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November 04, 2007

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I've nothing to add to your superb post, Hilzoy, except to recommend a book entitled "Three Cups of Tea" by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin, regarding Mortenson's heroic efforts to educate young women in the northern far reaches of Pakistan and in Afghanistan.

It seemed so mammothly heroic when I finished the book two days ago. A day later, bad events are likely to overwhelm the good.

Did anybody notice that the reporter betrayed his source:

a 35-year-old major in the Pakistani army, who had agreed to talk to me as long as I didn’t use his name or identify his unit... Major Khaled told me he resented the implication..."

Just can't trust those Americans, can you?

Erasmussimo: "Major Khaled" is the pseudonym the reporter gave his source. It's made clear in the part hidden under Hilzoy's ellipsis:

"“Major Khaled,” as I’ll call him, grew up in northern Punjab—the “martial belt” that has traditionally provided the vast majority of soldiers and officers in the army—and he received his training at the Pakistan Military Academy."

Yes, I just checked the original article and discovered the same thing.

Democracy is not the long-term answer in Pakistan, Turkey, Malaysia, Lebanon, or Indonesia. Religious families always have more children than secular families, and it becomes a matter of time before the successful candidate will be the one who promises:

“Vote for me and you will never have to vote again.”

President Bush is fixated on democracy. Democracy is President Bush’s fuzzy safety blanket. The American people are the ones who are supposed to have the luxury of idealistic thoughts. We pay the American President to make the cold, calculating decisions to protect us. Bush is not doing his job.

Plato did not like democracy because he felt that it only leads to dictatorship. Voter eligibility in Plato’s time was highly restricted. Pure democracy in the land of Madrasses is national suicide.

The People of Pakistan’s best hope is a strong military government that struggles to keep itself secular. In many ways, the world’s best hope is a strong Pakistani military government that struggles to keep itself secular.

Pakistan’s nuclear program is gearing up to produce fifty nuclear warheads each year.

Bill is turning out to be Bob McManus' younger brother raised in a different family.

Which is a compliment.

I agree with Bill's second to last paragraph.
I'm as liberal as the day is long, but Pakistan is a rough place.

I agree that Bush is fixated on democracy, but I don't believe he knows anything about it, except for how it works for his shallow, mean little bubble ego.

I hold out hope that Musharraf has nothing up his sleeve except an Imelda Marcos-like urge to hold on to power, and that a popular uprising places Benazir Bhutto in power.

Nice thought. But I think the next day Bhutto will be dead or imprisoned and chaos, armed with machetes and nukes, will overtake all fine sentiments.

Bill: I completely disagree, about at least Pakistan and Turkey. (The others I don't know well enough, except for Lebanon, in which the question of democracy is complicated by the question: what to do about the business of giving a set number of seats/positions to different confessional groups, which is too complicated for a quick answer. I suspect I'd say the same for Malaysia and Tunisia if I did.)

Religious people in Pakistan are not all fundamentalists or Islamists or extremists. Many of them are committed to both their faith and to democracy, just as many American Christians are. (Not in just the same way, as though culture were irrelevant; but: committed to both.) Democratic institutions are not nearly strong enough, and there aren't nearly enough really inspiring leaders, but the last thing Pakistan needs is a military dictatorship that prevents these sorts of institutions from growing and learning.

Pakistan has a serious professional class, and a commitment to constitutional government that is being abrogated. The last thing it needs is people in the US to blindly assimilate it to some one-size-fits-all picture of the Islamic world.

We have to accept that many people in these countries are deeply
religious. As Bill points out, they will out reproduce the
secularists. Demography is destiny, after all, so even a strong
secular military dictator is only a short term fix.

Now that we are developing a corps of experienced tortu... I mean,
enhanced interrogators, perhaps we can kill two birds with one stone
by cross training them in religious conversion so we can implement
Ann Coulter's proposed solution.

We could give them nice red uniforms and the best part is... nobody
would expect it.

this is all very very tough. i'm inclined to be kissinger here and throw in with -- well, let's call a spade a spade -- the dictator. but, i think the point in the Hammer piece makes sense that the continued illegitimacy is going to make the reasonable people hilzoy saw much more extremist. it's times like this where i truly feel for the president.

2 other quick points:

1 - i thought the mention of sending the army to texas illustrated the dynamic very well

2 - i agree with hilzoy that they're cleaning up our mess. i guess my question is how much of this mess can be attributed to our post-soviet withdrawal screw ups. i never read ghost wars, but it seems like everything keeps coming back to the soviets' invasion of afghanistan. (which provides an awesome preview of the long-term effects of our own crusade).

"Musharraf is an American puppet who orders his army to kill his own people at the behest of the Americans, in exchange for the wherewithal to stay in power."

"Given, on the one hand, the unbelievably large role that the military plays in the economic life of the country, and on the other the fact that it is one of the few functional organizations in the country, the fact that it seems to be under a lot of strain is a real problem."

Um hum, like the military played such a functional role in Bangladesh (formerly East Pakistan). It took the Americans to make Pakistanis kill Muslims? Yeah, right.

Like the old union song goes, "Which side are you on? Which side are you on?"

That's the way it is there, and has been since 1948.

So, I guess the question is:

Which side are you on?

I would like to strongly second hilzoy's disagreement with Bill. In my view it has been the military governments that have brought Pakistan to its current precarious state. Lacking popular support and myopically focused on India to the neglect of Pakistan's own development, they have neither the means nor the inclination to seriously address Pakistan's many divisive internal contradictions, which has resulted in violent outbreaks in Baluchistan and other dispossessed areas. Musharraf's desperate clawing for power has led him to identify the judiciary and civil society as Pakistan's (read: Musharraf's) greatest threat. In the past, and likely the future, military governments like Musharraf's have buttressed their (il)legitimacy thanks to the coopted support of Islamist "King's parties" which have never achieved more than marginal electoral successes on their own at the national level. This is not to suggest that such a victory by Islamist parties would be impossible, but the military's continued interruption of existing secular-mind civilian governments' rule cannot be seen as helping prepare against such an eventuality. He can then simultaneously present himself as the West's only hope for keeping the Islamists at bay. The Bush administration's blatant double-standard — praising Musharraf's Pakistan as a "democracy" is absurd — is hurting American national security far greater than his cooperation with U.S. counterterrorism initiative merits. Benazir Bhutto and the other politicians are far from saintly but I do not see anything improving under continued military dictatorship.

For book-length elaborations of arguments similar to these, as well as general background of Pakistan's political history, I would highly recommend Hussain Haqqani's "Pakistan Between Mosque and Military" and Steven Cohen's "The Idea of Pakistan".

"But there's another way to look at it: to think: Musharraf is an American puppet who orders his army to kill his own people at the behest of the Americans, in exchange for the wherewithal to stay in power."

Hilzoy,

This perception makes me very angry.

It reminds me that there are places where the people can be more in the wrong than their own government (actually at times that's been the case with the population of the US).

The Pakistani public has a choice about who to be angry at. They can choose to be angry at the the people who are committing unprovoked acts of war against Afghanistan, or they can choose to be angry at the Pakistani government that attempts to suppress that breakage of national and international laws (a government that is doing this with US support, encouragement, even pressure). They appear to be choosing to be angry at the wrong people, from the very get-go. They are probably choosing to apportion blame the way they are because of pre-existing religious prejudices, a generation-long cultivation of an America as the devil narrative, and wallowing post-colonial self-pity.

A Pakistani public opinion that was morally and intellectually sound, and based on the right principles, would condemn first off the use of their own territory as a base for violent extremism. While no doubt wanting the problem solved with as little bloodshed as possible,

Basically, if the Pakistani general public had a sound system of ethics, it would not have been a hard thing at all Musharaff to get compliance in keeping the Taliban out. Pakistani citizens would have endorsed it and the Taliban would have been kept out of Pakistani households to the point that no military operations would have been needed in the first place. The Pakistani public is angry about a situation that is their fault to begin with.

The Pakistani public opinions as described here are in no way morally or intellectually defensible. They exist, nothing I'm saying here will change them, but for the record......they are a steaming pile-- based on their own nationalistic and religious prejudices combined with an irresponsible attitude completely unconcerned about the impact of their own actions on others.


-Pashtun nationalists are esentially throwing rocks at the US because they're very angry at the US. What are they so angry about? the US came in and stopped them from throwing rocks at the US (The Pashtun sanctuary for AL-Qaeda). When you go back to the beginning of this chain of events you don't find Americans sstarting it with any evil visited upon the Pashtuns. We're being asked to be sympathetic to people who hate us because we hurt their fist a little bit when they were trying to punch us.

The average Pakistani joe hated the US even for working to arrest the guy who shot up a bunch of people at CIA in the early 90s.

Nothing I will say is going to stop the Pakistanis from havng a chip on their shoulder against the west. But that doesn't mean they have a right to that chip.

Hilzoy, can you come up with a justified reason for the rage they had even before the US began post-9-11 military operations (the US embassy was burned in '79..this stuff goes far, far back).

