Foreign Policy

Our Ally Pakistan Marches Toward Democracy By Arresting Benazir Bhutto

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From AP, via Cincy Enquirer:

Pakistani police placed opposition leader Benazir Bhutto under house arrest Friday, uncoiling barbed wire in front of her Islamabad villa, and reportedly rounded up thousands of her supporters to block a mass protest against emergency rule.

Bhutto twice tried to leave in her car, telling police: "Do not raise hands on women. You are Muslims. This is un-Islamic." They responded by blocking her way with an armored vehicle.

The former prime minister had planned to defy a ban on public gatherings and address a rally in nearby Rawalpindi, where police used tear gas and batons to chase off hundreds of supporters who staged wildcat protests and hurled stones. Dozens were arrested.

Further afield, a suicide bombing at the home of a government minister in the northwestern city of Peshawar killed four people. Minister for Political Affairs Amir Muqam was unhurt.

More here.

reason on Pakistan here.

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  1. So do we wish to make Iraq a democratic ally of ours as with Pakistan? Great!

  2. I prefer allies like Japan, who give us Takashi Miike movies and Final Fantasy games.

  3. Iraq is old news compared to this. Pakistan actually has nukes and has enough radical Muslims that Bin Ladin has been able to hide out doing his Jessee James routine three since 2001. Only popular people can hide out among the population for every long. If a radicals took over Pakistan or if the place falls into chaos endangering their control over their nukes, the world has got big problems. This is a hell of a lot more serious than snarky “our democratic ally arrests so and so” posts.

  4. While Benazir Bhutto probably does belong in jail, this is not one of the offenses that she deserves it for.

  5. John, you’re absolutely right about the dangers of Pakistan, but I think the point of iih’s post is to highlight how disingenuous all that “spreading democracy” hullabaloo really was as a war rationale.

  6. John,

    Recent polling indicates that an Islamist candidate would get about 20% of the vote in Pakistan.

    Bin Laden has been limited to the sparsely populated “tribal areas” along the frontier. The assertion that radicals have a large body of support among the Pakistani public is nonsense.

    Although I’m sure that, as with the population of secular, modernizing Iraq, we could probably change that with some vigorous application of the Bush Doctrine.

  7. joe-

    Most of the Al Qaeda members that have been found in Pakistan were actually hiding in urban areas, not in caves on the frontier. I think the “bin Laden hiding in a cave” is a lot of propaganda on his part to make him seem like some hardened fighter. Hes probably in an air conditioned apartment as we speak.

  8. Benazir deserves to be in jail no more than that current douchebag who wears his spiffy general’s outfit while presiding over the civil government.

    Seems like Pakistan’s politicians are like US politicians, except bigger assholes and more dangerous.

  9. John, you’re absolutely right about the dangers of Pakistan, but I think the point of iih’s post is to highlight how disingenuous all that “spreading democracy” hullabaloo really was as a war rationale.

    Exactly, thanks Lamar.

    Also, should I point out the fact that US aided Pakistan in getting its nuclear program up and running (though I am not sure of the extent of the cooperation from that point –in the early 60s– onward).

    Of note, Egypt is trying to get a peaceful nuclear program up and running. It is an effort to create a source of energy for several Arab countries (and hence, the program itself is also being sponsored by several Arab US-allies). How do we know that that program will not spin off into a weapons program to keep Iran at bay? Will the US feel obliged to aid Egypt and 30 years from today we found ourselves in the same mess vis-a-vis extremists getting hold of the nuclear program there?

  10. Also, is there a sight much stranger and sorta cool than a bunch of fully kitted-out lawyers, complete with ties and jackets, getting all riled up and standing up to guys with automatic weapons and large sticks?

  11. “found”—> “find”

  12. Is Egypt all that concerned with Iran? I’d think if they spun off a pan-Arab weapons program, the results would go to Gulf states, with whom Iran has a very rocky and complicated relationship.

