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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

On Pakistan: A Rerun with an Update

Almost three years ago, I posted the piece that I have copied below--it was on May 5, 2011, to be exact. I wrote it in the wake of the Osama take-down and my concerns about Western intel capabilities and the role that Pakistan played in hiding that mass murderer. A couple of days ago,  a reader asked for my views on some recent lit that argues that Afghanistan was the "wrong" war and that the real war should be with Pakistan.

As you can see in the May 2011 piece below, I touched on that, noting the highly conflicted relationship we have had with Pakistan. Let me add a bit to that, and then return to the issue of the "wrong war."

India has viewed the West, and the US, in particular, as the protectors of Pakistan. As is the usual case when Indians tell their own history, they blame foreigners for much, if not most, if not all the misfortune, real and imagined, that has befallen India before and since independence. You will meet very intelligent and well-educated Indians who tell you that the British (and later the Americans) used "divide and conquer" when dealing with India. They conveniently forget, of course, that India is a British invention; there was no unified sub-continent when the British arrived. It was the British who united India and gave it whatever collective consciousness it has. The British did not invent the communal riots-cum-warfare that have swept through India since way before Hartza was a pup. The British did not introduce the dozens and dozens of languages, the many religions, and the myriad, great, colorful and very diverse cultures that characterize and divide the subcontinent.

The British bequeathed India much of what is good about India's politics and economic infrastructure. India's politicians, however, squandered much of that inheritance. The British left behind a highly educated elite that, unfortunately, proved much better at divide and conquer politics than the British, to say the least. The splitting of the subcontinent into India and Pakistan was the work of that elite; the horrendous ethnic violence that followed the British departure and the carving away of Pakistan cannot be blamed on the British, the West, or the Man in the Moon. That was the handiwork of the elites, in particular the horrendous Nehru and the somewhat less horrendous but still divisive Mohammed Ali Jinnah.

Nehru and his clan decided to take India in a direction away from the West and strike up friendships with all manner of leftist dictatorships, helping found the anti-US G-77 ("Third World") movement. They never really resigned themselves to the existence of Pakistan and, in essence, decided to make the poor and even more horribly misgoverned Pakistan's life hell. Pakistan was forced to exist with the constant threat from India that it could be terminated at any moment. This helped push Pakistan first towards the West, joining in military agreements with the United States including allowing US military facilities aimed at the USSR; then later, Pakistan tilted towards China, India's great Asian rival. India, in particular under the reign of Nehru's daughter Indira Ghandi, became very close to the USSR, and enjoyed trying to frustrate US objectives wherever and whenever possible. Under Indira, for example, the Indians would not condemn the Soviet invasion of  Czechoslovakia nor years later of Afghanistan. India was very opposed to US efforts to work with Pakistan in support of the anti-Soviet resistance in Afghanistan.

Now to the issue of the "wrong" war. As I state below, we did the right thing by working with Pakistan and the Afghan resistance to expel the USSR from Afghanistan. Once the USSR collapsed, we did what we always seem to do after major victories, we assumed that "history had ended," and could reap the "peace dividend" without fear. Well, of course, Afghanistan quickly fell apart, and the more ruthless radical jihadis, i.e., the Taliban, soon had the country in their grip. I mention below that the Taliban was a creation of the Pakistanis who, operating under the growing influence of Islamists largely funded by the Saudis, also played a role in helping AQ set up shop in Afghanistan.

Throughout the "war on terror" the Pakistanis have played at best an ambivalent game, and usually a duplicitous one. Pakistan's government is a badly splintered one; when I served there, one was never sure with whom one was speaking and making a deal--and it has gotten worse. So, yes, Pakistan is an "enemy" to the extent that their heart is not in the WOT, but it is an enemy with grave divisions and factions that want certain other factions killed or otherwise neutralized. The Pakistani military, for example, as a rule, still relatively jihadi free, does not, despite public statements to the contrary, really object to our drone attacks on militants in the tribal areas. There are wheels within wheels within Matryoska dolls within Matryoska dolls. So, again, for example, one can never be sure what side the powerful ISI (Pakistan's intel service) is on any given day.

By invading Afghanistan in the wake of 9/11, we did the right thing. Taking out the Taliban and the AQ had a powerful impact upon jihadis around the world. They never expected that the US would dare launch an invasion of Afghanistan, that it would be mounted so quickly, and carried out so efficiently. It was a stunner.

Some would argue that we would have done better to invade Pakistan. Much messier objective, and it would not have satisfied what we needed right away, to wit, to knock out AQ's base in Afghanistan and punish its Taliban hosts. If, furthermore, we are going to worry about fighting the wrong war, then we should probably also be talking about invading Saudi Arabia, which is in many ways a much greater threat to the US and the West than is Pakistan. Are we going to do that? Doubt it very much. As I have said many, many times, our secret weapon for dealing with the jihadis is our vast energy reserves. If we frack and drill, go nuclear, dig coal, and just stop putting impediments in the way of our energy independence, much of the money-generated steam will go out of jihadi efforts.

Anyhow, here is what I wrote three years ago. I think it still holds up OK.

May 5, 2011
Pakistani Perfidy and Western Incompetence in the Hunt for Osama
In the long ago 1980s, I spent several years working on Pakistani issues. I lived for two years in Islamabad and Peshawar, travelled all over the country, including in many areas now off-limits, and spent another two years working on Pakistan in Washington and returning frequently there. Those were the Reagan years, and we were working closely (sort of) with the Zia ul-Haq government to push the Soviets out of Afghanistan (more on that below.)

