The North Atlantic Treaty Alliance (NATO) is carrying on a war in Afghanistan that looks suspiciously similar to a war the Russians waged for ten years in the same country. Then the United States government surreptitiously provided funding and training to a rag tag collection of fighters opposed to the Russian invasion providing them with stinger missiles, AK47s, money and supplies. A not so well known member of this group of fighters committed to jihad was a fellow by the name of Usama ben Ladan. Now the Americans joined by Canadians, the Brits and a few other NATO countries carry on a war against “insurgents” and people they call the “taliban,” a common word for “students.” Well, they aren’t “students” any longer…they are fighters well trained and experienced…many of whom faught against the Americans in Iraq.Where is this war actually taking place? In the same territory the Russians got trapped in before they had to withdraw: Pashtunistan.
Bisected by the Afghan/Pakistan border, Pashtunistan is the home of more than 25 million Pashtun people…a country unto itself. (See my post Musharraf’s “Jirga” Mistake 9 August 2007 in FWEye). The presumed expectation is that NATO’s forces (mainly US military of 30,000) faces a determined force of taliban and they will use military force to quell this threat coming from inside Pakistan. The problem with this thinking is that the taliban are mostly Pashtun and they are fighting in their own territory south of Afghanistan. The US forces can easily be seen as invading forces not different than the Russians a generation ago. Whole communities of Pashtun may not like the “students” but in the end they may not like to be “invaded” by the outside forces now largely represented by the Americans.
Seymore Hersh wrote an exposé in The New Yorker last week revealing a $400 million commitment by the United States government to indigenous nation fighters inside Iran hoping they will destabilize that government. The Baluchis in the southeast and Kurds in the northwest were mentioned as antagonists supported by the US. The American government appears to be playing the same game they played in Nicaragua during the 1980s when they attempted to use Miskito, Sumo and Rama Indian fighters to destabilize the Nicaraguan government. They did the same thing in the 1960s and 1970s when the CIA provided weapons and material support to the Hmong in an effort to destabilize the North Vietnamese government. Former Ambassador to Iraq, the UN and Honduras John Negroponte (now second in charge at the US State Department) had a strong hand in US policy in Vietnam concerning the Hmong. Negroponte also played a similar role in Nicaragua when he was ambassador to Honduras in the 1980s.)
Another character now deeply involved in efforts to destabilize Iran and the policies against Pashtun is Elliot Abrams, Senior Director on the US National Security Council for Near East and North African Affairs. He too was deeply involved in the war against Nicaragua and was convicted in 1991 on two misdemeanor counts of unlawfully withholding information from Congress during the Iran-Contra Affair-an “off-the-shelf” secret war involving weapons trades with Iran and support for American organized forces fighting Nicaragua in the 1980s. These fellows appear to have the same ideas now that they had when they unlawfully carried out a war in Central America.
Negroponte and Abrams have senior positions in the Bush government and seem now to be in the driver’s seat pushing the United States government ever deeper into conflicts with the Pashtun and maniplulating the Kurds and Baluchi’s to overthrow the Iranian government.
In virtually all instances the Americans proved inept in their dealings with different indigenous nations and cynical as well. Offering money, guns and secret support the Americans hope to achieve political ends. In Vietnam that didn’t work so well, but the Hmon were seriously harmed because the Americans abandoned them. (They fight on now to prevent their own distruction in Laos.) The Americans attempted to use the Miskito, Sumo and Rama in a proxy war against the Nicaraguan government…that too failed to create a stable political environment. (Daniel Ortega, the leader of the Sandinistas against whom the Americans sought to conduct a proxy war is now an elected president of Nicaragua, and the Miskito, Sumo and Rama were left with their villages destroyed and drug-runners polluting their families and communities.) Now Abrams and Negroponte want to screw things up again by waging a war against Pashtun in a conflict destined to fail and exhaust American forces. They are also screwing up relations with the Baluchis and the Kurds inside Iran (this group designated by the Americans as “terrorists”) by cynically attempting to use these fighters as cannon fodder to overthrow a government.
The Pashtun, Baluchis and Kurds all have legitimate interests in advancing their own political agenda. The US wishes to turn their desire for self-determination into bullets for the US government’s cause. If history provides any clues the violence advanced by the Bush government and Negroponte and Abrams in Afghanistan and Iran will hurt indigenous nations, kill a lot of people and in the end fail to advance any intelligent policy benefiting the US.
(c) 2008 Center for World Indigenous Studies
The library is dedicated to the memory of Secwepemc Chief George Manuel (1921-1989), to the nations of the Fourth World and to the elders and generations to come.access here