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Much ado about Mattis

One would think that Donald Trump could have made the effort. After all, it wasn’t like he had anything better to do, having decided to skip a UN conference on migration. But no, he left it to his Secretary of Defence to come here to talk tough to us. Except that the latter didn’t. For those anticipating a showdown of sorts — it seems that the popcorn went to waste. Jim Mattis himself said that he wasn’t going to ‘prod’ the Pakistani government into going after the safe-havens that might or might not exist. He simply expected Pakistan to play ball. Unfortunately that wasn’t the message coming from the CIA. The agency’s director was possibly miffed that that it was Mattis and not he who had been named the American Person of the Year by a Financial Times columnist. For he took the caricature of the ‘bad cop’ too far. Thus he began barking, and loudly at that. If we dropped said ball, Washington would do everything it could to ensure that there would no longer be any militants for us to harbour.
So, what are we to make of this apparent disconnect?
Well, it could simply be a case of a bad Keystone Cops script; only more vocal. But we rather think that the US is playing a waiting game. Not for the long haul, mind you. Merely until next year’s elections are done and dusted. If, of course, we get that far. Meaning that Trump Town benefits the most from recent developments that saw the civilian set-up either forcibly or otherwise capitulate to the religious right-wing agenda. For this makes it just that much easier to persuade the American public that Pakistan is a rogue state in the hands of fundamentalists that can’t even agree on a singular religious doctrine. Thus we become a dehumanised nation; non-sentients posing a very real threat to US troops next door as well as the homeland itself. And even the Afghans, if anyone in the White House can be bothered to remember them. This all serves to justify a continued American military presence here in this region where China has been making inroads; pun intended.
And then what subsequently fades into the background are the important questions. Such as, what does “everything we can” actually mean? Certainly, there has long been talk of expanding the drone programme. Yet in the absence of a UNSC resolution or the consent of the Pakistani state — the US would surely have to prove that inaction on this front would directly impact its security. Which naturally brings up the issues of proportionality of response and abiding by international humanitarian law.



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