Friday, August 1, 2008

The Bush to McCain to al-Qaeda Connection

If you didn’t see the New York Times this morning, intercepted communications between sections of Pakistan's military intelligence division, the ISI, indicate that it provided support to Pushtun guerrillas in bombing the Indian embassy in Kabul recently.

There have long been suspicions the Pakistani military was using Pushtun guerrillas to project power into Afghanistan, even as they fought them inside Pakistan itself. The Times was told by US officials that this intercept was the first smoking gun proving that active-duty ISI officers were complicit with violence in Afghanistan and therefore with attacks on US and NATO troops.

The Pakistani military has a very tight command and control system. ISI collaboration with the neo-Taliban and other guerrilla groups could not occur without the knowledge and acquiescence of Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf, who was chief of staff until last fall. That is, Cheney, Bush and McCain have backed to the hilt a military dictator who has continued the old 1980s and 1990s policy of supporting Pushtun guerrillas as a way of dominating Afghanistan and training other guerrillas to hit Kashmir.

Yet this is what McCain said about “my good friend” Musharraf on Dec. 28 in New Hampshire during the primary campaign: "I continue to believe Musharraf has done a pretty good job, done a lot of the things that we wanted him to do . . . I would remind some of my fellow Americans that Benazir Bhutto and [former prime minister Nawaz] Sharif presided over failed states, there was corruption, there was a failed state in Pakistan when Musharraf took charge...I would like to give Musharraf some credit for taking the measures that we asked him to do."

A “pretty good job?” Musharraf's “successful state” involved dismissing the Supreme Court, provoking massive and repeated demonstrations, violating the constitution, interfering with free and fair elections, and presiding over a virtual national meltdown on the assassination of Benazir Bhutto late last December.

It’s clear that McCain values nothing beyond sheer military might – even if it has shady contacts to al-Qaeda and the Taliban. In other words, McCain’s so-called “experience” tells him that the US should give money to Pakistan so its ISI can fund Taliban and al-Qaeda forces that are killing NATO and US troops in Afghanistan.

So much for McCain’s campaign stump line, “I know how to win wars.” If this is how he wins, how much more of his incompetence will it take for him to “lose” one?

When the newly elected civilian government of Pakistan tried to put the ISI under the civilian Ministry of the Interior last weekend, it was quickly reversed by the generals. The US government should be supporting the elected civilian government in its efforts to get control of the ISI.

But this news is not rally about Pakistan, since most Pakistanis dislike al-Qaeda and the Taliban. It is not about the elected Pakistani government. It is not even about the Pakistani military, which has fought hard battles against the Pakistani Taliban and suffered hundreds of casualties in doing so. It is about corruption in the Pakistani officer corps and the penetration of pro-al-Qaeda elements in the ISI.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani is in constant denial about the ISI/Taliban links, or perhaps he doesn't want to provoke an immediate crisis with the Pakistani military, which has been known to make coups. He said as much last week while in Washington during a meeting with Bush. His Pakistan People's Party has been reluctant to see Musharraf impeached, since de facto party leader Asaf Ali Zardari – Benazir Bhutto’s widower – has been corrupt in the past and would be at risk for some of the same charges levelled at Musharraf.

So exactly how much of the $10-billion in aid did Bush, Cheney and McCain gave to Pakistani dictator Pervez Musharraf after 9/11 ended up being used to kill US, NATO and Afghan troops in Afghanistan?

You think you're angry? Talk to anyone in Delhi about all this right about now. And do two things right now: Spread the word about this and Obama’s position and, two, show up at a local McCain “town hall” armed with this information and confront him with it. Help derail the so-called “straight talk express.”