How Many People Has the U.S. Killed in its Post-9/11 Wars? Part 2: Afghanistan and Pakistan.

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The numbers of casualties of U.S. wars since Sept. 11, 2001 have largely gone uncounted, but coming to terms with the true scale of the crimes committed remains an urgent moral, political and legal imperative, argues Nicolas J.S. Davies, in part two of his series.

By Nicolas J.S. Davies

In the first part of this series, I estimated that about 2.4 million Iraqis have been killed as a result of the illegal invasion of their country by the United States and the United Kingdom in 2003. I turn now to Afghan and Pakistani deaths in the ongoing 2001 U.S. intervention in Afghanistan. In part two, I will examine U.S.-caused war deaths in Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen.  According to Ret. U.S. General Tommy Franks, who led the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan in reaction to 9/11, the U.S. government does not keep track of civilian casualty that it causes. ”You know, we don’t do body counts,” Franks once said. Whether that’s true or a count is covered up is difficult to know.

As I explained in part one, the U.S. has attempted to justify its invasions of Afghanistan and several other countries as a legitimate response to the terrorist crimes of 9/11. But the U.S. was not attacked by another country on that day, and no crime, however horrific, can justify 16 years of war – and counting – against a series of countries that did not attack the U.S.

As former Nuremberg prosecutor Benjamin Ferencz told NPR a week after the terrorist attacks, they were crimes against humanity, but not “war crimes,” because the U.S. was not at war. “It is never a legitimate response to punish people who are not responsible for the wrong done.” Ferencz explained. “We must make a distinction between punishing the guilty and punishing others. If you simply retaliate en masse by bombing Afghanistan, let us say, or the Taliban, you will kill many people who don’t believe in what has happened, who don’t approve of what has happened.”

As Ferencz predicted, we have killed “many people” who had nothing to do with the crimes of September 11. How many people? That is the subject of this report.

Afghanistan

In 2011, award-winning investigative journalist Gareth Porter was researching night raids by U.S. special operations forces in Afghanistan for his article, “How McChrystal and Petraeus Built an Indiscriminate Killing Machine.”  The expansion of night raids from 2009 to 2011 was a central element in Barack Obama’s escalation of the U.S. War in Afghanistan.  Porter documented a gradual 50-fold ramping up from 20 raids per month in May 2009 to over 1,000 raids per month by April 2011.

But strangely, the UN Assistance Mission to Afghanistan (UNAMA) reported a decrease in the numbers of civilians killed by U.S. forces in Afghanistan in 2010, including a decrease in the numbers of civilians killed in night raids from 135 in 2009 to only 80 in 2010.

U.S. Marines patrol street in Shah Karez in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, on Feb. 10. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. Robert Storm)

UNAMA’s reports of civilian deaths are based on investigations by the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), so Noori Shah Noori, an Afghan journalist working with Porter on the article, interviewed Nader Nadery, a Commissioner of the AIHRC, to find out what was going on.

Nadery explained to Noori, “…that that figure represented only the number of civilian deaths from 13 incidents that had been fully investigated.  It excluded the deaths from 60 other incidents in which complaints had been received, but had not yet been thoroughly investigated.”

“Nadery has since estimated that the total civilian deaths for all 73 night raids about which it had complaints was 420,” Porter continued. “But the AIHRC admits that it does not have access to most of the districts dominated by the Taliban and that people in those districts are not aware of the possibility of complaining to the Commission about night raids.  So, neither the AIHRC nor the United Nations learns about a significant proportion – and very likely the majority – of night raids that end in civilian deaths.”

UNAMA has since updated its count of civilians killed in U.S. night raids in 2010 from 80 to 103, still nowhere close to Nadery’s estimate of 420.  But as Nadery explained, even that estimate must have been a small fraction of the number of civilian deaths in about 5,000 night raids that year, most of which were probably conducted in areas where people have no contact with UNAMA or the AIHRC.

As senior U.S. military officers admitted to Dana Priest and William Arkin of The Washington Post, more than half the raids conducted by U.S. special operations forces target the wrong person or house, so a large increase in civilian deaths was a predictable and expected result of such a massive expansion of these deadly “kill or capture” raids.

The massive escalation of U.S. night raids in 2010 probably made it an exceptional year, so it is unlikely that UNAMA’s reports regularly exclude as many uninvestigated reports of civilian deaths as in 2010.  But on the other hand, UNAMA’s annual reports never mention that their figures for civilian deaths are based only on investigations completed by the AIHRC, so it is unclear how unusual it was to omit 82 percent of reported incidents of civilian deaths in U.S. night raids from that year’s report.

We can only guess how many reported incidents have been omitted from UNAMA’s other annual reports since 2007, and, in any case, that would still tell us nothing about civilians killed in areas that have no contact with UNAMA or the AIHRC.

