International

Imperialism’s Last Gasp in West Asia

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The brazen attack from the air against a moving bus full of civilians in the Afghan province of Uruzgan, on February 21, was dastardly and inhuman. The bus had no Taliban among its occupants; mostly women and children. But the inane NATO soldiers who know not how to shoot straight targeted the bus from the sanctuary of their aircraft. Their massive blunder ended in the death of at least 27 civilians, according to NATO sources; the actual casualty toll may well be higher, according to the Afghan administrators of the province, who were left to bereave and bury the dead.

General Stanley McChrystal, overall commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, was quick to tender a public apology over the loss of innocent lives. But that was as good as any previous cosmetic work of public relations that the Americans and their European allies have routinely been doing after every such incident. He didn't mention the fact that his orders of 7 months ago to the NATO forces, and his own, to be extremely careful and watchful in regard to the mounting toll of civilians killed in the blind pursuit of the elusive Taliban resisting the latest bout of western imperialism in their country.

The heinous crime against the civilians in Uruzgan wasn't the first of its nature and will not be the last. NATO's standard response after all such cowardly incidents is that they were operating on tips from their intelligence. None, however, bothers to add that western intelligence has been found to be wanting, and vacuous, time after time, not only in Afghanistan but, earlier, in Iraq, too.

Only a day before the carnage in Uruzgan, a NATO spokesman had confirmed the death of a 16th civilian, according to his count, in Marja, close to the border with Pakistan, where a massive NATO operation to stamp out the Taliban from their last remaining stronghold ( that's what NATO and the Americans believe) has been on since mid-February.

Earlier, at the opening session of the Afghan Parliament in Kabul, a pathetic President Hamid Karzai had stood up holding the picture of an 8-year-old Afghan girl who had lost 12 relatives in a brutal NATO rocket attack on their homes on the second day of the offensive against the Taliban of Marja.

Karzai pleaded with the general McChrystal and other NATO commanders to work for reaching "the point where there are no civilian casualties." But he must know, in his heart of hearts, his plea is going to fall on deaf ears. He could as well be talking to a wall, because the Americans and their western comrades aren't going to change their tactics, or give up their blind faith in their intelligence apparatus, no matter how faulty or inaccurate it may prove, time and again.

Why do the NATO commanders go on persevering in the charade where they tender text-book apologies after their soldiers in the field have spilled innocent Afghan blood?

The answer is simple: there is hardly any regard or concern amongst them for the Afghan civilians caught in the cross-fire between them and the Taliban. They couldn't care two hoots for Afghan civilian casualties mounting after every operation in the field. It least bothers them if Afghans are killed like chattels because in the imperialist notion of the 'white-man's burden,' it's all very fair and tolerable if lesser mortals, like the Afghans, in the imperialist philosophy of superiority of the white races against non-whites, are mowed down. It's all admissible as 'collateral damage' in the mission to rid the world of all evil. So be it if Afghanistan increasingly looks like a proverbial killing-field.

But this could well be the last gasp of an imperialist syndrome that seems still incapable of peeling off its 18th and 19th centuries' cloak in which it sought to rule the world, especially subjugating those parts of the non-European world that happened to be repositories of huge natural resources.

West Asia, that includes Afghanistan, Iran and Turkey-in the American division of the world in various geographical zones-has consistently figured high on the list of countries that must be contained and brought into the fold of western domination because these countries not only have great geo-political significance but also abundant resources of energy resources, such as oil and gas.

Iran and Afghanistan, in particular, fall into the category of minerals-rich countries with enormous potential to serve the western world's insatiable thirst for energy. Much of their resource bank, in fact, remains yet unexplored or unexploited. Turkey, though not rich in these resources, occupies a pivotal strategic importance at the nexus of Europe and Asia.

Inextricably linked to Turkey is Iraq where the 21st century imperialist dream of glory and global domination has already turned into a nightmare for Washington. Iraq was a part of the Ottoman Empire until the end of WWI but was carved out of it because of its oil wealth and warm-waters coast on the Gulf.

The 20th century empire-dreamers, including Adolf Hitler, after WWI, prized Turkey in its role as the conduit for land access right down to the Gulf coast of Iraq which the imperialists dreamed of as their principal outlet to the warm waters of West Asia in a country that, according to many an oil expert, was literally afloat on a bed of oil.

George W. Bush, a 21st century caricature of colonialists and empire-dreamers, sought out the government of Prime Minister Rejab Tayyab Erdogan, with offers of tens of billions of dollars, if only it would allow his invaders of Iraq to passage through the Turkish landmass. Erdogan declined the bribe with the contempt it merited. Since then he has become a marked man for the neo cons and their Zionist cohorts. His crime, in their eyes, is that he's much too independent and self-respecting for their taste. They are used to the likes of Karzai, or Musharraf, or Zardari of Pakistan, or Hosni Mubarak of Egypt-all men of straw and with no grain of self-respect and dignity. These western puppets  haven't ever showed any remorse or regrets selling their countries down the drain in return for Washington-ordained and chaperoned authority at the expense of the will of their people.

