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Will there be a major war between China and India?

That’s the 64,000 rupee question addressed by the highly respected British magazine “The Economist” in a major article in their 21 August issue. The “Economist” warns that the long contested border between the two giant Asian rivals risks sparking future clashes or even a full-scale war.

I know something about this subject, having authored a book about it a decade ago, “War at the Top of the World,” that warned of the dangers of a future war between China and India. Today, their combined population has reached a staggering 2.3 billion.

My book was directly inspired by meeting the Dalai Lama. In the mid-1990’s, I heard him give a long, very interesting speech on the Indian-Chinese border conflict, which I had studied in depth as a result of my deep interest in the grand strategy of the Himalayas.

The audience that came to hear His Holiness expected to hear a warm, fuzzy talk about the meaning of life. Instead, they were totally bemused by the Dalai Lama’s discussion of the Tibetan-Indian border that had been drawn by Imperial Britain with no regard to China.

I was the only person in the audience to understand the subject or to ask questions about it. After, His Holiness took me aside and we talked at length about the contested border, from Ladakh and Kashmir in the West to India’s Assam and Northeast Frontier Agency (today Arunachal Pradesh), and Tibet’s future.

We also talked for a long time about cats, but that’s another story that will be in my next book.

So from my encounter with the Dalai Lama came my first book, “War at the Top of the World” (now in its fourth, revised edition), which also covered then little-known Afghanistan and the endless conflict between India and Pakistan.

In my book, I predicted that the first major crisis of the 21st Century would occur in Afghanistan

When 9/11 occurred soon after ‘War” came out, I was swamped by calls from the media to talk about Afghanistan and a certain Osama bin Laden.

“How did you know?” everyone asked me in amazement.

“Because I was watching that part of the world when few others were doing so,” came my reply.

In 1962, India moved troops into remote valleys on the eastern Himalayas claimed by China. Beijing proclaimed it would “teach India a lesson.”

It certainly did. Marching over the high mountains, Chinese troops quickly outflanked static Indian forces – as they did with American troops in Korea in 1950. The Indians were routed. The People’s Liberation Army took much of Arunachal Pradesh, and stood before tea-producing Assam. From there, it was only a short distance to Calcutta.

Satisfied by his “lesson,” Chairman Mao ordered his troops to withdraw.

Proud India was humiliated and deeply shocked. Since then, India has built up its forces in the region to over three army corps of 100,000 mountain troops, backed by high-altitude air bases and a network of new roads and supply depots.

The long, poorly demarcated border has been tense ever since. India claims two large chunks of territory in the west held by China: Aksai Chin and a portion of Kashmir given by Pakistan to China. Both are over 15,000 ft altitude. I have explored both frozen wastelands.

On the eastern end of the Indo-Chinese mountain border, known as the McMahon line,
China claims most of Indian-held Arunachal Pradesh.
India has only grudgingly accepted China’s 1950 takeover of Tibet and has harbored anti- Chinese groups dedicated to liberating the mountain kingdom.
India sees the growing array of Chinese bases in Tibet as an extreme danger. China’s air, missile and intelligence bases in Tibet look down on the vast plains of India.

India’s leader, Jawaharlal Nehru, once complained of this danger to China’s Premier Chou Enlai. Chou laughed and retorted, “If I wanted to destroy India, I would march 100 million Chinese to the edge of the Tibetan plateau and order them to piss downhill. We would wash you into the Indian Ocean.”

Tibet controls most of the headwaters of India’s great rivers. Delhi has long feared that China may one day dam and divert their waters to China’s dry western provinces.

Other serious potential flashpoints exist. India’s old foe, Pakistan, with whom it has fought four wars, is China’s closet ally. Beijing arms Pakistan and has built up its nuclear arms program. An Indian-Pakistan war over divided Kashmir, or an Indian intervention in a fragmenting Pakistan or Afghanistan, could draw China into the fray. A new port in western Pakistan at Gwadar will give China port rights on the Arabian Sea.

Burma (today Myanmar), on India’s troubled eastern flank, which is rent by tribal uprisings, deeply worries Delhi. Strategic Burma is rapidly becoming an important forward Chinese base. A new road links China with Burma, and provides China’s navy a badly needed port on the Andaman Sea, an arm of the Indian Ocean.