In fact, for the AIHRC, counting the dead is only a by-product of its main function, which is to investigate reports of human rights violations in Afghanistan.  But Porter and Noori’s research revealed that UNAMA’s reliance on investigations completed by the AIHRC as the basis for definitive statements about the number of civilians killed in Afghanistan in its reports has the effect of sweeping an unknown number of incomplete investigations and unreported civilian deaths down a kind of “memory hole,” writing them out of virtually all published accounts of the human cost of the war in Afghanistan.

UNAMA’s annual reports even include colorful pie-charts to bolster the false impression that these are realistic estimates of the number of civilians killed in a given year, and that pro-government forces and foreign occupation forces are only responsible for a small portion of them.

UNAMA’s systematic undercounts and meaningless pie-charts become the basis for headlines and news stories all over the world.  But they are all based on numbers that UNAMA and the AIHRC know very well to be a small fraction of civilian deaths in Afghanistan.  It is only a rare story like Porter’s in 2011 that gives any hint of this shocking reality.

In fact, UNAMA’s reports reflect only how many deaths the AIHRC staff have investigated in a given year, and may bear little or no relation to how many people have actually been killed. Seen in this light, the relatively small fluctuations in UNAMA’s reports of civilian deaths from year to year in Afghanistan seem just as likely to represent fluctuations in resources and staffing at the AIHRC as actual increases or decreases in the numbers of people killed.

If only one thing is clear about UNAMA’s reports of civilian deaths, it is that nobody should ever cite them as estimates of total numbers of civilians killed in Afghanistan – least of all UN and government officials and mainstream journalists who, knowingly or not, mislead millions of people when they repeat them.

Estimating Afghan Deaths Through the Fog of Official Deception

So the most widely cited figures for civilian deaths in Afghanistan are based, not just on “passive reporting,” but on misleading reports that knowingly ignore many or most of the deaths reported by bereaved families and local officials, while many or most civilian deaths are never reported to UNAMA or the AIHCR in the first place. So how can we come up with an intelligent or remotely accurate estimate of how many civilians have really been killed in Afghanistan?

Body Count: Casualty Figures After 10 Years of the “War On Terror”, published in 2015 by Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR), a co-winner of the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize, estimated deaths of combatants and civilians in Afghanistan based on UNAMA’s reports and other sources.  Body Count’s figures for numbers of Afghan combatants killed seem more reliable than UNAMA’s undercounts of civilian deaths.

The Afghan government reported that 15,000 of its soldiers and police were killed through 2013.  The authors of Body Count took estimates of Taliban and other anti-government forces killed in 2001, 2007 and 2010 from other sources and extrapolated to years for which no estimates were available, based on other measures of the intensity of the conflict (numbers of air strikes, night raids etc,).  They estimated that 55,000 “insurgents” were killed by the end of 2013.

In Afghanistan, U.S. Army Pfc. Sean Serritelli provides security outside Combat Outpost Charkh on Aug. 23, 2012. (Photo credit: Spc. Alexandra Campo)

The years since 2013 have been increasingly violent for the people of Afghanistan.  With reductions in U.S. and NATO occupation forces, Afghan pro-government forces now bear the brunt of combat against their fiercely independent countrymen, and another 25,000 soldiers and police have been killed since 2013, according to my own calculations from news reports and this study by the Watson Institute at Brown University.

If the same number of anti-government fighters have been killed, that would mean that at least 120,000 Afghan combatants have been killed since 2001.  But, since pro-government forces are armed with heavier weapons and are still backed by U.S. air support, anti-government losses are likely to be greater than those of government troops.  So a more realistic estimate would be that between 130,000 and 150,000 Afghan combatants have been killed.

The more difficult task is to estimate how many civilians have been killed in Afghanistan through the fog of UNAMA’s misinformation.  UNAMA’s passive reporting has been deeply flawed, based on completed investigations of as few as 18 percent of reported incidents, as in the case of night raid deaths in 2010, with no reports at all from large parts of the country where the Taliban are most active and most U.S. air strikes and night raids take place. The Taliban appear to have never published any numbers of civilian deaths in areas under its control, but it has challenged UNAMA’s figures.

There has been no attempt to conduct a serious mortality study in Afghanistan like the 2006 Lancet study in Iraq.  The world owes the people of Afghanistan that kind of serious accounting for the human cost of the war it has allowed to engulf them.  But it seems unlikely that that will happen before the world fulfills the more urgent task of ending the now 16-year-old war.

Body Count took estimates by Neta Crawford and the Costs of War project at Boston University for 2001-6, plus the UN’s flawed count since 2007, and multiplied them by a minimum of 5 and a maximum of 8, to produce a range of 106,000 to 170,000 civilians killed from 2001 to 2013.  The authors seem to have been unaware of the flaws in UNAMA’s reports revealed to Porter and Noori by Nadery in 2011.

But Body Count did acknowledge the very conservative nature of its estimate, noting that, “compared to Iraq, where urbanization is more pronounced, and monitoring by local and foreign press is more pronounced than in Afghanistan, the registration of civilian deaths has been much more fragmentary.”

