America, Europe, China Need to Help Zardari Win Inside Pakistan


pakistan taliban twn.jpg
Newly elected Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari is his government’s latest political tycoon. He spent many years imprisoned and harassed by former President Pervez Musharraf. His wife, former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, was assassinated. And now he is at the very top of Pakistan’s political mountain — but the peak he is on sits on top of small, constantly shifting, unstable rocks.
My colleague Anatol Lieven logs in this morning from Peshawar with an important call to the international community to help Zardari “deliver” on the economic front to his people.
Zardari is already weakened inside Pakistan because of the view that he is a puppet of American interests. The only thing worse than being too connected to America is being connected with none of the benefits to show for it. The domestic challenges faced by Zardari are further explicated by this front cover article in today’s New York Times Magazine which outlines how constrained Pakistan’s political, military, and intelligence forces have been in rolling back a resurgent Taliban.
In my view, Pakistan and its immediate surroundings are the most dangerous place in the world. The major stewards of the global order — who I think are now the US, Europe and China — need to help stabilize Pakistan’s turbulent economic morass so that the state can stabilize and begin to deal with some of the serious problems facing it not only in the tribal regions but throughout the country.
In the days of John Foster Dulles, the U.S. embraced states economically so to keep them from falling into orbits or orientations antithetical to American interests. Japan was a classic case in which the strategic decision was made to embed Japan deeply into the currents of the American economy to prevent the re-emergence of a China-focused Japan.
Lieven and others including myself think that the US, Europe and even China must make a similar kind of strategic decision and embrace Pakistan and help it succeed economically.
This is a hard sell when America’s own economic circumstances are so strained — but the convulsions that will follow inside and around Pakistan if Zardari fails in the near term could be genuinely devastating for US and the world’s interests.
As Lieven points out, McCain and Biden have both made similar statements about the need to stabilize Pakistan. Obama and McCain should meet now and encourage the incumbent President and Congress to move on expanded stabilization packages for Pakistan.
That would show leadership on both sides of the American political aisle and make their mutual call for interest-driven bipartisanship more meaningful.
— Steve Clemons


9 comments on “America, Europe, China Need to Help Zardari Win Inside Pakistan

  1. Davei says:

    I just read the NY Time Magazine article referred to here. It
    confirms what I have been hearing about Pakistan for a couple of
    years. That is where most of the trouble originates.
    Terrible choices here–no easy ones, either. I note that the US aid
    to earthquake victims in Pakistan has had little or no effect on the
    anti-Americanism there.


  2. michael claussen says:

    My worry is that any money sent into Pakistan without very strong controls over where it goes will only aggravate the situation and fill the bank account of another Pakistan leader. The people in the camps that have fled the battles to the north could help if they felt protected and supported. Our support is short-sighted when directed towards the powerful.


  3. questions says:

    Couple of things “did not read it carefully” shouldn’t be taken at face value. And if Frank and Wexler can oppose AIPAC, maybe AIPAC is opposable.


