They Serve Daal after Funerals

Posted by sepoy on June 24, 2009 · 2 mins read

Beat extremists you can, says Obama, Anwar Iqbal, DawnTV, June 21, 2009

Any plan to visit Pakistan in the near future?'
'I would love to visit. As you know, I had Pakistani roommates in college who were very close friends of mine. I went to visit them when I was still in college; was in Karachi and went to Hyderabad. Their mothers taught me to cook,' said Mr Obama.

'What can you cook?'
'Oh, keema … daal … You name it, I can cook it. And so I have a great affinity for Pakistani culture and the great Urdu poets.'

'You read Urdu poetry?'
'Absolutely. So my hope is that I'm going to have an opportunity at some point to visit Pakistan,' said Mr Obama.

SWA: Death tally in drone strike touches to 65, Geo, June 24, 2009.

SOUTH WAZIRISTAN AGENCY: The death toll in suspected US drone strike in the South Waziristan Agency has risen to 65, witnesses and officials said late on Tuesday adding that the missiles hit a funeral procession.

Sohail Mehsud from the town of Makeen in the South Waziristan tribal region said he saw three unmanned drones fired missiles on Tuesday afternoon at the funeral procession for suspected militants killed by a similar strike earlier in the day.

At least two missiles were fired at the funeral prayers, killing at least 17 people earlier and injuring several others but later in the day the death toll mounted to 65.

The missile attack targeted the hideouts of Baitullah Mehsud, where Commander Sangeen is reported to have been killed.

Commander Sangeen belongs to Afghanistan.

U.S. officials concede missiles fired from drones have targeted suspected militant leaders in the tribal zone for months, but they do not comment on individual strikes.


Akbar | June 24, 2009

U.S. officials concede missiles fired from drones have targeted suspected militant leaders in the tribal zone for months, but they do not comment on individual strikes Algebra of Infinite Justice by Arundhati Roy "Here's the rub: America is at war against people it doesn't know, because they don't appear much on TV. Before it has properly identified or even begun to comprehend the nature of its enemy, the US government has, in a rush of publicity and embarrassing rhetoric, cobbled together an "international coalition against terror", mobilized its army, its air force, its navy and its media, and committed them to battle. The trouble is that once America goes off to war, it can't very well return without having fought one. If it doesn't find its enemy, for the sake of the enraged folks back home, it will have to manufacture one. Once war begins, it will develop a momentum, a logic and a justification of its own, and we'll lose sight of why it's being fought in the first place. "

omar ali | June 24, 2009

I agree with a lot of the criticism of the US empire, but its not correct to say that the empire "invents enemies". it has real enemies, like all empires before it. Its a war. Do you think the Mongols or the Arabs "invented enemies"? You conquer foreign lands you may find some real enemies. And sometimes the choice is between giving up the particular colony or killing those resisting you. Will it be an improvement when the Chinese and the Indians and the Pakistanis and the Persians (and the Russians) fight over the frontier lands but not the US? That may be so..... while the US is a little more careful of civilian casualties than the Russians or Chinese (or Pakistanis for that matter), its a far away power with too much firepower and too little local knowledge..maybe in the long run its bombs will kill more people than the less discriminating Pakistani or Indian or Russian bombs? As you can see, I am convinced SOME bombs will do some killing no matter what. Afghanistan is unable to control its own territory. Surrounding powers all have their proxies there. I dont see how the fighting can end until everyone knows they cannot win any further and moves towards compromise...and we are nowhere close to that stage yet.

jan | June 24, 2009

Empire invents bogeyman — the “perceived enemy” and WMDs and whatnots:: The Unknown As we know, There are known knowns. There are things we know we know. We also know There are known unknowns. That is to say We know there are some things We do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns, The ones we don't know We don't know. —Donald Rumsfeld, Feb. 12, 2002, Department of Defense news briefing. But what is more dangerous are the chumchas of the Empire in the colonies — who may have bartered their souls for a pittance of USDs or who may have their own “vested interests” and agendas — be it tribal or sectarian or just plain hatred!