India believes China is trying to strategically encircle it.

To the west, Pakistan; to the north, Tibet; to the east, Burma. To the south, China is busy cultivating Sri Lanka.
In spite of million man armed forces and nuclear weapons, India feels increasingly threatened by China’s rise. The Indians know full well that China expects obedience from its neighbors. Even a small border clash between these two arrogant giants could light the fuse of a broad and very frightening conflict. The scramble for oil and gas offers ample causes of yet more conflict in Central Asia and even the Gulf, where today America’s rules supreme.

Such was my prediction a decade ago, and I’m sticking to it.

• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: China, India 

According to the UN, the vast floodwaters have affected 20 million Pakistanis. Over 1,500 people have died, 800,000 homes have been destroyed. Pakistan’s government reports that 10% of this nation of 180 million is now destitute and 20% of Pakistan’s land is submerged by the filthy, contaminated floodwaters. Two more waves of monsoon flooding are on the way.

Biblical indeed. And now come mounting reports of cholera caused by ingesting contaminated water.

Washington, increasingly concerned by Pakistan’s stability and loyalty, is rushing \$1.5 billion in aid. Other nations have also promised some aid. The total promised so far is around \$230 million.

That’s a drop in the bucket for Pakistan, one of the poorest places anywhere and the world’ sixth most populous nation. By contrast, quake-ravaged Haiti got over \$1 billion in aid. Israel gets over \$3.2 billion annually from the US Congress. The US war in Afghanistan is costing at least \$17 billion monthly.

Pakistan was already teetering on the edge of bankruptcy before the floods. Islamabad was kept barely solvent by steady injections of cash from Washington and from US-controlled financial institutions like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

The military, Pakistan’s shadow government, has been more or less rented by the US by \$1.5 billion per annum payments and all sorts of secret stipends from CIA and other intelligence agencies. Without Washington’s aid, debt-laden Pakistan would probably collapse in short order.

The monsoon floods ravaging Pakistan could not have come at a worse time for Washington. The US-led war in Afghanistan is at best stalemated as Taliban and its allies gain strength.Making matters worse, Islamabad’s major cash-earner, cotton, has been severely damaged by the floods. Important food crops have been destroyed, meaning Pakistan will require emergency food aid in the coming twelve months.

In one of the Pentagon’s worst nightmares, a rag tag force of lightly-armed Pashtun farmers and part-time fighters has managed to tie down 105,000 heavily armed, lavishly equipped US and NATO troops and has even has put the Western armies on the defensive.

There are even whispers in the bazaar that the Western powers may face defeat in Afghanistan. As a result, Russia, the last invader, is giving increasing military and logistical help to the Western powers in Afghanistan.

In 2001, the US threatened all-out war against Pakistan, according to its former strongman, Gen. Pervez Musharaff, unless it joined the fight against Taliban and accepted a high degree of US control. The sweetener: up to \$15 billion in aid.The US and NATO could not continue their occupation of that nation without use of Pakistan’s ports, supply depots, air bases, roads, intelligence agencies, and 140,000 Pakistani troops.

It was the classic Italian Mafia offer: “lead or gold.”

Now, Pakistan’s cataclysmic floods have left the government in Islamabad of President Asif Ali Zardari isolated and despised by the public. The government response to the inundations has been feeble and inept. Most of the rescue operations were conducted by the military, which still remains popular.

Washington recently arm-twisted the Zardari government into violating military tradition by extending, by an unprecedented three more years, the terms of the armed forces powerful chief of staff and intelligence director, who are viewed with much favor by the US. The result is unrest in the military’s senior ranks as promotions are frozen.

President Zardari made an ill-timed trip to Britain during the floods, reminding Pakistanis that he still owns a lavish country mansion there acquired with funds Swiss prosecutors claimed were obtained by massive kickbacks when his late wife, Benazir Bhutto, was in power. She told me the mansion was bought with legitimate family funds. Zardari also owns a 16th century chateau in Normandy.

Pakistanis were furious at Zardari for swanning around Europe while half the nation was drowning. Pakistan’s parliament has stripped Zardari, whose popularity has plummeted to minus zero, of most of his important powers, handing them over to the amiable but weak prime minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani, another US ally.