I mean seriously, compare the US interaction with Pakistan before 9-11 to people who really do have a legitimate chip on their shoulder like the Iranians (from the 53 coup) or the Palestinians (for decades of US-Israeli relations). There's been no credible allegation that the US participated in any Pakistani coups (it would have showed up in William Blum's book if it happened). The US was an ally and aid provider for Pakistan during the Cold War.

Yes that was support was inconsistent, but the US was always either a friend or a neutral towards Pakistan, never an enemy. We never gave India a military edge.

At most, the Pakistanis have a case for resenting us as we can resent the French for being an inconsistent ally. That's really about as much as they can complain. Muslims have complained alot about "disproportionate" responses to them. Their whole attitude towards the US is "disproportionate" to anything the US ever did to Pakistan.

The Pakistani Islamists decided to be anti-American before the Americans decided to be anti-Islamist in Pakistan. They were allies in the 80s, and possibly in the 90s (the Bosnia issue). They decided to betray the US, not the other way around. There perhaps are Pakistanis who have a right to complain against the US, persons hurt by Islamists there, for instance. But those are presciely the people in Pakistan who are not supporting anti-American actions.

Where am I going wrong here. Please, explain it to me.

Oh, they're poor or brown so we it's not really our place as westerners to question
Pakistani behavior?

Oh, they we're colonized, so they get an indulgence to be hypocritical with deadly consequences for a couple centuries?

Pakistan's northwest frontier has been tied to a really large share of international terrorist networks which have operated in the US and Europe going back to even before 9-11. The residents of that area do live a blighted life in many ways. They have things to be resentful about. But their assignment of blame is completely off the mark as is their choice of targets in venting their rage.

This ain't no karmic circle. People in many places are going to be killed by people enjoying sanctuary or training in this area. The people doing the killing aren't going to be doing it fighting occupation and avenging historical wrongs they or their ancestors suffered. They're going to be doing it for stupid reasons.

publius: I think we are now, once again, in one of those situations in which all the good things to do are way in the past. But certainly we would have put a lot less strain on Pakistan, and we would have had a lot more room for maneuver ourselves, if we hadn't screwed up Afghanistan/Tora Bora so completely.

DaveC: By 'functional' I meant something like: it gets its job done. No higher praise than that.

spockamok: I was describing a view, not endorsing it. It is a view that has consequences for our interests, and in my view we should not act to encourage it.

There are a lot of people in Pakistan who are disposed to like the US. We are making it a lot harder than it needs to be. (Other things, like visa hassles, don't help either.)

hilzoy, You know better than I do from, first hand experience, what a weird jumbled up mess Pakistan is.

Plus, they have got The Bomb.

This is a failure of promoting the realist view of a dictator, but a dictator that is not going to drop the big one, versus promoting democracy.

I don't think that populism is the way to go there, but I'm at a loss what to do.

Look how badly this attack against Mullah Omar went.

There is no way we could carpet bomb, or even make an "educated guess" tactical bombing to get Bin Ladin without the possibilty of a huge backlash.

This is a failure of promoting the realist view of a dictator, but a dictator that is not going to drop the big one, versus promoting democracy.

In other words, this is a failure of American foreign policy for the last 60 years.

ral: As Bill points out, they will out reproduce the
secularists. Demography is destiny, after all, so even a strong
secular military dictator is only a short term fix.

I call bull, on "ral" and "bill."

The "demography is destiny" argument has been around for centuries, and has always been both intellecually and morally bankrupt.

The fear that the "lesser breeds" are going to "outbreed" us can be found in Imperial England, in France (trying to bump up their fertility rates after WWI to keep the Germans from outpopulating them! a whole movement there), and in the United States for generations by upper classes fearful of being swamped by mud people. To say nothing of Lee Kuan Yew's Singapore.

(I can't believe I got through that entire paragraph without fulfilling/violating Godwin's Law!)

The fact of the matter is that in situations of social change (and economic growth), as people move up the ladder, their behavior changes - this is the "demographic transition," about which many books are written - and, most of the time, their values do as well. Or, more precisely, the values of the children wind up being more pragmatic than that of their parents, sometimes to the great disappointment of the latter. ("We raised little X to be such a devout Muslim / observant Jew / god-fearing Christian / fanatic of our persuasion, and now he's gone off and started listening to rock music / married a shiksa / studied sociology and his fanaticism has gone right off the boil.")

I don't know what the answer is in Pakistan, and I'm sure that democracy will be very very tricky to sustain there, as it is in many countries (including, at times, ours).

But to blame it on demography is garbage.

To what extent has the failure to fight the Afghan war correctly by the US contributed to the mess in Pakistan? To what extent has the US's misguided Iraq effort undermined the less radical elements in Pakistan?

I do not know whether or not we could have helped Pakistan become more stable, but we have definitely contributed to it becoming more unstable. It is another example of the spectacular failure of the Bush anti-terror effort. Charles writes posts about how it allegedly makes sense for us to keep waiting to see if hell freezes over in Iraq, while Pakistan and Afghanistan become hotbeds for Al Queda and other radical elements.

The big problem with Masharraf's action is that by definition, it just radicalizes the situation. Pakistan can only become more extreme, which cannot result in anything good. Whatever forces of moderation exist in Pakistan are unlikely to survive in this environment.

Back to the future…

In Lahore a human rights campaigner, Asma Jahangir, sent an email from home where she has been placed under detention for 90 days. "Those he has arrested are progressive, secular minded people while the terrorists are offered negotiations and ceasefires," she wrote.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/frontpage/story/0,,2205389,00.html

Spockamok writes,

This perception makes me very angry.

Indeed so. The post you write seethes with anger and lacks logic. You condemn an entire nation as lacking moral standards and intellectual substance. This kind of gross generalization is usually perpetrated by ignorant hicks (although I have no idea whether you are an ignorant hick). Dismissing the French as lovers, the Germans as mechanics, the Americans as cowboys, or the Pakistanis as immoral and stupid is the kind of analysis you see in the comics, not in serious political discussions.


mullah cimoc say benjamin frankling so ashame now if see ameriki people not to rise up and help him brother in pakistan.

somewhere ameriki lose way, now not to support him freedom fighter. now just for the kill and him ameriki not to care. this because usa media keep ameriki so stupid with war news blockade.

"Religious people in Pakistan are not all fundamentalists or Islamists or extremists."

Indeed, Hammer:

[...] Yet despite their clout in parliament and their seeming strength on the street, the Islamists are not widely popular: Their parties won only 11 percent of the vote in the 2002 elections (gerrymandering gave them a share of seats far greater than their numbers). Even in their stronghold, the North-West Frontier Province, they polled only 26 percent. Perhaps the biggest obstacle to the MMA’s growth is its abysmal record of governance: In the North-West Frontier Province, which the alliance controls, social services are disintegrating. Unless anti-Western sentiment reaches sustained and unprecedented levels, the Islamists seem highly unlikely.

"Indeed so. The post you write seethes with anger"

Yes

"and lacks logic."

That I disagree with.

You didn't really take on the logic or substance at all, just had an objection against tone.

My point is really simple. Some portion of the Pakistani public fails to realize or fails to care that it is a sovereign duty of a state to not shelter attackers against other states. At times, the outsiders affected by this react and seek to deal with it by legal means (the arrest of Mir Amal Kansi in the 1990s), or through diplomatic means (requests that the Pakistani government impose a monopoly of for force on their own country). This is seen by a much broader section of the public not as it should be, law enforcement to support the internal and external responsibilities of the Pakistani state. Instead it is viewed entirely through the prism of "You're not the boss of me." It was assumed by Pakistanis to be bad from the get-go because the US asked for it, not based on the merits of the case.

I can't say US policy towards Pakistan is perfect, but realize we've been working at a public opinion disadvantage in Pakistan for decades. The initial presumption of the Pakistani public was that we were the devil (at least to the extent politics are involved)

On the one hand Muslim publics are suffering under authoritarian regimes that deny them rights we expect from themselves. On the other hand, in alot of the Muslim world we have regimes that are willing to respect and uphold the Westphalian duties of their state and to prevent violence from being exported. But at the level of the public and low levels of the security forces, you get nullification of government policy. In that respect, the relevant public is worse than the leadership.

Nullification, nullification, nullification.

Just as all-white juries nullified proper readings of the law to permit the Klan to operate, and to promote white harmony by displacing blame onto blacks, lots of people at the Muslim grassroots basically nullify domestic and international law in cases where some policing of members of their own religious group would be required to protect the rights of people outside it.

In the US, citizens don't react so angrily, and people are not so resistant, when the police arrest somebody attacking across a foreign border from the US.

spockamok,

What about the Florida anti-Castro Cubans? Preaching about the Westphalian duties of states might be more believable if you came from a country which has not repeatedly supported groups committing aggressions against foreign states.

dr ngo, I see my attempt at humor has failed. I should leave it to John Thullen.

I thought the "nice red uniforms" was a dead giveaway but I guess not.

Pure democracy in the land of Madrasses is national suicide.

Madrasa simply means school. It is no more sinister than école is in France. Do you think democracy is incompatible with education?

