A neighbour to all By Sabbahuddin


International politics, they say, is about managing relations with neighbouring countries and of course onecannot choose one’s own neighbourhood. But the global politics gets complicated when we see that over period of time United States has become everyone’s neighbour. It has somehow become a compulsion for United States due to its leading role in international politics, due to emergence of new economic powers and increasing relevance of energy rich Middle East.

However being a neighbour to everybody is not easy as some times Washington has to do things that go beyond comprehension of regional political analysts and even average American citizens. Let’s see a brief story we all know. When situation developed in Iraq, pentagon was too slow to move for the support of Noorul Maliki’s Iranian backed government which allowed Daesh or ISIS to ravage Iraq.

In the same go it allowed Daesh and Free Syrian Army to cut Iranian backed Bashar to size. That is why Donald Trump blames Obama for a being a founding father to ISIS. Similarly, Americans remained softand even agreed not to de-seat Bashar on heinous war-crimes and use of chemical weapons against civilians. This disturbed and dismayed the Saudis. In yet another somersault, United States went for normalizing relations with Iran, while unfreezing its tens of billions of dollars installed in American banks since times of pro-US government of Raza Shah Pehlavi.

In the same go US army while evacuating from Yemen tactfully left its military hardware that it was using against Al-Qaida. This equipment fell the hands of Iranian backed Houthis. The list of such decisions goes long and perplexing. Definitely, dealing with different neighbourscertainly confuses even policy makers in Washington.

Another declared purpose of United Statespresence world over was to ‘stop communism or lately terrorism from reaching US mainland. Sometimes United States never had to go in physically. For instance in early eighties, when Negro Ponte was appointed ambassador in Honduras by Reagan administration, communists were getting popular in the country. After Cuba in the neighbourhood United States suspected that Honduras was most likely to fall in Soviet bloc.

Thus White House made a plan and instead of direct intervention pitched Hondurasmilitary against its own people. There was a long list of missing persons and the judicial system was paralyzed. In March 2005, New York Times reported that master-mind behind the civil war in Honduras was Negro Ponte. It was never a surprise for people of Honduras as they knew it already. Thus invasion of Afghanistan or Iraq for United States simply meant entering the areas where its interests were vulnerable. Since the spectrum of strategic objectives for Washington always remained wide and unspecific thus we saw that White House was never in a rush to eradicate boiled-up situationsand finishing of issues in their host territories.

Most of the time the human catastrophes followed the US landings particularly in the Middle East. To stay relevant other international and regional stakeholders did not stay away. Russian,Iranian, Turkey, Saudis and everyone who wanted a role followed the United States. On the other side countries like Pakistan, India and China remained apprehensive thousands of miles away from the theatre, worrying about their backyards where proxies committed to major players were active.

For majority of Pakistanis living on the streets, United States is a favourite country for debate and discussion. While not much less is discussed on main stream media but Trump, Washington and United States remain popular for less educated freelance analystsin city barbershops and village tea stalls. People sitting for hours in leisureexpress fervently that who else can understand United States better than Pakistan. They talk about the US-U2 planes were taking-off from Pakistan’s airstrips on espionage missions to Soviet airspace, and Bad airbase in Khyber Pakhtoon Khawa was marked by Soviets when they finally shot down the US plane and captured its pilots.

Is America suffering from a leadership crisis; or, ‘To appear dull or incapacitated’ is a policy in itself, for Churchill said, ‘truth is so sacred that it has to be kept hidden behind high walls of lies’. If it is deception then what are the ends it is pursuing?

Then they speak about the American aircraft-career in 1971 which never reached while Pakistan lost a limb. Someone will also add the story that how United States handed a lollypop to Musharaf and signed civil nuclear deal with India in 2008. Such a debate may go for hours discussing Denial Pear to Raymond Davis, but these people dispersewith a unanimous conclusion that if you are friends with United States, then you do not need an enemy.

Lately however, USA has behaved like a retiring power; though every now and then it goes back to its arrogant power-syndrome-activate mode, largely it has shown inaction or little than the expected, in international crisis. Libyan destabilization, Bashar’s chemical weapons, and North Korea’s missile test are instances, to name a few, when USA’s foreign policy remained demanding of actions that practically were short of its stature.

Rescuing media termed Obama as ‘the reluctant President’ and echoed Trump’s slogan of ‘America First’ but this hardly covers up for its largely sloth-like and fragmented actions. It can only be attributed to a lack of holistic policy in international issues. One wonders, is America suffering from a leadership crisis; or, ‘To appear dull or incapacitated’ is a policy in itself, for Churchill said, ‘truth is so sacred that it has to be kept hidden behind high walls of lies’. If it is deception then what are the ends it is pursuing?

United States is now rolling its sleeves to sort out Iran. Washington carries enough military hardware to get engaged in an advanced warfare yet playing naïve politically. Trump ran for the office chanting the slogans of ‘withdrawal’ and ‘America First’ but now he is preparing for another war. Fordiplomats in Islamabad to the children playing downtown in Chak-4 L in Okara, everyone knows the principle, ‘if you offer your back – everyone will ride’. This would not be the only time when someone wants our back to ride on. While United States should find ways to constructively deal with its neighbours, Islamabad must not allow anybody to take advantage of our weaknesses and economic vulnerability to coerce us into a conflagration that may continue to affect us as a nation for decades to come.

The writer is a versatile analyst and a speaker on contemporary issues