pageok
pageok
pageok
"America's Favorite Dictator":

Robert Pollock reports on America's troubling relationship with Pakistani General Pervez Musharraf. While the U.S. pushes for greater democracy in the Middle East, it is conspicuously silent about undemocratic "allies" in the region.

Even among the "neocon" architects of President Bush's democracy-promotion agenda it's hard to find an unkind word about Gen. Musharraf . . . . Behind this bipartisan support--or at least acceptance--is Pakistan's nuclear arsenal, and the perception that Gen. Musharraf is the only thing standing in the way of its takeover by a radical Islamic government. But there are good reasons to doubt this perception, and to suspect that allowing a permanent "Musharraf Exception" to the democracy agenda will do more harm than good.

On the plus side of the Musharraf ledger is, indeed, the obvious fact that the man with the keys to Pakistan's bombs is not a raving Islamic fanatic. He has been an ally--of convenience, at least--in the fight against al Qaeda. And his rule, while autocratic, is not oppressive. With a smart and vibrant free press, Pakistan undoubtedly passes what Condoleezza Rice has called the "public square test"--a fancy way of saying you can speak your mind without fear of being carted away by the cops.

At the same time, however, Gen. Musharraf suffers from his lack of legitimacy among the secular classes who have run Pakistan's democratic governments in the past, and who would almost surely win if another free poll is held. The Islamists got only 11% in the last parliamentary election, but the general is increasingly courting them as he attempts to hold power--which may be one reason his antiterror efforts haven't included any attempts to crack down on the madrassas. For the same reason, Pakistan's efforts to control Taliban elements operating within its borders seem half-hearted. . . .

. . . let's have no illusions about Pervez Musharraf. He took power illegitimately in a country with some history of democracy, however imperfect. And now he seems to be in no hurry to give it up. The Bush Doctrine can survive the Musharraf Exception over the short run. But over the longer term, the credibility of our efforts to address the root causes of terror will require nudging Pakistan, too, back toward the democratic path.

PersonFromPorlock:
Winston Churchill: "If Hitler invaded hell I would make at least a favorable reference to the devil in the House of Commons."
9.29.2006 7:58pm
Luke 1152 (mail):
And Hitler here is? Musharraf? The Taliban? Bush?
9.29.2006 8:07pm
Jake (Guest):
Wow, it's like Pavlov's dog. Apparently not only does Bush = Hitler, but also Hitler = Bush.
9.29.2006 8:09pm
Eric Anondson (mail):
It is a troubling relationship. I am frequently more troubled at the alternatives to Musharraf, however. What was the Kirkpatrick said, better our sons of bitches than their sons of bitches. True, it feels like a return to realpolitck that Bush eschewed when he took office, but he has likewise said that 9/11 changed everything.
9.29.2006 8:13pm
fishbane (mail):
[...] but he has likewise said that 9/11 changed everything.

I simply don't understand exactly how that phrase manages to disable the higher mental functions of so many people. I understand that it does, but how it works is beyond me. I suppose that's why I'm not a speech writer.
9.29.2006 8:27pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
It's not the dictatorship per se, it's the tacit and less-than-tacit support extended by elements in the army and intel establishments to the Taliban and al-Qaeda, that bothers me about Pakistan.

Anybody catch that "Taliban Free Parking" deal the gov't caught with the tribes of Waziristan?
9.29.2006 8:40pm
Speaking the Obvious:
What is the suprise? That American foreign policy is not guided by the principles of freedom and democracy that the President tries to continually shroud himself in? This is not that different from US/British fighters "protecting" the Kurds in the years after Desert Storm in the northern "no-fly" zone. We announced to the world we were protecting "Saddam's own citizens" from Saddam, but we turned a blind eye to Turkish air force bombing of the Kurds that occurred at the same time in the same place. (American and British pilots complained they were turned back and not allowed to help the Kurds being bombed from the sky by the Turks, who did not want an independent Kurdistan. Turkey was our ally and therefore no effort to restrain their murder of Kurdish civilians, women and children, was made. Or publicly discussed.
9.29.2006 9:15pm
Ross Levatter (mail):
[...] but he has likewise said that 9/11 changed everything.
---
For those who missed it, Stephen Colbert referred to the "fetish" of "habeus corpus" (and its application to those held at Gitmo) as "pre-9/11" thinking in his "The Word" earlier this week, while the text next to him was saying, "Magna Carta, 1215"...
9.29.2006 9:19pm
DK:
It never ceases to amaze me that there are people in the US who still believe that the problem with our foreign policy is that we haven't started enough fights with enough other countries. Failing to democratize Iraq, Afghanistan, and Lebanon isn't enough, we have to start democratizing countries with nuclear weapons? Can we please try democratizing only one country at a time?
9.29.2006 9:36pm
Tom952 (mail):
Why not resolve the conflict by abandoning our presumption that Democracy is a worthy goal in the region?