Washington promised some more aid, but its primary concern was not humanitarian but political: that Islamic charities and other Muslim groups opposing the US-led war in Afghanistan were delivering effective emergency aid while efforts by the corrupt, US-supported Zardari regime were failing.

This concern, however, seems besides the point since 95% of Pakistanis already hate the United States and see it as even a bigger enemy today than India. Islamic groups, some of them militant, have provided effective humanitarian aid in many nations whose US-backed authoritarian governments do next to nothing for their people. This is the primary reason why groups branded “terrorists” by the US and its allies are so popular — such as Hamas in Palestine, Hezbullah in Lebanon, and Pakistan’s militant Islamic parties.

So another black eye for Washington. Unless Washington keeps pumping billions into Pakistan, the war in Afghanistan cannot be sustained. But how will demolished Pakistan ever be able to afford to rebuild all the roads, dams, irrigation canals, bridges, factories and houses destroyed by the floods?

Everyone remembers how the New Orleans disaster deflated the arrogant President George W. Bush. Zardari and his allies certainly seem next in line for divine retribution.

It’s just tragic that poor Pakistan has to pay the price.August 24, 2010

Eric Margolis [send him mail] is the author of War at the Top of the World and the new book, American Raj: Liberation or Domination?: Resolving the Conflict Between the West and the Muslim World. See his website.

• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Pakistan 

At a time when the US is mired in two lost wars, running a \$1.4 trillion deficit, and trapped in economic stagnation, a bitter but trivial public controversy over a Muslim social center in downtown New York seems absurd.

But that’s what we now have, and it’s an ugly harbinger of the oncoming wave of religious bigotry and xenophobia that will mark this fall’s elections.

We applaud two courageous men, President Barack Obama and New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, for defending the Muslim center even at considerable political risk. As the president noted, choosing the downtown site may not have been wise, but it was the absolute right of its proponents, a right which we as Americans must defend at all costs.

Republicans, neocons and assorted racists are having a field day promoting hatred of Islam. They see it as a golden opportunity to revive charges that the president is a closet Muslim. Newt Gingrich recently kicked off his campaign for the presidency by issuing a disgusting jeremiad about the supposed dangers of Islam to the nation.

Now, the massed myrmidons of the hard right are wailing that the prayer center — which is actually interfaith — somehow violates the profound sanctity of the 9/11 “holy ground.”

What we are seeing is an eruption of cultivated anti-Muslim hatred that has been building up for the past nine years since 9/11. Openly attacking Muslims has become the last acceptable public prejudice.I don’t known what they think about the massage parlors, escort services and bars that also abut this lower Manhattan “holy ground.”

Islamophobia has become the mantra of the right, not only in the US, but across Europe.

I saw the first signs of Islamophobia fifteen years ago when I interviewed Jean Marie Le Pen, France’s far right, Vichyite leader. “Muslims are invading Europe,” he told me. “They are spreading crime and disease. We must drive them out.”

Today, we witness Islamophobia in normally sensible, levelheaded nations like Denmark, Holland, Britain, Belgium, France and Switzerland.

Hatred and fear of Muslims has become as much a central creed of the right’s thinking as was right-wing hatred and fear-mongering about Jews in 1930’s Europe. Simply replace the word “Muslim” with “Jews” in today’s anti-Islamic screeds and the evil flavor of the 1930’s is revived.

A primary reason for this carefully cultivated anti-Muslim hysteria lies with the Bush administration, which issued to the public a stream of disinformation and untruths about 9/11.

The mostly Saudi suicide team that attacked New York and Washington on 9/11 made clear they were doing so for two primary reasons: 1. to punish the US for supporting Israel’s repression of the Palestinians; 2. to protest what they called US “occupation” of Saudi Arabia and domination of the Mideast. Their bloody attack was a political act.

But the Bush administration, which ardently supported Israel and garrisoned Saudi Arabia, would not admit this, nor that it had been caught asleep on guard duty by 9/11.Nine days before 9/11, I wrote in a newspaper article, “America’s strategic and economic interests in the Muslim world are being threatened by the agony in Palestine, which inevitably invites terrorist attacks against US citizens and property.”