Pakistan is a strange country with a strange history.  It is a rump piece, a backwater of the great Indian Hindu civilization, and is wracked by any number of complexes and pathologies. It is a Muslim state founded by one of the most non-Islamic people ever, Muhammed Ali Jinnah, who only reluctantly came to the conclusion that Pakistan should be created. Most of his life he had argued for keeping the Muslims of India within a democratic India.  He was intelligent and good looking; dressed well; was not religious; spoke beautiful English; and was more at home in the salons of the well-to-do and educated than he was with the street rabble. He was never clear whether his vision for Pakistan was as a secular or a religious state, and that debate over his intentions still rages in Pakistan with a lot of historical revision undertaken to show the second. A heavy smoker, and, reportedly, a man who liked his Scotch, he died very soon after the creation of Pakistan. He therefore, never saw the country's subsequent humiliations and defeats. The carving away of Bangladesh, gave the lie to the creation myth of Pakistan as THE homeland of the subcontinent's Muslims, as did the fact that India continued to host one of the world's largest Muslim communities. We should note that more Muslims live in India than in either Pakistan or Bangladesh, and do not seem in a hurry to move to either of those "homelands."

Pakistan is and always has been a mess. It is held together just barely by two forces: the military, and hatred of India. Punjabis, Sindhis, Baluchis, Pashtos have little in common except religion, and there are even differences there. The Pakistanis, especially in recent years as Saudi influence has grown, have tended to  oppress non-Sunnis, and to institute a copy of Saudi-type Islamic rule. Things have gotten progressively tougher for intellectuals, artists, writers, and women in Pakistan, as well as for Christians, Ahmadis, and Shias (although the Ismaili followers of the wealthy Aga Khan have bought themselves some respite from persecution--money does wonderful things in Pakistan).  Most other religious groups have long been driven out, or firmly underground in Pakistan.  It is not a democratic country; democratic values run very thin and weak, and even then only among a handful of mostly Western educated elites--many of whom see "democracy" as a great way to get very rich by buying and selling votes, favors, parliamentary majorities, etc. The late Benazir Bhutto, whom I knew quite well, and her extraordinarily corrupt husband, now President of Pakistan, shine as classic examples of that sort of "democratic"elite so beloved by the West.

Pakistan is a weak, resentful state, very envious of the success of India, especially since India freed itself of the horrendous Nehru clan, in particular that evil, murdering, pro-Soviet Indira Gandhi. Islam has done nothing positive for Pakistan. Under Zia ul-Haq, later assassinated along with the US Ambassador, the country became more and more Islamized, became progressively crazier and, frankly, stupider and stupider. It was Pakistan's intelligence service, the corrupt and faction-ridden Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) outfit, working with the Saudis that created the Taliban and, eventually, al Qaida. It was not the CIA, the United States, or Great Britain. That the USA and the UK created those operations is one of those little stories put out by the left and certain others to try to discredit our current efforts against the Taliban and AQ. It was the Pakistanis and the Saudis, not the US and the UK, who created the Taliban and AQ.

I worked in Pakistan at the height of the relationship between the US and Pakistan. Even then, however, we knew not to trust them too much.  Zia, after all, did nothing to protect the US Embassy when it was attacked by a mob in 1979, following false local press reports of a US-Israeli attack on Mecca. That mob burned the Embassy, and killed four embassy employees, including a young Marine guard shot in the head by a sniper.

We knew they were double dealing us on the Afghans. We would insist they not support certain groups, they would promise, but then do so anyhow. They also played games with the Iranians, and we knew they were lying about their nuclear program. We reluctantly went along, as you often have to do in the real world, because we had the theory of defeating "one enemy at a time." We, too, did things that we did not tell them about. We were on a mission to destroy the Soviet Union, which at that time, and rightly so, was seen as the major threat to the United States, including to our homeland.  That mission succeeded, and I still think we did the right thing by focussing on that mission.  I am proud of the very small role I played in helping bring about that defeat.

Every victory, of course, brings consequences which successors must handle. The defeats of Germany and Japan were the right things to do, although those then opened opportunities for the Soviet Union and later Communist China.  Our defeating Iraq in two wars benefitted Iran, but that doesn't mean it wasn't right to defeat Iraq.

Anyhow, bottom line, don't trust Pakistan. That government is ridden with factions, corrupt beyond belief, full of liars, and of people out for themselves and their families, not for the "country." Did Pakistan know that Osama had his man-cave in Abbottabad? I am sure parts of Pakistan's government did; almost certainly some officials were bought and paid for.  I have been to Abbottabad many times in the past.  It is inconceivable that a sprawling compound could go up in this sleepy and quaint town, without questions asked by Pakistani military, police, or intelligence services, or even by local politicians out to get some Baksheesh from an obviously rich potential benefactor who had just moved into town.

This episode, sadly, also raises some embarrassing questions which I have not read or heard asked about the West's intel services. When I worked in Pakistan, and this was well before high-tech drones, Google, and all the rest of that stuff, somebody with our Embassy, or with our friends at the neighboring British High Commission, would have commented on this compound, and undertaken an effort to find out who lived there, how it was being paid for, etc.

Since 9/11/2001, we have undertaken a multi-billion dollar manhunt for Osama, a hunt that focussed largely on Pakistan. It never occurred to anybody that he or some other very big fish might be in that complex? Had we become so enamored of the "he is living in a cave in the mountains" scenario that we couldn't conceive that this rich, spoiled, cowardly, and not very healthy man might be living in relative comfort somewhere more, shall we say, urbane? I hope I am wrong, and that the true history of the effort will show that somebody on our side asked about that compound. I am afraid, however, that this episode just shows how degraded we have let our intel services become, and, most notably, the poverty of our HUMINT capabilities.  That degradation is understandable coming as it does after decades of attacks, mostly by the Democrats, on our covert capabilities.  If the bad guy doesn't have a cellphone or internet we don't know who he is or what he is doing? That is a lesson our enemies, I am sure, have noticed, and that is not cheerful news.