"Saudi-financed, Wahhabist" madrasses might cast a slightly different light on compatability with democracy.

Generally speaking.

Spockamok, you are applying Western notions of statehood to a region where they are completely inapplicable. The state of Pakistan is itself a Western creation. The reality in that region is that there are a number of different ethnic groups that have no history of political unity. The polities that ruled over them in the past did so by ignoring them -- largely because there was no economic value to be had in controlling these dirt-poor areas.

From their point of view, things were just fine for centuries; they had the kind of freedom they wanted and they were left alone in their mountain fastnesses. The British came but pretty much left them alone. Faraway politicians drew lines on maps assigning them nationhood that they neither wanted nor cared about. And now you have the gall to declare these people morally deficient because they refuse to play by the rules you establish for them and they never agreed to.

What towering self-righteousness!

Spockamok has the gall to declare these people morally deficient because they harbor - apparently willingly, for the most part - Al Qaeda and the Taliban. If the people of the Northwest Provinces want to be left alone, perhaps they shouldn't open their homes to mass-murdering international terrorists.

TGB,
Yes, if those Waziristanis would just get cable in their pucca brick homes and watch CNN, they would get the picture. The nerve of them...

ThirdGorchBro, I'm glad that you smear the Pakistanis with a smaller brush than Spockamok, who is happy to dismiss 150 million people as morally deficient. At least you confine your condemnation to the much smaller group of mountain tribes in the Northwest Provinces. But again, you are applying Western moral values to people who have never embraced those values. Their loyalty is to their tribe, not some alien notion of statehood that was imposed upon them by others.

You and Spockamok are condemning these people as immoral because their moral system is different from yours. I'm not claiming they're right -- I'm assaulting your narrow-minded assumption that your own moral system is superior to all others. You are welcome to observe that their moral system is different from yours. But declaring one's own subjective code of morals to be the one true universal system of morality merits the contempt of educated people.

The situation with regard to tribal areas accepting al Qaeda and Taliban terrorists is extremely complicated, to my admitted shallow, meager knowledge.

Loyalties differ from one village to another, depending on the motivations and influence of local mullahs.

Cultural subtleties abound. Languages can be different on the other side of a river or over a ridge in a different valley.

These are very wise, very smart, very cunning people. Yes, their ideals that can be aligned with ours, but if we think we can bomb them into the stone age, have at it.

They can handle that. We won't be able to.

Read "Three Cups of Tea", referenced above, for a glimpse of how the blunt instrument of American power, let alone authority from Islamabad, is irrelevant.

An American CIA operative dumped into this area is at the same loss as a Waziristani would be if he was parachuted into Times Square during rush hour.

It will take a generation to figure this out.

If we think American military power alone can supply quick answers, then monstrous failure will be upon us very soon.

ral, I apologize. It appears that reading "bill" has left me humor-deficient. Only temporarily, I hope.

Zamir Akram, a Pakistani foreign-policy adviser, in an address to the Middle East Institute. "Would you go into Texas or wherever on the border areas and actually kill Americans?"

Yes. If it meant preserving the Union. As the American Civil War demonstrates. A similar principle is at stake. Who controls Pakistans foreign policy? The government in Islamabad or the tribes alqueda has subverted in the NW provinces.?

Erasmussimo,

The state of Pakistan is itself a Western creation
Way too judgemental and generalised. Real indian muslims working for their own interests regardless of englands opinion or power made a real country called Pakistan. That the Pashtun didn't want to be lumped into this new indentity can not simply be thrown at the feet of Westminster, real indian muslims were involved too.

And now you have the gall to declare these people morally deficient because they refuse to play by the rules you establish for them and they never agreed to.
What towering self-righteousness! ....
But again, you are applying Western moral values to people who have never embraced those values. Their loyalty is to their tribe, not some alien notion of statehood that was imposed upon them by others.

But the rules are pre Western, almost pre iron age rules. Leave me alone and I will leave you alone. If you harbor my enemy to restrain him peace be upon you, but if you harbor my enemy so that he may steal my sheep and trample my crops, then you shall share the fate of mine enemy.
Last time I checked these are not "Western" values per say, but tribal values. Certain Pashtun tribes have decided to wage war rather then have peace; they accept the consequences of their actions, why can't you?

So we ask, why do certain Pashtun tribes make war on Kabul and Islamabad? It is because a critical number of them have been subverted by the radical islamic revolutionaries who escaped tora bora. Their traditional leaders have been executed and replaced with ones that will go along with the Taliban/Alquaeda project. They have been revolutionised and will most likely share the fate of all modern revolutionary peoples (chinese, russians, cambodians) which is death.

Can this really still be viewed as the fault of the West? Are not the ummah and the guardians of the land of the two holy mosques more responsible? Did not their religion, their culture and their leadership produce Al quaeda, which is now an albatross around the necks of the Pashtun people?

Who is the real imperalist?
Who is the real enemy of peace?


Erasmussino, there is a difference between "morally deficient" and "immoral." I'm not condemning these people outright, nor am I proclaiming the universal applicability of Western values (though I do believe Western values are generally superior to those espoused by Islamists, and I suspect you do too).

I am also aware that the situation in Pakistan is tremendously complicated, and that we have a share in the blame for all this. But none of that will matter if Al Qaeda successfully launches another attack on America. If that happens, the US military will be going into Waziristan, with or without Musharraf's permission. And if Al Qaeda gets their hands on a Pakistani nuke and detonates it in an American city, what do you think will happen to the people of Pakistan then (assuming Bush doesn't find some way to blame it on Iran instead)?

The Pakistanis need to get over their reflexive tribalism and anti-Americanism and realize that they have an obligation to assist in the defeat of Al Qaeda. It is both a moral obligation (in every religion you can name, including Islam, the deliberate killing of non-combatants is anathema), and in their own best interests.

ThirdGorchBro: But none of that will matter if Al Qaeda successfully launches another attack on America. If that happens, the US military will be going into Waziristan, with or without Musharraf's permission.

Yeah, because that will have the same flailing uselessness as invading Afghanistan, while making Americans feel that something is being done.

Pity Bush isn't as interested in combating al-Qaeda as he is in spying on ordinary Americans and making war in the Middle East for oil, isn't it?

Northern Observer, you argue that Pakistan is just as much an "Indian Muslim" creation as a British creation. You miss my point: that Pakistan was NOT a creation of the people who are being condemned. It was imposed upon them by outsiders who now denounce them for failing to abide by Western standards of nationhood.

You next argue that the basic rule that B harboring A's enemies makes B an enemy of A is not exclusive to Western morals. I agree. But here we get into a lot of gray area depending upon the degree of support and the actions of those sheltered. We Americans have offered shelter to all sorts of people who were enemies of others: the Contras, the mujahadeen, the Cuban expatriates, among others. We have supplied them with weapons and given them training. So we are in no position to make any moral condemnations of these people -- they're doing exactly the same thing we have done for years (in fact, when they were doing it against the Soviet invaders, they got billions in weaponry from us and many pats on the back).

I have no problem with your acknowledging the diplomatic realities and saying that the US should consider its military options with regard to this problem. That's another argument. My objection is to the hypocrisy of morally condemning these people for doing exactly the same thing that we have done for decades, and the self-righteousness that assumes the intrinsic moral superiority of Western values.

ThirdGorchBro, I'm pleased to see that you are not participating in the moral condemnation of the others, and are instead taking a pragmatic point of view. That's good. What's not so good is what appears to me to be a miscalculation. You seem to think that, if a nuclear warhead detonates in an American city, we can do something about it. We have no options here. What are we going to do, bomb these people back into the Stone Age? They're already mostly there! Sure, we can blow up villages and kill lots of people, but the odds of actually getting the responsible ones are low. All we'll end up doing is further convincing the world that we are barbarians desperately in need of external restraint. Any attack on Waziristan or the Northwest Province will generate political chaos in Pakistan with a good chance of a strongly anti-American government emerging -- and they've got nukes. This would not be a prudent course of action.

The sad fact is, we've already used up our diplomatic and military resources on Iraq. We have neither the diplomatic nor the military power to make things happen in western Pakistan. We're helpless. That's what happens when you use your power foolishly. Get used to it -- from now on, things are going to be tough sledding for the USA. We may have to swallow a few nuclear attacks. When you behave foolishly, you have to be ready to accept the consequences of your actions.

If you harbor my enemy to restrain him peace be upon you, but if you harbor my enemy so that he may steal my sheep and trample my crops, then you shall share the fate of mine enemy.

You forgot to add the or harbor my oil in your land in there.

TGB: Why should they perceive the shock and awe carpetbombing by the US different from suicide terrorist bombings? Why is it allright for the US to harbor for instance Cuban terrorists, or to support Chechnian ones, but not for them to support the people that use those tactics to support *their* cause? Why was in fine to support the Taliban when they were bombing the Russians, but morally deficient when they want to bomb the US?

When you behave foolishly, you have to be ready to accept the consequences of your actions.