  13. Cesar,

    When the go into the urban areas, it is to carry out attacks in those areas. And as you say, they get caught.

    Most of the terrorists caught in the United States have been in urban or suburban areas, too. Undercover, living secretly, without their neighbors knowing who they were.

  14. Also, Cesar, I didn’t say “living in caves.”

    The caves are places where they stage their video shoots, to make themselves look like holy prophets to Muslim viewers, in reference to Mohammen talking to Allah in a cave.

    I know that.

  15. Sorry for inferring that. But nevertheless, I wouldn’t be surprised if hes in a major city like Khalid Shekh Muhammad. Or however the hell you spell his name.

  16. I think the “bin Laden hiding in a cave” is a lot of propaganda on his part to make him seem like some hardened fighter. He’s probably in an air conditioned apartment as we speak

    I picture green shag carpeting, beads for doors, big hookah at the center of a sunken living room, Hendrix on the hi-fi. Good times.

  17. Just fuckin nuke them, Iran, Iraq and all the other terrorist countries, worlds problems solved.

  18. Just fuckin nuke them, Iran, Iraq and all the other terrorist countries, worlds problems solved.

    Yeah I mean, international policy is just like Grand Theft Auto, senseless violence in a moral vacuum!

  19. You mean Grand Theft Oil?

  20. Grand Theft Auto, senseless violence in a moral vacuum

    It’s a great game, why not make it real?

  21. I think Lamar just won the thread.

  22. joe,

    “The assertion that radicals have a large body of support among the Pakistani public is nonsense.”

    No, it is not. They do have a fair amount of support, it may not be enough for a parliamentary majority but it ain’t miniscule. Compare and contrast the Pakistani Government’s current crackdown with the circumspect and cringing way they handled the Lal Masjid affair. Musharraf currenly appears more worried about international reaction. During the Lal Masjid affair, they were very concerned about domestic blowback, and with good reason.

    http://chinamatters.blogspot.com/
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lal_Masjid_siege

    “When the go into the urban areas, it is to carry out attacks in those areas. And as you say, they get caught.”

    How exacly do you know all this ? Sounds like you have crackerjack intel. It is easily likely that Bin Laden and colleagues are kicking it in some rich businessman’s eight pleasure dome in Quetta or Rawalpindi (ok maybe not Rawalpindi). If you look at the poll’s you’ll find he’s more popular in Pakistan than Spiderman.

  23. Is Egypt all that concerned with Iran? I’d think if they spun off a pan-Arab weapons program, the results would go to Gulf states, with whom Iran has a very rocky and complicated relationship.

    Egypt does have some nuclear infrastructure (the name of the place skips my mind now) and has been working on it slowly, under close scrutiny by IAEA and the US. They also have the technically-ready human resources to do that (Alexandria University is very good in Nuclear Engineering, and used to be a leading Mediterranean institute in the science in the older days. I think they still are). Geographically it is located further away from Iranian ranges. I think that is why there has been recent talks about that. Just read an article the other day about the developments (in Arabic).

  24. Sorry, a loser like bin Laden could never appreciate Hendrix. He’s more of an ABBA guy, I think.

    If I were a betting man, I’d say he’s living in Portland, Oregon. No one would ever expect him to hide in the United States.

  25. Nucs in Pakistan. Soon in Iran. Maybe in Egypt someday. I don’t think I’d want to buy a house in Israel unless I had some gotterdamerung death wish. Sooner or later the big boys on the block are gonna fight.

  26. Interesting that IAEA muckity-muck Al Baradei is Egyptian, no?

  27. Interesting that IAEA muckity-muck Al Baradei is Egyptian, no?

    Yes, he is.

  28. SM,

    Thank your for your compliments about my intelligence, but really, you flatter me!

    I’d say the difference in Musharrif’s behavior is better explained by sympathy for Islamists among the ISI, rather than the general public.