  1. 17 February 2009



  2. And if we had gone to war with Pakistan, India would have been the first and most outspoken to condemn us!

    1. India did itself no favors trying to split the difference between the USA and the USSR. They still seem bi-polar in their dangerous corner of the world.

    2. On the other hand, whitewall, allying with the US these days is not exactly a good proposition. wonder how secure the Baltics are feeling now? Japan? Developing their own nukes and military. Is there an ally that we're not willing to throw under the bus? Oh right. We stand by the right of Assad to gas his own people. Venezuelan dictators to kill protesters. Iranian mullahs to develop nukes with no real consequences. Eureka! India should become a left-wing dictatorship and thereby guarantee support from the US!

    3. @Anon,

      Borrowing from Diplomad's prose - and paraphrasing re India (in the main)

      Being a duplicitous country in a duplicitous neighborhood is called, just fitting in.

      [And leaving this sub-thread for the moment - my intent by posting that initial link was not intended as taking anything away from Diplomad's post rather, my intent was simply to call attention to "*everyone knew Osama wasn't hiding in any damn cave." --- Indeed, everything Dip wrote as prologue to the 2011 post is spot on & the 2011 post certainly does "hold up" extremely well.]

      I'll not be re-posting links from the previous post nor will I be re-posting links from way back posts - everybody has the same access to Search Engines I do and besides, everybody is usually more satisfied - generally speaking - with their own research over some 'anonymous apparent hillbilly' who only signs Arkie at the end of his comments.

      "Allying with the US these days is not exactly a good proposition."

      Maybe. But what alternative?

      "How secure are the Baltics feeling?"

      I can't know of course but my guess is ... with the V-4 neighboring, better than most media "experts" would have us believe.


      My bet there is Japan noticed the same thing I did (the hunt for MH370) when the Chinese ship had to negotiate/petition the Australians for access to a port in order to replenish supplies and fuel for an extended mission. That exposed a notable weakness.

      "How" you might ask?

      It's obvious China lacks international sea treaties but more crucially, underway replenishment capabilities ie, auxiliaries.

      Example - 1979 CV-63 WesPac deployment. The US carrier Kitty Hawk battle group was very nearly at its rotation end with the 63 in PI scheduled to be back at Coronado in time for Christmas.

      The Iranian Embassy Thing.

      Within days the battle group was on station in the Persian Gulf, its deployment extended - having met up with the USS Midway battle group. And importantly - CV63 being conventional, coupled with the not unremarkable 5000+ ship's complement - managed to remain at sea without a single port call for 180 days.

      I'm certain Japan recognized the significance of China not being able to have a ship deployed constantly for even 30 contiguous days.

      "Assad gas his own people?"

      There is some debate (though we in the US won't know of it via our media) as to "who exactly" was responsible for - at least - the sarin attack. (The more recent "apparent" chlorine attack responsibility seems more readily assignable).

      "The Iranian mullahs develop nukes with no real consequences?"

      The US - might not but - Israel will deliver some consequences.


    4. Anon @11:39, I will grant you allying with the USA of Obama can be problematic and maybe deadly. But in the days of the USSR, the choice should have been clear. India has a devil on its west and a bigger one to its north. They need to be discerning.

  3. Mr. Mad
    The last two paragraphs of your original post and the last of your update are outstanding and cannot be over emphasized! The ghosts of the Cold War still walk among us.

  4. Excellent stuff, as usual Sir Mad.

    I don't think, however, that anyone is necessarily suggesting that the U.S. should have gone to war against Pakistan in lieu of A-stan. At least not *directly* and not *overtly.* But Gull's book, "The Wrong Enemy," certainly suggests that the U.S. (from 2001 through the present day) did little or nothing to counteract the obvious work of the ISI in providing protection, support and direction to the Afghan insurgency.

    So, rather than imagine a full-scale invasion across the Durand Line into the tribal areas (and presumably beyond that as the jihadis retreated further into Pakistan), would it not have been possible to fight fire with fire, so to speak? If the ISI is going to train, fund and direct waves of jihadis against U.S. forces in A-stan only to hear the Pak government deny any such knowledge of this activity, what would stop the CIA from training, funding and directing (deniably of course) Boloch separatist groups? Or hunter-killer teams to take out jihadi leaders in the tribal areas (that Pakistan says is ungovernable anyway)? That missile strike that wiped out the jihadi camp? Huh. Don't know anything about that. But say, Pakistan, why is there a jihadi camp in your sovereign territory anyway? And, oh, by the way, we're having an awfully hard time getting foreign aid or military aid for Pakistan through Congress this year because of all the reports that the ISI is training the enemy to kill Americans. Don't think we'll be able to provide it this year unless we see that support for the jihadis dry up. Oh, Mr. Musharraf. We heard some disturbing rumors that a coup is brewing against you. It would be a shame if something happened to you like that. We *might* be able to help you with that if you got rid of certain ISI people we hear are training jihadis.

    And so it goes. If there is one truth in this world it is that people will do anything for the right amount of money. Pakistan isn't the only one who can buy themselves a proxy army. Once the U.S. gives up its insane notion of Instant Democracy in A-stan, it is well within our budget and capacity to buy ourselves some warlords in the Pashtun areas who hate the Taliban more than we do and, with the proper funding and weapons (and maybe an occasional AC-130 helping hand), make sure that the jihadis get the same kind of dead that they got in November 2001.

    One also thinks of the buffer that Israel created for over a decade in southern Lebanon to insulate itself from Hezbollah attacks. The southern Lebanese militias did a credible job keeping Hezb out so long as they were backed with Israeli funding and occasional military muscle. The disaster that has unfolded after Israel gave up that buffer zone is a clear lesson in just how effective that buffer had been.

