Pakistan Nightmare Could Metastasize Through Region


Don’t blame Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf for all of the problems in Pakistan.
The fact is that governance in a region that is ambivalent about America, Europe and the West in general is becoming more complicated everywhere in the Middle East and South Asia. And it is America’s failure in Iraq, its unwillingness to deliver on Palestine, and its bellicosity and hubris that are motivating the Muslim street against those perceived to be aligned with American interests.
If America wants to help stabilize Pakistan, then President Bush and Condoleezza Rice have an opportunity to “shock the market” and deliver on Palestine. Such a move would remove one of the core grievances in the Muslim world against us — and it might spark the beginning of a mutually reinforcing cycle of virtuous events in the region.
Pakistan’s problems are connected to all of the other problems in the region — and Pervez Musharraf is not only a self-confident dictator, he is responding to the forces that are tearing his nation apart. And those tensions are bigger than his country — and can be shaped by smarter moves on America’s part in collaboration with allies.
But it is good to watch what is happening in Pakistan. Because unless there is a “strategic shift” in the region, as Senator Chuck Hagel recently called for, Musharraf’s moves could metastasize in Jordan, Egypt, Morocco, and other states in the region.
Todd Gitlin suggests “Who Lost Pakistan?” as a Democratic war cry — but I’d suggest “Who Lost the Middle East?” or “Who Lost the Whole World (except Israel, Palau, and the Marshall Islands!)?”
— Steve Clemons


12 comments on “Pakistan Nightmare Could Metastasize Through Region

  1. Helena Cobban says:

    Steve, “ambivalent” is a glaring understatement when it comes to characterizing attitudes in the Muslim world towards “America, Europe and the West in general.”
    I like your suggestion that a good rallying cry would be “Who lost the Whole World (except Israel, Palau, and the Marshall Islands!)?” Oh, don’t forget the Northern Marianas in the list of exceptions…
    My next book, due out in spring, is on “America and the World after Bush”. Not clear to me, though, that the Dems are as good on foreign policy as we need them to be…


  2. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Gosh, you mean a military dictator is acting like a military dictator? What did we expect him to do if seriously threatened or politically opposed?
    Seeing as how this satanic creep Cheney is busom buddies with the guy, perhaps we can send him over to get the latest scoop on how to pull fingernails or shock testicles.
    Damn, this Global War On Terrorism thing is sure going smoothly, ain’t it? Its a good thing we have Junior running things, by golly. Thank God these clever Democrats resisted opposing him.


  3. samuel burke says:

    Jim Sinclair’s Commentary over at
    So few can take over so many when their leader does exactly what the terrorist opposition wishes him/her to do. The wish is to transmute Musharraf’s image internationally into that of a terrorist with Muslims fighting Muslims until the entire thing implodes.
    I would imagine with the Pakistan constitution suspended there cannot be an election. However, in this situation election or not the downward spiral has started for control of a nuclear capable country with delivery systems.
    In the geopolitical sense, Musharraf has fallen into a trap and put fire to the fuse that will in time blow him and Bhutto out of power.
    This is only one of the ingredients of the Shock and Awe that the West is going to experience in a few years from now. The US dollar is really headed deeper and deeper into the tank. Gold is headed up, as the only honest money that will correctly reflect the gamut of events now only starting to take shape. By 2012 all of the bits and pieces will be assembled but you will have insulated yourselves by the simple directions I have given you.
    Allow me to add that when your electronic financial organization assures you that they have no derivatives, no CDO and risk there from be sure to inquire if they own within their corporate family any banks or mortgage arms. Anticipate lawyer talk to keep the business. Learn from the recent British failure. Internet sites fail when demand overwhelms their servers. That leaves you holding the begging bowl.
    Be careful even of those that speak our language. An Internet financial entity lives in cyberspace. Computer programs fail or the electric plug gets pulled and you are left down or out. There never are enough telephone employees to take all the incoming calls when the system fails. Even the good ones will suffer from this.
    CNN this Sunday morning had a hint of what is to come on their special investigations reporting. The fact that CNN, media significantly influenced by the Authoritarian, aired this during prime time is quite amazing.
    This is it! It will come in chapters with each chapter topping the previous. The next OTC derivative to melt is the Credit Default Derivative in which Merrill is a top player.
    ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) — Hours after declaring a state of emergency Saturday, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf ordered troops to take a television station’s equipment and put a popular opposition leader under house arrest.
    Musharraf also suspended the constitution and dismissed the Pakistan Supreme Court’s chief justice for the second time.
    On Sunday, police arrested the Javed Hashmi, the acting president of ex-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s opposition party was arrested, along with 10 aides, The Associated Press reported. Hashimi was arrested when he stepped outside his house in the central city of Multan, AP reported.


  4. Chuck Dupree says:

    Or, as Pepe Escobar says:
    [ The Bush administration’s double standards are as glaring as meteor impacts. When, in the summer of 2006, Israel used the capture of two of its soldiers by Hezbollah to unleash a pre-programmed devastating war on Lebanon, destroying great swathes of the country, the Bush administration immediately gave the Israelis the green light. When 12 Turkish soldiers are killed and eight captured by PKK guerrillas based in Iraqi Kurdistan, the Bush administration urges Ankara to take it easy.
    The “war on terror” is definitely not an equal-opportunity business. ]
    Sorry about those brackets but I’m not allowed to use the HTML blockquote tag; the system removes it.


