09 September 2006

What is up in Waziristan?

BBC

Newsweek

DNA India

Herald-Tribune

OK, I'm going to assume you read all four of these articles.

Let's look long and hard at Pakistan. Pakistan is run by a ruthless military dictator, and religious extremists have long had a great deal of influence. They have nuclear bombs, and they are suspected of passing nuclear technology to Iran and to Muslim terrorists.

Pakistan was the one of the few countries to have diplomatic relations with the Taliban in Afghanistan, which means (de facto) with al-Qaeda as well. Pakistan has thousands of madrassas wherein hatred, bigotry, and violence are taught to entire generations of Pakistani youngsters. Pakistanis are a large and active element in al-Qaeda and formed the backbone of several of their plots.

Musharrif got a phone call from George Bush a little less than 5 years ago, and it was obvious. All of a sudden, he was our bosom buddy, a 'critical ally in the War on Terror'. Pakistan's government let us use their airspace and ports and blahblahblah.

Now Pakistan is opting out of supporting the War on Terror in Afghanistan, providing the Taliban with a de facto 'safe zone'. Any one with any iota of historical understanding of the practice of guerilla warfare knows how vital a safe zone is for an insurgency.

I'm not a terribly big fan of the United States supporting crappy little dictators. I believed that supporting Pakistan's crappy little dictator got us an ally of convenience in the War on Terror. Since that has changed, I believe a new approach to Pakistan is necessary.

To wit, someone needs to call up General Musharrif and explain that unless he wants to be the question for the Jeopardy answer, "Until last week, the prime minister of Pakistan", he needs to get back on the ball. Not a penny of foreign aid for his Taliban-supporting military, and all the support his democratic domestic opposition has the stones to ask for.

Doubt he's got democratic opposition?

If they have a women's rights movement, I'm sure someone in that outfit is also pro-democracy.

6 Comments:

Anonymous cmad said...

The Jeopardy (no pun intended) answer to the question "Who is Pervez Musharraf?" is "the guy who makes sure that there is only one religious fanatic in control of nukes."

His military's retreat from the Pakistani tribal areas is yet another ominous step in the global takeover of religious fundamentalists intent on wiping out any and all of civilization's progress that goes beyond the most literal interpretation of Scripture, and of any and all other civilizations altogether that believe in anything but the absolute Truth of their Scripture (i.e., that dare to believe in a different Truth).

Since all scripture was written in a historic context, the obvious solution to the problem of blatant discrepancies between Scripture and present-day life is to turn history back to the living conditions when the Scripture was written.
Makes a difference of only one or two orders of magnitude in the total sustainable human population of the Earth.

Maybe humans' instinct to invent religions that make them kill each other is evolution's final solution to the threat of humans overcrowding the planet after all.
It's not going to be nice to watch, though.

9:18 PM  
Anonymous cmad said...

Thinking about Musharraf a little further, I'm kind of surprised that you don't approve of him.

It looks like Musharraf is trying to stem the growing influence of political Islam by authoritarian military rule, somewhat like Mustafa Kemal Pasha did in Turkey some 85 years ago.

The idea of comparing Musharraf to Atatürk doesn't seem too far-fetched; apparently he is trying to change Pakistan towards a more secular country.

If he's making a mistake, it would be that
Musharraf tries to rule without grass-roots participation of the people of a nation whose reason of coming into existence, and only source of common national identity, is Islam
.

Much too often for my liking, and almost too often to take you seriously, you advocate military solutions to problems for which a sustainable solution can only be reached by negotiations and patience, as tedious and frustrating as those may seem.

Musharraf, with this authoritarian approach as de facto military dictator, tries to solve the problem of Pakistan sliding ever further into religious fundamentalism, by the methods you generally advocate.

That you dismiss him as "crappy little dictator" sounds very much like you don't want that there be any chance that Islamic societies can evolve into something modern and civilized, but that in the end, there are only religious fundamentalists left on all sides of a global conflict, which will then proceed to annihilate each other and most everybody else with them.

What am I misunderstanding in your argumentation?

