Wednesday, November 07, 2007

A Perfect Nightmare

Among the results of the 23 May-26 June 2007 survey of liberal and conservative American "foreign-policy experts" conducted by Foreign Policy and the Center for American Progress are the following:

See the complete survey results at

In other words, even establishment opinion makers who are committed to maintaining the US leadership of the multinational empire generally do not see Iran as the most significant "threat" as this term is defined by their ideology. Instead, most of them see Pakistan as the most likely place to be hit by "a perfect terrorist storm." Yet only 1% want to "[c]ut U.S. assistance to Pakistan," "fewer than 1 in 3 . . . favors threatening Pakistan with sanctions," and 22% say Washington should "[i]ncrease U.S. assistance to Pakistan"; whereas 59% believe that Washington should "[c]ontinue with current administration policy of pursuing UN sanctions" against Iran ("The Terrorism Index" and, Foreign Policy, September/October 2007).

Pervez Musharraf looks increasingly like the Shah of Iran in his last days. No amount of aid can prop him up once he loses the support of the army, whose rank and file are more and more dissatisfied with his rule, according to Shuja Nawaz:
Now, as the people come out onto the streets and challenge Musharraf's regime, he may resort to using the army to control the cities of the heartland. In the past, the army has balked at being used in such fashion and removed autocratic rulers, both civil and military, and there is evidence of dissatisfaction within its ranks now. Its officers and soldiers have been smarting under the treatment of their colleagues in the frontier region by insurgents. Beheadings and public shaming of captured soldiers and officers by radical insurgents have added to their unhappiness. They battle the faceless and well-armed enemy without personal protective armor and bulletproof vehicles -- and sometimes, according to army insiders, even without adequate boots. (Shuja Nawaz, "In Pakistan, the Army Is Key," Boston Globe, 7 November 2007)
Opponents of Musharraf, however, are much less coherent than Iranians who managed to unite long enough to overthrow the Shah. Without a charismatic leadership who can meld contradictory elements of the opposition into a coherent social force capable of establishing a new republic, the end result may very well be either another military coup, which Nawaz all but calls for ("If the state of emergency does not allow Musharraf to control the insurgency or reduce terrorist attacks in Pakistan's cities, the army sadly may become the key to effecting yet another change: to restore the transition to democracy that Musharraf once promised," says he), or a failed state. Pakistan is a perfect nightmare, both for its people and the empire.


If there is hope in Pakistan, it's a possibility that masses of people can rally around the demands spelled out in this resolution passed on 8 October 2007 at the meeting of "Representatives of Leftist, Progressive, and Democratic Parties and Groups, Lawyers' Community, Trade Unions, Professional Bodies, Writers, and Human Rights Activists" in Karachi.


redwood said...

I don't think the problem so much is lack of a unifying leadership --- I think that the ideological groundwork has not been done in Pakistan.

The secularist-liberal elites have lived in more or less cozy comfort with Busharraf, and the variety of Islamic groups have been disunited primarily because of sectarianism.

As such, the best that can happen in Pakistan is replacement of one puppet with another - i.e. replacement of Bushy with BB.

The Islamic movements in the northern areas could have been an important force, but their variety of Islam, while very popular amongst a large number of rural and working class men *and* women of the area, is very problematic because of their sectarianism --- 20-25% of the country is Shi'a, so obviously such a large number cannot just be left behind.

If you notice, BB has not asked for reinstatement of the judiciary --- it is to her advantage that the judges are replaced, and that she does not have to face corruption charges. Basically she, and Bush and Rice want quick elections so that BB can take power - and there can be a somewhat orderly change of puppets. In all of this, the lawyers, have the clearest view of things... but no real mass base.

bobw said...

What policy changes would BB represent, if she does succeed?