  5. Matthew says:

    Steve: I loved the phrase “unwillingness to deliver on Palestine.” That says it exactly. Our phoniness on this issue is a major reason that we have no credibility left in the ME.


  6. Jon says:

    re: Pakistan Nightmare Could Metastasize Through Region
    From a distance, it seems that Musharraf has been a better leader, so far, than many of his predecessors, elected or not. This does not justify being a dictator or suspending the constitution, but events have to be seen in context. If Musharraf resigns or is deposed right now, he will likely be replaced by another officer, either immediately or after a short interregnum, probably attended by great bloodshed.
    Pakistan is a nuclear power. Those weapons need to remain in the hands of level headed people with a good sense of restraint.
    Islamic militants are ascendant right now. In part due to the actions of the government and encouraged by other portions of the government.
    Civil political parties have tried to move into the opening caused by Musharraf’s aborted firing of his Supreme Court justice. They have previously not exactly been unalloyed saviors of the country. This time around, will they do more than seek to hoard power and wealth for themselves?
    Pakistan’s assistance is needed if al Qaeda or the Taliban are to be successfully defeated (for the second time). I’m certain that the ISI (and others) are supporting the Taliban as a counterweight to the Northern Alliance and to limit the reach of both American, NATO, and Iranian power and influence in Afghanistan.
    The US has habitually supported strong man rulers who promise democracy, eventually, but govern with a very hard hand. As with the Shah, this had led to revolt that must then be brutally suppressed or they are overthrown. When these rulers lose power they are often supplanted by new rulers who claim to govern in the name of the people, and are often religious fundamentalist or economically opposed to US interests. Mubarak is in the same boat right now.
    This is not a new story, just the latest version replayed with minor local differences. But I don’t think that Palestine is the key in this instance.
    Democracy is a fragile flower in the Middle east. But it has to grow genuinely from the roots, not just because the West says it must. With the exception of Turkey and Israel, the countries there that the US supports are among the least democratic. In almost every case, greater US calls and efforts to expand democracy have resulted in less democracy, more polarization and more fundamentalism. Why is that?
    Like China, the Middle East is not America’s to ‘lose’. Concepts rooted in ownership are part of what has led us to such dangerous point. We don’t own their oil, and it is not owed to us. We gain friends and allies when we assist people and states. From a position of friendship we can gain leverage to encourage greater rights, openness and democracy in many countries. But that only happens from within each society’s preexisting structure, and our demands will have little positive impact.
    Progress on Palestine would help enormously throughout the Arab and Islamic world, in a general sense, but it’s not a cure all to any other regional issue or conflict. I do agree that a virtuous cycle is desperately needed and provide a basis of success to build upon. If we had demanded that Israel immediately cease its bombing of Lebanon last summer, and had not rushed to resupply them with cluster bombs, we might have a bit more
    credibility about our motives and seriousness.
    Maybe Musharraf doesn’t deserve to govern. But will whomever replaces him right now be any better? Even if Rice and Bush were in a position to counsel and guide a transition to better and more democratic governance, are they inclined to do that? If the US doesn’t manage to shift its foreign policy methods and approaches, there won’t be a ‘who lost’ question, but an irretrievable fact.


  7. Steve Clemons says:

    I’ve know that for a while POA. But that’s not my MO, and you know that.
    best, Steve


  8. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Sorry Steve, but at this point we don’t need a crowd, we need a mob. An angry, seething, marching mob. And if you people in Washington don’t wise up, you’re just liable to get one. My “ilk” is getting pissed.


  9. Steve Clemons says:

    POA — I actually think Powell would be able to turn things in a positive direction, but not under this president. If you were to develop a strategy to take some of your concerns forward, you’d need to eventually gather some in the center to your side, sort of a tipping point crowd.
    I think Powell would be one of those who could help turn the parts of the country your direction who normally would not take the time to even listen to the political left.
    best, steve


  10. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Well, so much for “democracy on the march”. Lets see, Iraq, Turkey, Haiti, Iran soon…
    Gosh, what will we fuck up next?
    Send Colin in, by golly, he’ll fix it!


  11. sahmadi says:

    The Pentagon states Musharraf’s decision to declare a state of emergency will not military support.
    Interesting…especially after Rice declaring that we do not support his decision.


  12. sahmadi says:

    Mr Clemons,
    Musharraf isn’t stupid. He has done everything this administration has asked of him. What do we do in kind…we strengthen his opposition(Bhutto), we strengthen India by offering the nuke deal(we do not offer Pakistan the same deal)…furthermore it is no secret that Bhutto is our pick to succeed Musharraf.
    This is a classic case of a puppet who decides to cut the strings. Musharraf feels betrayed by the US for all that he has done. He is fighting for his survival. It will be an interesting political case study of a puppet leader who has cut his benefactors and has little if no public support.
    Your points concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and our current foreign policy in that region is correct. Unfortunately Mr Clemons our foreign policy takes a back seat to the interest of Israel…to the detriment of Israel. It has become almost a parasitic relationship.


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