In my 2016 article, “Playing Games With War Deaths,” I suggested that the ratio of passive reporting to actual civilian deaths in Afghanistan was therefore more likely to fall between the ratios found in Iraq in 2006 (12:1) and Guatemala at the end of its Civil War in 1996 (20:1).

Mortality in Guatemala and Afghanistan

In fact, the geographical and military situation in Afghanistan is more analogous to Guatemala, with many years of war in remote, mountainous areas against an indigenous civilian population who have taken up arms against a corrupt, foreign-backed central government.

The Guatemalan Civil War lasted from 1960 to 1996.  The deadliest phase of the war was unleashed when the Reagan administration restored U.S. military aid to Guatemala in 1981,after a meeting between former Deputy CIA Director Vernon Walters and President Romeo Lucas García, in Guatemala.

U.S. military adviser Lieutenant Colonel George Maynes and President Lucas’s brother, General Benedicto Lucas, planned a campaign called Operation Ash, in which 15,000 Guatemalan troops swept through the Ixil region massacring indigenous communities and burning hundreds of villages.

President Ronald Reagan meeting with Guatemalan dictator Efrain Rios Montt.

CIA documents that Robert Parry unearthed at the Reagan library and in other U.S. archives specifically defined the targets of this campaign to include “the civilian support mechanism” of the guerrillas, in effect the entire rural indigenous population.  A CIA report from February 1982 described how this worked in practice in Ixil:

“The commanding officers of the units involved have been instructed to destroy all towns and villages which are cooperating with the Guerrilla Army of the Poor [the EGP] and eliminate all sources of resistance,” the report said. “Since the operation began, several villages have been burned to the ground, and a large number of guerrillas and collaborators have been killed.”

Guatemalan President Rios Montt, who died on Sunday, seized power in a coup in 1983 and continued the campaign in Ixil. He was prosecuted for genocide, but neither Walters, Mayne nor any other American official have been charged for helping to plan and support the mass killings in Guatemala.

At the time, many villages in Ixil were not even marked on official maps and there were no paved roads in this remote region (there are still very few today).  As in Afghanistan, the outside world had no idea of the scale and brutality of the killing and destruction.

One of the demands of the Guerrilla Army of the Poor (EGP), the Revolutionary Organization of Armed People (ORPA) and other revolutionary groups in the negotiations that led to the 1996 peace agreement in Guatemala was for a genuine accounting of the reality of the war, including how many people were killed and who killed them.

The UN-sponsored Historical Clarification Commission documented 626 massacres, and found that about 200,000 people had been killed in Guatemala’s civil war.  At least 93 percent were killed by U.S.-backed military forces and death squads and only 3 percent by the guerrillas, with 4 percent unknown.  The total number of people killed was 20 times previous estimates based on passive reporting.

Mortality studies in other countries (like Angola, Bosnia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Kosovo, Rwanda, Sudan and Uganda) have never found a larger discrepancy between passive reporting and mortality studies than in Guatemala.

Based on the discrepancy between passive reporting in Guatemala and what the U.N. ultimately found there, UNAMA appears to have reported less than 5 percent of actual civilian deaths in Afghanistan, which would be unprecedented.

Costs of War and UNAMA have counted 36,754 civilian deaths up to the end of 2017.  If these (extremely) passive reports represent 5 percent of total civilian deaths, as in Guatemala, the actual death toll would be about 735,000.  If UNAMA has in fact eclipsed Guatemala’s previously unsurpassed record of undercounting civilian deaths and only counted 3 or 4 percent of actual deaths, then the real total could be as high as 1.23 million.  If the ratio were only the same as originally found in Iraq in 2006 (14:1 – before Iraq Body Count revised its figures), it would be only 515,000.

Adding these figures to my estimate of Afghan combatants killed on both sides, we can make a rough estimate that about 875,000 Afghans have been killed since 2001, with a minimum of 640,000 and a maximum of 1.4 million.

Pakistan

The U.S. expanded its war in Afghanistan into Pakistan in 2004.  The CIA began launching drone strikes, and the Pakistani military, under U.S. pressure, launched a military campaign against militants in South Waziristan suspected of links to Al Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban.  Since then, the U.S. has conducted at least 430 drone strikes in Pakistan, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, and the Pakistani military has conducted several operations in areas bordering Afghanistan.

Map of Pakistan and Afghanistan (Wikipedia)

The beautiful Swat valley (once called “the Switzerland of the East” by the visiting Queen Elizabeth of the U.K.) and three neighboring districts were taken over by the Pakistani Taliban between 2007 and 2009.  They were retaken by the Pakistani Army in 2009 in a devastating military campaign that left 3.4 million people as refugees.