The White House immediately came up with the fable that Muslim fanatics had staged the attack because of their hatred for “our way of life,” as Bush claimed, hatred of American culture and, sotto voce, Christianity.

A Koran belonging to one of the attackers was even found in the burning debris of the World Trade Center, miraculously intact. So the massacre became a religious attack. Bush did not misspeak when he proclaimed a “crusade” to avenge 9/11.

America had been attacked by Islam. Christian fundamentalist groups, some 44% of registered Republican voters, were quick to propagate this canard, with lurid claims about Muslims seeking to impose a caliphate over the United States. The Internet teems with such dangerous nonsense. Islam became America’s new enemy of choice.

“Muslims under our mattresses” have replaced “Reds under our beds” of the 1950’s.

Few politicians or media have dared tell Americans the truth about the real cause of 9/11. Instead, we have had a steady outpouring of junk psychological clap trap about how Islam is a sick religion; how Muslims are innately violent; and how “Islamofascism” supposedly menaces America.

The dragon teeth of religious hatred planted by the Bush administration, and nurtured by the neocons and religious far right, are blooming.

Islam had no more to do with 9/11 than Christianity did with World War II. The men who staged the attacks were Muslims, and spoke in its idiom, as most Muslims do, but their inspiration for this awful act was punishing the US for Palestine, overthrowing Mideast governments, expropriating resources, and imposing brutal tyrannies on the Muslim world.

So President Obama and Mayor Bloomberg (my mayor, I am proud to say) did exactly the right thing by reminding their misled countrymen of our basic right of religious freedom and tolerance.August 19, 2010

Eric Margolis [send him mail] is the author of War at the Top of the World and the new book, American Raj: Liberation or Domination?: Resolving the Conflict Between the West and the Muslim World. See his website.

• Category: Ideology • Tags: Conservative Movement, Islam 

George Orwell wrote, “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”

A true journalist’s job is to expose government wrongdoing and propaganda, skewer hypocrites and liars, and speak for those with no voice. And wage war against mankind’s two worst scourges: nationalism and religious bigotry.

I’ve always felt kinship for free thinkers, rebels, and heretics.
That’s why I am drawn to the plight of Private Bradley Manning who apparently believed Ernest Hemingway’s dictum: “Never think that war, no matter how necessary, nor how justified, is not a crime.”

The 22-year old US Army intelligence analyst caused a worldwide furor by releasing to WikiLeaks secret military logs that exposed ugly truths about the brutal conflict in Afghanistan, including widespread killing of civilians.

To again quote Orwell, “During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.”

Manning also released a suppressed tape of a US Army helicopter gunship killing two Reuters journalists and a civilian.

A civilian hacker employed by some shadowy US government intelligence “contractor” spying on the internet turned Manning in.

Revenge was swift. Manning was thrown into solitary confinement and faces a long prison term. His case recalls another courageous whistleblower, Israeli technician Mordechai Vanunu, who revealed Israel’s large nuclear arsenal, was kidnapped, served 17 years in solitary, and still remains a semi-prisoner.

WikiGate provoked a flood of bombastic pro-war propaganda from America’s mainstream (read: government guided) media, its rent-a-journalists, and Canada’s wannabe Republican neocons.

Manning’s revelations were blamed on his being gay, a loner, or maladjusted. The Soviets used to lock away such “anti-state elements” and dissenters in mental institutions.

Those with an interest in keeping the US military in Afghanistan tried to divert attention from WikiGate by trumpeting the plight of a wretched Afghan girl whose nose had been cut off by her backwards tribal in-laws. She was turned into a pro-war martyr.

This crime was immediately blamed without evidence on Taliban and served up as the reason why the Western powers had to garrison Afghanistan. No pictures of Afghans blown to bits or maimed by US bombs were published. No mentions of oil and gas.

A few months ago, in response to Europe’s growing opposition to the Afghan War, CIA reportedly advised NATO the best way to keep marketing the Afghan War to the public was claiming it was a crusade to protect women’s rights.

Inconveniently, the US and NATO’s Afghan allies – Tajiks, Uzbeks and Hazara – mistreat their women as badly as Taliban’s Pashtun.

When I served in the US Army, we were taught that it was our duty to report up the chain of command all violations of the Geneva Conventions and war crimes. These included killing civilians, torture, reprisals, and executions.