I'm going to assume you are not suggesting the United States deserves to "swallow a few nuclear attacks." But since we're talking about the consequences of foolish actions, what consequences do you believe the Muslim peoples of the Middle East would suffer if the US did get hit by multiple nuclear attacks? I for one hope they (and more to the point, their political and religious leaders) are thinking very seriously about those consequences when they consider whether to hinder or aid our hunt for UBL and company.

Ah yes, our missile gap with the Pakistanis. I hope they are also considering what would happen if they invaded the US and had to fight rag-tag groups of never say die youth militias screaming 'Wolverines!'. Might make them hesitate, I'd say.

Mussimo
I didn't miss the point. You said "the West", you did not say outsiders, and on top of that your rejoinder is too generalised. The founders of Pakistan were from Karachi and Lahore and Rawalpindi as much as they were from Dehli, Calcutta or Madras. Are they outsiders too? Who is an insider and who is an outsider in this story exactly? Part of the tragedy is that it is hard to tell. What is certain is that London is secondary to this story and that was my point.

As for the rest I think you are simply taking sides, placing the Pakistani Pashtun and their guests above everyone else, be it a bombing victim in Karachi or Madrid.
How is that right?

When you behave foolishly, you have to be ready to accept the consequences of your actions.

Satan, Satan, paging Satan on line two, it's Death calling he'd like to thank you for the gifts.

3rdGorchBro: I for one hope they (and more to the point, their political and religious leaders) are thinking very seriously about those consequences when they consider whether to hinder or aid our hunt for UBL and company.

The chief obstacle in the US "hunt" for Osama bin Laden is George W. Bush and his administration.

I don't know why you think that the political and religious leaders of countries in the US nuclear bombing zone (Israel will suffer as badly as Syria, if the US decides to launch a few nuclear missiles at Iran) don't take the consequences of "hindering" George W. Bush and his administration very seriously.

But I don't know what you think that has to do with the "hunt for bin Laden", or the need to prevent al-Qaeda from further terrorist attacks, to which George W. Bush has remained entirely indifferent.

Of course, this is all just a bunch of idle speculation anyway. Pakistan isn't going to fall to the Islamists any time soon, if ever, and Al Qaeda is likely never going to get its hands on even a single nuke, much less several.

dutchmarbel, if you can't see the prima facie moral difference between the mujahideen fighting a guerilla war against Soviet occupiers in their own country and what Al Qaeda did on 9/11, then I doubt I can explain it to you.

The chief obstacle in the US "hunt" for Osama bin Laden is George W. Bush and his administration.

I agree 100%, Jes.

I hate arguing with sensible, reasonable Republicans. Takes all the joy out of a good rant.

;-)

ThirdGorchBro says:

Pakistan isn't going to fall to the Islamists any time soon, if ever…

Dana Perino, from the White House today: "The best option is for Pakistan to get back on its path to democracy.”

From CNN two months ago:

According to poll results, bin Laden has a 46 percent approval rating. Musharraf's support is 38 percent. U.S. President George W. Bush's approval: 9 percent.

http://edition.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/09/11/poll.pakistanis/

Anybody want to speculate on how current events have affected public opinion?

Nuclear Weapons. Lots of them. Gearing up for fifty new ones annually.

I'm going to assume you are not suggesting the United States deserves to "swallow a few nuclear attacks.

Of course not. Moreover, whether it deserves to or not is irrelevent -- we need to think about what might happen, not what would be wrong to happen. The reality is that anything we do beyond raids and hot pursuit will likely stoke a reaction that could eventually lead to bad people setting off nuclear weapons in our country. In such a case, it really won't do much good to shout "But this is immoral!" into the blast wave.

I didn't miss the point.
OK, here it is again just so we're sure we're on the same page: the mountain tribes of western Pakistan were never consulted about the creation of Pakistan. They did not participate in the creation of that country, and they did not buy into the moral systems that are part of the modern notion of nationhood. Hence, it is folly to denounce them for failing to respect moral standards they never agreed to. Are we now in agreement?

what consequences do you believe the Muslim peoples of the Middle East would suffer if the US did get hit by multiple nuclear attacks?

This comment is so symptomatic of the reason why we can't solve this problem: we ignorantly lump together all Muslim peoples as one huge mass of bloodthirsty terrorists. There are hundreds of millions of these people in the Middle East. They have many different versions of Islam. They speak many different languages. They have many different political viewpoints. Some are very wealthy, most are dirt poor.

I fear that, if a nuclear weapon were to be detonated on American soil, we would be idiotic enough to blame Muslims in general for it, and lash out blindly at easy targets that had nothing to do with the attack. We've done it once, and we're just stupid enough to do it again. I myself would be eager to punish those who were truly responsible, but my guess is that we'd kill so many innocents that we would only succeed in making al-Qaeda recruitment go through the roof.

Of course, this is all just a bunch of idle speculation anyway. Pakistan isn't going to fall to the Islamists any time soon, if ever, and Al Qaeda is likely never going to get its hands on even a single nuke, much less several.

I'm not so sure. Yes, for the short term (five to ten years), we're pretty safe on this count. But who can say what the political situation in Iraq, Iran, and Pakistan will look like twenty years from now? Of one thing we can be certain: Pakistan will still have the bomb.

dutchmarbel, if you can't see the prima facie moral difference between the mujahideen fighting a guerilla war against Soviet occupiers in their own country and what Al Qaeda did on 9/11, then I doubt I can explain it to you.

You said: "Spockamok has the gall to declare these people morally deficient because they harbor - apparently willingly, for the most part - Al Qaeda and the Taliban. If the people of the Northwest Provinces want to be left alone, perhaps they shouldn't open their homes to mass-murdering international terrorists.". Why is that different from the US protecting Cuban terrorists that blow up civilian airoplanes?

You call them mass-murdering international terrorist, and you are right to do so. But do you realize that the bombing of civilians to create terror ('shock and awe') is perceived as mass-murdering international terrorism too by those groups?

One of the main arguments against 'evil states' usually is that they support/sponsor terrorists. But the US supports it just as much when it is convenient or when it serves their interests.

So I don't compare supporting the Taliban against the Russians with what Al Quaida did. I just feel that blatantly taking the moral highground is unjustified.

I fear that, if a nuclear weapon were to be detonated on American soil, we would be idiotic enough to blame Muslims in general for it, and lash out blindly at easy targets that had nothing to do with the attack.

So do I. That was kind of my point, actually. Which is why I hope that Muslim leaders throughout the Middle East will swallow their pride and their resentment of the US, and root out Al Qaeda. It's in their best interests as well as ours.

But who can say what the political situation in Iraq, Iran, and Pakistan will look like twenty years from now? Of one thing we can be certain: Pakistan will still have the bomb.

Well, hopefully future US administrations will be more competent than Bush at conducting foreign policy. I don't think that's an unreasonable hope, though it's certainly not inevitable.

Bill: "Nuclear Weapons. Lots of them. Gearing up for fifty new ones annually."

The U.S. has thousands of nuclear weapons. I'm unclear how this indicates that the U.S. is about to go Islamist.

Have you considered writing in sentences, with verbs, subjects, and objects? It might make your points less invisible.

But insofar as you have a point, care to comment on what I already quoted?

[...] Yet despite their clout in parliament and their seeming strength on the street, the Islamists are not widely popular: Their parties won only 11 percent of the vote in the 2002 elections (gerrymandering gave them a share of seats far greater than their numbers). Even in their stronghold, the North-West Frontier Province, they polled only 26 percent. Perhaps the biggest obstacle to the MMA’s growth is its abysmal record of governance: In the North-West Frontier Province, which the alliance controls, social services are disintegrating. Unless anti-Western sentiment reaches sustained and unprecedented levels, the Islamists seem highly unlikely.
Is your expertise on Pakistan sufficiently greater than Hammer's that we should pay mind to yours?

Erasmussimo: "This comment is so symptomatic of the reason why we can't solve this problem: we ignorantly lump together all Muslim peoples as one huge mass of bloodthirsty terrorists."

Speak for yourself.

dutchmarbel: "So I don't compare supporting the Taliban against the Russians with what Al Quaida did."

Just for the record, the Taliban didn't exist then. Speaking of lumping.

Gary admonishes me to speak for myself when talking about the ignorant approach of some Americans. Ironically, my attempt to be diplomatic and not irritate spockamok, NorthernObserver, and ThirdGorchBro DID succeed in irritating Gary. So here is the corrected wording:

"Your comment is so symptomatic of the reason why America can't solve this problem: many Americans ignorantly lump together all Muslim peoples as one huge mass of bloodthirsty terrorists."

Are we all happy now? ;-)

Just for the record, the Taliban didn't exist then. Speaking of lumping.

You're absolutely right.

oh, and happy birthday gary

Hi Gary;

Sure I’ll comment. The Islamists spread their influence by being bad neighbors. Sharia creeps and if you look at the history of the spread of Islam, it usually follows the same general pattern. Move in, be bad neighbors, use the tenants of their beliefs to threaten and eventually drive away the host population. The subjugation of women keeps birthrates high and the territories are repopulated. See Egypt, Turkey, Yugoslavia, Lebanon, Malaysia, Indonesia, and increasingly, Europe. Your observation of the breakdown of services in the northwest territories is correct. When a certain level of purity is achieved, the system cannot sustain itself economically. That is why lands with a strong Muslim presence tend to cycle between Sharia and dictatorship.

