Pakistan is Urdu for Cambodia

By John LaForge

U.S. attacks on Pakistan using missiles fired from remote-controlled “drone” 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 that its Green Berets, Navy Seals and CIA assassination squads are waging war in Pakistan from bases in neighboring Afghanistan, but the Pentagon has long wanted to expand its regional war there to attack suspected militants — much like President Richard Nixon secretly bombed and then sent thousands of soldiers into Cambodia.

Clandestine War Revealed

The Pakistani government repeatedly objects to the U.S. Air Force’s missile attacks, and the junta in Islamabad has condemned the bombings as a blatant violation of its sovereignty.

Now the New York Times has quoted unnamed U.S. officials who are urging the expansion of the war to include the use of secret death squads, euphemistically called “Special Forces,” in raids directly into Pakistan, a country with which the U.S. is not at war. As the Times noted, the clandestine U.S. “war in Pakistan has for the most part been carried out by armed drones operated by the CIA” and controlled from Creech Air Force Base in Arizona.

Invasions using soldiers — attempted earlier with disastrous results which included the murder of both civilian Pakistanis and Pakistani police forces – would also violate the Charter of the United Nations and the Geneva Conventions which prohibit all military aggression and all attacks on civilians or civilian objects.

In support of a wider war on Pakistan, U.S. military commanders told the Times that using its “special operations” soldiers “could bring an intelligence windfall, if militants were captured, brought back across the border into Afghanistan and interrogated.” 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 everyone’s back and cause a public uproar.

Potentially Catastrophic Risks

Retired U.S. Army Col. Ann Wright says it’s dangerous for the U.S. (not just Obama) to attack Pakistan and that, with Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, the vulnerability of warheads and production reactors raises potentially catastrophic risks.

“Reports that U.S. Special Forces are actually operating in covert missions in Pakistan are very worrisome,” she says. “This 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.”

Nixon launched his bombing and invasion of Cambodia without the knowledge or consent of Congress — a criminal act which later became one of the Articles of Impeachment adopted by the House of Representatives.

As satirist Dave Lippman says, Afghanistan may not be Farsi for Vietnam, but Pakistan 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. Φ

John LaForge is on the staff of Nukewatch, a nuclear watchdog group in Wisconsin, and edits its Quarterly newsletter.

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