Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Arab Investors

I'll get to the stuff having to do with the post title down below. But first, I urge everyone to read this piece in the Washington Post about U.S. Pakistan policy: America's Bad Deal With Musharraf, Going Down in Flames.

I would have thought that with all the things that Bush/Cheney have done, a kind of acceptance would have set in with me. The kind where one hears or reads of the newest outrage, the newest insult to the Constitution or the rule of law, the newest repeal of fundamental liberties, and sort of grimly spits and says "what do you expect from people like these?" Kind of like Ivan Denisovich in the Gulag.

But for some reason, this Pakistan thing is really making me very angry. I'm having a hard time putting my finger on why exactly. Maybe it's just that it is a perfect confluence of the standard Bush/Cheney modus operandi (not necessarily in any particular order): (a) rank incompetence, (b) cronyism, (c) authoritarianism, (d) gotta-be-rightism, and (e) reality denial.

Here are a few of the facts presented by Mr. Rashid in the linked article:

1. Prior to 9/11, the Pakistan regime had been the "main patron" of the Taliban and, by extension, al qaeda.

2. "
Today, despite $10 billion in U.S. aid to Pakistan since 2001... the Taliban is resurgent in Afghanistan, and al-Qaeda's senior leadership has set up another haven inside Pakistan."

3. Musharraf has let "
his intelligence services help the Taliban claw their way back in Afghanistan."

"The Taliban and al-Qaeda are now deeply entrenched in the [Pakistani] tribal border belt adjacent to Afghanistan. These groups gained political legitimacy last year when Musharraf signed a series of dubious peace deals with the Pakistani Taliban. They are now coming down from the mountains to spread their radical ideology in towns and cities by burning down DVD and TV shops, insisting that young men grow beards, forcibly recruiting schoolboys for the jihad and terrifying girls so that they won't attend school. The military has refused to put a brake on their extremism."

5. "
Musharraf promised the international community that he would purge pro-Taliban elements from his security services and convinced the Bush administration that his philosophy of "enlightened moderation" was the only way to fend off Islamic extremism. But Pakistan today is the center of global Islamic terrorism, with Osama bin Laden and Taliban leader Mohammad Omar probably living here [in Pakistan]."

"[N]obody with serious Pakistan experience is working in the South Asia bureau of the State Department, on State's policy planning staff, [or] on the National Security Council staff." Simply astounding. Incomprehensible.

7. And despite the fact that "Pakistan policy is essentially being run from Cheney's office", he doesn't have any experts on Pakistan either.

8. Who, then, are the people making and implementing Pakistan policy? Well, the new ambassador to Pakistan is "an expert on Latin American 'drugs and thugs'". You know, because that whole Latin American War-On-Drugs is going so well.

9. A "former senior U.S. diplomat" is quoted as saying of the administration South Asia group: "They know nothing of Pakistan".

10. And Cheney? Well, insiders report that the vice president "is close to Musharraf and refuses to brook any U.S. criticism of him".

But what could there possibly be to criticize about a military dictator who declares the constitution suspended, black out the media, arrests the supreme court, shuts down parliament, rounds up political opponents, and orders his well-armed security forces to brutally attack lawyers in the streets?

All this, and the guy is not even on our side against the terrorists!

And, purely as a side note, because this is all plenty bad enough without attributing any nefarious motives to Bush/Cheney (I mean, even if you assume that they are purely looking out for the nation's best interests, and have no hidden agenda of any kind, it is still appalling, outrageous behavior), and while really I don't want to unnecessarily confuse the issue:

I think it is still worth noting that, according to the article, Musharraf's one and only supporting constituency within Pakistan (other than the army, which he controls, since he is, after all, a military dictator) is "the business community, which has experienced economic stability and rising investment from the Arab world during his regime.".

Investment from the Arab world.

Given all we know about the outrageous behavior noted above (inter alia, blindly supporting (and bankrolling) a brutal military dictator (who is, don't forget, armed with nuclear weapons) while receiving nothing in return and refusing to listen to any competing viewpoints regarding same, and putting people in charge of the said support-the-dictator policy who know nothing whatsoever about the country or the region as a whole), and what we can infer about the kind of person who would engage in such behavior, is it crazy to think that just maybe these "investment[s] from the Arab world" might have come from, say, the House of Saud or the many other friends "from the Arab world" that Dick and George have made (and continuously pandered to) throughout each of their lives and careers? And that it might just be conceivable that these folks might somehow receive some benefit from keeping Musharraf in power?

1 comment:

Gleemonex said...

It might be conceivable after all, mightn't it??