  4. Carroll says:

    Someone help me understand the Pakistan deal.
    First Bush championed Musharraf..then he fell out of favor because he wasn’t regarded as Pro American enough and dems like Hillary and Biden started calling for his removal cuase he wasn’t routing AQ out fast enough.
    O.K., he’s now ‘removed’ and Mr. Ten percent has replaced him.
    Now I suppose Mr. Ten Percent is suppose to guard the Pakistan nukes from terriers and rout out AQ.
    Except his regime is already shaky and I doubt it will last because he is seen as ‘too’ Pro American and he will probably be assassinated like his wife was.
    Call me un American but given a choice between having strongman Musharraf guarding the nukes and having Mr. Ten Percent guard the nukes from the scary AQ and Muslims in Pakistan I would rather have Musharraf who had iron balls than Mr Ten Percent who will most likely flee back to his secret graft stash somewhere in Europe at the first sign of trouble.
    I don’t get it…or rather I do get it..and it’s your typical stupid. Yep we is gonna rout AQ ‘and the Taliban ‘and guard the nukes ‘and spread democracy in Pakistan with Mr Ten Percent.
    Opps, almost forgot Iran..that’s still cooking too.
    Last update: September 5, 2008 – 5:15 AM
    The U.S. Congress may inadvertently lay the foundations for war against Iran when it reconvenes in Washington this month.
    Two essentially identical nonbinding resolutions call upon President Bush to “immediately and dramatically increase the economic, political and diplomatic pressure on Iran to verifiably suspend its nuclear enrichment activities.”
    The House resolution has more than 200 cosponsors, including Minnesota Reps. Michele Bachmann, John Kline and Jim Ramstad. The Senate resolution has more than 30 cosponsors, including both Minnesota senators, Norm Coleman and Amy Klobuchar.
    The methods for increased pressure differ slightly in the two resolutions. The House resolution calls for “stringent inspection requirements” of all goods entering or leaving Iran. The Senate resolution does not call for the inspection of all goods but joins the House resolution in calling for an embargo of refined petroleum products to Iran, which lacks the refining capacity to meet its need for gasoline. Achieving either goal would require a naval blockade — a de facto act of war on the part of the United States, though paradoxically both resolutions explicitly exclude authorization for military action.
    Other provisions call for an economic embargo of banking operations, with the House resolution adding a prohibition of international movement on the part of Iranian officials.
    Both resolutions have begun to cause alarm throughout the United States, and have caused several representatives to withdraw their cosponsorships. Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Fla., summed up the concerns in an article for the Huffington Post: “It is clear that despite carefully worded language in H. Con. Res. 362 that ‘nothing in this resolution should be construed as an authorization of the use of force against Iran’ that many Americans across the country continue to express real concerns that sections of this resolution will be interpreted by President Bush as ‘a green light’ to use force against Iran.”
    According to the Jewish Daily Forward, Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., offered an apology to a representative from the antiwar group Peace Action, saying, “I regret the fact that I did not read this resolution more carefully.” He further told the Valley Advocate of Northampton, Mass., that he’s “all for stricter sanctions against Iran, but the blockade part goes too far. I’m going to call the sponsors and tell them I’m changing my vote.”
    Both Wexler and Frank are assuming some risk, because they are opposing the powerful American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), which had a strong hand in the drafting of both resolutions. Just days before the resolutions were introduced, AIPAC issued a memo outlining what should be done to put more pressure on Iran. The language of the memo mirrors the language of the resolutions. The introduction of the resolutions also conveniently coincided with AIPAC’s annual policy conference during which it had more than 7,000 people on Capitol Hill to lobby. Its top legislative priority was for cosponsorship of the resolutions. AIPAC is careful to avoid direct calls for military strikes against Iran’s nuclear facilities but makes no secret that it would support such an action by the United States or Israel.”
    Barney Frank didn’t read the resolution throughly?
    This ladies and gentlemen is your congress. What would they do without wars to pontificate about and campaign on and use to point out their own importance on the world stage?
    Instead of going on and on about this election we should be burning Washington to the ground. But hey, that’s way too uncivilized and direct. Better to let Washington burn the rest of the world down first by throwing all our money into the fire pits and then tossing some bombs in behind it, that’s the civilized democratic way.


  5. Mr.Murder says:

    Maybe Dana Rhohrbacher has a plan?
    This much could be said:


  6. Mr.Murder says:

    Ethanol usage drives up commodity prices just as much as peak oil.
    That’s a bigger threat to foreign policy than any other item at this time.
    Don’t cry for Barack, Iowa….


  7. Helena Cobban says:

    Steve, China’s been more deeply and more intelligently involved in Pakistani politics than the US for many years now. I think the best thing for Obama and McCain to do would be to call for a policy that actively seeks their advice and their engagement in stabilizing both Pakistan and Afghanistan– both of which actually border onto China and are of very direct concern to Beijing’s rulers.
    @JohnH, it’s not NATO that’s undertaking the really counter-productive aerial attacks against targets in Pakistand and Afghanistan, it’s the US Special Forces. And yes, they absolutely need to be reined in.
    I’ve argued for some time now (1) that the present era is one of ‘the Return of Geography’, which in itself makes the idea that NATO and the US can possibly ‘solve’ the Afghan problem; and (2) that it will take the entire shared wisdom of all responsible members of the, erm, ‘international community’, as embodied in the institutions (and the legitimacy) of the UN, to be able to resolve the Afghan– and now, also, the tightly linked Pakistan– crisis.
    I’m not sure the EU has any special role in this, except at the level of trade policy. But that can’t be addressed absent a clear political framework.


  8. JohnH says:

    NATO could start not by increasing economic aid but by calling a halt to collateral damage. It takes 36 hours to get a oil tanker truck from Karachi to Kabul–36 hours to target the truck by people outraged at the civilian death toll.
    As to economic aid, NATO will have to decided whether it’s worth it. If the bulk of the aid is merely recycled into the Pakistani elite’s Swiss bank accounts, which it probably will be, then it’s pointless.
    While we’re at it, when is someone going to define the strategic interests at stake in Afghanistan, the mission, and the measurable objectives? To any objective observer, we’re there because we’re there, busy creating more terrorists.


  9. ... says:

    it will be hard to change course given that the manipulation has always been self serving with pakistan and its people welface ignored and exploited simultaneously…. i don’t know if any of the countries you mention can get beyond their own self interest… they have consistantly proven otherwise… quit living in a fantasy is another way to put it….


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