The Palestinians had a fair democratic election and elected Hamas, a terrorist organization. The Iranians elected the maniac Ahmadijan. Who jumped to the conclusion that enabling fair elections in that part of the world would change anything? They need a LOT more than fair elections.

New Theory: Nations must develop a culture that seeks equitable treatment for all and respect for rule of law before they will be ready to support a democratic government.
9.29.2006 9:50pm
ras (mail):
And this is different from FDR's alliance w/Stalin ... how? One.at.a.time. Or perhaps just what.we.can.handle.

Tom952,

You think Iran's elections were fair?

As for Hamas, the essence of democracy is not that the people are always gonna elect good guys, but that the people will correct their mistakes when they experience the results, and learn from that, too.

Right now, "Palestinians" are not really eating their own cooking because they get so heavily subsidized and supported for their propaganda value. That won't always be so.

p.s. Equitable treatment? You meant equal treatment, right? Equitable is just a convenient excuse for treating people differently and maintaining each group apart from each other group, eventually to clash.
9.29.2006 10:45pm
ras (mail):
p.p.s. "Palestinians" was quoted in my previous comment simply to denote that it's not actually a state.
9.29.2006 10:46pm
RDS (mail):
Musharraf is problematic for the same reasons the form and manner America processes and interrogates detainees is a strategic national imperative.
Central to America's war against murderous anarchists hiding behind religion, is the paramount strategic battle for the hearts &minds of 'reasonable Islamists' who may actively or passively choose to harbor terrorists in their neighborhoods. America is in the grips of a protracted ideation war/conflict where images shape this ideation battlefield.

As witnessed in Desert Storm and the combat phase of Afghan. &Iraq, the convergence of technologies radically altered the kinetic battlefield: Laser guided precision bombing, battlefield situational real time data etc. Excellent for the combat/seize geography mode. Not the primary outcome determinant post combat.

Substantially more important to the outcome of this conflict, convergence has altered the nature of conflict itself. We began to recognize this after Tet...but it did not translate to national security doctrine.

Tet was a supreme and unquestionable tactical and military victory for the United States, sans the images that re-shaped ideas regarding the Viet Nam conflict.
In the present conflict, just as in Viet Nam but exponentially more so, the tactical battlefield, including intelligence gleaned from detainees, is tertiary. All tactical events feed into the primary battlefield: Ideas and images.

Like it or not....It is a permanent fact of this and all future American conflicts that form matters, and has an overarching and substantive effect on the conflicts. As technologies converge at an ever increasing rate, this characteristic will predominate to a greater and greater degree. All tactical and diplomatic decisions, such as cozying up with Musharraf, or backing away from Geneva, or providing for "legal" indeterminate detention/interrogation of non-citizens, must be considered through this strategic lens.

Clausewitz posited that war is diplomacy by other means. The corollary converse is becoming increasingly true: Diplomacy is war by other means. Musharraf, and treatment of the detainees pose substantial strategic liabilities for America.

It has been almost 40 years since Tet: We are way behind the curve.
9.29.2006 11:08pm
RDS (mail):
Musharraf is problematic for the same reasons the form and manner America processes and interrogates detainees is a strategic national imperative.
Central to America's war against murderous anarchists hiding behind religion, is the paramount strategic battle for the hearts &minds of 'reasonable Islamists' who may actively or passively choose to harbor terrorists in their neighborhoods. America is in the grips of a protracted ideation war/conflict where images shape this ideation battlefield.

As witnessed in Desert Storm and the combat phase of Afghan. &Iraq, the convergence of technologies radically altered the kinetic battlefield: Laser guided precision bombing, battlefield situational real time data etc. Excellent for the combat/seize geography mode. Not the primary outcome determinant post combat.

Substantially more important to the outcome of this conflict, convergence has altered the nature of conflict itself. We began to recognize this after Tet...but it did not translate to national security doctrine.

Tet was a supreme and unquestionable tactical and military victory for the United States, sans the images that re-shaped ideas regarding the Viet Nam conflict.
In the present conflict, just as in Viet Nam but exponentially more so, the tactical battlefield, including intelligence gleaned from detainees, is tertiary. All tactical events feed into the primary battlefield: Ideas and images.