Manning reportedly sought to report to his superiors just such crimes committed in Afghanistan by some US forces and their local allies and mercenaries.

He was ignored. Just as was the courageous Canadian diplomat Richard Colvin when he warned Ottawa that prisoners were being handed over to the brutal Afghan secret police for torture and execution.

Manning’s motivations for whistle-blowing matter not. What does matter is he revealed to the public the brutal nature of the colonial war in Afghanistan and the bodyguard of lies protecting it from public scrutiny. If Americans and Canadians really knew the truth of this resource-driven war, and its carefully concealed cost, they would end it very quickly.

I am reminded of the song from the great Harry Belafonte: `you can cage the bird, but not the song!”

• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Wikileaks 

President Barack Obama just restated his vow to pull all US combat troops out of Iraq by August, 2010, and the remaining US garrison by the end of 2011. While campaigning for the presidency, Obama had promised to withdraw all US troops in 2010, but the Pentagon prevailed on him to extend the date.

Has America’s long goodbye to Iraq really begun?

Perhaps. But don’t bet on it.

The 50,000 US troops left until 2011 will supposedly “advise and assist” and perform “anti-terrorism” missions and training. To this old war correspondent and military historian, that sounds an awful lot like the British Empires employment of native troops under white officers.

These remaining US troops will likely be six armor-heavy combat brigades, backed by warplanes from US air bases in the Gulf. A US brigade withdrawn from Iraq will go to neighboring Kuwait. Most of the rest will transfer to Afghanistan.

No word about the fate of 85 ,000 US-paid mercenaries (aka “contractors”) in Iraq.

Under the current status of forces agreement between the US and Iraq, the US retains all air rights over Iraq. How long this will continue is uncertain. But it will be a key bellwether of Washington’s intentions since air power is the key to US military power around the globe. Any Israeli attack on Iran would most likely pass through Iraqi air space.

In his impressive new book, “Oil,” writer Tom Bower notes America’s trinity is “God, guns and gasoline.” Iraq’s oil reserves are an estimated 112 billion barrels, the world’s second largest after Saudi Arabia. Canada ranks third. Iraq also has vast natural gas reserves, an increasingly important fuel and raw material. Oil-hungry India and China are eying Iraq.

America’s once mighty oil firms, the “seven sisters,” have been elbowed out of most of the world’s oil fields by nationalist governments and replaced by state petroleum companies. Iraq’s ruler, Saddam Hussein, kicked US, British and French oil firms out of Iraq, and so sealed his fate. Big Oil moved back into Iraq behind invading US troops in 2003, and is taking over Iraq’s oil production and exporting.

The US does not yet need Iraq’s oil, but controlling it gives the US potent influence over its importers, such as China, India, Japan and Europe. Control of Mideast oil remains a pillar of US geopolitical world power.

It seems unlikely the US will cut Iraq loose. Washington seems to be following the same control model set up in the 1920’s by the British Empire to secure Mesopotamia’s oil. Namely: install a puppet ruler, create a native army to protect him, leave some British troops and strong RAF units in desert bases ready to bomb any miscreants who disturbed the Pax Brittanica – and keep cheap oil flowing.

Washington is buildings a US \$740 million new embassy in Baghdad for 800 personnel, as well as giant new fortified embassies in Kabul and Islamabad, Pakistan(cost \$1 billion) that may hold 1,000 “diplomats.” Osama bin Laden calls them, “Crusader Fortresses.”

The US hopes the Shia Maliki regime it installed in Baghdad will keep a lid on Iraq while allowing almost independent Kurdistan to remain a Kuwait-like US protectorate. But given Iraq’s fractured history, this seems unlikely.

American “liberation” left Iraq politically, economically, and socially shattered, `killed’ in the words of former foreign minister, Tariq Aziz. Republicans in the US crow about victory in Iraq thanks to the famous military “surge” advocated by John McCain, But this canard hides the grim truth.

Reputable studies estimate Iraq’s death toll at mid-hundreds of thousands to one million, not counting claims by UN observers that 500,000 Iraqi children died from disease as a result of the US-led embargo before 2003.

