International Writers Magazine - Our Tenth Year: Reality Check
The Sins of Pakistan
How Sovereignty & Absinthe Will Defeat The Taliban Once &
A victory in the fight against terrorism is in fact a guarantee
for the security and protection of our coming generations.
- Pakistani Prime Minsiter Yusuf Raza Gilani
has been a dormant fifteen days since I emerged from the dark voodoo-drenched
tanks in the black heart of the French Quarter, where now instead of
begging the kitchen help for sweet absinthe, one can purchase a glass
over the bar for eighteen American, complete with a tourist-seducing
fire show. Traditionally, the French frown on such activities, but this
has never stopped me from blazing my own goodly share of sugarcane,
and as it turned out the lovely barkeep at the Old Absinthe House on
the Rue de Bourbon hailing from the suburbs "just north of Paris"
exhibited the right accent and deft of wrist to best apply the ice water
where needed. These flashpoints from hazy days lost in New Orleans may
appear random to the untrained eye, until one realizes from time to
time you need companionship when summoning the Green Fairy, and I have
been blessed over the years with many a hale and hearty volunteer, but
on this night it happened to be an Italian accountant from Brooklyn,
NY and a former member of the Israeli Defense Force by way of Manhattan.
The accountant had come less for the wormwood than the music, as did
my dearest brother-in-arms, Buzz and his engagingly erudite woman, both
of whom had stayed at the hotel after weird vibrations from deceased
authors took hold. This could not be properly explained then and I shall
respect this edict now. As for my new Israeli friend, he was happy to
discuss his mandatory "three-year duty" but was not as forthcoming
about the sordid details of the World's Finest Fighting Force, however
we both agreed on two very important points; the drink and the company
were pretty fine and the Pakistan Army will crush the Taliban and speedily
make nice what the U.S. military and its befuddled intelligentsia have
screwed royally in the deserts of Iraq. This, we also agreed, would
bring about serious and debilitating setbacks to the misguided clusterfuck
that represents the radical Islamic revolution against the Saudi Empire
and its benefactors, Uncle Sam.
This may be a lot to digest in two paragraphs, but there is no sane
way to quickly describe being half out of one's head on finely distilled
Roquette 1797 while confronting the kind of naked truths best kept hidden
from "normal" Bourbon Street revelers. Yes, my friend assured
me, the Pakistani Army would not only expunge the rag-tag revolutionary
horde from its Afghanistan border, but also "gut the entire operation"
-- again, I reminded him, a job we failed to accomplish seven long years
We agreed once more that after enjoying a three-to-one ratio of men
and ten-to-one in arms and cash, the highly motivated Pakistani forces
will win the day, but alas fail to find Osama bin Laden among the defeated,
for he has long been slain, dismembered and carefully planted along
the mountainous region to keep the terrible Western Devil from apprehending
him like a common criminal; de-liced on cable television and sent to
the gallows like his sworn enemy, Saddam Hussein. But they will find
hundreds of acres of poppy growth and chemical plants feeding the western
world its taste of the Brown Master or H or as the physicists call it,
diacetylmorphine. It is better known to the rest of us as Heroin.
While Pakistan hails the United States as its most cherished ally in
the pursuit of "radical militants", their enemy hails the
same country as one of its best customers. It is the export of heroin
that built the Taliban in the first place, not the oft-cited dedication
to the Qur'an or any half-baked Jihad or parades of virgins awaiting
the fallen in the afterlife. No, it's the glorious god poppy that has
put them on the map and sent them foolishly into battle with a nation
heretofore obsessed with the dangers of their Hindu neighbors in India.
Not surprising, our half-assed "dismantling" of the original
Taliban has reared its ugly head again, but not as surprising, even
with a new commander-in-chief aboard, is the U.S.'s critique of Pakistan
for "not being proactive enough in battling militants who are launching
attacks from a swath of tribal areas", despite, of course, the
$10 billion handed over to former U.S. puppet, Pervez Musharraf to dick
around like an Anglo-aristocrat for most of the last decade. Now he
is gone, under suspicion of conspiracy to murder and other formally
forgivable sins, as his successors are left to play the no-mercy IDF
game. Musharraf predictably claims this will "backfire", but
anyone on the ground with any real experience with desert fighters disagree.
I learned back on '96 to trust a member of the IDF when it came to not
fucking around. This is the credo I made clear to my contacts at the
Jerusalem Post in October of 2001 when I received several and varied
e-mails fingering Iraq as the "bankrolling of 9/11 and the single
most crucial target" in the terrorist vengeance jag we were all
going to be on for the next few years. And I assured my new friend that
not one of those journalists were from Texas, as he assured me that
when a nation is put on alert to a gang of religious marauders breathing
down its fractious democratic sovereignty, there is no use diddling
around with the vagaries of an "exit strategy".
Leave it up to the Big Bad White House Chess Club to deconstruct a country
defending its capitol and its nuclear arsenal. Leave it up to the Experienced
Intelligence Community in the District of Columbia to wonder how a trained
fighting force, familiar with the enemy -- since most of them were created
by the Pakistan government to combat the ever-present threat of neighboring
India -- can be properly motivated.
Just the same, New Orleans is far enough away from Washington and something
resembling reality to offer a more complete view of how things will
go now that people who have a real stake beyond oil and strategic allies
are in charge of this War On Terror. All one has to do is ask the statue
of Andrew Jackson set in a vast park at the north end of The Quarter,
a testament to what a motivated fighting unit can do when its cities
are on the brink.
It was, however, more than an epiphany to realize all of America's most
cherished goals for most of the 21st Century's first bloody decade has
centered on crushing this so-called al Qaeda by way of the Taliban,
somewhat sidetracked by the Iraq War and the gory circus hatched on
the Middle East. But we were stupid and naïve then, a tough combination
when dealing with Naked Truths, whether hyped up on a Euro liquid dream
stomper on a balmy Friday night by the mighty Mississippi or rolling
out field maps for the Pentagon Press.
Turns out Commander Bush had it right before 9/11; let the damned desert
people figure this thing out for themselves.
© James Campion May 22nd 2009
James Campion on Obama's first 100 days + Readers Responses
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