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism reports that 2,515 to 4,026 people have been killed in U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan, but that is a small fraction of total war deaths in Pakistan.  Crawford and the Costs of War program at Boston University estimated the number of Pakistanis killed at about 61,300 through August 2016, based mainly on reports by the Pak Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS) in Islamabad and the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP) in New Delhi.  That included 8,200 soldiers and police, 31,000 rebel fighters and 22,100 civilians.

Costs of War’s estimate for rebel fighters killed was an average of 29,000 reported by PIPS and 33,000 reported by SATP, which SATP has since updated to 33,950.  SATP has updated its count of civilian deaths to 22,230.

If we accept the higher of these passively reported figures for the numbers of combatants killed on both sides and use historically typical 5:1 to 20:1 ratios to passive reports to generate a minimum and maximum number of civilian deaths, that would mean that between 150,000 and 500,000 Pakistanis have been killed.

A reasonable mid-point estimate would be that about 325,000 people have been killed in Pakistan as a result of the U.S. War in Afghanistan spilling across its borders.

Combining my estimates for Afghanistan and Pakistan, I estimate that about 1.2 million Afghans and Pakistanis have been killed as a result of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.

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US Loses Key Ally in South Asia: Screwed Up in Muslim World

US Loses Key Ally in South Asia: Screwed Up in Muslim World

ALEX GORKA | 22.01.2018 | WORLD / ASIA PACIFIC

US Loses Key Ally in South Asia: Screwed Up in Muslim World

So, the US has lost another major ally. President Trump does not shy away from openly chiding Pakistan in his tweets using harsh words. On January 1, he said Pakistan was a “safe haven to the terrorists”. National Security Advisor HR McMaster chimed in saying Pakistan would become North Korea if it does not stop nuclear blackmail. Nikki Haley, US permanent representative to the UN, believes that “Pakistan has played a double game for years.” According to her, Pakistan is involved in state-sponsored terrorism. This is the reason why the United States withholds $255m of military aid. In addition, Washington suspended some $900 million in Coalition Support Funds. For comparison, the entire defense budget of Pakistan amounts to roughly $8 billion. So, the US deprived the country of more than one tenth of its defense expenditure.

In return, Islamabad has suspended all military and intelligence cooperation with Washington. Pakistani Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif said his country was no longer a US ally. Nevertheless, the supply lines for NATO forces in Afghanistan would not be closed.

The relationship has always been extremely complex and turbulent. It was rather a marriage of convenience than an alliance. Mistrust and suspicion have always clouded the bilateral ties.

It’s not the problem of fighting terrorism. The US itself has been many times rebuked for clandestinely backing terrorist groups. The United States has taken an extremely hostile stance toward Iran – the country which enjoys friendly relations with Pakistan. There are many reasons for that. Good relations with Iran help Pakistan to avoid unrest in its common border region predominantly populated by ethnic Baluchis. Despite being a Sunni Muslim country, Pakistan does not belong to the Saudi Arabia-led anti-Iran coalition. It does not go against Iran’s interests. For instance, it does not oppose the Iran’s involvement in Yemen.

Islamabad has been increasingly looking to China recently while turning away from the United States. The two powers have historically maintained good neighborly relations. Pakistan pins great hopes on the $57 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a to boost Pakistan’s economy. The CPEC is part of China’s One Belt One Road initiative expanding across the entire world. Special economic zones are part of the plans.

Pakistan’s strategically located Arabian Sea port of Gwadar, located 180 nautical miles from the Strait of Hormuz, features prominently in the CPEC. A network of road, rail and pipelines will be built to link Xinjiang in far-western China to Pakistan’s port. Chinese naval ships will be anchored at Gwadar to provide security and protect sea lanes, if need be. A joint task force of four to six ships will be deployed, with Chinese Marines guarding the port area.

China’s authorization to Pakistan to produce all kinds of missiles as well as main battle tanks is being discussed. Beijing wants to scale up its defense cooperation with Islamabad in near future. Its assistance to Islamabad’s nuclear program has been critical. China has become more important for Pakistan than America. It is seen by Islamabad as a real friend unlike the US, which was described by Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif as“a friend who always betrays.”

The relations between Moscow and Islamabad have never been better. Military cooperation is thriving. “Druzhba” military exercise is held annually to boost interaction between the armed forces. It’s not the only joint training event held regularly. Pakistan is considering the possibility of purchasing more weapons from Russia, including Su-35 fighter jets.

Talks on the construction of the ‘North-South’ gas pipeline (from Karachi to Lahore), with the Russian investment of $2 billion, are underway. Pakistan can provide a convenient international route to Russian goods via the CPEC.

Last year, Pakistan joined the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) as a full-fledged member. The SCO membership presupposes security cooperation in Central Asia and regular summits allowing the leaders of Russia and Pakistan to meet on regular basis. The organization is on the way to set up an economic integration union, including the creation of a free trade zone, bank and a development fund. Russian President Vladimir Putin believes that linking the SCO with the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), of which Russia is a leading member, the China’s One Road, One Belt and the economic projects implemented by Association of Southeast Asian Nations could build the foundation for a larger Eurasian partnership.” Pakistan has approved a Russian request for using the Gwadar Port and is interested in joining a free trade agreement with the EEU.