    And all of this is to say nothing of the discussions that should have been occurring in the Bush and Obama admins about the morality of fighting a war that cannot possibly be won when we allow the insurgents unmolested sanctuary. I thought we had learned that lesson from Vietnam. Apparently not. I would have expected, at the very least, that U.S. military commanders, faced with the prospect of sacrificing the men under their command to useless slaughter in this no-win strategy, would resign in protest rather than allow it to continue.

    Has the U.S. government known that Pakistan is duplicitous and not to be trusted? Undoubtedly. But how has that affected, in any tangible way whatsoever, our tactics and strategy in A-stan? Not at all from what I can tell. And that's a severe indictment of our leadership in this once-great country.

    1. There is a lot of truth in what you say. I, unfortunately, am still constrained in what I can say specifically about some of the points you raise. We, however, did not trust the Pakistanis, and well aware of their double dealing. We often countered it in ways I cannot describe here. I have serious doubts about this misadministration's handling of Afghanistan and I assume hat as soon as we pull out, the whole thing will fall apart again.

    2. If I may Sir, and I too am constrained ... "just differently" ... but then, my children are all grown and independent and situationally I'm only able to be owned by a dog vicariously through you Sir (thank you very much).

      "One also thinks of the buffer that Israel created for over a decade in southern Lebanon to insulate itself from Hezbollah attacks."

      "We" (US) "allowed foreign investment" [by not-ISAF participating countries] thus China purchased a big bunch of Afghanistan mineral deposits [Aynak for instance] & India invested heavily on infrastructure, "compacted roads" [meaning something more akin to Autobahn compared to Ike's US Interstate roadbed construction & it should be apparent to anybody with three brain-cells minimum, Ike's as conceived, US Interstate Highway System was in part a "jobs program."

      But Afghanistan Geology can not in any meaningful way be compared to for instance, either the Geology of the US proper or Germany. And it's far far more tectonically speaking, active.

      *Earlier comment I placed, "I'll not be re-posting links from the previous post" - I've reconsidered:


      Up to now (or more properly speaking) US withdrawal from Afghanistan, China's mineral acquisitions and India's infrastructure investments were totally dependent on ... US provided Security. At US and/or ISAF [but mostly US] expense.

      I've got a major thunderstorm-front rolling in presently so I'm gonna have to go short.

      Anyway "if we [the US]" pull out - as seems likely at present, China and India at least will be faced with a quandary "we've" [US] allowed them a pass on that being, avoiding direct face-to-face stuff with the Taliban and Taliban-Like Natives.

      It's very complicated but I at least am confident, despite Victoria Nuland et al (Cheney's Outfit) "Like-Minded Diplomads" were ,er, Operating.

      And y'all who would give me that "It's the Jews caused the problems" shit, I'm Presbyterian.

      Po po tweet.


    3. Arkie, you're really Presbyterian? Me too!

    4. Yes Kepha, Presbyterian. Apologies (if necessary) for anyt ... well "some" things I may've typed previously.

      Well now I think on it - I took an oath. My Presbyterian faith is just me. The other stuff I consider (mostly) superfluous and generally speaking, extraneous.

      I am - given to understand to be - a "real" prick. But I'd submit were that accusation to be true I coulda been a star.

      Obviously I'm not otherwise ... I'd never been a visitor on this, Diplomad's blog.

      (Well that and ... the porno girls measured my weenie.

      Apparently I didn't meet the "Expected Bill Clinton of Arkansas Standard"

      Be that as it may.)

      It worked well enough for my happiness & enjoyment but then, I am Presbyterian.


    5. Oh no, an out break of Presbyterians, as a loyal practicing lapsed Catholic I retreat into a cloud of incense!
      James the Lesser

    6. Yup, for what it's worth, add me to, Baptised as such. Might as well chime in on this public confessional-heh. 'Course I don't scribe to everything Presby, Arkie and the boyz (Whitehall, James, Kepha, etc.)

      And for what it's worth, I found Dip's comments very illuminating, seemingly correct, albeit frustrating reality.

    7. Ganging up on me eh! Well be warned I have trained at the Father Guido Sarducci Center, and I am an expert at close quarters holy water defense.
      James the Lesser

    8. Nah James, I'm gonna provide you an omnidirectional escape route. After that you'll be on your own. (Unless you know where Arkansas is.)

      Well then:


      & even though it's 60 Minutes below, don't turn it off:


      & Why is the US broke?


    9. Nice looking plane, but I would really be interested in it's avionics.
      James the Lesser

    10. Check James how the F-35s avionics package is working.

      A good site is, The Dewline & there's some et ceteras.


    11. Arkie,
      Interesting. The on going controversy of the F-35 programs reminds me somewhat of the M-1 and M-2 develop programs during the 70s and 80s. You heard almost the exact same claims (too expensive, doesn't work, death trap, etc) from almost the same places. Then "Desert Storm" happened and nary a word since. Who knows if the comparison is valid?
      I do have this very strong feeling we are the edge of a "great" change in how warfare is to be conducted, but I seriously doubt anyone really knows very much in what way.
      I think in the next medium level to large conflict we'd better ready for a CSS Virginia to sail out of the mist.

    12. Another Presbyterian here--but in my case (a) by choice, and (b) barely hanging on and wondering how long I can keep on, given the current clown show that is the PCUSA.

  5. Well, the Bundy guy and his genuinely racist comments has really given up whatever he was perceived to have won against the feds in that weird "showdown like" confrontation in Nevada.

    - reader #1482

    1. Off topic we are, I know, but on Bundy - even if he is a complete whack-job, the feds STILL own WAY TOO MUCH of the people's land. We need to keep the focus on that because the statists are sure as heck going to focus on his comments.