Nobody likes the result, but nobody’s strong enough to confront the belief system.

The ‘radical’ threat isn’t from a democratic vote, the Constitution would again be dissolved if that happened. The threat is a military coup. Never underestimate the value of being ‘on a mission from God’. The military was shooting missiles at Musharraf’s plane from a base just a couple of months ago.

As for my expertise, I used to do some work for the government in the Middle East. If you’ve ever had a guy point a gun at you, it leaves an impression. That and some recommended reading. Call me a lumper.

http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/reference/searchhadith.html

Bill, your version of the history of the spread of Islam is way off the mark. The expansion of Islam across the Middle East, Northern Africa, Spain, and the Balkans was due almost exclusively militarily. They didn't drive away the indigenous populations, they conquered them! The only place where Islamic expansion was undeniably non-military was in the East Indies -- and there is was by setting a good example that they won over the locals.

"...use the tenants of their beliefs...."

You want "tenets" there.

The warning at your link seems apposite:

Warning (especially for Muslims)

There are many early hadith scholars and teachers to whom we are indebted for introducing the critical science of collecting and evaluating ahadeeth. These teachers each collected many different ahadeeth. They did not allow students to quote from their collections until the students had actually come to them and learnt from them directly.

Today, the situation is different. The collections of ahadeeth have for the most part stabilized, and with the advent of the printing press, the collections are easily mass-produced. There is a blessing in all this of course, but there is a real danger that Muslims will fall under the impression that owning a book or having a database is equivalent to being a scholar of ahadeeth. This is a great fallacy. Therefore, we would like to warn you that this database is merely a tool, and not a substitute for learning, much less scholarship in Islam.

Are you a professional scholar of Islam, Bill?

"As for my expertise, I used to do some work for the government in the Middle East."

That's nice, and meaningless: maybe you drove a truck, or did security work, or, you know, something other than study Islam.

Do you care to offer any other evidence of expertise, of any sort, in Islam, or comparative religion? Having worked for some months in an Islamic country doesn't make you expert by osmosis, after all. I've lived a lifetime in a country that's majority Christian, but that doesn't itself train me in Christian theology. Mere proximity might aid in acquiring prejudices, but not so much in actual expertise.

You've been asked several times, and as is your wont, not responded, as to why it is we should be any more alarmed at the fact that the Koran is stuffed with horrific passages than we should be alarmed at the fact that the Old and New Testaments are equally crammed with God's orders to commit genocides, slaughters, killing of children, enslavement, and equally horrific garbage.

Should we just take to repeating such quotes from the Christian and Jewish holy books when you quote the Koran? It would be equally productive.

Here you claimed that:

[...] (1) There is no doctrine for Jews or Christians to either kill, subjugate, or convert non-believers.
Of course, that's endlessly contradicted by passages in the Bible, and by actual history.

Lots of people responded to your points on that thread, and you never responded. This is a repeated pattern. (Not an example of that, but a keeper nonetheless was this comment.)

Then there's the using made-up quotes and citing them as proof that they're not made-up, which is truly impressive, if not unusual, logic.

Followed by your not responding, but citing VDARE. And when further questioned, not responding.

This may not tend to encourage putting any effort into conversing with you.

"We" screwed up so much earlier than November 2001. The policy of supporting the jihadi resistance to the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, of pouring money and resources into the most regressive sectors of the Pakistani government, of not just turning a blind eye but actively helping Pakistan get the bomb...

The all-choices-are-horrible trainwreck we're in was set in motion by Ronald Reagan, Dick Cheney, Stephen Hadley, George H.W. Bush, Bill Casey and Bob Gates and their minions. Their choice was alwasy to suck up to radical Islamists who'd do the things we wanted (Saudis lowering oil prices, emirs forking over money for dirty wars in Central America and around the world, Pakistani ISI organizing the strategic rearguard and supply for the mujahedeen in Afghanistan), and to hell with the future.

Here we are, in hell.

"...of not just turning a blind eye but actively helping Pakistan get the bomb..."

Could you perhaps offer a cite or two on that, please?

Gary, I'd like to thank you for offering such thorough evidence of Bill's questionable reliability. I'll keep that in mind in the future, and I shall probably not bother to respond to Bill, as you make it apparent that he seldom reciprocates.

My point is really simple. Some portion of the Pakistani public fails to realize or fails to care that it is a sovereign duty of a state to not shelter attackers against other states.

Some portion of the NYC police department, along with a number of other civic organizations in the US, kept the IRA funded and armed for a lot of its history.

Some portion of the Pakistani public considers themselves Pashtun as much as, if not more than, Pakistani, and considers themselves bound by the traditional rules of their tribal identity, regardless of what consequences that might have for either the state of Pakistan or the US.

Some portion of the population of the US sheltered Eric Rudolph from the FBI for about five years.

People are wacky everywhere.

I guess we can get angry because some Pakistanis don't like us, because Bin Laden polls better than George Bush, or because some Pashtun tribes in Waziristan give Bin Laden a place to hide. We might even get angry enough to say it's their own damned fault their country is going to hell in a handbasket.

Or, we could try to figure out something constructive to do about it. That might not even be possible, but if not, I'd say it's likely that that's not entirely the fault of the Pakistanis.

If we think American military power alone can supply quick answers, then monstrous failure will be upon us very soon.

Thullen, I think your watch is running slow.

I for one hope they (and more to the point, their political and religious leaders) are thinking very seriously about those consequences when they consider whether to hinder or aid our hunt for UBL and company.

I could be wrong, but it's not my general impression that many, if any, nations in the Middle East or anywhere else are making any particular attempt to hinder our hunt for UBL et al.

We seem to have that job covered in house.

Call me a lumper.

Noted.

Thanks -

I forgot this exchange:

Bill:

"A large percentage of the 5,000 young English professionals that leave [England] each week"
Me:
You were previously asked for a cite on this, and you've not responded. Simply repeating an unsourced assertion doesn't actually make it more credible.
Bill responds:
I’ve been looking for the link to the 5000 Brits weekly and have not been successful. It was in a Brit paper (Sunday Times?) and was featured on the Drudge report. It’s real.

As a substitute here’s commentary on a ‘California Is Seen in the Rear View Mirror’ story from the LA Times. The original story had been removed from the web by the LA Times, which is what I suspect happened to the Brit story (or maybe its lack of search engine skill on my part).

This is, for me, an intriguing new style of citation.

Here we are, in hell.

Without meaning any criticism of Nell, somewhere I hear a Pakistani lawyer saying, "Who is the 'we' you speak of, Kimosabe?"

Gary, I'd like to thank you for offering such thorough evidence of Bill's questionable reliability.

Seconded, and not just in the context of Bill's statements.

Thanks -

My point is really simple. Some portion of the Pakistani public fails to realize or fails to care that it is a sovereign duty of a state to not shelter attackers against other states.

Some portion of the NYC police department, along with a number of other civic organizations in the US, kept the IRA funded and armed for a lot of its history.

The U.S. government has, at one time or another, sheltered and sponsored armed and organized attackers against the sovereign governments of, just to name a few examples, Iran, Cuba, Nicaragua, the People's Republic of China, the Soviet Union, Angola, Ukraine, Indonesia, and the list goes on. Here are a few more, but I'll be happy to give endless cites on any of the above for those not familiar with the details (in the cases of Iraq and Iran we're talking multiple instances over the decades).

Samples from that link, though:

1. UKRAINIAN PARTISANS

From 1945 to 1952, the CIA trained and aerially supplied Ukrainian partisan units which had originally been organised by the Germans to fight the Soviets during WWII. For seven years, the partisans, operating in the Carpathian Mountains, made sporadic attacks. Finally, in 1952, a massive Soviet military force wiped them out.

2. CHINESE BRIGADE IN BURMA

After the Communist victory in China, Nationalist Chinese soldiers fled into northern Burma. During the early 1950s, the CIA used these soldiers to create a 12,000-man brigade which made raids into Red China. However, the Nationalist soldiers found it more profitable to monopolise the local opium trade.

3. GUATEMALAN REBEL ARMY

After Guatemalan president Jacobo Arbenz legalised that country's Communist party and expropriated 400,000 acres of United Fruit banana plantations, the CIA decided to overthrow his government. Guatemalan rebels were trained in Honduras and backed up with a CIA air contingent of bombers and fighter planes. This army invaded Guatemala in 1954, promptly toppling Arbenz's regime.

4. SUMATRAN REBELS

In an attempt to overthrow Indonesian president Sukarno in 1958, the CIA sent paramilitary experts and radio operators to the island of Sumartra to organize a revolt. With CIA air support, the rebel army attacked but was quickly defeated. The American government denied involvement even after a CIA B-26 was shot down and its CIA pilot, Allen Pope, was captured.