Like it or not....It is a permanent fact of this and all future American conflicts that form matters, and has an overarching and substantive effect on the conflicts. As technologies converge at an ever increasing rate, this characteristic will predominate to a greater and greater degree. All tactical and diplomatic decisions, such as cozying up with Musharraf, or backing away from Geneva, or providing for "legal" indeterminate detention/interrogation of non-citizens, must be considered through this strategic lens.

Clausewitz posited that war is diplomacy by other means. The corollary converse is becoming increasingly true: Diplomacy is war by other means. Musharraf, and treatment of the detainees pose substantial strategic liabilities for America.

It has been almost 40 years since Tet: We are way behind the curve.
9.29.2006 11:08pm
Buck Turgidson (mail):
Jon et al. Why are you having coniptions over Musharraf? What about the rest of the torture-stans: Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and, the latest in the news (and in Washington), Kazakhstan? Never mind our favorite -stan that is now run by NATO, which boasts having killed over 1500 Taliban just in the last week. FIFTEEN HUNDRED? Is this another "Mission Accomplished" fiasco? Or do they fight stronger for the poppy fields?

There have been several mentions at this point of FDR, Churchill and Stalin. But, let's not forget that Stalin's dominion was already invaded by a country that declared war on both the US and the UK, so they were allies of necessity. And Stalin signed a non-agression pact with Germany first, only to be surprised in short order (and historical documents show that he was generally surprised because he thought that Hitler understood him... wait... where have I heard this before? Hmmm... Did he look into his eyes first?)

Than we have the moonbats coming out right away and comparing Bush to Hitler. C'mon, guys! This is so unrealistic! Can't you make a better comparison? Perhaps finding one that invaded a country in Eastern Africa, suffered considerable casualties and could not find a victorious way to extract himself from a sticky situation that he unwisely got himself into? So he simply declared victory and hoped that everyone would believe him. He was also pro-business, had the press eating out of his hand and made the trains run on time. Any candidates? What if I tell you that he was admired by Rudy Giulliani? (Although Iron Rudy says that's only because of the trains)
9.29.2006 11:54pm
Tom952 (mail):
Ras -

In Iran, the voters had an admittedly limited choice, but the choice they made reflects their will. Ahmadijan is the man of the hour in Iran, and enjoys strong popular support. They think his outrageous statements are cool.

There is no doubt that Hamas was the popular choice of the Palestinians, and there is no doubt what Hamas agenda is. The democratic majority of the Palestinian voters think Hamas' agenda sounds great. This is Democracy in action.

Equitable/Equal - I mean that most citizens of the nation must reach the point where they seek a government that pursues a fair deal for everyone, rather than a government that serves the interests of one group to the detriment of others. They have to be ready to transition from thug-rule to a bigger vision. Sending Jimmy Carter and the U.N. to watch polling stations doesn't address this issue.

Is the world a safer place with Musharraf than it would (will) be with a fire eyed Islamic Fundamentalist in power? Who knows, Osama Bin Laden might be elected President of Pakistan, in a fair election!
9.30.2006 12:28am
Anderson (mail) (www):
Nations must develop a culture that seeks equitable treatment for all and respect for rule of law before they will be ready to support a democratic government.

Agreed, tho they can develop democratic institutions in parallel. Without the rule of law &civil society, you have only the sham of democracy (enough to satisfy the Bushies).

Heard a British gent making that point this morning on NPR, saying that going "from the battlefield to the ballot box" was unlikely to succeed anywhere. Turned out to be Niall Ferguson, promoting some new book -- The War of the World.
9.30.2006 12:45am
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
I am usually critical of Bush, but the relationship with Musharraf makes perfect sense to me. He represents moderation in Pakistan; we need moderation in Pakistan for a whole host of reasons, including nukes, support for terrorism, hunting down Bin Laden, etc. Therefore, he's an ally.

I also think we get an unintended side benefit. There are grave dangers, in terms of terrorist blowback and in terms of pissing off China, with tilting towards India in its relationship with Pakistan. There are clearly some in the administration and outside of it who would like to do this. By keeping a good relationship with Pakistan, we keep ourselves neutral in that dispute, which is a powder keg. (It also happens that Pakistan is correct about Kashmir, but that's another story.)

One thing that everyone ought to be able to agree on is the importance of finding actual moderates in the Muslim world. Musharraf is one of them, in a crucial country. Of course Bush is right to support him.
9.30.2006 1:39am
PersonFromPorlock:
RDS:

Clausewitz posited that war is diplomacy by other means. The corollary converse is becoming increasingly true: Diplomacy is war by other means.