omar ali | June 24, 2009

Jan, I am not talking about whether propaganda is used or not. obviously it is. But beyond the propaganda, there IS a real war on. And the US is not the most interested party (though it is the one with the best bombs). Afghanistan has fallen apart. Pakistan, India, China, Russia, Iran, all are fighting over who controls it. That war will go on, with or without American bombs (it was very much on BEFORE american bombs landed). Local chamchas are not just chamchas of the US. There are lots of Pakistani and Indian and Iranian andRussian spoons in there. And they all bring less development money and less discrimination in target selection than the US. If i were an afghan, I would greatly prefer the American spoons in this struggle. I am not saying every afghan will agree with me. ..but if you tell me that they all hate America and want the taliban and the ISI and RAW to sort out their state free of American intervention then you have not met the same Afgans as I have..And yes, a lot of them would prefer to see ALL foreign intervention cease right now, but I am not describing my dream of Afghanistan, I am describing the situation that actually exists. In the actually existing situation an afghanistan without foreign intervention MAY develop if the Americans can stabilize a central govt and then leave. It will NOT happen anytime soon in any other scenario.

Akbar | June 24, 2009

In the actually existing situation an afghanistan without foreign intervention MAY develop if the Americans can stabilize a central govt and then leave. So the assumptions are 1) American Goal is to stabalize Afghanistan and leave! 2) What america does in Afghanistan to stabalize it is not foreign intervention!

jan | June 25, 2009

Omar Ali, It goes without saying that the Army brats and Military, Inc. may NOT want to bite the hand that feeds them. The rest is just details - mostly craps about stabilization and smart bombs!

Qalandar | June 25, 2009

Omar: I agree with much of what you say, but I do not think that (I'll use the label here for ease of discussion) anti-imperialism is -- or ought to be -- animated by the view that those who espouse or advance imperialism are less innocent than others. That is, IMO the point is not that the ISI, RAW, Pakistanis, Indians, whoever, are morally just as compromised as the Americans who are blamed by everyone in Pakistan for the mess in the region -- the question is whether they are potentially just as destructive. Thus, the political elite in Bhutan is likely no purer than the one in India -- however, only one of those has the power to cast a relatively wide footprint, hence it is perhaps natural for people to focus on it and not on Bhutan. In other words, anti-imperialism should attempt to engage with a systemic problem (and not with the personal guilt of individuals -- the latter is itself a worthy object of inquiry, but does not need any ideological apparatus beyond that of the criminal law, fact-finding missions, etc.). [Not to mention that the other "actors" mentioned in your comment are themselves implicated in the wider neo-imperial power structure. For instance, one would be hard-pressed to deny the destructive effects of the utterly cynical machinations of the Pakistani military-intelligence apparatus in Afghanistan, but those strategies have themselves been enabled by the wreckage/aftermath of a wider struggle between two contending Cold War great powers. It's simply impossible to tell what this or any other region would "look like" absent such great power-interventions. Doubtless it would have its heroes and villains, its tyrants and knaves. But their ability to wreak havoc on societies around them would hardly be so potent]...

omar ali | June 27, 2009

I think American aims have changed with time. American planners calculate profit and loss like everyone else. If a "friendly" govt can hold on without their direct presence, then they will leave. its always cheaper to have a local elite do the ruling. That may not happen too soon. Again, I dont think its a good idea for america to be invading distant countries and setting up "friendly" govts. I was not trying to present what i want, but more what I think is likely to happen. if it was up to me, I would prefer to see all countries shrink to the size of Denmark and then join in loose arrangements that allow free travel and trade and no one has big armies or invades anyone else. I dont see that as very likely in the near future though (and no, I dont think the Chinese will be a huge improvement over American imperialism either). Of course its foreign intervention when america invaded afghanistan. Just as it was foreign intervention when the ISI did the same or when Russia and Iran and India propped up the northern alliance against the taliban. Bhutan is not the best analogy. As far as I know, the bhutanese ruling class does not have vast transnational ambitions. The jihadist faction of the Pak army (and that was the faction that was in charge till recent events led to some readjustments) does have very definite ambitions beyond their current borders. Left to themselves, they will not just creat utopia in Afghanistan. But I will also add that these are not well formulated thoughts in my own mind. I am trying to figure this out while we argue. I may end up on your side of the argument.

Qalandar | June 27, 2009

Re: "I am trying to figure this out while we argue. I may end up on your side of the argument." I have felt this in at least half the comments I've made (namely that the comments are "provisional" in a sense), but you've had the courage to say it! I'm charmed...

Mircea | July 03, 2009

These comments by Obama were featured on last night's "Daily Show," with Jon Stewart replying, "Making keema and daal and reading Urdu poetry is great, but now fix the fucking economy!" I respect and admire the way Obama is reaching out to other countries (and I'm sure it's a calculated response to his predecessor) but this may be going a bit overboard on the superficial factors and moving farther away from the policy. It seems that Obama's pronunciation of "Pakistan" is getting far more press than his actual decisions in the region.