5. KHAMBA HORSEMEN

After the 1950 Chinese invasion of Tibet, the CIA began recruiting Khamba horsemen - fierce warriors who supported Tibet's religious leader, the Dalai Lama - as they escaped into India in 1959. These Khambas were trained in modern warfare at Camp Hale, high in the Rocky Mountains near Leadville, Colorado. Transported back to Tibet by the CIA-operated Air America, the Khambas organized an army numbering at its peak some 14,000. By the mid-1960s the Khambas had been abandoned by the CIA but they fought on alone into 1970.

6. BAY OF PIGS INVASION FORCE

In 1960, CIA operatives recruited 1,500 Cuban refugees living in Miami and staged a surprise attack on Fidel Castro's Cuba. Trained at a base in Guatemala, this small army - complete with an air force consisting of B-26 bombers - landed at the Bay of Pigs on April 17, 1961. The ill-conceived, poorly planned operation ended in disaster, since all but 150 men of the force were either killed or captured within three days.

[...]

11. THE CAMBODIAN COUP

For over 15 years, the CIA had tried various unsuccessful means of deposing Cambodia's left-leaning Prince Norodom Sihanouk, including assassination attempts. However, in March, 1970, a CIA-backed coup finally did the job. Funded by US tax dollars, armed with US weapons, and trained by American Green Berets, anti-Sihanouk forces called Kampuchea Khmer Krom (KKK) overran the capital of Phnom Penh and took control of the government. With the blessing of the CIA and the Nixon administration, control of Cambodia was placed in the hands of Lon Nol, who would later distinguish himself by dispatching soldiers to butcher tens of thousands of civilians.

12. KURD REBELS

During the early 1970s the CIA moved into eastern Iraq to organize and supply the Kurds of that area, who were rebelling against the pro-Soviet Iraqi government. The real purpose behind this action was to help the shah of Iran settle a border dispute with Iraq favourably. After an Iranian-Iraq settlement was reached, the CIA withdrew its support from the Kurds, who were then crushed by the Iraqi Army.

13. ANGOLA MERCENARY FORCE

In 1975, after years of bloody fighting and civil unrest in Angola, Portugal resolved to relinquish its hold on the last of its African colonies. The transition was to take place on November 11, with control of the country going to whichever political faction controlled the capital city of Luanda on that date. In the months preceding the change, three groups vied for power: the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), the National Front for the Liberation of Angola (FNLA) and the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA). By July 1975, the Marxist MPLA had ousted the moderate FNLA and UNITA from Luanda, so the CIA decided to intervene covertly. Over $30 million was spent on the Angolan operation, the bulk of the money going to buy arms and pay French and South African mercenaries, who aided the FNLA and UNITA in their fight. Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, US officials categorically denied any involvement in the Angolan conflict. In the end, it was a fruitless military adventure, for the MPLA assumed power and controls Angola to this day.

Just samples. More available!

For color, enjoy the CIA's Manual for attackers of the Nicaraguan government.

The U.S. has a strikingly poor history of adhering to the "sovereign duty" spockamok describes.

I should be fair, and mention that on the bright side, in installing Lon Nol as military ruler of Cambodia (briefly), we did create the only head of state whose name is a palindrome, so it wasn't all bad.

The United States government observed Pakistan's nuclear program developing without doing much to stop it. During the Reagan years, this watching became quiet facilitation.

Former Dutch Prime Minister Ruud Lubbers has said that the CIA was monitoring Khan from the beginning. He asserts that the US turned down offers to detain Khan in 1975 and 1986 because they wanted to “gain more information” about the scientist’s activities.

Intelligence information later showed that the US and its allies allowed Pakistan to clandestinely acquire most of the technology for its nuclear program from abroad, unwittingly facilitating the spread of nuclear weapons technology to Iran, North Korea and Libya over the past several decades.

When Richard Barlow joined the CIA in 1985 as a counter-proliferation intelligence officer with particular expertise on Pakistan, he quickly realized that Pakistan was continuing to develop its nuclear program, and that some of its clandestine and illegal procurement activity was occurring within the US.

It didn't take Barlow long to realize that US officials knew what Pakistan was doing. According to Barlow, individuals at the State Department later actively facilitated procurement, tipping off targets of sealed arrest warrants in undercover operations and illegally approving export licenses for restricted goods.

Naturally, this situation created problems.

In 1985—following the arrest of a Pakistani agent in the US who attempted to procure specialized switches for nuclear detonators—Congress took steps to prevent Pakistan from developing nuclear weapons, passing bills that would cut off economic and military aid to Pakistan if it were found to be involved in nuclear activities.

One amendment declared that all overt aid to Pakistan—which came to over $4 billion in 1986—must cease unless the President certified annually that Pakistan did not possess a nuclear device. Another prohibited aid to any “non-nuclear” nation found to be illegally exporting nuclear materials from the US.

Given Pakistan's proliferation activities, this meant the ongoing aid to Pakistan was illegal. However, President Reagan wanted military and economic aid to continue flowing to Pakistan to ensure its ongoing support of his covert war against the Russians in Afghanistan.

The countervailing view, held by many at the CIA, was that proliferation was an important threat in its own right and shouldn’t take a back seat to fighting communism. In addition, Barlow and others believed that Pakistan would continue to assist in the covert war against the Russians, regardless of sanctions against its nuclear program.

link
[emphasis added]

A good roundup of other links on the Richard Barlow story here, and an unusually good Washington Post piece (shunted into the Saturday edition of a holiday weekend, a common 'reward' for telling an inconvenient story well).

Oops, left off WaPo link.

Thanks, Nell. I wasn't familiar with the Barlow story.

Point taken, Russell. I'm not in danger of being imprisoned in Musharraf's roundups.

But the big 'we' I was thinking of is all of us preferring democratization, human rights protection, etc. to dictatorship and war. The blowback from the eighties is a big part of what gave Cheney and Bush the space to do their controlled demolition of the republic.

Gary, I thought U Nu...

Lurker,

re: "But what about the anti-Castro Cubans?"

Lurker:

Guess who gets to raise that argument and have it be something other than a rhetorical gimmick? The Cubans. Not anybody else.

Sure as heck not the Pakistanis.

The Pakistanis can use that type of gotcha card only if they can make the case that US negligence has provided sanctuary or resources to people who have attacked or harmed Pakistan.* If they can make that case, then they can say “we’re even” or “we’ll clean up our mess when you clean up yours.” US relations with Cuba, Nicaragua, Iran, Israel, whomever don’t even enter into the bilateral US-Pakistani ledge. Things that the US and Pakistan have done to each other enter into it, that’s it.

You seem to be arguing that the US cannot issue complaints when others fail to enforce national self-control because we too have failed to enforce national self-control. Presumably our failures mean we cannot complain when this problem affects us. I’m not sure if you believe this applies for an eternity or just until the US government has satisfactorily atoned and made reparations for its sins on this score. And if we do want to say that a country’s standing to ask for the benefits of Westphalian protection is foreit if that country has neglected its own Westphalian duties, well then the Pakistanis have no right to an ounce of anger over violations of their sovereignty, at least until they fully atone and make reparations for the countless violations they have committed against Indian and Afghan sovereignty. By the same standard that we are hypocrites, so are they.

There’s another, more practical question that your point on American hypocrisy on national self-control raises. OK, you’re right. So what do we do next? How do you want your government to behave in the situation it is in today? What’s your plan? Is it that the US spends a generation or so morally perfecting itself before it meekly asks for others to please be considerate of the harm that they may export to the US? I’ll tell you what I’d like my government to do. I’d like my government to help bring anti-Cuban terrorists to justice. I’d also like my government to advocate in favor of my security, my community’s security, Hilzoy’s, Lurker’s security, etc, by using its diplomatic influence to get sources of threat to police themselves.

I’d be highly disappointed though if my government insisted on dealing with the anti-Cuban or other US-based terrorists to the exclusion of us holding others accountable when they threaten our security. In fact I think that taking that position, of wanting America to do good (unto others), to the exclusion of it doing well (by having others not do harm to it) automatically disqualifies that person from a leadership position that has anything to do with national security (that’s one item that disqualifies Ralph Nader for instance). I, for the record, would like the US to do well and do good, but I am uninterested in submitting to external attacks to allow an exclusive focus on righting every wrong our government has done.

I really can’t understand the negative reaction to my posts. It’s pretty elementary basic stuff. The logic is basically unassailable. The only reason I can think of is a bias among the commenters that says Americans are not allowed to be angry at anyone except their own government and domestic ideological opponents, but the anger of everyone else in the world must be respected uncritically, and indulged. I am no fan of hyper-nationalism anywhere, including American hyper-nationalism, but I think the attitude of many progressive blog commenters takes anti-nationalism to absurd levels. You do realize how distant your viewpoints are from anything politically possible (and rightfully so, when you take it this far)? When you look at what the progressive commenters choose to talk about and not talk about, it becomes apparent they think the US should be an advocate for everybody else and not itself, or that it be at most a neutral, disinterested judge, But international politics is an adversary system. It is anarchic. There is no neutral magistrate above which makes binding, enforceable decisions. If the US does not advocate for itself, who else will?

