Was drone strike’s goal to wreck peace talks?

A missile launched from a CIA drone killed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan leader Hakimullah Mehsud in northwest Pakistan. This Nov. 1 strike occurred just 18 hours before a planned invitation to a conference between Taliban leaders and the Pakistan government. The conference was designed to end the long and bloody civil war in that country. (Inter Press Service, Nov. 7)

The missile attack occurred just three days after a British-sponsored conference in London between the Pakistani government and the regime in U.S.-occupied Afghanistan. At this conference, both countries agreed to establish negotiations with the Taliban. (Mcclathchydc.com, Oct. 29)

Washington politicians and corporate media types from nearly every political stripe hailed the drone killing. Republican Congressman Mike Rogers applauded the strike, as did professor Brian Williams in the Huffington Post with his article, “The Killing of Hakimullah Mehsud, Or Why Liberals Should Support Obama’s Drone War on the Taliban.” (Huffington Post, Nov. 6)

Pakistan’s government, however, strongly condemned the drone strike. Interior Minister Chaudry Nisar Ali Khan called it “a conspiracy to sabotage the peace talks.” He charged that the U.S. had “scuttled the initiative” that his government had taken to end the civil war.

Pakistan has even pledged to suspend the U.S. military’s truck supply line for 15 days as it demands that the U.S. end drone strikes inside of Pakistan.

Washington brushed off Pakistan’s protests. The State Department’s statement called talks between the TTP and Pakistan “an internal matter” for Pakistan, as if killing the leader of the Taliban would have no impact on talks.

So why did the U.S. conduct this drone strike? After all, in a May 23 speech to the National Defense University, President Obama said that the need for drone strikes was fast diminishing and would soon end. In August, Secretary of State John Kerry said that drone strikes in Pakistan would end “very, very soon.” (Inter Press Service, Nov. 7)

Part of the answer is revenge by the CIA for the insurgent attack on a CIA base in Afghanistan that killed seven agents. The CIA had put a $5 million bounty on Mehsud for this attack.

But U.S imperialism has much deeper reasons to torpedo peace talks in the region. In “Pakistan’s Best Bet in Afghanistan,” Marvin Weinbaum’s Nov. 4th article in the carefully followed journal, Foreign Affairs, he expounds on Washington’s vision for the region after the planned pullout of U.S. troops at the end of 2014:

“Pakistan can also help secure Afghan presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled in 2014 and 2015, respectively, by using its not inconsiderable influence to limit Taliban interference. It could place additional troops at the border to reduce infiltration. … Simply put, it must be willing to evict, if not arrest, Afghan Taliban fighters and their leaders on its soil. …

“With improved security in Afghanistan, new life could be breathed into plans to construct a gas pipeline from the fields in Turkmenistan.”

So even with the end of the 13-year U.S. war against and occupation of Afghanistan, imperialism strives to ensure that its proxies in both Pakistan and Afghanistan shed their people’s blood for corporate profits.