Akbar | July 03, 2009

“Making keema and daal and reading Urdu poetry is great, but now fix the fucking economy!” "Keema" is what Obama 's policies are making out of poor Pakistanis in the line of Drones. "Daal" is what average American is going to be left with by the time Larry Summers and Tim Geithner are done with economy. As of Urdu poetry , it will survive.

Akbar | July 03, 2009

"The attack is the first since US drones attacked a Pakistani funeral procession over a week ago, killing at least 80 including a large number of civilians. Local militants said today's attack had killed only three of their members, though it remains to be seen how many of the slain were civilians." So what if this Wizzard of OZ can say "Pakistan" alright.

Akbar | July 03, 2009

Sounds like our times "He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation."

Akbar | July 08, 2009

"US Drone Strikes Kill at Least 35 in South Waziristan Twin Strikes Today Bring Total to Four Strikes, 68 Killed in Less than a Week"

Akbar | July 08, 2009

"Surveys have shown that the people under attack, those in Waziristan, welcome the drones because they are attacking the right guys," said Farrukh Saleem , the executive director of the Center for Research and Security Studies , an independent research center based in Islamabad . "I'd say the drones have been very successful." People under attack welcome the drones, killing right guys(what ever that means) and helping Pakistan Army in its internal stuggle? Here is Hamid Mir in Jang

Akbar | July 13, 2009

WSJ offers ZARDA after DAAL "We'd also say that the Obama Administration -- which, to its credit, has stepped up the use of Predators -- should make public the kind of information we've seen. We understand there will always be issues concerning sources and methods. But critics of the drone attacks, especially Pakistani critics, have become increasingly vocal in their opposition. They deserve to know about the terrorist calamities they've been spared thanks to these unmanned flights over their territory. We're delighted to see that Pakistan's military is finally taking the fight to the Taliban and al Qaeda after ill-conceived truces that were a source of the country's recent instability. When Pakistan's government can exercise sovereignty over all its territory, there will be no need for Predator strikes. In the meantime, unmanned bombs away."

Salman | July 14, 2009

"7. It takes a lot of incompetent people to run an empire. A recurring theme in Brendon's account is the remarkable level of ignorance and incompetence with which the British empire was administered. Although there were obviously some very able individuals involved, Britain's colonial endeavors seem to have attracted an equal or greater number of arrogant, corrupt, and racist buffoons. The bungling that accompanied the U.S. occupation of Iraq looks rather typical by comparison. 8. Great Powers defend perceived interests with any means at their disposal. Great powers like to portray themselves as "civilized" societies with superior moral and ethical standards, but realists know better. Like other empires, Britain used its technological superiority without restraint, whether in the form of naval power, the Maxim gun, airplanes, high explosive, or poison gas., and the British showed scant regard for the effects of this superior technology on their "uncivilized" targets. Today, the United States uses Predators and Reapers and smart bombs. Plus ca change ..."

Salman | July 14, 2009

@ Akbar, Thanks for sharing the WSJ piece. "It is very telling that the WSJ editorial-with no apparent shame-fails to mention the U.S. drone attacks last month that may have killed more than 80 people in Pakistan, including as many as 70 people in a U.S. bombing of a funeral procession in a tribal area. The WSJ editors defend the attacks, saying they are killing "high value targets," saying of those killed by U.S. drone strikes, "Is the world better off with these people dead? We think so." But the fact is that some statistics from the Pakistani government suggested that of the 700+ people killed in these U.S. drone strikes since 2006, 14 were "high value targets" or "al Qaeda" leaders and the vast majority were civilians. In this case, the real question is: "What does it say about the U.S. that its government authorizes the killing of these civilians?""