    2. Isn't it interesting that for liberals, there is no such thing as addressing the merits of an issue. It is always and only about political correctness. that is why they always go for personal destruction. In their mind, if they can destroy the messenger, they have destroyed the message.

    3. Yep, Liberals live and breathe Saul Alinsky. If they can find a label like racist,homophobe etc, they use it to take down the opposition.
      Still, its not working as well as it used to, witness the Phil Robertson issue.
      Harry Reid, the Democrats and the federal government working overtime on this one, desperately hoping for a smokescreen now that the federal government has been exposed for the monster its become.

    4. "his genuinely racist comments has really given up whatever he was perceived to have won against the feds"

      Check the unedited version first. Media Matters and the NY Times did a number on him. "Bundy delenda est."

  6. It begins:



  7. So India didn't exist as a collective civilizational consciousness before the British "unified" it, is it? My my, what scholarship. Then perhaps the morning prayers recited by Hindus for millennia, naming the 7 major rivers across the Subcontinent and the 4 boundaries of its diamond-shaped isolation from the rest of Eurasia must have also actually been written by British colonial officers in a previous avatar? LOL!

    India knows that the US has been too clever for its OWN good - leave along the good of India or other Asian countries. The US connived in Pakistan's nuclear program, as Abdul Qadeer Khan stole his blueprints from the Netherlands. The Dutch are on record stating that the CIA asked them to get off Mr. Khan's trail. These are just some of the shenanigans that go to the credit of the US and the wars it chooses to fight, the clients it chooses to indulge at the expense of real friends it chooses not to make.

    1. India did not exist as a single country before the British. That is true no matter what you say.

    2. That is true according to whom ? You ? Don't tell me you don't know about various Pan Indian dynasties which governed India before British

    3. None so blind as he who will not see . . . When the British arrived in India there was no ONE India. Please do some reading.

    4. Yes, Indian history only started when british came to India. Everything before that when India was united under various dynasties is not history at all. Talk of pick and choose and selective reading of history

    5. Alexander the Most Queer ... er I forgot my handout.

      Alexander "the Great" said The hell with Afghanistan & went on to great success in India where he was -reputedly- poisoned.

      Of course nobody ever gets poisoned in India right?

      Unless of course it's un-imported water that gets drank?

      Yeah you India fools are more or less free to attack our diplos but,

      I was never su7ch.

      & you recognize that intermediate Seven do you not?


    6. Arkie, Alexander's death is because of poison in the sense he was shot in the battlefield with poisoned arrow. Within few months of his pyrrhic 'victory' in battle of hydaspes over a small Indian kingdom, his greek cavalry was utterly destroyed by Indian forces in one of his campaigns forcing Alexander to fight on foot.In the next battle, he was felled by an Indian warrior whose arrow pierced the macedonian’s breastplate and ribs.And he never recovered from this fatal shot.

  8. I stopped reading when he said that India never existed before British and whatever good came to India came from British. This is exactly what British colonial and Christian missionary "Indologists" propagated. Even when this propaganda has been exposed for what it is, it still survives in the west. The Americans never had their own view of India.They simply view India through the British prism.Funny thing is educated British have outgrown these prejudices and Americans even now are talking like 19th century British

    1. What rubbish. I never said what good existed in India came from the British; I said "The British bequeathed India much of what is good about India's politics and economic infrastructure." You can rant and rave all you want; that remains true.

    2. You seems to think whatever you say is the only truth and everyone else are ranting.i am astonished at your arrogance coupled with ignorance.If you think there was no wealth and economic infrastructure before British, then i have Tajmahal to sell you.It was India's extraordinary wealth that drew the British to India in the first place. They came not as part of some aid project or charitable NGO, but as part of a desperate effort to cash in on the vast riches of the Mughal Empire and Maratha Confederacy, then one of the two wealthiest polities in the world. What the central americans are to modern US- economic migrants in search of better lives - the British were to 18th century India.

    3. You need to learn to read better. I have said none of the things you allege. Try again. You are making things up which is typical of extreme Indian nationalists. Your comparison of Central American migrants to the British is ludicrous.

      The fact that Pakistan split off shows that there was no unifying Indian theme.

    4. Comparing Central American migrants to British is ludicrous ? lol Obviously you haven't read 17th and 18th century Indian economic history. Pakistan split off when 50 years ago. The areas what are now called Pakistan were united with present day India for how many centuries ? Hundreds of years . Who knows what the future holds. As i said , India is ancient civilization.It has seen cycles of unity and disunity repeated again and again. To say there was no political entity called India before british is ludicrous from a historical point of view.

    5. Nonsense. Totally made up. Pakistan fifty years ago? Hmmm . . . I think you need to do a little more reading or work on your math. There was no India as a single nation before the British, you know that, don't make yourself look foolish.

    6. Since you don't have any substance to argue with, you are finding faults with minor technicalities ? ha ha I meant what is now pakistan was divided from India only in 1947 but for centuries it was politically united with India under various Indian dynasties.

    7. @Anon April 24, 2014 at 11:26 PM immediately above,

      " ha ha I meant what is now pakistan was divided from India only in 1947 but for centuries it was politically united with India under various Indian dynasties."

      Yes of course Anon we Westerners fail to understand your precision "It was united ... under various" is obviously a simple Western mis-reading?

      Come now Sir ... you perhaps understand now how we mere Westerners fail at your logic when we ask, "Hey Microsoft" [misunderstanding we Americans are talking to somebody in India] "is it possible I can talk to somebody with an accent resembling American?"

      But you'll not be recognizing the joke that's been played on us by our "American Companies" will you?

      Just as well - our "American Microsoft Customer Service" is, coming to recognize there's an obvious problem.

