Saturday, October 06, 2007

General Musharraf Wins

Well, since he was the only candidate it was pretty much a foregone conclusion that he would win the "election." The Supreme Court is considering whether he can be President and Chief of Military at the same time, he has promised the Supreme Court he would resign the military position after the election.

Musharraf seized power in October 1999 and has struggled with accusations that his leadership is illegitimate, in 2002 he won a referendum which was widely regarded as rigged and a 2004 electoral college vote which expired this month. Recently he extended amnesty to politicians who served between 1988 and 1999 allowing Benazir Bhutto to participate in government. This followed a threat by Bhutto to pull her representatives in Parliament.

It is of considerable importance to remember that Pakistan has nuclear capability and is home to a large group of radical Muslims. The developments in that area over the past five years do not promise to enhance stability in Pakistan. The Afghan war put considerable strain on Musharraf's leadership, launching into Iraq may have created an extremely risky situation for administrations to come. There is not one hope in the world that the BushCo can or will do anything to improve Pakistan's stability. The Catch 22 in the mess is that Afghanistan is being undermined by the same Pakistani groups that threaten Musharraf and that were further activated by the Iraq adventure.

While George II concentrates on demonizing Iran and Ahmadenijad who have stakes in what happens in Iraq and Afghanistan and Pakistan, the latter two continue on a downward spiral that is not in Iran's interest, as previously demonstrated by them. The US and Iran have congruent interests in Pakistan and Afghanistan, Iraq continues to drive a wedge. Much of the fear of Iran's nuclear ambitions is driven by Iraq and in all probability much of Iran's wish to have some form of deterrent is driven by Iraq and the presence of US troops as an occupying force. Whatever the US has to say about Iraq, it is entirely reasonable for the Iranians to perceive the US troops as an invading force on Islamic ground on their border and as a threat.

I hold no brief for Ahmanejihad, nor for Maliki, and not for Musharraf other than as the alternative to Islamic nut cases with nuclear weapons. Once India acquired nuclear weapons capability, it was inevitable that Pakistan, an ardent foe, would seek it - and achieve it. That capability in the region drives fears of Iran and at the same time creates a nightmare scenario in Pakistan. The US is forced into the cold war position of supporting dictatorships out of fear of the alternative and at the same time opposing one over ideology in the same neighborhood. BushCo seems unable to see the consequences of creating fear in the region and stoking opposition forces with their actions. This from an administration "dedicated" to the proposition of democracy building.

It is much too late to defuse the situation created by invading Iraq, that is done, now the problem is how to deal with the fallout. Ratcheting up the rhetoric and increasing fear in the region is more of the same and the outcome will be more of the same. Playing the game of "how Iraq should have been handled" is now pointless, how to achieve some sort of order out of the chaos created is the order of the day. It is impossible to deal with the players without first reducing the fear factor, you will not get reasonable decisions from fear and anger based thinking. Afghanistan and Iraq sit between two hammers, Iran and Pakistan and possibly Syria, if reasoned thinking is not pursued in the region a disaster is in the making.

Musharraf has the military power to keep a lid on in Pakistan, up to a point, without broader Pakistani support for keeping that lid on, it will fail. Iran has the capacity to be an actor in the entire area, there is no sign that the mullahs are going to go away anytime soon, courting their positive involvement could create some form of order. The emotional loading of politics in the region is ridiculous, Musharraf is no more reflective of US philosophy than the mullahs are, and the pragmatism BushCo has exercised in making Musarraf an ally should be balanced with its approach to Iran. But pragmatism is not really the BushCo mindset, acquisition of power through fear is their paradigm. We've got a real serious problem and it ain't them Iraqis following us home.


Steve Culley said...

The last arms deal that gave Israel $22 billion also included a lot of nuclear technology to India. I would say we (the Bush administration) (America) is hedging its bets. There is a damn good possibility that Pakistan will have an Islamic revolution and both Pakistan and India have been testing nukes and missiles regularly. Having an enemy of Pakistan armed is in my opion another "containment" policy. Throw in Japan's move toward rearming and you get the big picture.

Chuck Butcher said...

I don't think BushCo has a big picture, so that picture is chaos.