By Deirdre Griswold
Published Apr 24, 2011 10:25 PM
The U.S. is threatening to send troops to Pakistan if that country interferes with the CIA’s use of pilotless drones to launch missiles against villages in the north, says a retired Pakistani lieutenant general, Talat Masood. (New York Times, April 13)
When was the last time Congress declared war on another country? In 1941, some 70 years ago.
The U.S. Constitution, which all government officials swear to uphold, says explicitly that “Congress shall have power to declare war.” Not the president. Not anyone else.
Congress also supposedly has power over the purse strings — and wars cost a lot of money.
But since 1941 the U.S. has carried out thousands of military attacks on other countries. The decisions are made by the Pentagon, the State Department and the White House, then rubberstamped by Congress, which agrees to pay for them. Millions of U.S. troops have invaded other countries — Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan — and trillions of dollars have been spent on the military, with never a declaration of war.
In the current struggle over the budget, both Democrats and Republicans are ready to slash everything — except the military budget. The elephant in the room is that the huge transnational corporations that dominate this country demand a huge military that will protect their huge foreign investments.
Now U.S. imperialism has a new strategy that does not even involve boots on the ground — at least, not at first. The CIA sends small, silent drones to fly over a country’s territory and locate “targets” for missile strikes. Without warning, these planes drop high-power explosives from the sky on villagers.
The most recent attack, in which seven people were killed, was on April 13. It came two days after the head of Pakistan’s intelligence threatened to curtail the drone strikes and demanded more information on the CIA’s operations there.
Drone attacks have been killing Pakistanis for some time. Last year the U.S. authorized 117 of these attacks. It gives no accounting of the casualties. But on March 17 of this year a drone missile killed 39 people in a village in North Waziristan and wounded many others. The Pakistani government announced it would compensate the families of the dead — $3,530 for each person killed. (The Independent, Britain, March 26)
CIA agents operate inside Pakistan to develop “assets” who will give them information on what areas to target. One day before this deadly drone attack, the Pakistani government released Raymond Allen Davis after heavy U.S. pressure. Davis had earlier shot and killed two Pakistani men in broad daylight on a crowded street in Lahore. A U.S. Consulate car rushed to the scene to rescue him from Pakistani police. The car ran over and killed a Pakistani civilian as it careened through the streets.
When it came out that Davis worked for the CIA, the Pakistani people demanded he be tried for his crimes. But then came a full-court press from Washington, which claimed he had diplomatic immunity, and he was released.
All this has enraged the people of Pakistan, who have held countless protests over their government’s complicity with Washington. For years Pakistan was ruled by military dictators who got their weapons from the Pentagon. Now the government is headed by a civilian, but the generals still very much call the shots.
The U.S. wars in Iraq and neighboring Afghanistan have also been fueling popular anti-U.S. sentiment. Today the people of Pakistan are angry at both Washington and their own political-military establishment that collaborates with the imperialists while making a show of exerting some independence.
As U.S. imperialism pours more workers’ lives and dollars into attempting to control this vital region, it creates greater resistance. The wars will end only when the super-rich predators recognize defeat — something that the working class here can hasten by adding its muscle to the anti-war movement.