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18 October 2010


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William R. Cumming

Great post! But often self-appointed elitists in both the Islamic world and US continue to have world-views that could lead to apocolypse.

Thanks FB for all the great posts and comments you have made on this blog. The only missing one of course is exactly why you gave up on living and working in Pakistan? Your reasons may be completely private but they would be of interest to me and others? Pesonally with the current leadership in both US and Pakistan looks like the death march has begun. It would be of interest also to know whether you believe that Pakistani security is enhanced or diminished by nuclear weapons? And why or why not of course.


One of the most disturbing days of my life was when Bush declared, "they hate us for our freedoms".


Iran joins US for meeting on Afghanistan's future



Interesting post. But as long as American's are willing to surrender their Constitutional rights for safety largely because of the fear mongering and political agendas of others. This will remain interesting words with very limited actions.

I also am interesting in the nuclear weapons issue as noted by Mr. Cummings. I would also like your analysis on why Pakistan does not wish to because signatory to the NPT. I hope its not because India has not signed as its only reason.


I echo, great post!

Regarding America, I was revisiting Jason DeParle's September 1983 essay in the Washington Monthly replying to neoconservative Richard Grenier's rant after the Attenborough movie on Gandhi was released. He wrote something that in retrospect, was perspicuous.

"Neoconservatives seem to fear that America -- by braving the perils of dissent and democracy -- will be similarly weakened. Part of what makes America "great" is, theoretically at least, its reluctance to use force
against other nations. Yet, fearful that such as this place us at a disadvantage in the real world, some neoconservatives advocate that America needs to win a war somewhere, to use violence successfully. Their insecurity would have us violate American values -- to mirror the hideous brutality of less open societies -- in order to preserve them. "


"Neoconservatives have devoted immeasurable effort to reminding us of foreign threats, and urging us to meet them with sufficient resolve and military hardware. "

Twenty seven years later, with two wars that occupied almost all of the 21st century so far, limping towards their end, and with Yemen and Pakistan in the cross-hairs of drones, I hope we have learned something and find a better way forward.


Eloquently put Gen. Ali.

One then has to ask the Two questions; Exactly how and why was this situation allowed to develop?

The answer to "Why" in my opinion involves the combination of a variety of actors, all off whom have a vested interest in driving America towards an Orwellian future state.

One of those actors is the American oligarchy, who are faced with exactly the same problem that the USSR faced in the Ten years leading up to its break up - mounting evidence that the American economy, as managed and directed by them, is unsustainable, especially in regard to the increasing competition for natural resources by developing countries.

The other actor is Israel, who is interested in maintaining American support for its continued operation.

The eternal war against "Islamofascism" serves them both.

As for the "How", it is obvious from the outside. The deliberate creation of an unnecessary state of war. Deliberate and ongoing propaganda campaigns aimed at Americans and no one else. Deliberate war fighting techniques that enrage Muslims and generate a self sustaining flow of new recruits, and of course the militarisation of the American police and justice system with a view initially to suppressing dissent and ultimately enforcing an authoritarian posture.

President Obama was the last hope for those of us who prayed that the machine could be dismantled in time to save the country. He failed us quickly and irretrievably.

By way of one small example. "Aquisition of expertise" - "Unjustified attempts to obtain"...is now a reportable suspicious activity by law enforcement.


A Muslim American student finds his car fitted with an FBI tracking device after posting on some weblog that American shopping malls are ridiculously unprotected against terrorist attacks and explains why.


How long before political reliability is a requirement for receiving any form of technical education?

It is not such a large step from here to the principles Orwell espoused in "!984";


FB Ali

Thank you to all those who appreciated the post.

As for the question of why and how this situation has developed, the most comprehensive and perceptive analysis that I have come across is that presented by Andrew Bacevich in his recent book Washington Rules. (It is also a joy to read!). He ends it with this stark warning: Over the horizon a shipwreck of epic proportions awaits.

Some posters above have asked my opinion whether Pakistan’s nuclear weapons have enhanced its security. I doubt it. If all the money that went into developing this capability had, instead, gone into education, infrastructure, and other such nation-building activities, Pakistan would be much stronger today. (But, those savings could easily have gone, instead, into profligacy, corruption, etc). If nuclear weapons had enabled Pakistan to drastically cut down expenditures on its armed forces, that might have made some sense.

All that this nuclear capability achieves is to create doubt in the minds of India’s leaders and generals regarding the threshold at which Pakistan would be prepared to commit suicide (and take many of their people along). I don’t know how secure people can feel living under that paradigm. Luckily, they have so many other problems and concerns on their minds that they probably hardly ever think of such things. (However, as in the USA, Russia and other nuclear states, such calculations and permutations probably provide generals with an adequate substitute for sex).