    But I think you get it just right when you describe their support as “not enough for a parliamentary majority, but not miniscule.” My point was that levels of public support for Islamists are not high enough to make the takeover scenario realistic.

    Now, if the Islamists manage to become part of an anti-government coalition as they did in Iran in 1979, that would be another story. Crackdowns like this are thus counterproductive, because they make that much more possible.

  29. Vice President Cheney, Mr. Chief Justice, President Carter, President Bush, President Clinton, reverend clergy, distinguished guests, fellow citizens:

    On this day, prescribed by law and marked by ceremony, we celebrate the durable wisdom of our Constitution, and recall the deep commitments that unite our country. I am grateful for the honor of this hour, mindful of the consequential times in which we live, and determined to fulfill the oath that I have sworn and you have witnessed.

    At this second gathering, our duties are defined not by the words I use, but by the history we have seen together. For a half century, America defended our own freedom by standing watch on distant borders. After the shipwreck of communism came years of relative quiet, years of repose, years of sabbatical – and then there came a day of fire.

    We have seen our vulnerability – and we have seen its deepest source. For as long as whole regions of the world simmer in resentment and tyranny – prone to ideologies that feed hatred and excuse murder – violence will gather, and multiply in destructive power, and cross the most defended borders, and raise a mortal threat. There is only one force of history that can break the reign of hatred and resentment, and expose the pretensions of tyrants, and reward the hopes of the decent and tolerant, and that is the force of human freedom.

    We are led, by events and common sense, to one conclusion: The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world.

    America’s vital interests and our deepest beliefs are now one. From the day of our Founding, we have proclaimed that every man and woman on this earth has rights, and dignity, and matchless value, because they bear the image of the Maker of Heaven and earth. Across the generations we have proclaimed the imperative of self-government, because no one is fit to be a master, and no one deserves to be a slave. Advancing these ideals is the mission that created our Nation. It is the honorable achievement of our fathers. Now it is the urgent requirement of our nation’s security, and the calling of our time.

    So it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.

    This is not primarily the task of arms, though we will defend ourselves and our friends by force of arms when necessary. Freedom, by its nature, must be chosen, and defended by citizens, and sustained by the rule of law and the protection of minorities. And when the soul of a nation finally speaks, the institutions that arise may reflect customs and traditions very different from our own. America will not impose our own style of government on the unwilling. Our goal instead is to help others find their own voice, attain their own freedom, and make their own way.

    The great objective of ending tyranny is the concentrated work of generations. The difficulty of the task is no excuse for avoiding it. America’s influence is not unlimited, but fortunately for the oppressed, America’s influence is considerable, and we will use it confidently in freedom’s cause.

    My most solemn duty is to protect this nation and its people against further attacks and emerging threats. Some have unwisely chosen to test America’s resolve, and have found it firm.

    We will persistently clarify the choice before every ruler and every nation: The moral choice between oppression, which is always wrong, and freedom, which is eternally right. America will not pretend that jailed dissidents prefer their chains, or that women welcome humiliation and servitude, or that any human being aspires to live at the mercy of bullies.

    We will encourage reform in other governments by making clear that success in our relations will require the decent treatment of their own people. America’s belief in human dignity will guide our policies, yet rights must be more than the grudging concessions of dictators; they are secured by free dissent and the participation of the governed. In the long run, there is no justice without freedom, and there can be no human rights without human liberty.

    Some, I know, have questioned the global appeal of liberty – though this time in history, four decades defined by the swiftest advance of freedom ever seen, is an odd time for doubt. Americans, of all people, should never be surprised by the power of our ideals. Eventually, the call of freedom comes to every mind and every soul. We do not accept the existence of permanent tyranny because we do not accept the possibility of permanent slavery. Liberty will come to those who love it.

    Today, America speaks anew to the peoples of the world:

    All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: the United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors. When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you.

    Democratic reformers facing repression, prison, or exile can know: America sees you for who you are: the future leaders of your free country.