Too many serious problems beset the US-Turkey relationship to call Ankara an ally of Washington. Iraq is gradually moving away from the United States to diversify its foreign policy priorities. The decision to recognize Jerusalem has deteriorated the relationship with Jordan. There are other examples of the US credibility undermined in the Muslim world. Now America has lost Pakistan, the fifth-most populous nation with a population exceeding 210 million people. This is a part of a broader picture as the US influence in the region is diminishing globally while the clout of Russia and China is growing.

Trump’s Pakistan Policy Is a Disaster

Trump’s Pakistan Policy Is a Disaster

Trump’s Pakistan Policy Is a Disaster

International fame, at last! Pakistan hit the headlines because it was the subject of Donald Trump’s first tweet of 2018. The country will have a small but everlasting place in history.

You know Trump: he’s the man who, immediately after being elected US President was reported by the BBC as having telephoned the then prime minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif to say Pakistan is “a fantastic country, fantastic place” and “amazing with tremendous opportunities.” He ended with the jovial request to “Please convey to the Pakistani people that they are amazing and all Pakistanis I have known are exceptional people.”

It is unlikely that Mr Trump knows any Pakistanis, but it seemed his attitude to Pakistan was positive. And so it continued until New Year’s Day 2018 when Trump tweeted

“The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!”

He meant that the Pakistan army, which has had 6,687 soldiers killed fighting terrorists since 2001 when the US invaded Afghanistan, is helping terrorists based in Pakistan.

Since the US attack on Afghanistan, and subsequent expansion of Islamic terrorist groups in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, Pakistan has suffered 468 suicide bombing attacks, in which 7,230 of its citizens were killed. Before 2001 there was one such attack, in 1995 by a crazy Egyptian who drove a bomb-laden lorry into the Egyptian Embassy’s gates.

When Trump tweeted his message Pakistan had ended a year in which, as recorded by India’s South Asia Terrorism Portal, it suffered 3,001 civilian deaths from terrorism, and 676 of its soldiers were killed in fighting against terrorists, while 1,702 terrorists were killed. It was quite a year, but not as bad as 2009, for example, at the height of the US “surge” in Afghanistan, when almost a thousand Pakistani soldiers were killed while conducting operations against terrorists in their strongholds in the Tribal Areas.

Pakistan army soldiers fighting through Mirali town in North Waziristan in 2014. Five were killed in this anti-terrorist operation

It may be remembered that in 2009 Afghanistan’s President Karzai said there was “an urgent need” for direct negotiations with the Taliban and made it clear that the US government opposed any such approach. Meanwhile, there was indeed increased movement of terrorists between the countries, made less difficult for them because the Afghan government refused to permit erection of any sort of border barrier.

Eleven years ago, Carlotta Gall of the New York Times wrote that the Afghan President “voiced strong opposition on [December 28, 2006] to Pakistan’s announcement that it would lay mines and erect fences along its border with Afghanistan. He said the moves would only hurt the people living in the region and would not stem cross-border terrorism.”

This was nonsense, because natural or man-made barriers can dissuade or even prevent illegal movement. And when covered by observation and fire (as all armies agree they must be), they can verge on the impenetrable. It is essential to have frequent and irregular patrols by troops, surveillance on the ground and from the air (so what have all these US drones been doing?), and artillery in positions from which fire can be directed onto those attempting cross-border forays.

It can be catastrophic if an obstacle is unguarded. During the Vietnam War the Australian army planted an enormous minefield around a mountain occupied by bands of Viet Cong guerrillas but had to withdraw patrolling troops as there was an emergency elsewhere, and the predictable result was that the Viet Cong picked up all the mines — thousands of them — and over the following years used them to kill Australians.

But if minefields had been planted at appropriate places along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, on both sides, as proposed by the Pakistan government, and patrolled aggressively by the armies of both countries, nobody could claim that illegal crossings would have been easy. If the Afghan army had been ordered to cooperate with their opposite numbers across the border, and if there had been coordinated surveillance and foot patrols — as wanted by the Pakistan military — then it would have been very difficult indeed for insurgents to cross in either direction. The US did not approve Pakistan’s proposal for fencing and minefields and did not supply any assistance for the project. So the barrier was not erected.

It is ironic that Trump is cancelling military security aid to Pakistan, because this cash assists Pakistan’s security forces to combat terrorists. In January the Pakistani media reported that

“Pakistan has spent more than Rs 67.3 billion ($605 million) during the last one and a half years in its efforts to stop infiltration of terrorists operating in Afghanistan and securing vital installations, including the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, from cross-border attacks.”