This is a common misquote. What he actually said is that war is policy carried out by other means.

The distinction is crucial: if my policy is to invade your country, kill all the men, rape all the women and sell the children into slavery, it's hard to see what our diplomats have to talk about. The misquote is evidence only of wishful thinking in the face of a harsh reality, that talk can't replace violence.
9.30.2006 7:12am
DavidBernstein (mail):
Interesting post, Jon. One quibble: Pakistan is not generally thought to be in the "Middle East."
9.30.2006 9:26am
godfodder (mail):
This topic reminds me of two of my favorite quotes. Without attempting to reproduce them verbatim, they go something like this: "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of simple minds," and "don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good."

What possible benefit is there to America-- or anyone else in the Middle East or the world-- in taking a hard (and possibly alienating) line with Musharraf? We get to bask in the glow of our own self-righteousness? This seems to be a favorite passtime of the Left these days.

We have much bigger fish to fry in the Middle East these days than Musharraf. Pointing out that he is imperfect does not clarify anything. Just one more reason that those who see sanctimony as the highest good need to be kept from power this November.
9.30.2006 5:29pm
Elais:
I thought the Right had donned the mantle of self-righteousness in perpetuity??? They glorify themselves and demonize the left on a daily basis. That seems the definition of being self-righteous.
9.30.2006 9:44pm
Lev:
There was a great Siberian-American warrior named: he is such a great warrior his enemies are even afraid of his horse.

Of course his nickname was: afraid of his horse

You gotta have some sympathy for a tough guy in a tough place doing a tough job who is still alive and still sort of helping us out in the WOT whose name shortens to: Perv
10.1.2006 3:12am
RDS (mail):
PersonFromPorlock:
On Von Clausewitz.

This is a common misquote. What he actually said is that war is policy carried out by other means.


Point taken. Your correction serves to underscore the thrust of my post: The use of force (including interrogation/coercion)should serve paramount policy objectives, and should not serve to undermine these policy goals. Similarly, actions in support of the use of force (Musharraf ally) should not undermine the policy objectives. "Battlefield" approach should be considered in context of paramount policy goals and objectives.

I am uncertain how your "Rape of Nanjing" scenario applies to our present conflict against radical Islamo fascists, which many observers convincingly regard as Fourth Generation WW IV.

In my prior post, I stated we are in a protracted fourth generation ideation conflict. I am wondering if your Nanjing scenario is simply wishful thinking of wars past, where massed armies, vulnerable to kinetic force, took whole cities, and did with them as they would. No doubt this would require use of total force in defensive reply. (Nevertheless...communication matters: Talking as well as bullets..are BOTH forms of communication, that can be used to alter a targets mindset.) Seems to me your Nanjing scenario in no way resembles the strategies &tactics we now face.

Transnational terrorists, operating among civilian populations, use swarm" tactics:

"Swarming occurs when the dispersed nodes of a network of small (and perhaps some large) forces can converge on a target from multiple directions. The overall aim is sustainable pulsing—swarm networks must be able to coalesce rapidly and stealthily on a target, then
dissever and redisperse, immediately ready to recombine for a new pulse. The capacity for a "stealthy approach" suggests that, in netwar,attacks are more likely to occur in "swarms" than in more traditional
"waves."


Net War:

".....social netwar tends to be about disruption more than destruction. The more epistemological the challenge, the more confounding it may be from an organizational standpoint. Whose responsibility is it to respond? Whose roles and missions are at stake? Is it a military, police, intelligence, or political matter? When the roles and missions of defenders are not easy to define, both deterrence and defense may become quite problematic.... Many observers worry that potential U.S. foes will combine this new potential for perception management with certain symmetric strategies that rely on weapons of mass destruction or other means to attack psychologically significant targets. These attacks, though only of marginal use in destroying the U.S. capability to wage war, might, through their effect on public opinion, destroy the will of the United States to wage war. In this way, weaker adversaries secure victory, in some sense, without even engaging the bulk of U.S. military strength.16 [RAND report]

A final thought. Returning to Clausewitz correction. Bernard Brodie, one of the doyens of strategic thinking post WWII, and considered as the American Clausewitz, held in his book War and Politics that:

"...Clausewitz is offering a statement in the form of "should" rather than "is." War should be the continuation of policy, but all too often is not.
[Naval Ac. Prof]

My apologies to Professor Brodie, whom I studied under in Gradutate strategic studies course while in Naval Officer training...a very long time ago. I assure you...Prof Brodie, were he still alive, would applaud your correction.
10.1.2006 12:01pm