    The rulers of outlaw regimes can know that we still believe as Abraham Lincoln did: “Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves; and, under the rule of a just God, cannot long retain it.”

    The leaders of governments with long habits of control need to know: To serve your people you must learn to trust them. Start on this journey of progress and justice, and America will walk at your side.

    George W. Bush’s second inaugural speech.

  30. Timon19-

    “Benazir deserves to be in jail no more than that current douchebag who wears his spiffy general’s outfit while presiding over the civil government.”

    One’s a corrupt charlatan who was involved in the oil to food shenanigans, the other’s a dictatorial psychopath. They should both be in solitary confinement.

  31. Does anybody really govern Pakistan? My impression is that it is a sprawling mess of local warlords and quasi-feudal aristocrats. The security forces are a player, but the degree of actual control they have over the country seems questionable (based on my limited knowledge). In other words, Pakistan seems most likely to stumble along between various corrupt and ineffectual administrations for the foreseeable future, with no one group having real power.

  32. Does anybody really govern Pakistan? My impression is that it is a sprawling mess of local warlords and quasi-feudal aristocrats

    I’m asking Santa for a War On Tribalism. It’s more to the point than the nebulous WOT and deals directly with the philosophy that is at the root of most of the world’s ills, be it poverty, political unrest, and yes, terrorism. We’ll never get anywhere as a race till we defeat the concept of tribalism, both abroad and at home.

    And for my stocking I want an iPhone.

  33. One’s a corrupt charlatan who was involved in the oil to food shenanigans, the other’s a dictatorial psychopath. They should both be in solitary confinement.

    That is so uncreative.
    They should be locked in the same cell!

  34. They should be locked in the same cell!

    … And give us little Bhuttos and Musharafs. How cute!

  35. They should be locked in the same cell!

    …chained together

    …at the waist.

  36. … And give us little Bhuttos and Musharafs. How cute!

    Thank Odin for menopause.

  37. J sub D:

    I’d say lets have a zero tolerance policy and put them in separate cells.

  38. joe | November 9, 2007, 11:39am | #

    Thanks, joe.

    Good catch.

  39. Y’all just don’t get it. We’re almost done democratizing Iraq, which borders Iran, which, in turn, borders Pakistan. Just two more wars after this one, and we’re all done in south asia. Then it’s ON TO AFRICA!

    I could be a neocon.

  40. Glad to see that all of our strategic international diplomacy efforts are producing positive results

    that is, our strategic plan to produce the worst-case scenario in every flashpoint region of the world.

    Well, ok, North Korea isnt doing TOO bad. We clearly arent putting in enough effort

    Maybe we should encourage the Taiwanese to declare complete independence. There’s always more we could do.

  41. Maybe we should encourage the Taiwanese to declare complete independence. There’s always more we could do.

    If GWB hadn’t pissed away our international goodwill and moral authority by tilting at windmills, I could make a fine case for that. Now, I can’t.

  42. J sub D

    I could be a neocon.

    You’d never be able to say the things neocons say and keep a straight face.

  43. Don’t worry, GILMORE, we’re just spreading more flypaper. We’re going to fight them in Peshawar so we don’t have to fight them in Peoria. But first, we have turn the place into a massive haven for terrorists.

    Another year and a half of Bush, and we’ll have no end of places to fight them instead of fighting them here.

  44. joe –
    “My point was that levels of public support for Islamists are not high enough to make the takeover scenario realistic.”

    I don’t think the concern is tha Pakistan will seea revolution of the Iranian variety. The ISI & even the military (post Zia Ul-Haq) are in sympathy, to put it mildly, with the aims of the radical mullahs. It’s been said that Musharraf’s generation is the last of Brit trained secular General’s. Or maybe they are all using the radicals as cover – but the difference is moot because its not easy to control the crazies. Pakistan could end up with yet another coup excetp this time with a ISI General at the helm. The result would be the same however you got there.