I’m not prepared to leave that task of advocacy just to the right wing, which far too often promotes missionary agendas, an unlimited American exceptionalism, callousness, an utter lack of empathy, no nuance, and all the rhetorical skill of the Incredible Hulk.

My bottom-line is that the right and much of the “center” are annoyingly hypocritical, constantly policing the behavior of others while never stopping to think about policing America’s own behavior. The out of power progressive blog commenters are annoyingly anti-hypocritical, being so exclusively concerned with policing the behavior of the US administration that they neglect cases where the behavior of external actors should be policed. Our progressive elected officials probably strike about the right balance, being much more sensitive to the consideration we must show others, but still looking out for the self-defense of the people that elected them as a first priority.

*Maybe indeed that has happened. South Asian diaspora communities in the US or other parts of the west may have had a hand in funding organized crime or sectarian violence that has erupted in the streets of Karachi. I think an approach that would recognize the dignity and equality of both the US and Pakistan would be for both sides to agree they have a mutual responsibility to investigate all transnational crime between the two (of which terrorism is one type) and to make their best good-faith efforts to prevent transnational crime today and in the future. This is the only way to conceive of the issue that could take us into a more productive and mutually beneficial future. Can any of you object to this? If so, please explain.

Bravo dutchmarbel and northern observer.

You really have refuted erasmussimo's logic.

A whole bunch of others have chimed in, as was entirely predictable, to harp on the US record.

Stuff that is completely not germane to the US-Pakistani bilateral case. Hey, if the Cubans or British got negligent about anti-US terrorist, maybe I'd have to bite my tongue based on the US record, but guess what, jihadists ain't Cuban or British.

Meanwhile, I'm the only one who proposed a positive way forward for the mutual benefit and dignity of Pakistan and the US. All the people who just decided to make this a US history lesson did jack squat on that score. I'll repeat the proposal, for your benefit:

I think an approach that would recognize the dignity and equality of both the US and Pakistan would be for both sides to agree they have a mutual responsibility to investigate all transnational crime between the two (of which terrorism is one type) and to make their best good-faith efforts to prevent transnational crime today and in the future. This is the only way to conceive of the issue that could take us into a more productive and mutually beneficial future. Can any of you object to this? If so, please explain.

I really can’t understand the negative reaction to my posts. It’s pretty elementary basic stuff. The logic is basically unassailable.

If it's so unassailable, why has it been assaulted so much?

This discussion has been shifting around. My original objection was to the moralistic condemnation of Pakistanis because they have not abided by the application of Western notions of national responsibilities to their country. Others also objected to the moralistic condemnations on the basis of hypocrisy. It appears that you (spockamok) have abandoned the moral judgements and are now getting down to actual policy issues. That's good.

You resort to straw man reasoning when you attack those who, in your words, are "wanting America to do good (unto others), to the exclusion of it doing well (by having others not do harm to it)" Nobody here has said anything to that effect. You are welcome to continue attacking absurd positions (I'm sure that you can come up with something good against the flat-earthers) but please remember that these arguments of yours are irrelevant to this discussion.

You offer as your positive way forward an agreement in which

both sides to agree they have a mutual responsibility to investigate all transnational crime between the two (of which terrorism is one type) and to make their best good-faith efforts to prevent transnational crime today and in the future.

This certainly sounds civilized. And we have a historical precedent for it: the treaties between the US government and the Amerindian tribes in the 19th century. These treaties required both sides to restrain their criminal elements. And in fact, in most cases both sides did make a good faith effort to restrain their violent elements. However, neither side was successful in restraining their violent elements. The American West was a lawless, anarchic place (rather like the Pakistani West). So the US government responded to attacks by renegades by attacking Amerindian villages. We were able to get away with that because we had overwhelming military superiority.

There are a number of problems with your proposal, but the biggest one is that it applies the concept of sovereignty where none exists. The Pakistani government is unable to enforce its writ in the western part of the country. The Afghan government is also unable to enforce its writ in large areas of its territory. The very notion of sovereignty simply doesn't work in this territory. And yet you want to set up a treaty placing responsibilities upon the Pakistani government that it is incapable of executing. It all sounds so utterly reasonable in the warmth, security, peace, and comfort of American life -- but it's simply absurd to apply such considerations in the environment of the Pakistani west.

Yes, we need a pragmatic solution to this problem -- and at this stage, there is none. We don't have the military power to invade the mountainous areas and enforce our will. We can execute air raids and ground raids, but these won't be enough to solve the problem. Guess what? There are limits to American power. We can't make everybody bow to our will. Our only hope is to try to build strong diplomatic support for our efforts. Of course, the actions of the Bush Administration over the last seven years have pretty well shot to hell any prospect of that happening anytime soon.

I think an approach that would recognize the dignity and equality of both the US and Pakistan would be for both sides to agree they have a mutual responsibility to investigate all transnational crime between the two (of which terrorism is one type) and to make their best good-faith efforts to prevent transnational crime today and in the future. This is the only way to conceive of the issue that could take us into a more productive and mutually beneficial future. Can any of you object to this? If so, please explain.

But the Taliban offered to hand over Bin Laden but they set conditions that the US didn't want to meet. The US does exactly the same when it refuses to hand over Posada to Venezuela. And Pakistan *has* handed over 9/11 and Al Quaida suspects who then were not put to trial, but disappeared in one of the CIA's secret torture prisons for 4 years and currently are afaik in Guantanamo Bay.

The Netherlands handed over a terrorist subject to the US last year , but it became a court case before we extradited him. We first had to have guarantees from the Justice Department that he would be tried in federal court and not before one of the Guantanamo military commissions. In addition the United States had to promise that he could serve any sentence in a Dutch prison. The court ruled it unlikely that that the United States might torture him under those conditions. So putting up conditions seems a necessary evil, don't you agree?

A few years earlier, in recognition of dignity and equality the US signed the Hague invasion act, which allows them to invade the Netherlands if their folks (US or allies) are put to trial in the Hague.

Great post with a lot of information. You are right Musharraf is an American puppet and from the looks of it so is Benazir Bhutto. The former prime minister returned to Pakistan at the behest of the Americans and British more so than the Pakistanis. And as noted by Imran Kahnof the Telegraph, Bhutto already supports Musharraf and his policies. Bhutto is alienating the government from the people the way Musharraf is. An article from the Pakistani newspaper states “ To implement its agenda America needs someone who would allow it to attack our tribal areas and control our nuclear assets. It marketed the idea that Benazir was the icon of moderation best equipped to take on the extremists.” The US needs to stop continually propping up corrupt or inefficient dictators who serve short-term interests. Otherwise we will continually have to deal with the aftermath such as Saddam or the Islamic Revolution in Iran following the removal of the Shah.

"But the Taliban offered to hand over Bin Laden but they set conditions that the US didn't want to meet."

That's, I'm afraid, not a particularly accurate description.

As your own link says, "Taliban offered to hand over bin Laden to a neutral country if sufficient evidence is provided to incriminate him in the attacks on America."

And they said America had no such evidence.

End result: they didn't actually offer to hand the bin Laden over. This doesn't seem best described as the U.S. willfully refusing to meet some reasonable condition.

To be sure, I don't any details of the negotiations, and my understanding could be significantly wrong.

If you have more detailed citations, I'm certainly willing to be corrected. But I'm currently unaware that there was a serious Taliban attempt to hand over bin Laden.

"The United States has rejected a fresh offer by the Taliban to hand over Osama bin Laden. The Taliban offered to hand over bin Laden to a neutral country if sufficient evidence is provided to incriminate him in the attacks on America."

A story with no attribution or sourcing whatever certainly isn't evidence of anything, or even respectable journalism. Did they obtain their information by magic? They don't even bother to pretend to present a source. How is that journalism?

Gary, I'm not taking a position on the broader point about handing over attackers, etc., but the story dutchmarbel is referring to is quite real. RTE is a national Irish news service; the stories are written from wire stories.

The Guardian has another version of the story from the same day that clearly indicates it's based on public statements by the Taliban (who as the government of Afghanistan were accessible to reporters in Kabul).

"RTE is a national Irish news service; the stories are written from wire stories."

I know. That doesn't change the quality of the story.

The Guardian story confirms my point:

[...] In Jalalabad, deputy prime minister Haji Abdul Kabir - the third most powerful figure in the ruling Taliban regime - told reporters that the Taliban would require evidence that Bin Laden was behind the September 11 terrorist attacks in the US, but added: "we would be ready to hand him over to a third country".

[...]

The offer came a day after the Taliban's supreme leader rebuffed Bush's "second chance" for the Islamic militia to surrender Bin Laden to the US.

Mullah Mohammed Omar said there was no move to "hand anyone over".

Taliban 'ready to discuss' Bin Laden handover if bombing halts
The Taliban would be ready to discuss handing over Osama bin Laden to a neutral country if the US halted the bombing of Afghanistan, a senior Taliban official said today.