Your question as to why I gave up on living and working in Pakistan is a fair one. I think I owe you, and the others on this blog who take an interest in my posts, an answer. I’ll try to post one on this thread tomorrow.

William R. Cumming

I meant to point out at some point and perhaps this is as good as any that whatever the International Law implications of the Drone Attacks, each attack might reasonably be calcualted to create an anti-American attitude in up to 800 collaterally damaged families of the dead and injured survivors. My calculations are based in part on average family size and relationships in the areas most frequently attacked by armed UAVs. Not sure of the exact number of attacks in Pakistan todate.


Odi et amo. Quare id faciam, fortasse requiris?
Nescio, sed fieri sentio et excrucior.

I hate and I love. Why do I do this, you may ask?
I don't know, but I feel it happening and it tears me apart.

-- Catullus, 85

William R. Cumming

Thanks General Ali!

I learn from your posts, your comments, and your reticents!

Having been part of the US nuclear priesthood the opportunity costs of the tremendous investment in nuclear weapons here in the US is never publcally totalled up accurately. Some have estimated the pollution from the bomb factories alone would require over $1T to reduce to safe levels. Unfortunately, we (the US and others in the world) did not find a long enough spoon when we chose to sup with the DEVIL!


Not sure how to properly verbiate a reticent, but will, um, squander [??] demolish [??] one of mine to thank WRC for his neat slip-o'-the-keyboard coinage. Disclaimer: this is NOT snark.

Looking forward to Gen. Ali's post.


"Unfortunately, we (the US and others in the world) did not find a long enough spoon when we chose to sup with the DEVIL!"

And having dinner with the devil has included every administration from Eisenhower to Obama. Desert included creamed skewered intelligence of threats au jus.

2010 see some changes in our nuke posture but nothing of any significance.

One day Congress, the Press and the public will stop doing either the nuke yawn or the fear everything dance and pay attention...

William R. Cumming

rjj! Thanks but was a slip of typing. Clearly the General does have a lot of sense. Direct commission as flag rank available for Pakistani Flag ranks with competencies unavailable to US flag?

FB Ali


You had asked why I gave up on living and working in Pakistan. As the saying goes, thereby hangs a tale.

In 1971 the inept generals ruling Pakistan launched a shameful military action against the people of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). This led to the disastrous war with India, whose outcome was made inevitable by the incompetence displayed by their cronies commanding the military. A day after the ceasefire, with the support of a small group of mid-level officers, I demanded that the military junta should quit, and hand over power to the civilians elected in the last elections. Finding that they no longer had any support left in the army, they complied.

This brought into power ZA Bhutto. Within a few months he retired me and the other officers who had removed the generals. However, he took no action to cleanse the military command of the incompetents who had led the army into the 1971 debacle. This caused considerable discontent among younger officers, and some of them began to talk of doing something about it. Such talk gets around, and in 1973 a large group of army and air force officers was arrested and charged with plotting to overthrow the government. Some of them had also talked to me, and I was also arrested and tried with them. A military court sentenced me to life imprisonment.

Instead of letting the hard-won democracy flourish, ZAB turned his rule into a virtual dictatorship. He so blatantly rigged the 1977 elections that they were followed by large-scale public turmoil. Unable to quell this, he was removed by the army commander, Gen Zia ul Haq, who took over the country. Finally, in 1978, Zia (who had presided over my trial) was forced to release me in order to forestall the Supreme Court doing it instead. (In one of those dark jokes that Fate sometimes likes to play, during my last month or so in captivity I was joined in my prison by ZAB, who had meanwhile been sentenced to death for ordering the murder of a political opponent).

In 1979 I came to Canada with my family ‒ and have not regretted it for one moment since. As for Pakistan, the situation is rather odd: normally, one has a ‘mother country’ because one is born in it; I spent my youth in the struggle that resulted in Pakistan being born. The regrets I have are for the country that could have been, the country we strove to create. For the Pakistan that is, my regrets are for its people. They are good people, open-hearted, plain-spoken, sturdy in spirit, patient and resourceful; they do not deserve the rulers that they have had. I console myself with the thought that I did whatever lay within my power for them.

Patrick Lang


It was my country's loss that you did not choose to come here.

This brings to mind the rebuke I received from an RAF Wing Commander. He was Air Attache in Saudi Arabia then. He said to me at a public luncheon that it was a shame that the US "robbed" the world of so much talent. I asked him when he would be coming. He said that was the nicest thing anyone had said to him for a while. pl

FB Ali

Col Lang,

That, indeed, is the nicest thing anyone has said to me in a while! Thank you.

May I say that I could not hope for a better way to connect with your country than through your blog, and the remarkable talent you have collected as its denizens.