But all was not quite what it seemed. Or perhaps it was, because nobody knows exactly how foreign policy is devised in Trump Washington. Anyway : after the Trump tweet against Pakistan his Defence Secretary, General Mattis, “vowed to continue working with the Pakistan government to defeat terrorism in south Asia despite the United States stopping nearly all its financial aid to the country.” He did not, of course, ask Pakistan if it wanted to continue working with the United States on anything at all, but that’s the way overseas relations are handled in the era of Trump.

Trump was supported by Senator Rand Paul who tweeted

“I’m introducing a bill to end aid to Pakistan in the coming days. My bill will take the money that would have gone to Pakistan and put it in an infrastructure fund to build roads and bridges here at home.”

This was greeted by a Trump tweet saying “Good idea, Rand!” But at the same time a “senior administration official” said “I just want to be clear that it’s been suspended. Nothing has been reappropriated. We’re hopeful that we can lift the suspension and the aid will be able to go forward.” So what is the real policy? Nobody knows.

All this leaves Pakistan with some problems. It can live without the US money, of course, although there’s no doubt it has been most useful and much appreciated, but as time goes by its air force will have difficulty in continuing to operate its F-16 aircraft because the US will probably refuse to sell it replacement parts. Its orders for US attack helicopters may also be affected. But the US is not the only source of defence equipment, and there is little doubt that China, Russia and Turkey will move to plug any gaps. And there are other factors that Washington would do well to contemplate.

One most positive effect of Trump’s insulting tweet has been to unite Pakistanis. It appears that no matter their political leanings they have joined in strong rejection of US policy. Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif said bluntly that the US

“carried out 57,800 attacks on Afghanistan from our bases. Your forces were supplied arms and explosives through our soil. Thousands of our civilians and soldiers became victims of the war initiated by you.”

And his sentiments were echoed by the prominent opposition politician, Imran Khan, who said

“Despite Pakistan clearing up North Waziristan, still half of Afghanistan is in Taliban hands. So, who is responsible for this? To make Pakistan the scapegoat of a failed strategy in Afghanistan is not just a travesty of justice, it is deeply insulting and humiliating.”

Quite so. And this is probably going to be the way ahead for Pakistan. To my certain knowledge, Pakistan has provided intelligence about potential terrorist-related activities in America (and the UK). So why should they continue such cooperation? And as the New York Times pointed out on January 5, “the US “has always relied on Pakistani air and ground routes for supplies to the troops in Afghanistan” — so why should Pakistan continue to offer such facilities? It could cut them off in a moment.

Trump failed to understand that insulting North Korea’s leader would result in such strong reaction to his immature jibes. His anti-Iran diatribes are entirely counter-productive. And he’s playing the same tune again. Trump’s anti-Pakistan policy is a disaster.

NYT: Trump’s Twitter Threats Put US Credibility on the Line

08-01-2018 | 13:24


US President Donald Trump has begun 2018 where he left off. Since the first of the year, he has attacked a variety of countries in Twitter posts, urging protesters to overthrow the Iranian government, threatening to blow up North Korea and calling for cuts in aid to the Palestinians.

Us President Donald Trump

Two things stand out about the foreign policy messages Trump has posted on Twitter since taking office: How far they veer from the traditional ways American presidents express themselves, let alone handle diplomacy. And how rarely Trump has followed through on his words.

Indeed, nearly a year after he entered the White House, the rest of the world is trying to figure out whether Trump is more mouth than fist, more paper tiger than the real thing.

Countries are unsure whether to take his words as policy pronouncements, or whether they can be safely ignored. If Trump’s threats are seen as hollow, what does that do to American credibility?

In a series of Twitter posts on Saturday, Trump reacted to questions about his mental fitness by calling himself a “very stable genius.”

Even if there is a recognition that Trump’s tweets may be largely intended to let off steam or reassure his domestic base, there is an increasing sense that the credibility of the administration, and the presidency itself, is being eroded.

However, Richard N. Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, said the words of the US president matter, he added in a Twitter message: “That is why so many of this president’s tweets alarm. The issue is not just questionable policy on occasion but questionable judgment and discipline.”

The bottom line, Haass said, is that Twitter posts should be handled as seriously as any other White House statement, lest the currency of what the president says comes to be devalued.

But the Twitter posts have already devalued the president’s words, argues R. Nicholas Burns, a former career diplomat and ambassador to NATO.

“Even when Mr. Trump is right, … there’s always some excess or some objectionable statement that undermines American credibility, and it’s hard to win that back,” he said. “Allies and opponents invest in your judgment and common sense.”

He pointed to Trump’s decision to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to al-Quds [Jerusalem], however delayed or symbolic. That broke with years of international policy consensus, which called for the status of al-Quds to be settled in so-called “peace” talks.

“When you give away the status of Jerusalem [al-Quds] unilaterally and get nothing from ‘Israel’ and anger the Palestinians and challenge the world and then you lose, it’s a disastrous example of lack of US credibility,” Burns said.

