Could the same thing happen in Pakistan today? A new American president was
ordering escalating drone attacks, in a country where no war has been
declared, at the moment when I flew from Cambodia across South Asia to
Afghanistan, so this question loomed large in my mind. Both there and just
across the border, Operation Breakfast seems to be repeating itself.
In the Afghan capital, Kabul, I met earnest aid workers who drank late into
the night in places like L'Atmosphere, a foreigner-only bar that could
easily have doubled as a movie set for Saigon in the 1960s. Like modern-day
equivalents of Graham Greene's "quiet American," these "consultants"
describe a Third Way that is neither Western nor fundamentalist Islam.
At the very same time, CIA analysts in distant Virginia are using pilot-less
drones and satellite technology to order strikes against supposed terrorist
headquarters across the border in Pakistan. They are not so unlike the
military men who watched radar screens in South Vietnam in the 1960s as the
Cambodian air raids went on.
In 2009, on the orders of President Obama, the U.S. unloaded more missiles
and bombs on Pakistan than President Bush did in the years of his secret
drone war, and the strikes have been accelerating in number and intensity.
By this January, there was a drone attack almost every other day. Even if,
this time around, no one is using the code phrase, "the ball game is over,"
Washington continually hails success after success, terrorist leader after
terrorist leader killed, implying that something approaching victory could
be somewhere just over the horizon.
As in the 1960s in Cambodia, these strikes are, in actuality, having a
devastating, destabilizing effect in Pakistan, not just on the targeted
communities, but on public consciousness throughout the region. An article
in the January 23rd New York Times indicated that the fury over these
attacks has even spread into Pakistan's military establishment which, in a
manner similar to Sihanouk in the 1960s, knows its limits in its tribal
borderlands and is publicly uneasy about U.S. air strikes which undermine
the country's sovereignty. . . .
[The question is when and where Islam provided for division of territories
to settle populations on the basis of belief and unbelief. Does this find
any sanction in the Quran or the traditions of the Holy Prophet? Who among
the scholars of Islam has divided the dominion of God on this basis? If we
accept this division in principle, how shall we reconcile it with Islam as a
universal system?--Translation by Arif Mohammed Khan, "Maulana Abul Kalam Azad: The Man Who Knew the Future,"
Matbooat Chattan (Lahore), April 1946 Interview]
[Before the 1863 Lieber Code condemned civilian participation in combat, it
was contrary to customary law. Today, civilian participation in combat is
still prohibited by two 1977 protocols to the 1949 Geneva Conventions.
Although the United States has not ratified the protocols, we consider the
prohibition to be customary law, binding on all nations. . . .
Moreover, CIA civilian personnel who repeatedly and directly participate in
hostilities may have what recent guidance from the International Committee
of the Red Cross terms "a continuous combat function." That status, the ICRC
guidance says, makes them legitimate targets whenever and wherever they may
be found, including Langley.--Gary Solis, "CIA drone attacks produce America's own unlawful
combatants," Washington Post, March 12, 2010]
[In Swat, the military has surged ahead of an excruciatingly slow civilian
bureaucracy. Soldiers are reconstructing roads, bridges, health centers,
water systems and libraries across the valley. The Army has recruited and
trained thousands of police officers, and rebuilt 217 of the 400 or so
schools destroyed by the Taliban. It is also footing the bill, thanks to a
nationwide voluntary contribution of two days' pay by the troops themselves,
a move that raised more than 100 million rupees (almost $1.2 million). The
military is also much more efficient. Lt. Col. Abbas points to the
restoration of a historic hostel in Swat as an example: Civil contractors
estimate it would cost 80 million rupees for the reconstruction. The army
did it for 20 million rupees, of its own money.--Rania Abuzeid, "Pakistan's Military Holds Back
in North Waziristan," time.com, April 17, 2010]
[Some 1,000 Pakistanis have been killed by US drone attacks on Pakistani
soil since 2004.--Joanne Mariner, "More Questions
About Drones," findlaw.com, May 17, 2010]
[. . . a U.S. reprisal would be contemplated only under extreme
circumstances, such as a catastrophic attack that leaves President Obama
convinced that the ongoing campaign of CIA drone strikes is
insufficient.--Greg Miller, "Options studied for a possible
Pakistan strike," Washington Post, May 29, 2010]
[The move to accompany Pakistani forces in the field is even more
significant, and repeats a pattern seen in the Philippines during the Bush
administration, when Army Green Berets took a gradually more expansive role
in Manila's fight against the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf in the southern
islands of Mindanao.--Julian E. Barnes, "U.S. Forces Step Up Pakistan Presence," wsj.com, July 20, 2010]