That Erdogan is made of a different fibre was put on ample display at the 2009 conclave of Davos, in Switzerland, when he took on a pompous and blustering Shimon Peres of Israel on the main conference platform and berated him for Israel's barbaric invasion of Gaza a few months earlier. Erdogan's gall was shocking, and perhaps eye-opening, too, to the Zionists and their allies calling the shots in U.S. How could a man from their despised developing world-that too a Muslim-dare upbraid a champion of Zionism?

Erdogan administered another lesson to the Zionists, only last month, when he demanded, and got, a public apology from the Israeli government for insulting and humiliating the Turkish Ambassador to Israel at the hands of its Zionist deputy foreign minister.

Erdogan has also been guilty in the imperialist eyes for thwarting the common Israeli-American ambition to carve out an independent Kurdish state out of the Kurdish-majority areas of Turkey and Iraq.

The Israelis and the Americans got actively involved in northern Iraq, where the Kurds predominate, on the heels of Iraq's defeat in the Gulf War of 1991. The Kurdish areas were declared off-limits for the government of Saddam Hussain in Baghdad in the guise of 'no-fly-zones' imposed in northern and southern Iraq, entirely arbitrarily by the Anglo-American condominium of power. It was as brazen an example of might being right as there could ever be. That not only insulated the Kurdish part of Iraq from the rest of the country but also allowed Israel and U.S. to manipulate the Kurds of Iraq according to their whims and preferences. The invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003 gave a hefty spur to the Kurdish ambitions for a state of their own in cahoots with the much larger Kurdish populace of Turkey.

But there the government of Justice and Development Party (AKP) led by Erdogan and Abdullah Gul, left the imperialists in no doubt that tinkering with Turkish suzerainty over its Kurdish areas would invite a swift backlash of consequences that could only be unsavory to the conspirators

Little wonder, therefore, that the day the Afghan victims of irrepressible NATO visitations were licking their wounds and burying their dead, Erdogan's government in Ankara announced the arrest of 14 military officers for conspiring to sabotage the government. The Turkish armed forces, long a bastion of western influence, have been smarting ever since the AKP government clipped their wings and cut them down to size, consigning them to their own niche away from governance of the country. The imperialists may still gamble on putting their money on a soldier of fortune to overthrow the nationalistic government of Erdogan and replace it with one kowtowing to the west and implementing its agenda.

With obvious reverses in Turkey and Iraq-and the potential of a much bigger loss of face and humiliation in Afghanistan looming over the horizon-the stakes in Iran automatically get a hefty boost.

Iran is not only the biggest prize in the region but also the biggest challenge to the western plans of controlling the region's geo-political and natural assets.

Iran has been in the cross hairs of the west, in general, and of U.S., in particular, for a very long time. The watershed in this tangled story of west's hankering to put the clock back to where it was during the reign of the Shah-in his days the most trust-worthy and willing cog in the western imperialist juggernaut-and the fierce resistance of Iran's present leadership to roll back every challenge thrown at it.

The Americans, in particular, seem to think they have a stout stick in their hands to beat Iran with on the nuclear issue. Iran has been routinely savaged, in a frenzied media war in which the corporate-controlled and Zionist-abetted news media has played a frontal role, with false and fabricated propaganda about its nuclear ambitions. But the attempt to put Iran on the defensive has so far been cleverly neutralized by the Iranian leadership.

Now, in the latest tack, the Obama administration, unapologetically wedded to George W. Bush's maniacal policy vis-à-vis Iran, is embarking on another round of bluff and bluster. It has long been axiomatic of this administration, as was the case with its precursor in office, to try intimidating Iran, without any success so far, by reminding its leaders that nothing is being taken off the table as far as a response to Iran's allegedly covert nuclear plans is concerned.

This is obviously a tactical ploy to be seen raising the stakes and upping the ante, vis-à-vis an Iran unwilling to be intimidated or coerced into singing the Washington tune. The Washington policy pundits and media gurus are labeling the latest ploy as a 'pressure track.' General David Petraeus, who earned fame as the man who implemented Bush's military surge in Iraq with success-no matter how dubious that claim may have been-and now commands the US Central Command, with jurisdiction over west Asia, too, revealed it to the western media that Washington was moving ahead of the diplomatic pressure only. Petraeus unveiled the new ploy in Washington the same day when American and NATO troops in Afghanistan were collecting trophies of its civilian dead.

The obvious intent of policy czars of Washington is to put the fear of god into the hearts of the Iranian leaders, whom they have so far failed to impress with typical American bluff-and-bluster. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had, earlier, used the platform of US-Islamic World Forum in Doha, Qatar, on February 14, to fulminate against Iran and lambasting it for its alleged programme to make an atomic bomb. Give the Washington pundits credit, at least, for their well-orchestrated word offensive against Tehran.

One could go on quoting instances from recent and current developments in regard to west Asia to illustrate how mindlessly the western neo-colonialists and born-again imperialists have been desperately seeking to bring back, in a new guise, their world of 18th and 19th centuries when they were masters of the world. But times have left them behind, no matter how incorrigibly resistant they might be to change. Their reluctance to learn from their own mistakes is the real tragedy of our times and age.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 March 2010 on page no. 26

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