U.S. attacks on Pakistan using missiles fired from remote-controlled â€œdroneâ€ warplanes have been increasing under President Obama. These covert bombings often kill civilians in violation of the law of war. Even when the missiles somehow blow up targeted individuals, they kill mere suspects. The U.S. denies thatÂ itsÂ Green Berets,Â Navy SealsÂ and CIA assassination squads are wagingÂ war in PakistanÂ from bases in neighboringÂ Afghanistan, but the Pentagon has long wanted to expand its regional war there to attack suspected militants — much likeÂ President Richard NixonÂ secretly bombed and then sent thousands of soldiers into Cambodia.
Clandestine War Revealed
Now the New York Times has quoted unnamed U.S. officials who are urging the expansion of the war to include the use ofÂ secret death squads, euphemistically called â€œSpecial Forces,â€ in raids directly into Pakistan, a country with which the U.S. is not at war. As the Times noted, the clandestine U.S. â€œwar in Pakistan has for the most part been carried out by armed drones operated by theÂ CIAâ€ and controlled from Creech Air Force Base in Arizona.
Invasions using soldiers — attempted earlier with disastrous results which included theÂ murder of both civilianÂ PakistanisÂ and Pakistani police forces â€“ would also violate the Charter of the United Nations and theÂ Geneva ConventionsÂ which prohibit all military aggression and all attacks on civilians or civilianÂ objects.
In support of a wider war on Pakistan, U.S. military commanders told the Times that using its â€œspecial operationsâ€ soldiers â€œcould bring an intelligence windfall, if militants were captured, brought back across the border into Afghanistan and interrogated.â€ Considering the documented torture of prisoners by U.S. forces in Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantanamo and in secret prisons elsewhere, this language should send chills down everyoneâ€™s back and cause a public uproar.
Potentially Catastrophic Risks
Retired U.S. Army Col. Ann WrightÂ says itâ€™s dangerous forÂ the U.S.Â (not just Obama) to attack Pakistan and that, with Pakistanâ€™s nuclear arsenal, theÂ vulnerability ofÂ warheads andÂ production reactors raises potentially catastrophic risks.
â€œReports that U.S. Special Forces are actually operating inÂ covert missionsÂ in Pakistan are very worrisome,â€ she says. â€œThis latest New York Times article is kind of confirming what was known and it is a very dangerous situation for the U.S. to be getting into.â€
Nixon launched his bombing and invasion of Cambodia without the knowledge or consent of Congress — a criminal act which later became one of theÂ Articles of Impeachment adopted by the House of Representatives.
As satiristÂ Dave LippmanÂ says, Afghanistan may not be Farsi for Vietnam, but PakistanÂ is Urdu for Cambodia. President Obama would do well to consider the history of U.S. military defeats, or he could end up outdoing Nixon as the president most reviled/most impeached. Î¦
John LaForge is on the staff of Nukewatch, a nuclear watchdog group in Wisconsin, and edits its Quarterly newsletter.