The decision infuriated the Palestinians and the Europeans. Then, Trump and his United Nations envoy, Nikki R. Haley, threatened to cut off aid to any country that opposed the new US position in a vote in the General Assembly.

In the end, the vote was a humiliating rebuke of the US, 128 to 9, with 35 abstentions. Most European allies voted against the US, and even European allies in Central Europe, who consider Washington a key guarantor against Russia, did not vote with Washington but abstained.

A senior European diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to speak publicly, called the al-Quds episode destabilizing and said it had come when the Middle East and the world did not need it.

As much as the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, has annoyed Trump with his criticism of the al-Quds move, saying that it disqualified Washington from a serious role in any so-called “peace” talks, even the “Israeli” entity has urged Trump to abandon his threat to cut off aid to the United Nations agency that looks after millions of registered Palestinian refugees.

On North Korea, despite Trump’s Twitter posts, Pyongyang has gone ahead with tests of intercontinental ballistic missiles and has given no indication that it will agree to denuclearize in exchange for talks with Washington. Instead, it has gone around Washington to reopen talks with Seoul.

Even on Pakistan, where Trump followed through last week on threats to suspend aid over the country’s ambiguous support for the American battle against the Taliban, the president was for the Pakistanis before he was against them.

In one of his first calls with a foreign leader after being elected, Trump spoke with the Pakistani Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, and gushed that he was a “terrific guy.”

“Mr. Trump said that he would love to come to a fantastic country, fantastic place of fantastic people,” Sharif’s office said in a statement describing the call. “Please convey to the Pakistani people that they are amazing and all Pakistanis I have known are exceptional people.”

More recently, Trump switched to threatening them, saying on Twitter that Pakistan had “given us nothing but lies & deceit” and accusing it of providing “safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan.”

The public humiliation outraged Islamabad, giving an opening to China, which moved within 24 hours to praise Pakistan’s fight against terrorism. Pakistan then agreed to adopt the Chinese currency for transactions, to improve bilateral trade.

François Heisbourg, a French defense and security analyst, commented tersely about Trump’s anger this way: “Pushing Pakistan into an exclusive relationship with China.”

Trump has been equally changeable with the Chinese, whom the president repeatedly threatened to punish for what he termed trade dumping and currency manipulation, only to say in December that he had “been soft” on Beijing, needing its help on North Korea.

Some suggest that Trump’s Twitter posts should not be taken so seriously. Daniel S. Hamilton, a former State Department official who directs the Center for Transatlantic Relations at Johns Hopkins University, said that Trump “uses these tweets and social media to secure his political base,” and “whether the tweets turn into a policy or not is a whole different question.”

While allies do not necessarily take his Twitter posts as policy pronouncements, they still create significant confusion, said Pierre Vimont, former French ambassador to Washington and former top aide to the European Union foreign policy chief.

Even in areas where allies agree – for example, on the threat posed by North Korea and its leader, Kim Jong-un – “we have a hard time understanding the real policy line from Washington,” Mr. Vimont said.

Source: NYT, Edited by website team

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Way to go: Pakistan Is Ditching the Dollar for Trade With China — 24 Hours After Trump Denounced the Country

Pakistan Is Ditching the Dollar for Trade With China

Brilliant move: Trump hammers another nail in the petrodollar coffin

Just 24 hours after President Donald Trump took aim at Pakistan on Twitter, the South Asian nation already appears to be cozying up to the world’s second-largest economy.

A day after the U.S. leader slammed Islamabad for harboring terrorists in a New Year’s Day tweet, Pakistan’s central bank announced that it will be replacing the dollar with the yuan for bilateral trade and investment with Beijing.

The same day, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang defended Islamabad’s counter-terrorism track record, saying the country “made great efforts and sacrifices for combating terrorism” and urged the international community to “fully recognize this.”

 

China has been watching closely as U.S.-Pakistan relations become increasingly strained. Trump has long demanded the frontier economy to do more on counter-terrorism while he simultaneously grew closer to its arch-rival, India.

“Pakistan and the U.S. have had a fraught relationship for years, but the big change recently has been China,” said Simon Baptist, Asia regional director at the Economist Intelligence Unit.

“China has really gone hard in cementing its existing relationship with Pakistan, it’s really the only place that’s seen significant investment under the Belt and Road initiative and China has been pushing for geopolitical advantage there.”

Islamabad is home to one of Beijing’s central infrastructure schemes, a near $60 billion collection of land and sea projects known as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor — a centerpiece of Belt and Road.

And with a steady stream of Chinese capital under its belt, Pakistan may no longer be receptive to American threats, the most recent of which involves Washington cutting off security assistance.

“Pakistan balks far less at reductions in American aid, which, as the former points out, has dwindled in recent years anyway. China, on the other hand, has promised Pakistan $57 billion in investments on infrastructure and energy under its Belt and Road Initiative,” Madiha Afzal, a nonresident fellow at Brookings, said in a recent note. “All this means that America has far less leverage over Pakistan.”

