One hears it everywhere. It is inevitable that the draft is going to come back. Across the political spectrum, the clamor for more military personnel grows as America's commitments around the world broaden and deepen. And the reason for this is that George Tenet and Donald Rumsfeld have missed everything and now find the need to put more Americans in the line of fire to make up for their blunders, as the invasion of Iraq looms on the horizon.
On June 26, Al Qaeda fighters, with the assistance of Pakistani tribesmen, killed ten Pakistani soldiers in western Pakistan, opening up what is now the most serious front in the world. Al Qaeda outsmarted Tenet and Rumsfeld by slipping many of its troops into Pakistan, while forcing the United States to commit thousands of its troops in Afghanistan, necessitating a draft to keep the global war going. Osama bin Laden, if he is still alive, or his top aides, know this will eventually not wash with the American public and that there will be a backlash. The still-affluent Americans, whose main concern is where their sons and daughters will go to college, will start to become vocal once Trevor and Courtney will be destined, not to Duke or Dartmouth, but to a jungle in the Philippines.
What Al Qaeda is plotting is the overthrow of Musharraf in Pakistan, where anti-American sentiment is boiling over and where it has serious allies amongst the Islamic Pakistani generals and the SIS, the Pakistani intelligence service. If they can pull this off, they will have free reign in Pakistan, hardly the same thing as Afghanistan. They will have control over nuclear weapons and a gigantic, well-equipped army, air force, and submarine fleet. From this vantage point, they can take Saudi Arabia, and it will be checkmate. This was the old Soviet strategy it was never able to implement. How ironic if a bunch of terrorists who were created under the watchful eye of the CIA to defeat the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, pulls it off now! If Al Qaeda succeeds in taking Pakistan, India will have to invade, making nuclear war a distinct possibility. In such a scenario, India, with a huge Moslem population, will disintegrate, with Kashmir and other provinces seceding in rebellion.
Bush fell into the trap with his demand that the Palestinians oust Arafat, announcing that he will withhold aid unless they follow his orders. It is precisely what Al Qaeda wanted to hear. "The only emperor is the emperor of ice cream," American poet Wallace Stevens wrote prophetically, envisioning a time when America, led by someone like Bush, would rule the world. Bush is now "the emperor of ice cream," and he is melting down. As the stock market plunges with each new disclosure of fraud and corruption in the private sector and the federal government paralyzed with GPI (General Paralysis of the Insane), Americans may finally wake up to reality. The libertarian message is "What is our interest in all of this?" Who was it that said, "Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel?"
June 28, 2002
Richard Cummings [send him mail] is a member of AFIO (Association of Former Intelligence Officers) and served with the Office of General Counsel, U.S.A.I.D., Near East South Asia region, with responsibility for the legal affairs of the AID program in Israel, Jordan, Pakistan and Afghanistan. A graduate of Princeton and Columbia Law School, he holds the Ph.D. in Social and Political Sciences from Cambridge University and is the author of the forthcoming novel, The Immortalists.