Afghanistan's deputy prime minister, Haji Abdul Kabir, told reporters that the Taliban would require evidence that Bin Laden was behind the September 11 terrorist attacks in the US.

"If the Taliban is given evidence that Osama bin Laden is involved" and the bombing campaign stopped, "we would be ready to hand him over to a third country", Mr Kabir added.

But it would have to be a state that would never "come under pressure from the United States", he said.

Mr Kabir urged America to halt its air campaign, now in its eighth day, and open negotiations. "If America were to step back from the current policy, then we could negotiate," he said. "Then we could discuss which third country."

Characterizing that as "But the Taliban offered to hand over Bin Laden but they set conditions that the US didn't want to meet" perhaps implies that the U.S. position was entirely unreasonable in a way that is at least debatable, rather than obvious.

Tnxs Nell.

Gary: the US didn't want to show evidence, they wanted an unconditional extradition. My comparison with Poseda still stands I think.

Gary: for me 'setting conditions that X didn't want to meet' is neutral. It depends on the conditions to see who was unreasonable.

"Gary: the US didn't want to show evidence, they wanted an unconditional extradition. "

And the Taliban didn't offer to turn over bin Laden; they offered to negotiate about turning him over to a third country of their choosing, if only certain conditions of theirs were met unconditionally, such as a stop to U.S. bombing.

That's not reasonably characterizable as simply an unconditional offer to hand over bin Laden.

Mussimo said my post "seethed with anger" as if its a negative thing.

There's alot of seething with anger on this board in the comments section and posts.
Who's the jerk who said the only legitimate target of anger is US foreign policy and nothing else?

"You condemn an entire nation as lacking moral standards"

Well, that's also not unprecedented here on this board. Publius has had posts saying we should blame the American people for their morally deficient nationalism for lots of things. I'm limiting my critique of the Pakistanis to what I've seen their opinions on bilateral relations with the US to be.
Who's the jerk who says Americans are the only large group of people with common opinions that we can make a general observation and judgement about?

Then Mussimo gives me 19th century Amerindian treaties? How about a more recent and directly relevant example for this case. The tribal truce in the northwest with the government, which the tribes broke, this year. And metropolitan Pakistan is mroe upset with their army operations than fello citizens who attack their own national army? WTF? Doesn't speak well of whatever standards of judgement *they* are using.


russell:

"Or, we could try to figure out something constructive to do about it. That might not even be possible, but if not, I'd say it's likely that that's not entirely the fault of the Pakistanis."

I think several who responded to me presumed that I was advocating a particular response. I wasn't. I was simply engaging in some verbal self-defense, and adding context I thought was relevant. Apparently that's enough to get shouted down.I think the Pakistani majority was ignoring that relevant context, and approaches any dialogue with the west disproprotionately assuming western nefariousness and with a feeling of complete innocence or non-responsibility on their own part.

How can we even bargain with or engage in frank diplomacy with the Pakistanis without presenting our own case. They present their case at every opportunity, stridently, with little holding back for foreign feelings or sensibilities.

If they wanted a fair trial history proved them right to not hand Bin Laden over to the US. And the third country request was precedented (about a year earlier we declared part of the Netherlands Scottish to try Lybian terrorist).

Why do you think their condition to stop the bombing wilst negotiating was unreasonable?

More on being denied the right to be angry. -
Are y'all saying that just Americans can't get angry about Pakistani sheltering of Taliban, or that neither the Americans, nor British nor Cubans can be angry about foreign sheltering of terrorists (in Pakistan or America)?

At issue is whether someone need to have "standing", or a clean record to request that others prevent their territory for being used for harm. Apparently that's the common opinion here.

But if "standing" is required then neither the Pakistanis, nor Americans, nor British (uh empire), nor Cubans (uh interventionism) have standing either. Which gets us exactly..nowhere. That's why I'm skeptical of making having "standing" a requirement if one feels aggrieved - you can make a claim in any bilateral interaction where you're shafted. It's also why I treat things that the US may have done to people other than Pakistan as "inadmissible" in the discussion of how Pakistan and the US should behave towards one another. If we're admitting side issues, I don't see the symmetry in just selectively saying US actions toward third parties are relevant but Pakistani's actions toward third parties (Afghanistan, India, Bangladesh) are not.


I may not have the time to keep responsding, but don't consider that a concession.

I'm seeing a bias towards inverted American exceptionalism here, where somebody decided that its only what America does wrong that *counts*.

I think northern observer put it most succinctly:

"
As for the rest I think you are simply taking sides, placing the Pakistani Pashtun and their guests above everyone else, be it a bombing victim in Karachi or Madrid.
How is that right?"

northern observer also rightly pointed out that yes, virginia, local political elites have some control over their own destiny (re the founding of PAkistan). To dismisss this is to prolong a global south cop-out that also doesn't deal honestly with all the issues.

As for what to do about all this, I don't know. But I thought it was preferable to to discuss some sort of rules based approach rather than say its all relative. If its all just relative, why should anybody in any country be restrained ever?

As to what what should be done and whose fault it is in Pakistan. I think basically we'll be able to proceed more productively when Pakistan loses its self-perception of total helplessness and innocence, and when all of us who were involved on both sides of the Soviet-Afghan conflict acknowledge it was a problem jointly created and that should be jointly solved. And that's actually OK. Aside from political passions and combat on the border region, a Martian would say that most day-to-day interactions between Pakistanis and Americans (and Britons) and Saudis and Chinese are positive within all their countries are positive. If somebody feels put upon by one of the others, (as Pakistanis and Saudis frickin do, bigtime, according to polls, and far more so) they should wonder occassionally if it was maybe their side that produced the bad apples. And of course the Islamic fundamentalist militants in PK are the biggest betrayers of them all. Supported and then left alone (not persecuted) by the west, they decided to turn on the west. If anybody in PK has a legit gripe, they were the last. And they are human beings making moral decisions, not a "force of nature", so they're contemptible too.

General American attitude toward Pakistan - unopinionated ignorance. General PAkistani attitude toward America - opinionated ignorance. Which is mroe dangerous?

"Why do you think their condition to stop the bombing wilst negotiating was unreasonable?"

That would go back to whether the 9/11 attacks were an act of war by Afghanistan, or sufficient for war to be declared/made on Afghanistan. I don't think it's a hard case to argue affirmatively.

Neither does it seem likely to me that the Taliban were interested in negotiating in good faith to turn over bin Laden, though I could, of course, be wrong. But my opinion of the Bush administration is irrelvant to this.

Spockamok: "Are y'all," "You do realize how distant your viewpoints," "Apparently that's enough to get shouted down," etc.: you're engaging in that perennial, writing as if everyone outside your head is in league with each other, all of like mind, all determined to pick on you from the same POV, and all intent on ignoring and denying your undeniable correctness while "shouting" you "down."

That's a little nuts, you know.

"I think several who responded to me presumed that I was advocating a particular response."

Which is what you've done to a variety of people in your responses.

"Meanwhile, I'm the only one who proposed a positive way forward [...]. All the people who just decided to make this a US history lesson did jack squat on that score. I'll repeat the proposal, for your benefit...."

If this is your idea of how to charm people into wanting to converse with you, or listen to you, you might reconsider, and consider how you'd feel if someone addressed you with these words and sentiments.

I, of course, only mention this for your benefit.

spockamock -

I don't wish to drag this out, but there's something I still don't understand.

What is that you want any of the groups under discussion -- Pakistanis generally, Waziristanis in particular, Americans -- to actually *do*?

If you're just angry about the situation, and/or about what you see as knee-jerk rhetoric on the part of the American right or left, that's cool. Rave on.

But I have the sense that you're looking for somebody -- us or them -- to actually do something, other than what they're doing now.

Is that right?
If so, what, exactly, is it?

Thanks -

LJ: Gary, I thought U Nu... [was a palindromic head of state prior to Lon Nol]

Sorry, LJ, but his actual name was just "Nu." The "U" is an honorific, as in "U Thant." Earlier, when he was in the "Thakin" movement, he was known as "Thakin Nu."

To suggest his name is palindromic would give the same honor to a hypothetical "Mister Retsim" or "President Tnediserp."

Or even "King Gnik."

The prize continues to rest in the hands of Lon Nol, and, by extension, Gary Farber.
.
.
.

You may now return to consideration of the relatively trivial and uncomplicated questions of what's happening in Pakistan and what to do about it.

Earlier, when he was in the "Thakin" movement, he was known as "Thakin Nu."

oog. You're welcome, I think.

Damn, I knew I should have done honorifics in my (Burmese) field methods course instead of serial verbs.

"King Gnik" really deserves to be at least a character in a fantasy story.

And I like "Mister Retsim" for a suspense/thriller novel/script character's alias.

"You may now return to consideration of the relatively trivial and uncomplicated questions of what's happening in Pakistan and what to do about it."

An immediate search for a palindromic successor to Musharraf should be launched. It's the only way to ensure alphabetic stability.

Making it work in Urdu, Pashto, Punjabi, Sindi, Gujarati, and so on should be a trivial problem, right?

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