William Pfaff has the low-down on the empire burlesque going on in Barack Obama’s "Af-Pak" war. The whole piece is well worth reading, but below are a few highlights, including the pearl of wisdom in the first sentence:

The problem with U.S.-sponsored elections in Asia and elsewhere in the non-Western world, as in Afghanistan Aug. 20, is that they are sponsored by the United States primarily to legitimize its own presence in the country.

This is a truth so self-evident that it should not even have to be said; yet such is the impenetrable ignorance and arrogance of the American political class (including most emphatically the corporate media) that it needs to be loudly shouted in every available media, for hours on end, day after day, in the wan hope that it might finally get through to our leaders and "opinion-formers."

And what is the fruit of Obama’s "continuity" and expansion of the policy of his imperial predecessors? Back to Pfaff:

The new administration’s under secretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs, Judith A. McHale, met a group of Pakistani journalists, including Ansar Abbasi, an important commentator critical of U.S. policy. She spoke warmly of U.S.-Pakistani relations, and Abbasi politely listened, thanking her for coming. He then, according to McHale afterward, said, "You should know that we hate all Americans. From the bottom of our souls, we hate you."

Under Secretary McHale also reported that Abbasi went on to explain that Americans "are no longer human beings because (their) goal was to eliminate other humans." He said that "thousands of innocent people had been killed because (Americans) are trying to find Osama bin Laden."

While Abbasi’s reading of Pakistani sentiment might be accurate, he is of course incorrect in his final observation. Of all the many reasons why Americans are killing thousands of innocent people, "trying to find Osama bin Laden" is not one of them. Does anyone believe that if Osama bin Laden was found tomorrow — dead or alive — the Terror War would suddenly stop? The Terror Warriors long ago gave up even the pretense that the war in Afghanistan is about "getting" bin Laden. We hear different justifications for the continued churning of the war machine practically every day. As Pfaff notes, the new line, apparently, is that we are killing thousands of innocent people — and losing handfuls of our own soldiers every month — in order to build a public health system in Afghanistan and help provide more business opportunities for Pakistanis.

This is the line now being trotted out by Obama’s hand-picked high poobah of Af-Pak affairs, Richard Holbrooke. As Pfaff notes:

Holbrooke … told an audience in Karachi that the U.S. under President Obama wants to see an improvement in the lives of Pakistanis, and more business opportunities for them as well….

Twelve days earlier, in Washington, Holbrooke had held another press conference, accompanied by many from his team in Pakistan. The purpose was to explain to the American television audience that the mission in Afghanistan is to kill or capture drug traffickers, help farmers grow food instead of poppies, build a public health system, build "civil society" there, and in general rebuild the country.

What’s more, Holbrooke seems to think that our drone missiles, our military bases and our bombings of weddings and funerals are all integral parts of a Muslim Reformation:

Ambassador Holbrooke expressed the ambition to add a spiritual dimension to his efforts in the region. He said the religiously motivated enemies of the American presence in Asia "present themselves as false messengers of a prophet, which is what they do. And we need to combat it." (Surely he has his theology badly confused?)

But of course the reason why Holbrooke’s "theology" is confused here is because he is not trying to make actual sense with his words. He — like his boss, and all the other servants of Ares in the American elite –is merely making vaguely agreeable noises to obfuscate the blood-and-iron reality of empire in action. They want loot, power, and obedience — but they can’t come out and say it. And so we will continue to hear, from Republican and Democrat, from conservative and progressive, lie after lie after lie about "building" freedom and democracy and rights and law and prosperity and security by "killing thousands of innocent people" in broken and volatile lands.

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