Monday, November 5, 2007


General Musharraf has called a state of emergency and Pakistan is under marital law. Thousands have been arrested, including lawyers protesting the declaration. Musharraf claims he is trying to fight terrorism.

Stephen Green asks the important question -- as both India and what is now Pakistan were long under the control of the British Raj, why is India a democracy and Pakistan on the verge of disintegration?

We have seen this all before. In 1999, Musharraf gained power in much the same way and for the same purpose. Back then, the choice was as follows:

Musharraf who was an authoritarian general
Sharif who was allied to Islamists
Bhutto who was a somewhat corrupt democrat

Which basically are the same choices today. So if we are supposed to be in the new world of "realistic" foreign policy (as opposed to idealistically pushing for democratization) is this a good thing or a bad thing?

I think the reliance on "stability" is partly how we got into this situation (and not just Pakistan and the North West Frontier Province, but the entire Middle East). We support the Taliban to bring "stability" and get 9/11. We supported Musharraf to get stability and we got nothing.

Given the choices, I say go with the somewhat corrupt democrat. Throw the dice. Every result is generally a bad one, so let's go for once with one that at least is the least cynical for a change. Bhutto is back in Pakistan. Throw the dice.


Rodak said...

Think of Musharraf as an analog to the Shah of Iran. He may be a dictator, but he's our dictator. He may not be a democrat, but he has the Pakistani military on his side. A civilian govenment in Pakistan could very easily be an analog to the civilian government in Iran. But, unlike Iran, Pakistan has the Bomb. We want the guy with the Bomb to be our guy.
Don't forget that Osama bin Laden is in Pakistan, with obvious support.

Anthony said...

Good points, but that type of cynicism is how we got here in the first place. Mushaffaf's 1999 coup was backed because he promised to reign in the Islamists. In truth, outside of the intelligence services and the North West Frontier that the hard core AQ types have much support.

And while I understand your concerns re: Iran (which is basically a theocracy with a veneer of elections, sort of like Mississippi I guess) I doubt Pakistan is headed in that path IF you get a truely civilian government.

All supporting Musharraf does is delay for a little while the inevitable explosion. So I say throw the dice now.

Rodak said...

"So I say throw the dice now."

As Clint Eastwood said: "Are you feelin' lucky?"

Anthony said...

>As Clint Eastwood said: "Are you feelin' lucky?"

Not really, but all the alternatives are bad, so I figure go for broke.

And why did you stop posting on Ragged Thots?

Rodak said...

I stopped posting on RT because every time I entered into a conversation, about whatever topic, Mr. Barker chimed in with fallacious non sequiturs concerning things that he claims I said months ago. I just got tired of constantly dealing with that.

Anthony said...
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Anthony said...

Rodak -- Well, that's too bad. Generally, while I disagree with just about everything you say (and think you get occasionally snarky!) what you have to say is inteligent and helps the national conversation.

Rodak said...

Damned by faint praise! ;-)
I actually prefer to talk about the kinds of things I post on my own blog, rather than politics. Unfortunately, it seems that nobody else has those preferences. (*Sigh*).
There is a good mix of politics and religion on Catholic and Enjoying It; on Zippy Catholic; and on What's Wrong With The World (.net). I comment on all of those fairly regularly. Also on the Cathlic (Dominican) blog Disputations, although there is seldom any political talk on that one these days. Just as I prefer mixing it up with conservatives, although I'm on the left, I prefer mixing it up with Catholics, although I'm a Protestant. Nothing is more boring than discussing controversial topics with people who agree with you.

Anthony said...

>Nothing is more boring than discussing controversial topics with people who agree with you.

Now there is something I agree about. And if you get the left and Protestant thing thrown at you, I have the Catholic and libertarian thing thrown at me. I have a very left wing "aunt" (she really is my mother's oldest friend -- aunt is a term of respect) who is very into Catholic social thinking, Dorothy Day, etc, and have lots of very conservative Catholic friends.

The thing about Catholics is that in the last few elections, the "Catholic vote" has come close to replicating the national vote, so you could argue that Catholics are the swing voters in the US -- out of place to an extent in both parties and probably the most diverse economically and ethnically than any other identifiable voter group.

And I keep telling myself I will get back to religious issues, but never quite do.

Rodak said...

"And I keep telling myself I will get back to religious issues, but never quite do."

Well, imho, religion should inform every issue. But what I tend to see is issues informing people's religion: a problem.