Friday, July 18, 2008

Barnett Rubin Interview with Pepe Escobar of Real News

Pepe Excobar of Real News and Asia Times interviewed me on the U.S., NATO, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. The transcript and the first of four videos are on Real News.

ESCOBAR: How come nobody saw it coming, the resurgence of the Taliban and the neo-Taliban's base in the Pakistani tribal areas?

BARNET: I don't know that it's accurate to say that nobody saw it coming.

ESCOBAR: They're running rings around NATO this spring and summer.

BARNET: Of course NATO did not see it coming. The US government did not see it coming.

ESCOBAR: Exactly. [inaudible] I'm referring to.

BARNET: That's true. And I think that is because they essentially didn't understand the regional situation, and they seemed—. I'll just talk about the United States, you know, the Bush administration. They were just focused on al-Qaeda and the terrorist threat. They had a very superficial analysis of Pakistan—not everybody in the government, of course. There are many professional people in the government who understand the situation. But as far as the top leadership was concerned, they had a relationship with President Musharraf, and President Musharraf was willing to use his security forces to arrest Arabs from al-Qaeda who came into Pakistan from time to time. And they really put all of their analytical resources into dealing with Iraq, and put Afghanistan kind of on autopilot, and didn't recognize, first of all, that just having an election in Afghanistan was far from sufficient to stabilize the country, you know, just defeating the previous government and having an election. There were all kinds of governance issues, which prevented the government from really controlling the territory. And second, that Pakistan still really did not consider the Taliban to be an enemy the way that the United States did. In fact, the Pakistan military considered the Taliban to be a resource for the security of Pakistan.
Ok, this part is not too shocking. Other parts might be interesting.


Da' Buffalo Amongst Wolves said...

"There were all kinds of governance issues, which prevented the government from really controlling the territory."

Illegitimacy is one of those "...kinds of governance issues,".

Too bad they didn't have a 'purple thumb' election like Iraq. That would have made things turn out SO MUCH better for ALL Afghanis, no matter which tribal grouping or religious creed they adhere to.

[Da' Buffalo extracts sarcastic tongue from cheek...]

OUT NOW! Neither al Qaeda nor Osama bin Laden is there...

They're in Pakistan, and AFAICT that's where they've been for years.

So why are WE in Afghanistan?

Extractive resources.

...and Pervez Musharraf was our partner in that regionally destructive venture.

It ain't JUST war for oil you know.

FWIW & AFAICT, al-Qaeda, in concert with the US government, couldn't be doing a better job with the Eastern extractive resources/drug control(as in US interests control the drug dollar flow) foreign policy interests of the west even if AQ WERE still working for them in Central Asia.

That right, I'm saying either intentionally, or un-intentionally, AQ works for the west

That's why the US government just rewarded the Kosovars/KLA with a shiny new country. Because the KLA, with mercenaries hired by Osama and friends, helped the US and Western interests establish a 'diplomatic' and 'business interest' foothold in the region.

While the CIA admits that Osama bin Laden was an “intelligence asset” during the Cold War, the relationship is said to go way back.

The fact that Al Qaeda continues to support KLA terrorist operations in Macedonia, with the full support of NATO and the US government, has been carefully overlooked. With the complicity of NATO and the US State Department. Mujahedeen mercenaries from the Middle East and Central Asia were first recruited to fight in the ranks of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) in 1998-99, largely supporting NATO’s war effort.


Until US foreign policy hypocrisy in the name of so-called 'democracy' is a thing of the past (If the US as we understand it actually survives long enough) we'll have to keep murdering hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians worldwide just to catch an occasional alleged al Qaeda 'terrorist'.

Get used to it, or totally dismantle US foreign policy interests and re-construct them in the interest of GLOBAL JUSTICE (That means ALL OF THE GLOBE taken into account) instead of myopic, single minded policies based on supporting western industrialized society's untenable consumer crap driven lifestyles and the extractive rape of whole regions of the Earth to attain that way of 'living'.

Anand said...

"Da' Buffalo Amongst Wolves"
Why are you repeating KSA and ISI talking points. The Afghan government's legitimacy comes from its election in UN organized elections. Granted it is possible that Afghan voters could have voted better the first time. We should all pray and hope Afghans elect better the second time.

"So why are WE in Afghanistan?Extractive resources." Afghanistan is one of the poorest countries per capita in the world. There is no possible economic interest for NATO or the international community inside Afghanistan.

Globalization has significantly reduced poverty among the very poor in Asia and other parts of the world. Why do you oppose it so much? Do you fear the rise of the rest (the rise of the developing world)?

Let me guess, you are one of the Lou Dobbs/Amy Goodman types who wants to impose harsh sanctions on poor countries by banning imports from them.

Why don't you travel to developing countries and find out just how popular your ideas are?

Anonymous said...

Anand -

There is no possible economic interest for NATO or the international community inside Afghanistan.

Aside from the second-largest unexploited copper deposits on the planet, right?

China - a part of the international community last time I checked - had sufficient economic interest to buy the rights to extract it.

Anand said...

The Aynak copper reserves are expected to generate $400 million a year for the Afghan government or about 1/2 of its current annual revenues. The Afghans got a good deal with the Aynak deposits. Aren't you happy for the Afghans and the world more generally? Copper prices are near all time highs at the moment. Who loses from this?

I hope China contributes many of its best officers and NCOs for the ANSF's officer and NCO acadamies. China chould also offer far more economic grants. I hope they do.

Anonymous said...

After viewing all 4 segments of Mr. Rubin's interview, one agrees with him that socio-economic uplift and integration of the population of the isolated tribal regions is very important and just a military plan will not do.

Mr. Rubin also seems to point out in one place that the Pak military uses these various militias as instruments of policy against its Pak civilian rivals also.

It thus appears that armed jihad is now an internal and external instrument used to defend Pak military interests, including(by Pakistani media accounts) to stage fake GWOT military action casting the Pak Army as hero for Western media consumption.

Foreign aid and support to the Pak military is thus not succeeding in weaning the military from its jihad policy, these are simply making its sponsorship of jihadi militias a profitable policy for itself. Pak military simply can't lose by continuing to support jihadi militias in this win-win situation created by being designated a GWOT ally - when jihadi militias succeed in strikes in Afghanistan, Pak military gains wrt strategic depth and military leverage in Afghanistan. When these jihadi militias create noise and cause violence in Pakistan, Pak military looks good launching pretend military campaigns against them, pretending to fight them.

In short, a socio-economic political solution in FATA to make it less fertile breeding ground and thereby reduce scope for violent militias there as Mr. Rubin suggests, directly conflicts with essential Pak military and strategic interests as described above. How is such a socio-economic political solution to be achieved then?

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