Four million Sunni Iraqis remain refugees, half abroad, victims of Shia ethnic cleansing. Death squads haunt the land.
Washington spends untold millions bribing Sunni fighters to lay down their arms.

Large numbers of Iraqis doctors and scientists have been murdered – many Iraqis believe, without any hard evidence, by Israel’s Mossad. A maze of US-built concrete walls cut up and control major cities. Electricity only sputters a few hours daily in 40 C heat. Cancers from depleted uranium fired by US cannon are becoming epidemic, as they are in Afghanistan.

“They create a desert, and call it peace,” as Tacitus memorably said of Rome’s final solutions.

Iran, fearful of attack by the US, also played an important role in damping down resistance to the US occupation by ordering Iraq’s Shia militia, the Mehdi Army, to cease fire and temporarily cooperate with the Maliki regime.

If all US troops are removed, the Maliki sock puppet regime won’t last long. A real Iraqi regime nationalist would likely re-nationalize oil, rearm, rebuild the ruined nation and rejoin the Arab confrontation against Israel. Or, Iran would end up dominating much of oil-rich Shia Iraq. It’s unlikely Washington would accept either outcome.

Iraqi armed resistance to foreign occupation has abated as the pullout date nears. US casualties have fallen sharply because US troops are being kept on their bases. But this could quickly change.

The highest-ranking surviving Ba’ath Party leader, Izzat Ibrahim al-Duri, just declared a new push against the occupiers and their Shia allies.

The outlook for Iraq is probably more violence and turmoil. US troops may have to remain to protect America’s oil companies and prevent Iraq from disintegrating.
The excuse, of course, will be “fighting terrorism,” but the real reason, as in Afghanistan, will be oil which – of course, is next to God.

Invading battered Iraq was easy. But getting out will probably prove far more difficult. US troops may have to remain there permanently. But that, of course, may also be part of Washington’s long-term plan for its Mideast Raj.

• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Iraq 

The release over the Internet of 92,000 US military field reports from Afghanistan by WikiLeaks has sent official Washington into an uproar. The leak story dominates the talk of this town and has pushed chatter about the steady weakening of the Obama presidency into the background.

The reports reveal the ugly underbelly of a war merchandised to the public as a noble mission to liberate oppressed women and clean up a nest of terrorists. They have embarrassed and outraged the hell out of Washington and its NATO allies. Comparisons to the famed Pentagon Papers of the Vietnam War era that undermined public support for that misbegotten conflict are inevitable.

The Obama administration and the Pentagon insist release of these old reports from 2004—2009 “endanger our boys.” Nonsense. The only thing the truth endangers are the politicians who have hung their hats on the Afghan War and some paid Afghan informers who are most likely well known to the Taliban and its allies.

The facts revealed by WikiLeaks are indeed shocking: wide-scale killing of civilians by US and NATO forces; torture of prisoners handed over to the Communist-dominated Afghan secret police; American death squads; endemic corruption and theft; double-dealing and demoralization of Western occupation forces facing ever fiercer Taliban resistance.

Readers of this column will know much of this. I’ve been reporting on the untruths and propaganda about the Afghan War since 2001 when I wrote and, as an old Afghan hand, warned the US not to get involved in Afghanistan. WikiLeaks has done the world a service by confirming what critics of the Afghan War have long been saying.

The US government and media have been furiously blasting Pakistan while downplaying the atrocities — and, charges WikiLeaks, “war crimes” — committed by Western forces. The truth hurts.The most interesting part of WikiGate deals with Pakistan’s supposedly “duplicitous” behavior in aiding the US-led war while maintaining secret links with Taliban and its allies.

Here’s the bottom line on Pakistan’s “duplicity.” After 9/11, the US threatened to “bomb Pakistan back to the Stone Age” unless it turned against Taliban, a religious, anti-Communist movement, and opened Pakistan to US military forces and intelligence operations. This was told to me be a former head of ISI, Pakistan’s intelligence service whose directors I have met with since 1985.

Former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf says his nation was forced to give in to Washington’s threats of all-out war against Pakistan it did not accept all US demands that resulted in Pakistan becoming a semi-occupied nation.