      Good Sevens to You. Sevens in Rows. Many ... Repeating


    8. "It was united ... under various" is obviously a simple Western mis-reading?"

      No. its just the usual Anglo-American habit of finding faults over english grammar and other technicalities when they lose a argument

    9. There was no India-wide democracy in existence when the British showed up. There was when the British left. I think that's all that's being asserted here.

      Maybe some day we'll be able to say the same thing about 'Europe'. :)

      The same applies to China. China has a well documented political history of multiple thousands years. Yet 'China' as a current nation, was founded with their Communist revolution. Many of their statements continue to suggest that China's state-of-mind is still centered on their cultural history and still views China as the center of the universe. Good for everybody else that they stay that way.

      - reader #1482

    10. "Maybe some day we'll be able to say the same thing about 'Europe'. :)"

      BOOM! Line of the week!

    11. "There was no India-wide democracy in existence when the British showed up. There was when the British left. I think that's all that's being asserted here." Are you shifting the goal posts ? This is the exact comment from the article : "They conveniently forget, of course, that India is a British invention; there was no unified sub-continent when the British arrived." and that statement is factually incorrect if you actually know about Indian history before British.

    12. Actually, the current Republic of India was created by Indians themselves since British India was a patchwork of about 500 princely states plus British-ruled "provinces". After the Brits were, um, kicked out, began the task of integrating all these states into a non-monarchical republican nation-state. I definitely don't recall Churchill or any other Brit or American going painstakingly by airplane to about 500 states to have them sign the Instrument of Accession. In fact, given the western love for feudal maharajahs that was definitely not what the British wanted or planned for. Thanks, but we'd rather that ignorant foreigners not try to jump in front of our parade and try to lead it. The Indian Republic is ours, ours, and only ours. And Sardar Patel and Nehru created it. Live with it! And if this blog is an example of US foreign policy judgement, well all I can say is the USA is in worse shape than anyone ever thought.


  9. One of the saddest things I ever read was an editorial in a Pakistani newspaper - I believe it was linked from Rantburg.com, which does link quite frequently to Pak and Indian newspapers. (To the Pak for the amusement value, mostly, but now and again there are some gems.) It was a lament by a fairly cosmopolitan writer of certain age - about how the Islamists had essentially ruined the culture he had grown up in by driving out the Anglo-Indians - that is, those of mixed native and English heritage. They were Christian, usually - and technicians (mostly associated with the railways). He went on at some length about this - the women were educated and professional, were superb nurses, teachers and executive secretaries, the men were also technicians, and wonderful musicians - and the Anglo-Indians threw the most wonderful parties and hosted holidays generously to all their friends, they were glorious dancers, hospitable, decent, hard-working and cosmopolitan ... and all of that community was gone, driven out by increasingly doctrinaire Islam.

    Another thought - I was listening to (IIRC) an NPR stories some years ago, on the occasion of the anniversary of the Partition, and of course, there were all sorts of reminiscences about the horrific riots - and how Hindus were driven out and slaughtered in one direction, and Muslims were driven out and slaughtered in the other. And every interview and story I listened to went on about this ...all from survivors and witnesses, of course. But never a person admitting that they had been in a persecuting mob. It was most marvelous - it was as if the mobs which ethnically cleansed in two directions just magically appeared, and vanished, as if in a dream, when the bloody work was done.

  10. Actually, a unified India is something created by a tribe of Central Asian Muslim Turks called the Mughals, who by the late 17th century ruled almost everything from Kabul to the tip of the subcontinent.

    Granted, once the Mughals got a little soft, people like Maratthas and Rajputs started carving off largish chunks for themselves. Still, while the British found a welter of independent states (including a rump of the Mughal Empire consisting of Delhi and environs), it is not strictly true that Indian unity is completely a British invention.

    1. Indian unification does not start with Mughals. Mauryan dynasty unified India 2300 years ago. India is a ancient civilization going back to thousands of years and as such one would see periods of unity followed by disunity followed by unity .... as one would expect from a old civilization which has "seen everything".

    2. I was referring to India as a political entity. It did not exist until the colonization by the Europeans.

    3. Indian Empires before Europeans are not political entities then ? Seriously ! You are just playing with the words

    4. Stop it. India as a nation did not exist prior to the British. You know that.

    5. Again semantics lol There were technically no "nations" until the treaty of westphalia in 17th century. But that does not mean there were no political entities

    6. @ The "Collective" Anons,

      Refer to the above April 25, 2014 at 12:51 AM posted.

      If that isn't sufficient, refer all further inquiries toward your appropriate embassy.

      Wishing you:

      Good Luck!

      We'll be here when y'all get back.


    7. Oops Collectives Anons?

      I'm a simple US Hillbilly & can't be expected of much in the way of precision. What I meant was ... the post at webasura April 24, 2014 5:22 PM

      Still I'm remaining Good Luck! & Wishing Y'all Sevens straight.

      Good & Best in your direction.

      Arkie (& Sorry ... maybe not ... for the repeat of sorts)

      Luck to you!

    8. Well, gang, hat tip to Anonymous for reminding me of the Mauryas and Gupta's empire (which, I believe, were limited pretty much to the Indo-Gangetic plain, excluding the Deccan).

      As for "nations" not existing prior to the Treaty of Westphalia, I beg to differ. Perhaps you mean nation-states? The KJV, published 37 years before the Treaty of Westphalia, uses the term "nation" to translate the Hebrew go'i (hence "goy", oyf di Momme Loshn) and Greek ethnos. The Bible identifies as "nations" Egypt, Israel, Assyria, Babylonia, Aram, etc. The Chinese from a very ancient date distinguished their own people and their state(s) from various surrounding barbarians. Given the very thorough cleansing of Central and Southwestern Asian influences by the Ming Dynasty after 1368 (they overthrew the Yuan or Mongol dynasty), my guess is that something akin to later "nationalism" was at work.

