BY GLENN GREENWALD
The Featured American Enemy of the Week is the Haqqani network in the Pakistan/Afghanistan border region. The New York Times warns in a headline today: “Brutal Haqqani Crime Clan Bedevils U.S. in Afghanistan,” and reports that military officials want “the group [put] on the State Department’s list of terrorist organizations.” Adm. Michael Mullen this week accused Pakistan’s intelligence service (ISI) of aiding the Haqqani clan in carrying out Terrorist attacks on U.S. troops and a U.S. embassy in Afghanistan. Earlier this morning, GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham suggested that a U.S. military attack on Pakistan might be needed in response, predicting that such an attack “will have a lot of bipartisan support on Capitol Hill” (does anyone doubt that?).
Needless to say, the villain mastermind who heads this network, Jalaluddin Haqqani, has, as the NYT put it, “allied himself over the years with the C.I.A.” It quoted “one former American intelligence official” who “worked with the Haqqani family in Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation in the 1980s”; that official “said he would not be surprised if the United States again found itself relying on the clan: ‘You always said about them, ‘best friend, worst enemy’.” Earlier this year, Reuters described:
Former U.S. Congressman Charlie Wilson, whose relentless fund-raising for the Afghan resistance was depicted by Tom Hanks in the movie “Charlie Wilson’s War,” once called Jalaluddin “goodness personified.” [Jalaluddin] even visited the White House when Ronald Reagan was president.
Reuters also noted that, back then, the U.S. used Pakistan’s ISI to funnel money to the Haqqanis to enable them to buy weapons. So the ISI’s funding of the Haqqanis has been going on since the early 1980s; the only difference is that it is now done without U.S. participation.
Can you believe that Pakistan would involve itself with Goodness Personified such a treacherous Terrorist clan? How evil must Pakistan be to lend support to the Haqqanis — “the Sopranos of the Afghanistan war,” says the NYT — simply to advance its own interests? What kind of country would do such a thing? Worse, it seems Pakistan is now following in Iran’s footsteps: “interfering” in the American right to occupy its neighbor. How dare Iran interfere in Iraq, and how dare Pakistan interfere in Afghanistan.
Of course, the reason a new Villain Mastermind is needed in that region is because the one who played that role for so long, Osama bin Laden, was just killed. In July, 2004, the BBC reported on the origins of Al Qaeda and wrote: “During the anti-Soviet jihad Bin Laden and his fighters received American and Saudi funding. Some analysts believe Bin Laden himself had security training from the CIA.” President Carter’s National Security Adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, traveled to Afghanistan in 1979, met with bin Laden, and praised his mujadheen. And earlier this year, The New York Times’ John Burns wrote about his first meeting with bin Laden in 1989, and this is what he reported:
In light of what transpired at Abbottabad, several things stand out: First, the fact that access to the camp lay through a C.I.A. contact involved in America’s financing and arming of the mujahedeen; Bin Laden and his cohorts were then, at least notionally, America’s men . . . [and] the close liaison, then and later, between the jihadis and the ISI, Pakistan’s spy agency, which acted as a conduit for American and Saudi backing of the mujahedeen.”
Indeed, Newsweek reported in late September, 2001, that Pakistan warned the U.S. about the effects of funding bin Laden and friends:
[Before 9/11,] Terrorists were regarded by most people as criminals, wicked and frightening, but not as mortal enemies of the state. There was a kind of collective denial, an unwillingness to see how monstrous the threat of Islamic extremism could be.
In part, that may be because the government of the United States helped create it. . . . In the coming weeks, if and when American Special Forces helicopters try to land in the mountains of Afghanistan to flush out bin Laden, they risk being shot down by Stinger surface-to-air missiles provided to the Afghan rebels by the CIA. . . .
Half a world away, people who understood the ferocity of Islamic extremism could see the coming storm. In the late ’80s, Pakistan’s then head of state, Benazir Bhutto, told the first President George Bush, “You are creating a Frankenstein.”
The last war in which the U.S. involved itself — in Libya — was fought for the profoundly humanitarian goal of removing the Evil Dictator Moammar Gadaffi from power (and not due to the bonanza of oil and other economic opportunities for U.S. corporations which the American Ambassador is now excitedly touting: that’s just a purely coincidental by-product that has nothing whatsoever to do with Gadaffi’s removal). That Evil Libyan Dictator was someone with whom the U.S. quite recently extensively cooperated to render Terrorist suspects to be questioned and tortured, including — rather awkwardly — one of the leading rebels whom NATO just empowered, who was turned over to Gadaffi by the CIA to be tortured.
The U.S. fought a war in Iraq for similar reasons: to liberate the Iraqi people from the Hitlerian grip of Saddam Hussein. Saddam was very scary because he had a lot of potent weapons . . . illicitly provided to him by the U.S. throughout the 1980s; as The Washington Post reported: “The administrations of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush authorized the sale to Iraq of numerous items that had both military and civilian applications, including poisonous chemicals and deadly biological viruses, such as anthrax and bubonic plague.” That American support took place when Saddam was doing things like “gassing his own people,” which would then be cited a decade later as to why Saddam had to be removed. Heavy American arming of Iraq took place immediately after Iraq was taken off the list of Terrorist states so that the U.S. could fund and arm them; Iraq was quickly put back on that list once the U.S wanted to go to war with them (who says “Terrorism” is a meaningless term that the U.S. manipulates for its own ends?).
The Current Supreme American Enemy is Iran (U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice told Wolf Blitzer on Thursday that she was proud of walking out on the Iranian President’s speech because what he “does and says when he comes to the United Nations is absolutely odious, hateful, anti-Semitic, unacceptable” and that “the United States is gravely concerned about Iran’s nuclear program and its ambitions to have what we believe is [a] nuclear weapon”). But any military action against Iran would be quite tricky because of all those anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles the U.S. secretly shipped to the regime (through Israel) during the Reagan years.
One reason Endless War is endless is because the U.S. is so adept at creating and strengthening the Enemies who then need to be dispatched (and that’s independent of how American actions are the principal cause of the anti-U.S. animosity which ensures the War continues). Orwell famously highlighted the propaganda that “we’ve always been at war with Eastasia,” but does the U.S. ever have any enemies that it did not at some point in the recent past fund, arm and/or cooperate with extensively? How many years until we hear a drumbeat of messaging about how necessary it is to wage war against that heinous, murderous, raping, racist Islamist regime in Tripoli — the one the U.S. is arming and funding and just installed in power?