Musharraf was compelled to abandon Taliban, which served as Pakistan’s proxy army in Afghanistan battling the still active Afghan Communist Party-Tajik Northern Alliance. Russia and Iran also backed the Northern Alliance. Islamabad had used Taliban to counter intensifying efforts by India to extend its influence into Afghanistan.

This column revealed that in 2007, Pakistan and India concluded that the US and its dragooned allies would be defeated and driven from Afghanistan. Both old foes began implementing a proxy war to control strategic Afghanistan.Pakistan was thus forced by the US to act against its own vital strategic interests. Southern Afghanistan has long been Pakistan’s sphere of influence and was seen as giving wasp-waisted Pakistan strategic depth in a major war with India.

Pakistan adopted a dual-track policy: accepting semi-occupation by the US and \$1 billion annually from Washington and paying lip service to the US-led war, while keeping open links to Taliban and tribal militants.

Taliban was a Pashtun tribal movement. Fifteen percent of Pakistanis, and much of its military, are ethnic Pashtun.

This was obvious and basic common sense. No one should have been surprised — particularly not Washington.

The Obama administration and US media are heaping blame for the growing fiasco in Afghanistan on Gen. Hamid Gul, former director general of ISI intelligence agency. Gul led the anti-Soviet struggle in Afghanistan in the 1980’s and was one of America’s most formidable allies. I knew Gul well. He was not anti-American, though some of his theories strain credulity. Gul claims, for example, that the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington were a complot between Israel’s Mossad and rogue elements of the US Air Force.

Gul is an ardent Pakistani patriot at a time when so many Pakistani politicians and generals have been bought by Washington like bags of Basmati rice. Many of the false charges against Gul came from the Communist-led Afghan secret police who have sought to slander or even kill Gul for over two decades.

What Washington really wants is a totally obedient, obsequious Pakistan, not real ally. But the interests of the two nations must at times diverge. Trying to make Pakistan into a satellite state will result in that enormously important, nuclear-armed nation of 170 million one day exploding with anti-American hatred, as was the case in Iran in 1979. The US-led war in Afghanistan is putting the two nations on a collision course. Over 90% of Pakistanis already say that their nation’s primary enemy is the United States, followed by India.

Here in Washington, the US Congress just ignored the WikiLeaks scandal and voted yet more billions to fuel the Afghanistan War. Politicians are petrified to oppose this nine-year war lest they be accused of being anti-patriotic, the kiss of death in hyperpatriotic America where flag-wavers root for foreign wars so long as their kids don’t have to serve and they don’t have to pay taxes to finance them.

Eric Margolis [send him mail] is contributing foreign editor for Sun National Media Canada. He is the author of War at the Top of the World and the new book, American Raj: Liberation or Domination?: Resolving the Conflict Between the West and the Muslim World. See his website.

• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Wikileaks 
Eric Margolis
About Eric Margolis

Eric S. Margolis is an award-winning, internationally syndicated columnist. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, the International Herald Tribune the Los Angeles Times, Times of London, the Gulf Times, the Khaleej Times, Nation – Pakistan, Hurriyet, – Turkey, Sun Times Malaysia and other news sites in Asia.

He is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post, Lew Rockwell. He appears as an expert on foreign affairs on CNN, BBC, France 2, France 24, Fox News, CTV and CBC.

His internet column reaches global readers on a daily basis.

As a war correspondent Margolis has covered conflicts in Angola, Namibia, South Africa, Mozambique, Sinai, Afghanistan, Kashmir, India, Pakistan, El Salvador and Nicaragua. He was among the first journalists to ever interview Libya’s Muammar Khadaffi and was among the first to be allowed access to KGB headquarters in Moscow.

A veteran of many conflicts in the Middle East, Margolis recently was featured in a special appearance on Britain’s Sky News TV as “the man who got it right” in his predictions about the dangerous risks and entanglements the US would face in Iraq.

A native New Yorker, he maintains residences in Toronto and New York, with frequent visits to Paris.

Personal Classics
“America’s strategic and economic interests in the Mideast and Muslim world are being threatened by the agony in...
Bin Laden is dead, but his strategy still bleeds the United States.
Egyptians revolted against American rule as well as Mubarak’s.
A menace grows from Bush’s Korean blind spot.
Far from being a model for a “liberated” Iraq, Afghanistan shows how the U.S. can get bogged down Soviet-style.