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Obama's Secret Wars: How Our Shady Counter-Terrorism Policies Are More Dangerous Than Terrorism

Obama should be held accountable for vastly expanding the military establishment's worldwide license to kill.

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Nothing illustrates the incoherence of U.S.-Pakistan policy more, however, than Riedel's next chapter. America's most oft-quoted expert on Pakistan and participant in U.S. policy-making actually proposes expanding the very policies -- drone strikes, pressure on border areas and attacks within Pakistan that have made a military coup an "all-too-possible nightmare scenario." His most striking proposal is that "Washington could specifically target ISI officers (by) taking action against their individual and corporate financial holdings." It is difficult to imagine any single action more likely to provoke the very coup that Riedel properly warns against. King's College professor Anatol Lieven has correctly written that "any US action that endangered the stability of the Pakistani government would be insane. Nukes could fall into the hands of terrorists, along with huge quantities of conventional arms." Yet Riedel proposes, and the U.S. government is today conducting, precisely such "insane" policies, making the prospect of an anti-U.S. military coup ever more likely!

"Counterterrorism" Harms U.S. National Security More Than "Terrorism  

Although most Americans opposed postwar "communism," by the late 1950s they had concluded that the "anti-communist" overreaction -- including Joe McCarthy, loyalty oaths, blacklists, the House Unamerican Activities Committee and FBI spying on Americans -- posed a far more immediate threat to American democracy. Similarly today, while no one can doubt that "terrorism" poses a threat, it is already clear that today's U.S. "counterterrorism" crusade poses a far greater danger both to U.S. national security and American values by exponentially increasing those committed to murdering Americans.

The best way for the U.S. to fight terror in Pakistan is to end its drone strikes and violations of Pakistani sovereignty, and focus on effective economic and humanitarian aid. Perhaps then public hatred of the U.S. will be sufficiently reduced so as to allow for collaborative police work that targets terrorists effectively, and safeguards nuclear weapons. 

A second priority for U.S. policy is to promote the Pakistani military's stated desire, according to former U.S. Ambassador Patterson, for "deterrence, dialogue and development" toward its enemies. The Pakistanis, unlike the U.S., will have to live with their adversaries for the rest of time. They should be supported in their efforts to reach accommodations with them. 

A third priority would be to realize that effective economic aid, e.g. bringing a reliable supply of electricity to the tens of millions of Pakistanis who lack it, will advance U.S. interests -- including cooperation on nuclear materials -- far more than drone strikes. The Pakistan Tribune  has reported that Pakistan Prime Minister Gilani believes that " America should also help Pakistan in addressing its problems, particularly the prevailing issue of loadshedding. He said the government was working on a war footing to resolve the issue of loadshedding ... The prime minister also said he had discussed with the US leadership the growing resentment against the local people due to rapid drone attacks on Pakistani territory."  

And a fourth priority, of course, would be to accelerate the U.S. withdrawal from "sideshow" Afghanistan.

At present, however, U.S. "counterterror policy" is clearly on a collision course with reality. It can only be hoped that when U.S. leaders are finally forced to acknowledge the moral and strategic bankruptcy of their counterterrorism policy that the damage they have done will not be irreversible.

Fred Branfman exposed the U.S. Secret Air War against Laos, wrote Jobs From the Sun, California's SolarCal strategy, and developed high-tech and "investment economics" as a Cabinet-level official for Gov. Jerry Brown, head of Sen. Gary Hart's think tank, and directing Rebuild America whose advisors included Larry Summers, Paul Krugman and Robert Noyce.

 
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