November 17, 2008
Bill Kristol, a Fox Television commentator and arch American neoconservative revealed recently what many had long suspected was US thinking about the current international situation.
Kristol recounts that in a 90-minute, mostly off-the-record meeting with a small group of journalists in early July, President Bush “conveyed the following impression, that he thought the next president’s biggest challenge would not be Iraq, which he thinks he’ll leave in pretty good shape, and would not be Afghanistan, which is manageable by itself… It’s Pakistan.” We have “a sort of friendly government that sort of cooperates and sort of doesn’t. It’s really a complicated and difficult situation.” Right on cue, presidential candidate Barack Obama took the baton from Bush in his speech on July 15, in which he argued that more focus and resource were required on both Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The Kristol revelation on the surface is staggering yet not a surprise to those who have long suspected that the US presence in Afghanistan constitutes a Trojan horse for a more insidious plan the US has for Pakistan. Some may find it surprising that the US now believes Pakistan to be more challenging than Iraq where the US has 150,000 troops, spent almost a trillion dollars and has incurred over 4,000 fatalities. The neocon vision was that the capture of Iraq, a state that lies at the heart of the Middle East, would allow it to control not just the resources of the region but more importantly its geopolitics. Of course, the post invasion challenge was severely underestimated and despite some reduction in violence (albeit from a high benchmark), Iraq remains a quagmire. The US would like Iraq to be ‘stable’ but not too stable, ‘independent’ but not too independent, have an ‘effective’ military but not too effective. John McCain compares the US role in Iraq with that of Korea and Germany and believes the US could be there for a hundred years. To justify a continued presence the US needs to keep Iraq weak and divided. No one can seriously dispute the growth in sectarianism that has been seen since US occupation. With a self governed Kurdish north, a Shia dominated central government and now US support for the Sunni tribes, General Petraeus has presided over a de facto partitioned state.