Foreign Policy

Among the Disbelievers

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After the assassination of Benazir Bhutto and almost a decade of the dictatorial rule from Pervez Musharraf's Pakistan Muslim League, Pakistanis, it seems, are tiring of religious extremism. Having previously elected a coalition of pro-Taliban legislators, voters in North West Frontier Province have turned to the country's more secular parties to stop the bloodshed and get vital public services up and running. The AP reports:

Fed up with violence and broken promises, voters in Pakistan's deeply conservative northwest have thrown out the Islamist parties that ruled this province for five years — a clear sign that Pakistanis rejected religious extremism in a region where al-Qaida and the Taliban have sought refuge.

Instead, the voters here in North West Frontier Province, which borders Afghanistan, gave their support in Monday's national election to secular parties that promised to pave the streets, create jobs and bring peace to the turbulent province through dialogue and economic incentives to the extremists.

Full story.

Bhutto's widower, Asif Ali Zardari, co-chairman of the Pakistan People's Party, celebrates the election results in the Chicago Tribune.

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  1. Although I can’t find it anywhere in the rules –

    DRINK!

  2. Pakistan Muslim League (Quaid-i-Azam) is Musharraf’s party.

    Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) is led, strangely enough, by Nawaz Sharif.

  3. Throwing out the god-fearers for the socialists.

    Same shit, different day.

  4. I always found it interesting how many people assumed, not only without evidence, but contrary to all of the available evidence, that the Pakistani people would support Islamists.

  5. Aww, c’mon Russ 2000. You can’t expect Raskolnikov to turn into John Galt in one day. Actually, now that I think about it, why the hell would you want to?

  6. bring peace to the turbulent province through dialogue and economic incentives to the extremists

    Good luck with that. Anyone know if its every worked anywhere else?

    I always found it interesting how many people assumed, not only without evidence, but contrary to all of the available evidence, that the Pakistani people would support Islamists.

    Well, they did elect the Islamist party in the northwest province for 5 years. Unless you don’t count “voting for” as “supporting.”

  7. I guess now he deserves to be called Mr. 33%.

  8. Phocion: You are correct. I’ll fix that.

    Thanks

  9. RC,

    Since you must not have followed this very closely, the oft-expressed reason for our support of the undemocratic Musharrif was the fear that Pakistan as a whole would fall to the Islamists without him.

  10. And now they can’t even win in Red State Pakistan.

  11. Oops, me, sorry.

  12. the oft-expressed reason for our support of the undemocratic Musharrif was the fear that Pakistan as a whole would fall to the Islamists without him.

    Quote?

    Link?

    Any proof at all?

    I call bullshit joe. The US supports Musharrif because he is the guy in power and he will kill terrorists for us. Your exposition on that is, according to Occum, unneeded.

    Side note to joe’s doctrine of non-intervention. Using a similar, but different in that it actually explains somehting, exposition one can deduce that his view is that non-intervention should only be when it is to his advantage, but in the Musharrif case the US should intervene and attempt to topple him from power and hope the next guy will be more to joe’s tastes.

    This is in contrast to a more consistent libertarian non-interventionist doctrine which is we should not be there in the first place.

  13. So democracy works in Muslim countries?

  14. Instead, the voters here in North West Frontier Province, which borders Afghanistan, gave their support in Monday’s national election to secular parties that promised to pave the streets, create jobs and bring peace to the turbulent province through dialogue and economic incentives to the extremists.

    Also in contrast to joe’s bullshit a smart person (not joe) might say this is a success for the Bush team policies with Pakistan.

    Oh nooozzee I gave credit to Bush?!?!

    Cuz we all know irrational hatred of Bush tell us what ever he does must be fucking things up regardless of the results.

  15. OK, corning, check out this thread.

    https://www.reason.com/blog/show/123412.html

    Also in contrast to joe’s bullshit a smart person (not joe) might say this is a success for the Bush team policies with Pakistan.

    Uh, yeah, the Bush administration’s backing of Musharrif and his undemocratic actions was actually a brilliant bit of strategery aimed at turning the public against him.

    Smart people might say that, if by “smart” you mean “deluded and/or sycophanitic,” and by “people” you mean “idiots who don’t know anything about Pakistan on Bush’s foreign policy.”

  16. So democracy works in Muslim countries?

    Wait a second…I seem to remember that coming from a group a people a few years back…

    But for the life of me I can’t seem to remember…Joe seems to know he is now, out of the fucking blue, a strong supporter of democracy in Muslim countries…

    Please joe remind everyone who was saying this not so long ago….i seem to remember a speech…by someone big in politics in the US…gosh help me on this i really really can’t remember.

  17. Geez, Ali.

    A smart person would know that anything positive that happens in a Muslim country is the consequence of George Bush.

    I mean, you know how strongly our foreign policy has been pushing for democracy in Pakistan.

