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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

R.I.P. (Repent In Purgatory) Hakeemullah Mehsud


From the perspective of Judeo/Christian morality the now ex-leader of the Pakistan Taliban was an individual imbued with evil. His moral maliciousness permeated the very fibre of his being. Personally he beheaded kafirs, non-believers, and mowed down with automatic weapons scores if not hundreds more. In his leadership role he planned many further atrocities slaughtering many thousands, mainly fellow Muslims.

He hated the US, the big Satan, the little Satan and the West in general. Having slain many American citizens in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the US had good reason not to like him. Seeing no chance of bringing Mehsud to justice before hell freezes over, by which time casting him downwards would hardly be an effective punishment, the US, after years of trying, have finally managed to execute him.

A drone, controlled from thousands of miles away, crept up on him, tapped him on the shoulder, smiled and then after a thirty seconds slo-mo whilst the victim suddenly realised his plight, vapourised him.

Good job, well done some may say. At least some form of justice was affected albeit not with the ideal integrity that free democracies demand of their own systems when prosecuting their own subjects.

Well so be it. What is done is done. Was it a sensible action or will it disadvantage the US and reflect badly on the West and its allies?

Some argue that it strengthens the hand of the West. Others led by the BBC, that it has ruined the chances of any sort of peace agreement between the Pakistan government and the Taliban.

Looking at the logic of each of these positions in turn:

First from the anti-Taliban, pro-drone perspective:
1.      Killing the leader of any terrorist organisation sends a powerful message. Unlike their followers who have been indoctrinated into the philosophy of self-immolation, the leaders value their own lives too much. After all leadership must have some perks. The US has a record of killing with drones senior Taliban members in both Pakistan and Afghanistan.
2.      This sends a powerful message to would be terrorist leaders. Move into any of the top hot seats and you become a priority target. Judging from what has happened to your predecessors your days are numbered.  If you want to avoid their fate then start negotiating to save your arse.
3.      This means that when the political negotiations start, the Taliban have internalised that they cannot win and that they must compromise to save themselves.
4.      For the anti-Taliban forces it means they have the negotiating advantage and can drive a hard bargain going way beyond a temporary cease fire to gain a lasting peace.

Looking at it now from the anti-drone strike perspective:
1.      Drone strikes are immoral and flout international law because they cause collateral damage
2.      Collateral damage hardens the attitudes of the general populace against those forces that caused the collateral damage
3.      The Taliban leadership, via a video, had let it be known that they wanted to talk with the Pakistani government.
4.      Killing their leader will make them all angry and they will now no longer want to negotiate.
5.      The implication is that whatever carnage ensues will be the fault of the Americans for being stupid enough to kill Hakeemullah Mehsud.
6.      Their crime made doubly worse by the use of drones.
Which of these positions do you feel is more likely to be right?

Both make assumptions and have logical inconsistencies.

Amongst the main ones against those in favour of drone attacks are that:
x       Some Taliban leaders may seek martyrdom. If that were the case then these leaders will never come to the negotiating table unless they know they have the advantage. Handled skilfully the negotiation outcome will be yet another step towards their ultimate goal of Islam-uber-alles and Sharia law supremacy.
  The anti-Taliban negotiators may be as inept as the Europeans headed by Baroness Ashton and totally fail to capitalise on the advantage they have been given.
The main illogicalities of those who see the drone strikes as detrimental to peace include:
x       If collateral damage from drone strikes, which are relatively tiny, causes such hatred against the West, then the collateral damage of tens of thousands of Muslims murdered by the Taliban should generate proportionally more hatred against the Taliban and thus weaken their position. Apparently this is not the case.
x       The first duty of any government is to protect its citizens. This is even enshrined in that flaky body of jurisprudence referred to as international law. Therefore although it will be argued that drone strikes are illegal under international law, this cannot take precedence over an administration’s duty to protect its own citizens.
x      It might also be claimed that the likelihood of becoming collateral damage by harbouring dangerous psychopaths like Mehsud in their midst might make the communities loyal to him reconsider the wisdom of their action.
My analysis is deliberately simplistic. I have not considered any of the broader political dynamics impacting on this situation nor of the technological and social forces that are pertinent.

Nevertheless, I conclude, as you may have guessed, that on balance the US judicial killing is a force for good, albeit I also understand the arguments against it.

Of course my analysis is, besides an intellectual exercise, of no significant consequence. What matters is how things turn out in the real world.

My assertion is that drone strike will continue, piling even more pressure on the Taliban to come to the negotiating table. My bet is that within 12 months they will be talking to the Pakistani government and that they will, by that stage, be desperate to salvage almost anything from their broken dream of an expanding, Sharia compliant Caliphate.

Any takers?

This should hand a major tactical advantage to the Pakistani government providing they prove more competent negotiators than Baroness Ashton’s lot.

You may however, have come to a different conclusion which would be interesting to hear about.

The Bilateralist Comments:
Pakistan’s intelligence service (The ISI) has well documented connections to many terrorist groups.  It is through many of these proxies that some awful crimes have been committed in the furtherance of Pakistan’s local and international agenda.  Lashkar-e-Taiba carried out the 2008 Mumbai atrocity that killed over 160 people.  Throughout the massacre the Pakistani killers who belonged to this murderous movement were recorded, in ongoing communication with their ISI handlers. Given the opportunity, these ‘holy’ Muslim warriors horrifically tortured many of their victims before granting them “release” through death.

The USA should cease funding Pakistan and declare that there will be no resumption until the Taliban are disbanded – now that would bring the Taliban to the negotiating table!

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