“The history of Pakistan’s relationships with China and the United States also shows that Pakistan’s policy does not respond to strong-handedness, but to loyalty, and to being treated with dignity,” she continued.

For Beijing’s part, a Monday editorial published by Chinese state-run news outlet Global Times said that “China and Pakistan enjoy an all-weather strategic partnership of cooperation, Beijing will without doubt not give up on Islamabad.”

Regardless of hardened rhetoric between the White House and Islamabad — Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif recently dismissed Trump’s outburst as a political stunt — the two nations are expected to continue cooperating this year.

Ultimately, Washington needs Pakistani cooperation to address its concerns about Afghanistan and Iran, Baptist said, adding that it remains to be seen if Trump’s social media tirade will translate into real policy change.

Source: CNBC

FM: US created terrorist groups in Pakistan

FM: US created terrorist groups in Pakistan

On September 27, 2017, Pakistan’s foreign minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif spoke at the New York-based Asia Society forum. Responding to Donald Trump’s anti-Pakistan rant in which the Israel First bigot accused Pakistan of sponsoring terrorism – Asif refused to take blame for Taliban, Haqqani group, Al-Qaeda and so-called other terrorist groups – because they’re all created by CIA-Mossad-MI6 Axis of Evil.

Don’t blame us for the Haqqani group and don’t blame us for the Hafiz Saeed. These were the people who were your darlings just 20 to 30 years back. They were being dined and wined in the White House and now you say go to hell Pakistanis because you’re nurturing these people,” Asif said.

Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, PhD, the leader of Jamaat ud-Dawa (JUD) is on both Washington’s and New Delhi’s most wanted list for being the mastermind behind the November 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, which was a Mossad-RSS false flag operation to start a nuclear war between India and Pakistan.

Speaking at the forum, Asif further stressed that there was no military solution to the festering conflict in Afghanistan. “Scapegoating Pakistan for all the Afghan ills is neither fair nor accurate,” Asif said.

Taliban have long defeated US-NATO forces in Afghanistan. Trump intends to continue the war racket as the Generals and pro-Israel war-hawks in his administration refuse to accept a new military humiliation at the hands of Muslim resistance.

Talking about Pakistan’s sour relations with neighboring India, Khawaja Asif said that there cannot be peace between the two neighbors until India hold a free plebiscite in disputed Jammu and Kashmir state as agree upon at the United Nations in 1948.

Asif stressed that India must stop funding terrorism in Pakistan if it wants peace in the region.

Khawaja Asif was interviewed (watch below) by Steve Coll, American Zionist Jew academic, and staff writer for The Jew Yorker magazine.

The Asia Society was founded by John D. Rockefeller III (Jewish) in 1956. It’s current chairperson is Josette Sheeran. She is former US ambassador to Haiti. She is married to Jew professor Whitney T. Shiner.

Israel and its Western propaganda idiots have always claimed that Pakistan poses the greatest threat to world peace for providing sanctuary to so-called “Islamic terrorist group” despite the fact, both the US and Israel (here)were created by European terrorist groups. Pakistan is also victim of Zionist terrorism.

United States and its regional allies such as Israel and Saudi Arabia are the criminals sponsoring conflicts, wars and terrorism in the Middle East.

The World’s Only Undeclared Nuclear Weapons State

Global Research, September 22, 2017

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute reports that developments in North Korea’s nuclear program “contributed to international political instability with potentially serious knock-on effects.”

SIPRI says that as of January 2017 the United States, Russia, Britain, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea together had an estimated 15,000 nuclear weapons.

Out of the above nine nuclear weapons states, only one is undeclared – that is the state of Israel, which is estimated to have built-up a secret arsenal of up to 400 warheads – all unidentified by the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency. 

Should that figure be substantiated that would place the Israeli state as either the 3rd or 4th most powerful nuclear state in the world, after the US and Russia and the highest nuclear weapons state, per capita, anywhere on the planet.

However, the vital fact is that Israel is not a party to the IAEA and therefore not subject to inspection or report by the UN’s international Agency and is also not a party to the nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and that makes the global situation fraught with danger for future peace.

It is seriously complicated by the fact that the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is determined to shift the global spotlight away from Israel’s massive, covert, nuclear weapons program to that of Iran which, of course, has no nuclear weapons whatsoever but which is a party to the NPT and, furthermore, subject to inspection by the IAEA.

These facts would appear to indicate the most dangerous military confidence trick ever perpetrated on a naive international community.

Report on nuclear weapon programs and inspection of nuclear weapon stocks should be a mandatory requirement for participation in international trade, failing which there should be economic sanctions against any recalcitrant state that poses a nuclear threat to world peace.

North Korea today reminds us that the world is no longer a safe place for anyone, anymore.

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