February 12, 2007

U.S. fires into Pakistan to hit back at Taliban (ROBERT BURNS, 2/12/07, The Associated Press)

Asserting a right to self-defense, American forces in eastern Afghanistan have launched artillery rounds into Pakistan to strike Taliban fighters who attack remote U.S. outposts, the commander of U.S. forces in the region said Sunday.

The skirmishes are politically sensitive because Pakistan’s government, regarded by the Bush administration as an important ally against Islamic extremists, has denied that it allows U.S. forces to strike inside its territory.

The use of the largely ungoverned Waziristan area of Pakistan as a haven for Taliban and al-Qaida fighters has become a greater irritant between Washington and Islamabad since Pakistan put in place a peace agreement there in September that was intended to stop cross-border incursions.

It’s a free-fire zone.


HOW LATE IT WAS, HOW LATE (via Luciferous):

March 24, 2006

Musharraf sends stern warning to terrorists (Mohammed Rizwan, March 24, 2006, Daily Times)

President General Pervez Musharraf has warned terrorists and extremists in Pakistan that they will be eliminated.

“I warn those foreign terrorists in Waziristan to leave otherwise we’ll finish them off,” he said in a speech to a large crowd at Minar-e-Pakistan on the occasion of Pakistan Day. “I also warn those religious extremists who burnt down The Mall on February 14 to refrain from such activities in future as destruction and arson will not be tolerated anymore.”

The president also appealed to the people of NWFP to support the operation against the terrorists. “If people stand by the Pakistan Army in Waziristan, I assure them that law and order will be restored in the area,” he said.

Ministry wants army action in FATA cut (Shahzad Raza, March 24, 2006, Daily Times)

The Interior Ministry has advised President Pervez Musharraf to deploy army troops against foreign militants hiding in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) only as a last resort and rely on paramilitary forces instead.

A senior Interior Ministry official told Daily Times that during meetings with the president on FATA, the ministry opposed frequent army operations against militants in the tribal areas. The president was advised that the Frontier Constabulary and Levies should be made responsible for taking action against militants in Waziristan and other troubled tribal areas. The ministry called for continuing the dialogue process to find out a political solution to the conflict. It proposed that pro-government tribal elders be encouraged to gain support for the government from tribal people.

One of the most basic lessons of 9-11 is that the civilized world can not tolerate geographical regions where no central political authority exercises sovereign legal power and can be held accountable for the cross border behavior of inhabitants. It would be best if the Pakistanis dealt with the tribal areas themselves, but if not we’ll have to eventually.


August 1, 2002

Let’s take him out : The threat to the world posed by Saddam Hussein’s rule of terror is too great to ignore any longer. There is only one solution military action (William Shawcross, August 1, 2002, Guardian)

The new archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, has said that it would be immoral and illegal for the British to support an American war against Iraq without UN authority. King Abdullah of Jordan has warned against an attack on Iraq, saying it would open a “Pandora’s box” in the Middle East. The prospect of war against Iraq has provided a field day to anti-Americanism. I would argue that, on the contrary, the illegality is all on the side of Saddam Hussein. The real immorality and the greatest danger is to allow this evil man to remain indefinitely in power, scorning the UN and posing a growing threat to the world. Tony Blair is both brave and right to support American demands for a “regime change” in Iraq.

What’s shocking about this column is not the sentiment, but the sayer. William Shawcross after all is most famous as a left wing author of Sideshow : Kissinger, Nixon and the Destruction of Cambodia, which essentially argued that pre-emptive strikes into Cambodia were war crimes. Even in his last book, Deliver Us From Evil, he was making the case for using humanitarian assistance to solve global conflicts, rather than force and, at one point in the Salman Rushdie affair, he implied that he thought paperback publication should be delayed because the book had upset people. For him to be arguing now for a pre-emptive war against Saddam is fairly remarkable.


June 7, 2002

The Bush doctrine makes nonsense of the UN charter : In a chilling u-turn, the US claims the right to strike pre-emptively (Jonathan Steele, June 7, 2002, The Guardian)

The cluster of Israeli F-16s took off in desert sunshine on one of the most daring missions of modern times. Flying low through Jordanian, Saudi and Iraqi airspace they reached Baghdad little more than an hour later. The gleaming dome of Iraq’s nuclear reactor at Osirak was easy to spot. The Israeli pilots released their bombs and within 80 seconds the plant was a pile of ruins.

The world was outraged by Israel’s raid on June 7 1981. “Armed attack in such circumstances cannot be justified. It represents a grave breach of international law,” Margaret Thatcher thundered. Jeane Kirkpatrick, the US ambassador to the UN and as stern a lecturer as Britain’s then prime minister, described it as “shocking” and compared it to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. American newspapers were as fulsome. “Israel’s sneak attack… was an act of inexcusable and short-sighted aggression,” said the New York Times. The Los Angeles Times called it “state-sponsored terrorism”.

The greatest anger erupted at the UN. Israel claimed Saddam Hussein was trying to develop nuclear weapons and it was acting in self-defence, which is legal under Article 51 of the UN charter. Other countries did not agree. They saw no evidence that Iraq’s nuclear energy programme, then in its infancy and certified by the International Atomic Energy Agency as peaceful, could be described as military, aggressive or directed against a particular country. In any case, pre-emptive action by one country against another country which offers no imminent threat is illegal.

The UN security council unanimously passed a resolution condemning the Israeli raid. The US usually vetoes UN attempts to censure Israel but this time Washington joined in. The Reagan administration even blocked deliveries of new F-16s to its close ally. There was an element of hypocrisy in the condemnation of Israel, at least in the US. Reagan sent the F-16s a few months later. But policymakers and ordinary people around the world clearly sensed that Israel’s pre-emptive strike took us all to the top of a slippery slope. If pre-emption was accepted as legal, the fragile structure of international peace would be undermined. Any state could attack any other under the pretext that it detected a threat, however distant.

Since then we have begun to slip down the slope.

It is apparently Mr. Steele’s point that even with what we know in retrospect it was a bad thing for Israel to prevent Iraq from developing nuclear weapons–that in fact it is always a bad thing for nations to strike preemptively. He goes on to argue that even our actions in Afghanistan this past fall were technically illegal. If this is what international law consists of then the sooner we repudiate it entirely the better.