Pentagon planning ‘boots on ground’ in Waziristan
WASHINGTON: “So alarmed is the Pentagon, that Defence Secretary Robert Gates’ plans to send US ground forces into the FATA are being rapidly advanced,” writes journalist Eric Margolis in his syndicated column read worldwide.
“Apparently, Washington’s criticism of Islamabad’s recent peace deals in the tribal territories has sharply intensified. American conservatives are claiming Pakistan has ‘sold out’ to Al Qaeda and Taliban, and is sheltering Osama Bin Laden and his cohorts.”
US fears: Margolis writes about Washington’s desperate efforts to keep President Pervez Musharraf afloat because it fears that a fully civilianised government in Islamabad would be more responsive to anti-American sentiment in Pakistan and wash its hands of the war on terror at a time when more, not less, Pakistani support is needed to help US troops in Afghanistan confront the Taliban summer offensive.
“Musharraf’s slow-motion fall from power has also wrong-footed Washington because it was counting on using US bases there in the event of an attack on Iran,” reveals Margolis. “The US capitol is again buzzing with rumours of an impending air campaign against at least 3,000 targets in Iran that will be launched sometime before November elections to boost the fortunes of the embattled Republicans. Israel’s American supporters are waging an all-out campaign for war against Iran. This week, they began running TV commercials claiming Iran was attacking the United States.”
Margolis argues that as Pakistan’s economy takes a battering over soaring oil prices and political instability, and faces a punishing recession, if not an outright financial crisis, it will become increasingly dependent on US aid. “That is Washington’s last hope. Pakistan will have the Hobson’s choice of either continuing to support the US-led war in Afghanistan, and incur growing armed resistance in Pashtun tribal areas, or be left in the cold and without US financial aid when its failing economy finally hits the wall.”
He explains that the Pentagon is angry and frustrated over the failing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and dismayed with Pakistan for being ‘non-responsive’ to US demands. “Washington is so used to getting its way that it cannot abide the natives being insubordinate. The mood in Washington is increasingly warlike and grim as the beleaguered Bush administration enters its final days.”