Pakistan flooding exposes our perverse priorities

At Foreign Policy, Colum Lynch writes:

Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi presented the U.N.’s members with a stark challenge: Help Pakistan recover from its most devastating natural disaster in modern history or run the risk of surrendering a key front in the war on terror.

“This disaster has hit us hard at a time, and in areas, where we are in the midst of fighting a war against extremists and terrorists,” Qureshi warned foreign delegates, including U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, at a U.N. donor’s conference on the Pakistani flood. “If we fail, it could undermine the hard won gains made by the government in our difficult and painful war against terrorism. We cannot allow this catastrophe to become an opportunity for the terrorists.”

Qureshi provided one of his darkest assessments to date of the political, economic and security costs of Pakistan’s floods, which have placed more than 20 million people in need of assistance, destroyed more than 900,000 homes and created financial losses of over $43 billion. “We are the people that the international community looks towards, as a bulwark against terrorism and extremism,” he said, adding that Pakistan “now looks towards the international community to show a similar determination and humanity in our hour of need.”

“[A] humanitarian disaster of monumental proportions,” says US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; renewed evidence of the devastating impact of global warming — but what’s the real danger? The threat that should worry all Americans? Terrorism.

This — the word “terrorism” — has become a mind-numbing drug that cuts us off from humanity and even the fate of the planet.

In a gesture presumably designed in part to pacify American fears, the Pakistani government announced today it will clamp down on the relief work of Islamist charities, even though they have responded to the crisis more effectively than the government itself. The move would seem likely to even further alienate a population that already feels abandoned by its own government.

Nathaniel Gronewold reports:

The death toll is much smaller than in past disasters: About 1,600 are believed dead so far. But experts say initial assessments show the scale of damage and human suffering left by torrential monsoon rains over the past three weeks dwarfs the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, 2005 Kashmir earthquake, 2008 Cyclone Nargis disaster in Burma, and Jan. 12 earthquake in Haiti — combined.

“What we face in Pakistan today is a natural calamity of unprecedented proportions,” Pakistan’s foreign minister, Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi, said during a special U.N. session to address the crisis, held here yesterday. “These are the worst monsoon floods in living memory.”

Debate is heating up over what caused the catastrophe, with experts pointing to deforestation, intensive land-use practices or mismanagement of the Indus River as possible causes. But top U.N. and Pakistani government officials are now clearly pointing to climate change as the principal culprit.

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4 thoughts on “Pakistan flooding exposes our perverse priorities

  1. Ian Arbuckle

    It is a shame so much reporting is slanted and dominated with an “American” perspective, which means, to me anyway, a complete lack of rational relationship to reality, a kind of “Alice in Wonderland” view with an Orwellian make-over.

    The empire as seen from Washington has nothing to do with what “is”, but only politically useful expediency at the time, mostly for local consumption, and even that view can be forgotten tomorrow as a new view will be “invented” as necessary, and as they look back they can re-write the views we held today…. Total flexibility, absolute madness.

    Be it 9/11, Terrorism, Al Qaeda, Taliban, Iraq withdrawal, Afghanistan stabilization, Global Climate Change, Middle East direct peace talks; it does not matter the subject you choose, everywhere you look the Washington view as mouthed either by Clinton, or Obama, or some spokesperson, or leaked or dictated to the media organs such as the New York Times or Washington Post by the “department of truth” comes out as complete and utterly fabricated fantasy spin with no meaning and no basis in actual reality. Up can be down, black can be white, freedom means war, justice means slavery. “The News” and “the views” are fed to conditioned American masses to encourage and reinforce their ignorance and prejudice.
    Of course climate change is connected to the deaths of thousands and the suffering of tens of millions in Pakistan today. Without any other social security system the principal method of redistribution of wealth and aid is through the system of Muslim charities. To hamper their activities is to interfere with the basic principle of Mohammedan society accounting for roughly a quarter of the world’s population.
    In America and its crony allies, of course the economic catastrophe that is in fact a fraud being perpetrated by a relatively few oligarchs, is being condoned and collaborated in by the government regimes they control.
    Of course the trillions of dollars that is fed to defence has nothing to do with any real threat, but is more to ensure that the crimes of the same previously mentioned oligarchs go unpunished… There is always enough loot to go around, except when it comes to real people.
    On Israel’s crimes against Palestine and its people, what a sham! Who is representing the Palestinians? Certainly not the pathetic puppet Abbas who’s mandate expired on January 9th 2009. When is this American farce coming to an end? It is more than pitiful. It is in fact a criminal conspiracy with the Zionists (fascists) and the American “one” party imperial regime (the fascists behind the curtain).
    Should anyone be surprised when declassified files from a Senate investigation into Israeli-funded covert public relations and lobbying activity in the United States were released by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) on July 23rd, 2010. The subpoenaed documents reveal Israel’s clandestine programs for “cultivation of editors,” the “stimulation and placement of suitable articles in the major consumer magazines” as well as U.S. reporting about sensitive subjects such as the Dimona nuclear weapons facility.

  2. Christopher Hoare

    Hillary and co. should be really worried. The lack of response from those the Pakistani government has courted as friends has been massive. This is as clear a proof for the people of Pakistan that these ‘friends’ only engage them for their own benefit, and to the enrichment of the ruling class.
    Shut down the aid from the Islamic charities? That’s a kick in the teeth, for which the blowback could be enormous. The Pakistani people may have no riches, but they have long memories.
    Obama’s New Orleans again? Call it the Marie Antoinette moment of America’s ‘Great Game’.

  3. Norman

    This is another of the bizarre doings in a nut case attitude that the U.S. seems to perpetuate in the so called war on terror. I wonder what the elite are going to do when they emerge from their “Fallout Shelters”, only to find that the World that they knew upon entering same, is no longer there? The ineptness of this administration concerning who & why is running the country boggles the mind. It appears that the Generals aren’t content for having screwed up in Vietnam, but that this time they are willing to destroy the Middle East/South Asia in one feel swoop. The tunnel vision mind set are willing to poison the world for their ego. How sad for mankind.

  4. pabelmont

    Its bad enough that we USers have this US empire and a mind-set that makes it a necessary thing (and beyond rational discussion), and thus makes necessary (and beyond rational discussion) all we do that bolsters the empire. All the military and espionage spending going on when we complain(with every evidence of honesty) about national debt, annual national deficit, etc. So, all appearances of irrationality. Or “the fix”. Or “on the take”.

    On top of this as an additional burden is the (never to be discussed) commitment to protect Israel in all its doings, however evil or illegal. even when this harms the US empire. (So we know the pecking order: Israel first, Empire second; USA third.)

    Democracy is premised on thought, discussion, implying a useful media (which USers do not have), rationality. How can there be democracy under this hevy, heavy overlay of irrationality.

    And then global warming, not to be seriously discussed because it would step on some powerful toes. Well, duh, of course it would, that’s the whole point. The industrial world must stand on its head to deal even with what can now (belatedly) be dealt with regarding GW. Seems it ain’t gonna happen. I mean the rational response. The GW is happening and the untoward events (possibly including Pakistani flooding) are gonna happen. Not even Obama can make the tides stand still. Perhaps the very interesting social invention of US democracy pans out to be a dinasaur which, by its failures, takes itself and much else down with it.

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