  45. Really, the military as a whole? I’d understood the ISI to be the real hornets nest.

  46. DON’T GET fooled by Benazir!!!!!!!

    She is the most corrupt democrat in pakistan. She is charged with Embezzlement in pakistan and swiss courts

  47. Not the military as a whole I don’t think. Zia Ul-Haq, the General who deposed Benazir Bhutto’s father and eventually executed him, ran an explicit “islamization” program (though i’ve also read complaints that this meant little more than an aggressive posture vis-a-vis India and no scotch whiskey in the premises). IIRC, he is believed to have been sincerely faithful in the sense of not being a cynical manipulator using religion to cover for not having been legitimately elected. As a result, there is a whole generation of officers who have grown up with the propoganda. There are differences of opinion on how deep this goes.

  48. Pan Arab weapons program from egypt to iran?

    Are you stupid? Have you ever left the US? Been to the third world? taken the time to understand and talk to anyone from Asia Minor?

    Iranians aren’t Arab and neither are Pakistani’s.

    Get a clue, Nimrod.

  49. DON’T GET fooled by Benazir!!!!!!!

    I truly do find it a shame that so many countries seem to have to choose between a kleptocrat and a tyrant. Some South American countries seem to have gone through the same thing.

    I suppose a corrupt tyrant would be the worst but in many cases the people turn to the military strongman* because they find him the honest one. Of course the corruption of power has the potential to make the most well-meaning honest man corrupt.

    *or of course there’s the case of the Palestinians the terrorist nutcases because they perceived them as more honest than the Fatah thieves.

  50. Pan Arab weapons program from egypt to iran?

    Pan-Arab weapons program from Egypt TO BALANCE IRAN, you fuckwit.

    Read.

    Are you stupid? Have you ever left the US? Been to the third world? taken the time to understand and talk to anyone from Asia Minor?

    No. Repeatedly. Several times. Often.

    Iranians aren’t Arab and neither are Pakistani’s.

    No fucking shit. Did someone here contend this?

    Get a clue, Nimrod.

    Visit the optometrist.

  51. Bhutto twice tried to leave in her car, telling police: “Do not raise hands on women. You are Muslims. This is un-Islamic.”

    She wants to eat her cake and have it too. She wants others to ignore her gender as she ventures into the traditionally male world of mass politics, but she also wants the special treatment traditionally accorded to her gender.

  52. But I think you get it just right when you describe their support as “not enough for a parliamentary majority, but not miniscule.” My point was that levels of public support for Islamists are not high enough to make the takeover scenario realistic.

    Need I point out that Iraq was dominated by Sunnis under Iraq. They represent about 20% of Iraq’s population. Iraq has been in chaos (although that seems to be lifting) because of much fewer than 20% of the population. The coalition destroyed Iraq’s military, captured Saddam Hussein and allowed Democracy to begin to take hold; all of that was done with fewer than 200,000 troops at the highest level, which represents MUCH less than 1% of Iraq’s population.

    To sneer that OBL and the Islamist extremists have less than 50% support in Pakistan and then to compare their operations there to the operations of terrorists in the US strikes me as either propaganda or stupidity. I reserve judgment.

  53. crimethink,

    She wants to eat her cake and have it too. She wants others to ignore her gender as she ventures into the traditionally male world of mass politics, but she also wants the special treatment traditionally accorded to her gender.

    An understanding of Islamic attitudes toward women (beyond the Taliban version where “woman” = “evil temptress who must be subjugated at all costs and in all situations”) shows her words to be pretty consistent – Islam tends to be overly doting toward women and she was playing on that very theme. Also, Islam does not necessarily forbid women from entering a whole host of professions, and in fact has been slightly more progressive from a numbers standpoint than the West in a few.

    Remember, she was PM at one point, in an overwhelmingly Islamic country.

  54. wayne,

    The Iraqi Sunnis were installed in power by a coalitin of the world’s greatest powers, after their victory in a world war.

    That’s rather a different situation than a small minority faction in a country seizing control by itself.

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