      Now, the modern state of India is indeed a product of the British Raj. However, I think there's also an underlying cultural and geographic unity that made India a distinct regional/cultural entity, if not a political unity, as far back as the days of the ancient Greeks, when "India" already referred to the lands from the Indus eastwards.

  11. Mr. Dip:

    Your mention of Pakistan's duplicity and dishonesty in the War on Terror and our own poverty of HUMNT capabilities underscores why I was never a fan of going into Afghanistan.

    Had we good HUMINT resources, we could've pulled a wet operation on OBL long before we did--or, perhaps, when he felt the need to brag about what a great ghazi he was and gotten on a plane, we could've pulled what we did with the Achille Lauro hijackers. It would've been a lot less costly.

    As for Afghanistan, that misadventure depends on the cooperation of notoriously unreliable Pakistan, with the other ways in and out being through former Soviet countries. In principle, building institutions and introducing girls' education and other finer things of life looks good on paper, but something tells me that Afghanistan will ever comprehend civilization.

    1. (Uh Kepha?

      It was kinda complicated. HUMINT in the Outerfest period was exceptional. But then nearabouts came Kosovo &.

      Diplomad's sorts could only do so much - as ... * understood the available HUMINT could - remember Sir "The Theater."

      You "Diplos" I think understood your limitations.

      Do you not have at the very least some confidence the Spooks were operating at The Outer Limits?

  12. Diplomad?

    You might visit - and comment wherever - on D&N.

    Just suggesting.

    1. I visit frequently but am intimidated . . .

  13. so which country Columbus was Searching ??

    Very Ignorant and Dumb about Indian History , Indians call "Bharat" to India that's Real Name of India .Name "bharat" Coined in Unknown BC Period from King Bharata . When America , British these terms were not in existence .

    Only Difference "Bharat" = india Area was whole subcontinent during ancient period now only mainland is remained undivided and called as "Bharat" .

    1. That's fine. The point remains, there was no one Indian nation when the British arrived. Period. You can't invent one now.

    2. Columbus was searching for the region known as India. Just as African explorers were searching for Africa. Neither India nor Africa was A country. Not hard to understand.

    3. "The point remains, there was no one Indian nation when the British arrived" lol, The british arrived in India first as merchants in 17th century during the rein of Mughal Empire which covered most of Indian subcontinent. After the Mughal Empire started transitioning to Maratha Empire, the british were still there as merchants. At the height of Mughal and Maratha Empires, the british merchants were begging at Mughal and Maratha courts for audience and permissions to trade. Its was only after the collapse of Mughal and Maratha empires when there was no strong central authority, that British established their political control. So your statement is factually incorrect. There was a unified political Indian nation when the british came as merchants in 17th century. It was 200 years after they came when the political situation was fluid that british were able to establish their political control. But carry one. Don't let facts come in the way of your misinformed opinions.

    4. Oh dear, it looks like a snotty revisionist Hindu has taken umbrage. Tough luck sahib, your country was (and is) always ripe for conquest simply because you couldn't organise a piss up in a brewery. Look up the battle of Plassey and read about how a small number of well trained and disciplined British troops kicked the bejeezus out of an Indian rabble 50 times their number.

    5. Your reply is no where related to the point we are debating.Battle of plassey has nothing to do wither India was a unified Political entity before British or not. BTW, British troops you said ? lol 90% of those "British troops" in battle of plassey consisted of Indian sepoys under British command. And oh , if inserting facts into a misinformed debate is revisionism, then we need to have more of it.

    6. You are totally full of shit. The East India's Company forces consisted of the 1st & 2nd Madras & Bombay European Regiments, the 39th Division of Foot, the 4th Division of Bombay Europeans, the 12th Regiment RA and lastly the 1st Bengal Native Infantry. Stop trying to rewrite history to make Indians more heroic. Btw it is not a debate. You are simply trying to distort facts to suit your own agenda, At Plassey you got your arse kicked so live with it.

    7. YOU are the one talking BS and then calling others shit lol http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Plassey Strength on British side = 750 European soldiers
      100 Topasses
      2,100 Indian sepoys Enough Said ! Now go and learn something.

      Oh btw, The British won plassey not because of oh so superiority in military terms but by treachery and bribing rival Indian generals to defect to British side. "The British, worried about being outnumbered, formed a conspiracy with Siraj-ud-Daulah's demoted army chief Mir Jafar, along with others such as Yar Lutuf Khan, Jagat Seths (Mahtab Chand and Swarup Chand), Omichund and Rai Durlabh. Mir Jafar, Rai Durlabh and Yar Lutuf Khan thus assembled their troops near the battlefield but made no move to actually join the battle. Siraj-ud-Daulah's army was defeated by roughly 3,000 soldiers of Col. Robert Clive, owing to the flight of Siraj-ud-daulah from the battlefield and the inactivity of the conspirators."

  14. So I take it you're not a fan of Richard Attenborough's historical airbrushing? ;-)

  15. I find it quite fascinating the different perceptions of history Indians and West have over Indian history. For Indians 150 years of british colonial rule is a blip in the radar in their 5000 year old history. For the west, most good things about India starts only from British rule. As this author of the blog says, India is a British invention.and this is a widely held view by westerners. Indians will laugh at that statement. When Indians talk about Indian history, they talk about the different great dynasties which ruled India from ancient times- Nandas, Mauryans, Satavahanas, Guptas, Rashtrakuta, Pala, Chola, Khilji, Raya's, Mughals, Marathas and lastly British. But for westerners , they quote in the reverse order.Also i observed before British, they jump to mughals.They don't know anything about Marathas from whom British took India (not from the Mughals as many westerners think). In western libraries even those which pride themselves as having many books on world and Indian history (which btw are very very few) you will hardly find a book on Indian dynasties (except for Mughals) and most of India related history books in the west are about British rule of India and few on Mughal dynasty. But you will have zero books on either Mauryan or Gupta dynasties (considered as Golden ages in Indian history). These differences between the western short term of view of Indian history vs Indian long term view of Indian history explains the gap in understanding each other.

