Much Western media attention has been devoted to the Saturday, 1 May, failed bombing attempt in New York’s Times Square.
As I wrote recently, had the bomb been set up by some ‘white Christian American-born American the story by now would be just a sheet of newspaper blowing around in the wind up the side streets of New York’. But because it was apparently set up by a Muslim Pakistani-American, the story has been used by the American anti-Islam propaganda machine to point the finger of blame to the Pakistan Taliban.
At first the US administration didn’t quite grasp the significant propaganda opportunity presented to them. At the time of the bomb scare the US top brass, including General David Petraeus, and the media was touting the Pakistani-American suspect as a wannabe terrorist and ‘lone wolf’ operator. It was also reported that the Pakistan Taliban has specifically denied any part in the failed bombing attempt.
Today, however, the US is pushing the line that the attempted bombing was a concerted and highly organised effort by the Pakistan Taliban to attack America. And, just to top it off, Bill Roggio, a neocon writer at the Weekly Standard is claiming that the Pakistan Taliban personally emailed him to tell him that they were responsible for the training of the suspect and setting up of the bombing attempt. Roggio makes no attempt whatsoever to explain why on earth the Pakistan Taliban, after having denied all knowledge of the bombing, would want to email, of all people, a nondescript neoconservative writer at the Weekly Standard to tell him that they were responsible.
The Murdoch press is also doing its bit to propagate the myth of a Pakistan Taliban connection to the bombing attempt by using the story to spin the notion of the Pakistan Taliban being an entity in its own right distinct from the Afghanistan Taliban. Sally Neighbour of Murdoch’s The Australian newspaper, Australia’s only nation-wide newspaper, tells readers:
While policy-makers in the US and Australia have adopted the buzzword "Af-Pak" to conflate the conflicts ravaging those countries, it is clear the insurgencies in Afghanistan and Pakistan, while inextricably bound together, must be treated as distinct.
This is something the US and Australia have been trying to do for at least 18 months now. It was then that an Australian First Assistant Secretary for International Policy told me that ‘Pakistan is going to become a big problem that the allies will need to deal with sometime’. All they need is an excuse to widen their war to include Pakistan. The bombing attempt in Times Square clearly is now being used as that excuse.
For Western governments it’s very easy to say, ‘intelligence agencies now have firm evidence…’ but then tells us that, for security reasons, they can’t actually show us the evidence; we’re simply expected to just take their word for it. And, of course, most people will go along with what the government tells them.
The US is paranoid that the Pakistan government will topple, together with its arsenal of nuclear weapons, into the hands of Islamic fundamentalists with close ties to the Taliban. The problem is American public opinion does not support any further American adventurism and, indeed, has lost interest in the war in Central Asia. As a result of this disinterest the administration is desperately trying to spin everything it can in order to renew public support for continued war in Afghanistan and expanded war in Pakistan. Hillary Clinton has even tried to say that Pakistani officials know where Osama bin Laden and Afghanistan Taliban leader Mullah Omar is.
For the Americans, securing Pakistan’s nuclear weapons arsenal is essential. However, they need to tread very carefully. The Taliban, especially in the north, enjoy the support generally of the Pakistan people; particularly when it comes to fighting Americans. US drone strikes against Pakistanis that have killed civilians have served only to alienate the Pakistani people further and has put pressure on the Pakistan government. American money and support for the Pakistan government is now really all that is keeping the government in power and on side with the US.
The US is anxious to get more boots on the ground in Pakistan though clearly Pakistan is not a country that could be invaded (even if the US had the capacity or the inclination to do so). The alternative is to get the Pakistan government to invite much larger numbers of ‘trainers’ and ‘advisors’ into the country. Already there are large numbers of private contractors there who are supposed to be there to protect those few advisors that are already there and other US diplomats and officials that are based in Pakistan.
Some of these private contractors it has been alleged have been used on ‘false flag’ missions inside Pakistan using car bombs in markets and other crowded public places to kill Pakistani civilians in order to alienate them from the Taliban. The Taliban have denied that they have deliberately set out to kill civilians though they have admitted to attacking police and military posts.
The US need to consolidate their position in Pakistan in order to ensure that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal remains secure and that a US-friendly government remains in power.
An opportunity that arises that may advance opportunities for the US administration to move forward with these aims and gain support from a disinterested and war-weary American public will be eagerly seized upon – and a Pakistan Taliban-inspired bomb in Times Square is just the sort of event that the administration could hope for to advance their plans.