Akbar | July 15, 2009

“7. It takes a lot of incompetent people to run an empire. I read Graham Greene,s "Quiet American" a while ago but Andrew Bacevich has reviewed it again as it is as pertinent as ever. "Pyle's job is to devise this Third Way. As he undertakes this task, Pyle draws inspiration from a journalist named York Harding, a sort of proto—Thomas Friedman who parachutes into various trouble spots and then in best-selling books serves up glib recipes for advancing the cause of liberty. In Pyle's estimation, the challenge he faces does not appear all that difficult. York Harding provides the answer: “you only had to find a leader and keep him safe from the old colonial powers.” “Impregnably armored by his good intentions and his ignorance,” Pyle embodies all that Fowler (and Greene) can't stand about Americans: too much money, too much confidence, and too little self-awareness. Cruising the streets of Saigon in oversized Buicks, air conditioning everything in sight (to Fowler's dismay, even the U.S. legation's lavatories), passing out cigarettes as if they exist in infinite supply, and quoting York Harding, zealots like Pyle proceed on the assumption that American know-how backed by American values can make short work of even the most perplexing difficulties. Born and raised a Unitarian, Pyle takes God's existence as a given, his faith reinforcing his conviction that America's purposes necessarily reflect God's will........ .......When not conspiring to steal Fowler's girl, Pyle is conspiring to devise the Third Way, his efforts to find the right leader centering on a shadowy figure known as General Thé. As with the U.S. officials who in our own day fell under the spell of Ahmed Chalabi, Pyle has persuaded himself that General Thé's aims and America's aims align neatly. As was the case with Chalabi, this turns out to be a massive misjudgment.Positioning General Thé as the anointed successor to the French requires first demonstrating the powerlessness of the colonial regime. This effort finds expression in a campaign of terror orchestrated by Thé, using plastic explosives covertly provided by Pyle, but to be blamed on the Communists. Pyle purports to believe that the campaign will concentrate on military targets. In fact, Thé organizes a savage attack on civilians in the center of Saigon, which Fowler and Pyle witness. Momentarily taken aback by the bloody consequences of his handiwork—his shoes are spattered with human remains—Pyle quickly recovers and assures Fowler that the victims of the bombing had “died for democracy.” Their deaths were a “pity,” he tells Fowler, “but you can't always hit your target. Anyway they died in the right cause.” Pyle's own sense of righteousness survives the incident intact. He knows he meant well. That knowledge obviates any need to take responsibility or to make amends. In his own mind, he remains blameless. Fowler's own determination to avoid taking sides does not survive this episode. In his innocence, Pyle has become like “a dumb leper who has lost his bell, wandering the world, meaning no harm,” even as he contaminates everything he touches. The ease with which Pyle rationalizes and then dismisses the results of his own recklessness persuades Fowler that detachment has become untenable. So the observer becomes a participant. "

Akbar | July 15, 2009

"But the Navy F/A-18 fighter pilots who responded worried that bombing the militants could hurt civilians, and suggested a different solution to the ground troops. The airmen then roared in low and fast, without firing a shot, in a deafening pass that frightened the militants into silence. "

Salman | July 29, 2009

"The British, too, turned to aerial surveillance as a way out of the double bind of persistent anti-colonial rebellion and popular demands that their troops be brought home. When the British public grew critical in turn of the violence of the new strategy, officials proclaimed that it worked more through the threat of bombardment than actual attack, gamely embracing "terror" as its main tactical principle. As I discovered while researching Air Ministry documents, officials privately confessed that the public was not ready for the truth that air warfare had made distinctions between civilians and combatants "obsolete." And the Middle East offered an ideal terrain for its education: this was the region in which civilian deaths would be easiest to stomach, air staff officials argued, since Arabs and Pathans "love fighting for fighting's sake...They have no objection to being killed." In 1924, Squadron Leader Arthur Harris, head of Bomber Command in World War II, reported having shown Iraqis 'what real bombing means, in casualties and damage; they now know that within 45 minutes a full-sized village ...can be practically wiped out and a third of its inhabitants killed.'" "From Colonial Air Attacks to Drones in Pakistan" NPQ's latest issue has a lot of good stuff. Check it out!

Nikolai | August 10, 2009

You know, I admit it. I'm an Obama fan. I'm still fairly objective and do not allign myself with any political party, but he's definately someone I feel I'd get along well with. As much as I hate admitting it, I find myself being an automatic apologist for him occassionally. That said, US policy is far from perfect. I really hope the Pakistani military doesn't use the drones to gain more support (not that I at all agree with the drones myself):

Akbar | August 11, 2009

That said, US policy is far from perfect.. "Now out of office, Chirac recounts that the American leader appealed to their “common faith” (Christianity) and told him: “Gog and Magog are at work in the Middle East…. The biblical prophecies are being fulfilled…. This confrontation is willed by God, who wants to use this conflict to erase his people's enemies before a New Age begins.”"