Lindsey Graham hit the war default button yesterday on one of the Sunday shows, saying that the US should engage in military action against Pakistan for their relationship with the Haqqani network. The US has accused the network of a truck bomb attack on the US Embassy and NATO headquarters on September 13.
What is less known is that the Obama Administration reportedly threatened the same thing last week. They said that Pakistan must engage the Haqqanis or face unilateral action against them from the US.
An attack on the soil of a foreign sovereign is pretty much military action. That’s why Graham was so confident when he suggested it. “I will leave it up to the experts,” he said, “but if the experts believe that we need to elevate our response, they will have a lot of bipartisan support on Capitol Hill.” Yes, they will.
The response by Pakistan has been to warn the US it would lose an ally if they persisted in alleging this relationship between the Haqqani network and the ISI, Pakistan’s intelligence service.
“You cannot afford to alienate Pakistan; you cannot afford to alienate the Pakistani people,” Khar said in New York, speaking to a Pakistani television channel. She was in the U.S. for the U.N. General Assembly session.
Pakistani army chief Gen. Ashfaq Kayani in a statement called Mullen’s remarks “very unfortunate and not based on facts.”
Pakistani officials continued to tersely reject the allegations and challenged the U.S. to furnish evidence of ties between the country’s intelligence community and the Haqqani group.
Why the Haqqani network has become the enemy du jour is unclear. But what you won’t see emphasized in the traditional media is that the Haqqanis have been CIA assets over the years.
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.
It does seem like the US has been straining to find a new super-villain after the death of bin Laden, something to justify continued occupation and interference in that part of the world. If it’s not the Taliban, it’s the Haqqani network, or Iran, or someone else. The Haqqanis are just a stand-in villain to keep the threat alive, to justify an open-secret war in Pakistan.