7:58 AM  
Blogger Just A Decurion said...

I don't mind backing crappy little dictators so long as the crappy little dictators we back do what is in our interests.

It is in our interests that Pakistan do something about their border with Afghanistan, and formally conceeding it to the Taliban is not what we have in mind.

Given that Musharraf is no long acting in our interests, why should we back him?


Musharraf may today masquerade as a secularizer and liberalizer, but his pre-9/11 identity as religious fundamentalist is more likely to be the truth. Certaintly he has shrunk from seriously trying to challenge the Muslim educational system, and now he has basically ceeded a very strategic part of his country to the loons.

Here's the punch line: Never compare anyone who you are trying to defend to Ataturk. His complicity in the genocide of the Ionian Greeks and Armenians renders him in the moral category as Adolph Hitler, but less well known because neither Armenians nor Greeks have the flair for public relations that the Jews do.

8:00 PM  
Anonymous cmad said...

You're making good points there (the one about Turkish genocides is a real gotcha). An ignorant believer you are not.

I would like to continue the discussion,
but since nothing religious is sacred to me, you made it clear that I would overextend my welcome here.
You set the rules here, and I absolutely don't feel like causing you any more aggravation than you already have.

Just in case, my email address from a.b.t-c [cmad@...] works, and I try to cherry pick the real messages from the flood of spam about once a week.
Some other old a.b.t-c regulars [Chris V., Grey, George Lyle, Howard, maybe Jason, and a prophet @aol who fell silent] have my email addresses with better signal to noise ratio that I check more often.

Can't say I care particularly for the troops. They're not my troops, anyway. That's different when it comes to a.b.t-c regulars. So there you go.

Be safe.

3:49 AM  
Anonymous nerdasaaurus said...

The tribal areas in Pakistan haven't changed a lot in 1000 years or so. The place has always been ungovernable. Alexander couldn't do it, the British couldn't do it. The Indians couldn't do it, and now the Pakistanis can't do it. So this should come as NO surprise to you, John who knows history better than I.

That being said: what are the alternatives? There really aren't any. The geography isn't much different than Afghanistan, and we have trouble enough maintaining a presence there. Should we invade? Let NATO do it? The UN? France?

AFAIC, there is NO short term solution. In this case, short-term means "anything less than 40-50 years". The long-term solution is to convert Waziristan, Afghanistan, and any number of other -stans from third-world sh*tholes to SECOND-world sh*tholes at the very minimum. This takes a variety of efforts: educational, economic, political, military, and especially ideological. We spent the last 1 and a half generations fighting communism--and we really haven't won YET. We need a multi-generational effort to fight Islamic Fascism in the same way. It will get worse before it gets better.

At issue is whether the US and the rest of the "free world" wishes to remain free. I'm not convinced that this is so.

There are millions in the US and in Europe who think we can compromise with these murderers. They still think this is a law-enforcement issue rather than WAR. Victor Davis Hanson believes we are already in World War 4 (the "cold war" being WWIII). I concur. WWIII lasted 44 years and isn't over yet. How long will WWIV last? Literally, only $DEITY knows. But if we as the free people of the world are not dedicated to this effort, we will lose.

6:14 PM  
Blogger Curmudgeon said...

cmad said: Can't say I care particularly for the troops. They're not my troops, anyway. That's different when it comes to a.b.t-c regulars. So there you go.

Curmudgeon responds: Well, they're mine. I have friends, like John, who are over there, now my son is also, based not far from where John is, near an airbase in the dusty hell-hole called Iraq.

They're both doing the same job -- trying to make a hell-hole into something livable for the inhabitants and turn it into an ally, hopefully to begin the stabilisation of an area that is in sad need of it and cut down on lunatics that crash airplanes into buildings.

John, wearing a uniform here -- it depends on where you wear it in our fair nation. In some places it'll get you a beer or two, a handshake, a "thanks for doing what you do." It'll get you all three here in Roanoke, if I see you.

So, thanks again. Some of us appreciate it.

Leon

2:55 AM  

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