William R. Cumming

A very sincere thanks for your post General Ali. I sometimes think that only those who have lost democracy or lived under dictatorships really understand its true value. Please keep posting and commenting because I learn much from you when you do so. And as you know participation is a keystone of democracy and letting others do the same even when we do not agree with them is fundamental to democracy. Thanks so very very much for your sincerity and knowledge.


Col. Lang,
the Israelis are pushing the Pollard thing quite radically.
As here
Not meant for posting off topic.


Saeed Malik.

Thank you Brig Ali, for yet another post which needs reflecting upon.
It is indeed true that there is no dearth of rage for the US in Pakistan. This is inspired by US policies in the Muslim world. It is generally believed here, among the literate, that after the fall of USSR, the military-
industrial complex in the US needed another enemy to justify its existence, and that enemy they found in Islam. As proofs, the war of choice in Iraq, the US-cleared wars in Gaza and Lebenon, the US willingness[till blunted by Iraqi resistance] to attack both Syria and Iran, are cited.
Afghanistan was generally considered a just war to begin with. But this is no longer the case today. The reasons for the rethink are two:
a.Mullah Omer's demand that if the US had evidence of Al-Qaida involvement in 911, this should be provided, and he would hand over Osama to a neutral country.The question which is now asked is, whether Omer was within his rights to ask for such evidence. If the answer is "yes",and such evidence was not provided, but the attack on Afghanistan went ahead nevertheless,911 was an excuse and not the justification for this attack. And the knowledge that plans for the attack on Afghanistan were on the drawing boards well before 911 adds further suspicion to the real motives behind this attack.
b.Most people do not doubt that Osama would dearly have wanted to pull off 911. But as the sheer complexity of the build-up required to reach the execution stage of 911 has become clear, most people believe that this was well beyond the capability of Osama, whose highest capability was to launch a truck-bomb. And even the Cole attack was little more than a "truck bomb" attack on water.
And anyways, the US came into Afghanistan to kill Osama and destroy his organization. If they have not been able to accomplish this over a period of a decade, does this mean that the Afghans will have to keep paying the price of US incompetence for yet another decade?
Thus, the hatred against the US is the direct result of US government policies in the Muslim world, as Chas Freeman and hundreds of US intellectuals have been pointing out even before the attack on Iraq.
The love that actions of individual Americans engenders is based on first-hand experience of charity, generosity, and humanity of Americans who came to Pakistan for flood relief, and some years back when they helped out after the earth quake.
It is therefore not unthinkable that a Pakistani, reading about the latest drone attack will go into a paroxysm of abuse against the Americans, but the moment he meets a real-live American who puts his hand on his shoulder to comfort him, the first thing that is forgotten is the drone attack.
People are the same everywhere. They find the essential humanity of each other almost immediately as they meet. It is government policies, remote from considerations of humanity which create hatred.

Sidney O. Smith III

Gen. Ali

I second WRC’s comment in its entirety (although I may have been tempted to substitute the word “democracy” with the word “republic”, but I am nitpicking).

And I particularly appreciate your insights into the Bhutto family. My guess is that when Benazir Bhutto was the same age as Fatima Bhutto is today, Benazir Bhutto expressed the same idealism as Fatima. Benazir Bhutto’s transition from such youthful optimism to that as described in the Dalrymple article you referenced at an earlier thread apparently sums up the political trajectory of the Bhutto clan, at least to this point. To quote Dalrymple: “The sun is in the wrong direction, [Benzir] announced.”

Regardless, your life experiences are extraordinary and those from the West, at least those who can open up, perhaps can apply your insights to their own situation.


Medicine Man

Thank you for sharing your story, FB Ali. I hope Canada has treated you and your family well over the years.

FB Ali

WRC, Saeed, Sidney,

Appreciate your kind words. Sidney, I'm touched (and very pleased) that you still remember my essay on Islam.

Med Man

In answer to your question: Yes, Canada not only gave us all the good things it gives its citizens, old and new, it also provided me the opportunity to spend many years in worthwhile, fulfilling work.


General Ali...

I would like your opinion on how you see the Paki-Indian Cold War playing a role between the GOP/ISI and the support for the Taliban in Afghanistan?

It appears to me that this is one of the prime reasons why even today elements of the ISI are still supporting the Taliban.

I am also interested in knowing what your thoughts are on what is the best way for the USG to deal with the cross boarder issues in.

For example, given the fact that there is still ISI support to the Taliban. How much notice does the US give to the GOP prior to a crossing boarder " direct actions"? Not a the gathering of actionable intelligence operations but just direct actions.

FB Ali


The questions you raise require a detailed answer. Since these questions, and the assumptions underlying them, also exist in many minds, I will try and write a note on this subject for Col Lang.


General Ali

Thank you... I seriously believe that controlling the boarders especially the back door by both sides is critical. However I also believe that bedsides DOD walking all over itself the US DOS is dropping the ball (which is typical) on getting to the root cause of the Pakistani fears.

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