power.
On July the 5th, 1977, General Zia-ul-Haq took power of Pakistan via a military coup of the elected Prime Minister. Bhutto was subsequently placed into solitary confinement, while his cabinet members were systematically arrested or murdered. Freedom was not beneficial to General Zia and his army. After the coup, General Zia declared himself Chief Marshall Law Administrator. Pakistan was, once again, run as a military state, Marshall Law was instituted and any Pakistani who spoke out against Zia was murdered or confined to prison indefinitely. Only the most basic rumblings came from the international community, including those who claimed to promote democracy for all. Jimmy Carter, then US President, barely gave it more than a cursory nod.
General Zia began his usurp of Pakistan's government by claiming that the military just wanted to hold "fair" elections, and prevent a civil upset inside the country. He claimed that he would hold those elections within 90 days of his illegal take over of the freely elected Prime Minister. Of course, this never happened and General Zia ruled Pakistan with an iron fist for over a decade. Inside that decade lies the information that Americans are conveniently ignorant of....and I can find no excuse for their ignorance.
Inside this decade, General Zia would force Pakistan into a stronghold of Islamic law. He would institute policies of murder, Zina Ordinance (which includes unfair bias toward victims of rape) and Hudood(which includes amputation as punishment). He would murder Prime Minister Bhutto on charges that have since been completely proven false via records that have been declassified, but which no one really seems to care about one way or another. Inside his decade of tyranny, Zia would be instrumental in the United States push to force Russia from Afghanistan and the rise of Osama Bin Laden.
Fast forward to 1980. Charlie Wilson...remember the warm, fuzzy movie with Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts entitled, "Charlie Wilson's War"? THAT Charlie Wilson...would visit the Lebanese camp where victims of Israel's invasion were housed. That visit would evolve into Congressman Wilson developing an obesession with Muslims and their Jihad. Congressman Wilson would begin a crusade that would start the chain of events that would eventually lead to 9/11. From this, Pakistan's usurper of liberty, General Zia, would also get the thing he craved most....international recognition and the ability to develop nuclear weaponry. I will concede that this was probably not Charlie Wilson's initial intent, however, I will give no ground in saying that our government is not responsible for their actions..they, like the rest of the world, are responsible for the decisions they make. They are responsible for the people of the United States and WE should be their primary concern. I would postulate that this has not been the case in well over 4 decades.
Charlie Wilson convinced President Ronald Reagan to make a deal that is public record, but rarely discussed, with General Zia. If Pakistan would help the United States remove Russia from Afghanistan, the United States would give him over 300 million dollars to fund his regime, provide him with high tech military weapons, including Stinger missiles and F-16's, and perhaps most horrific, turn the other way as Pakistan built up their arsenal of nuclear weaponry. General Zia assured Reagan's acquiescence via the congressional waver of US proliferation laws in December of 1981. Pakistan now had 300 million dollars, weaponry beyond their wildest imagination, and a congressional waver to assure they could produce nuclear weapons without being disturbed by the international community. General Zia also got a little surprise bonus: For helping the US, Reagan would then begin to present Zia to the international community as a "benevolent" military dictator. His overthrow of the Pakistani's RIGHT to an elected government, and the murder of the Prime Minister, of their own sovereign country, could be overlooked...for a price. Reagan now had his ticket to life long fame within the Republican party for bringing down "the wall" and ending the "Cold War".
However, a man, and a country, reaps what they sow. From this, Osama Bin Laden was born. He was one of those "Afghan rebels" who Pakistan had agreed to "help"...for a price. Osama learned his military prowess and strategy from the United States during this time. He obtained weaponry from the United States and his Al Qaeda terrorist group was formed in retaliation for America's continued presence on what Muslims consider to be holy sites. The goal had been to tie Russian down in Afghanistan the way that America had been tied down in Vietnam. The result was that a wealthy Saudi, named Osama bin Laden, was ignited and an intense hatred for American "infidels" on Muslim soil was birthed, and the Pakistani military regime was now capable of producing nuclear weaponry at their discretion, with virtually no oversight. Oh, the "President" of Pakistan, which is what Zia eventually called himself, was required to present a report each year on what their nuclear capacity was, but that report was left solely to Zia's discretion of what he wanted to reveal. We may have removed Russia from Afghanistan via unsavory means, but what we really accomplished would come to fruition on 9/11 of 2001.
Zia was killed in a plane crash in 1988. Most agree that the circumstances surrounding his death are questionable, at best. Pakistan now has the opportunity to get back on it's feet as a sovereign nation who can elect their officials as the people of Pakistan see fit, as is their right. This was not to be. The late Prime Minister Ali Bhutto's daughter, Benazir Bhutto, would eventually be elected as the first female Prime Minister of Pakistan, not to mention the first female leader of any Muslim country. She was murdered by an assassins bullet on December 27th, 2007. And then, on May 1st of 2010, Osama bin Laden was killed in Pakistan, less than 20 miles outside the capital city of Islamabad.
That's right. Pakistan. The country that continues to silently haunt us. The country that we did not defend when her democracy, and her people, was overthrown. The country who we quietly allowed to build unknown numbers of nuclear weapons. The country that the man behind 9/11 was found being given political asylum. Oh, you won't hear the term "political asylum" on national news, but even a cursory study of Islamabad will clear this up for you. Islamabad is Pakistan's capital and military center. Within 20 miles of Pakistans largest military force, Osama bin Laden is found hiding after 10 years of the most powerful military on Earth searching for him, not to mention 100's of billions of dollars tied up in the effort. Pakistan. A country still in turmoil because we would not defend democracy when she called. Pakistan's nuclear capacities are still very much in question. Not whether they have nuclear weapons, but how many and who are they giving access to? Osama Bin Laden...found less than 20 miles from the center of Pakistan's military heart and presumably their nuclear information.
In 2010, American installed Afghanistan leader, Karzai, said this: “God forbid, if there is ever a war between Pakistan and America, then we will side with Pakistan". We have won no friends, nor have we installed true democracy in any Middle Eastern conflict that we have continued to press our way into.
This article is already too long and will doubtfully be read by many. The United States has strange bedfellows and it's time that Americans wake up from their slumber. Truth is knocking on your door...will you answer her and demand that our government do the same? We must end the joke that is our current foreign policy. Ignorance in not bliss, people. It's simply ignorance.