    1. That's all very interesting but it does not dal with the point I made in my blog: the creation of modern India is a British one. not Gupta, not Mughal, not Nanda. India's modern political and government structures come from the British: parliament, courts, police, civil service, military, etc. The British were able to colonize India with a relatively small number of people precisely because there was no unified Indian state. That is a very simple point, but one which some ultra-Indian nationalists seem unable to grasp.

      That some Indians consider British rule a mere "blip" on the radar is unfortunate for those Indians. Some radar "blips" can have great consequences; British rule had those in spades.

    2. "I made in my blog: the creation of modern India is a British one."

      First, You haven't mentioned the word "modern" anywhere in your blog.Your precise statement is "India is a British invention". Second you seem to think modernity in India is a direct effect of British rule as if had there been no british rule , India would not have trappings of modernity like railways etc. That is absurd thinking.

      "The British were able to colonize India with a relatively small number of people precisely because there was no unified Indian state."

      That is true only at that particular moment. Not before, not after. But somehow you take this one particular movement in 5000 year history and conclude there was no unified Indian polity before British.That is called selective reading of history.

      "Some radar "blips" can have great consequences;" .

      Sure and those consequences go both ways. Just see how Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis are swarming Britain making the locals minority in many boroughs and the locals whine all the time thanks to this "blip"..

    3. Ok, enough already. You have real problems reading and comprehending. My blog post was clearly about recent history, not about ancient glorious empires that might or might not have existed. The bottom line is that India as a modern nation is a British creation. The Brits even left you English which gives India a huge advantage over, say, China. Interesting that you seem to celebrate that Indians are leaving India; guess things haven't gone all that well?

    4. ''The bottom line is that India as a modern nation is a British creation.''

      That is a western perception. Indians don't believe in this concept of "modern nation" (whatever that means) .This concept of nation aroused in europe which is unique to European circumstances. Indians consider India as a civilizational nation state, not as a "modern nation".Hence they don't understand these western distinctions of "modern nation" vs ancient country or the western perception of "modern India" being a creation of British.

      "Interesting that you seem to celebrate that Indians are leaving India;"

      Where did i say that ? Seems to me you are the one with "real problems reading and comprehending"

  16. The British left behind a starving poor and degraded humanity in India. They did not build up the elite or the infrastructure in the country to save it like you white basturds love to think. You and your american rat compatriots need to hang from an yardarm thats what you need. for the calculated mass murder you have perpetuated all over the world.

    1. Anonymous,
      Please leave comedy writing to the professionals. Yes, I must admit you've done so well before and after the British, there really isn't enough bandwidth here to enumerate all the accomplishments of indian India. Got to go, need to put another shrimp on the suttee.
      James the Lesser

    2. 'You white basturds...need to hang from the yardarm...(insert confected excuse)'

      And so the simmering hatred of the racist finally shows itself. Cant get its own way in an argument so it resorts to threats and abuse.

      Contempt is the valid response.

    3. Another Ozzie,

      I was the one who is arguing. This "Anonymous" is not me. Are you so innocent to think only one person is posting under Anonymous. Oh, btw, the author of this blog called me "ultra nationalist" just because i responded with facts to his opinions and he can't get his way in a argument. So stop playing the victim.

    4. Thanks for the heads up but I was enjoying the moral high ground of playing the victim.
      As a middle-aged, white male I rarely get to do it.
      Its hard to escape the typecasting as Lord Tyrant Overlord of every ill in this world.
      If you don't mind I would like to make some observations about your contributions here and I do offer them genuinely in a constructive spirit.

      I don't know how new you are to the etiquette of interacting on blogs but generally being on someone's blog is like being in their home. So treat it as a privilege.
      Although I found your posts informative I found them to be unnecessarily combative and mocking in tone, particularly towards the owner of this blog.
      For me, anyone who posts, is too lazy to make up a screen name and uses the anonymous tag is less credible as a poster unless their posts are well written, intelligent and researched. Particularly if they use the lens of their life experience.
      And although I am willing to make allowances for dyslexia, spelling, grammar and lack of punctuation in a post, the lack of these things is to the detriment of the post.
      Thanks for the interaction.

  17. "I don't know how new you are to the etiquette of interacting on blogs but generally being on someone's blog is like being in their home. So treat it as a privilege."

    You are not off the mark.I don't know the etiquette of blogging. I read a lot but don't blog. Infact i accidentally came to this blog when i was searching for something else and happen to read this piece. The first few sentences of 'India being a British invention" caught my attention. I would have ignored it thinking it was one of those ametuer westerners whose understanding of India does not go beyond caste,curry and call centers.But when i found out the author is actually a retired US foreign service man who served in the region, i found it quite "interesting" but also could connect some of the dots on US elite perceptions on India.

    "Although I found your posts informative I found them to be unnecessarily combative and mocking in tone, particularly towards the owner of this blog."

    I was mocking at the comments of that person not at the person himself.

    "And although I am willing to make allowances for dyslexia, spelling, grammar and lack of punctuation in a post, the lack of these things is to the detriment of the post."

    Sure but i can't help here.sorry. I am not a native english speaker, writer or listener. I don't know english grammar much but try to convey my point with what i know.

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