    Or, at least, you would, if you were a “smart person.”

    corning,

    While I was speaking about the democracy in the Muslim world years ago, I hardly think I qualify as “someone big is politics in the US.”

  18. BTW, corning, were you an actual smart person, as opposed to a “smart person,” you might have noticed that we did not invade Pakistan, overthrow its government, take over the country, and occupy it for years.

    AND YET, the scary brown people managed to have elections. Go find a smart person who doesn’t hold you in contempt, and maybe he’ll explain it to you. But, obviously, to find a smart person who doesn’t hold you in contempt, you might have to look rather far afield.

  19. So democracy works in Muslim countries?

    Ali,
    I’m not convinced about Pakistan yet. Musharraf hasn’t relinquished power peacefully, has he? More to your point, Turkey seems to be walking the democracy walk. So yes, democracy works in some Muslim countries.

    For all of the neocons reading this, I doubt Iraq is going to succeed as a democracy when we leave.

  20. Uh, yeah, the Bush administration’s backing of Musharrif and his undemocratic actions was actually a brilliant bit of strategery aimed at turning the public against him.

    As I recall Bush supported Musharrif and his anti-terrorist actions and condemned his undemocratic actions.

    Playing a bit fast and loose with facts there joe?

    Plus how is turning to secular parties over Islamist parties turning against Musharrif?

    Perhaps you might look into these secular parties a bit more Joe…cuz i don’t think any one of them are asking to end any alliances with the US. If the US was such a huge supporter of Musharrif’s anti-democratic actions why would a bunch of secular parties wish to retain ties with the US?

    Fuck you are really full of bullshit on this one joe.

  21. AND YET, the scary brown people managed to have elections.

    Hey man it wasn’t my party or even the party I don’t hate as much as your party that was saying that muslims can’t be democratic…it was your party joe that was saying that.

  22. While I was speaking about the democracy in the Muslim world years ago, I hardly think I qualify as “someone big is politics in the US.”

    I was talking about POTUS.

  23. As I recall Bush supported Musharrif and his anti-terrorist actions with billions of dollars in aid, advanced military equipment, intelligence assets, and the like. Hey, you got something right!

    …and condemned his undemocratic actions. With words. More to the point, Bush actually fought off an attempt to withhold some of those billions of dollars after Musharrif imposed martial law and cancelled the elections. For which he was heartily criticized by Pakistan’s democratic parties. Why, it was blogged about on this very site. I trust you can find that yourself.

    Plus how is turning to secular parties over Islamist parties turning against Musharrif? I haven’t the foggiest idea. I did my best to come up with some plausible way your assertion that George Bush’s Pakistan policy was somehow responsible for this could work, and as you point out, I failed miserably. I do bite off more than I can chew sometimes, don’t I?

    it was your party joe that was saying that. Really? I defy you to find a single Democrat who said that. I triple dog dare you, shithead.

    Boy, am I ever going to look like an idiot when douchebag corning comes back with a bunch of quotes from Bill Clinton, Al Gore, John Kerry, Jon Murtha, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Joe Biden, Barack Obama, Chris Dodd, Barney Frank, and Dennic Kucinich saying that it was impossible for brown people to have democracy.

    Yup. Any minute now, he sure is going to show me what’s what.

    Mm-hmm.

    Any minute now.

  24. I was talking about POTUS.

    You mean the one who gives us those speeches about restraining spending, having a humble foreign policy, keeping the deficit down, and bridging partisan divides?

    You’ll have to excuse me, I don’t make a habit of taking politicians at their words when their actions refute them. It’s a liberal thing; you wouldn’t understand.

  25. Yup. Any minute now.

    The Democrats were saying that democracy couldn’t work in the Muslim world, and joshua is going to round up some quotes to prove it.

    Any minute now, this will happen.

  26. J sub D, joe,

    But this is a clear case of people acting rationally, where hard line extremism (“right wing”) did not quite work, so the people voted in the seculars. And this happened in one of the most conservative regions in one of the Muslim countries. I would argue that if the West and Israel does not starve the Gazans to death first via their hard line embargo, may be, just may be, Gazans will reject Hamas and “get them out of office” (if only they were given a chance). Now they don’t trust the West when the West says “we are for democracy in the ME” and, worse yet, the Hamas thugs are now made to look like heroes.

    To summarize, if only these countries are left to vote whichever way they like (whether we like the outcomes or not) without pressures, embargoes, etc., the citizens will be able to find their way to moderation and common sense. Define democracy too narrowly and you get very perverse outcomes.

    Or to take some other case recently in the news, if only the US embargo against Cuba was lifted years ago, may be we would have seen a more democratic Cuba today.

  27. Yup, any minute now.

    I mean, Rich Lowry and Rush Limbaugh SAID Democrats don’t think people in the Muslim world are fit for democracy.

    And joshua corning repeated them.

    So, really, it must be true.

    “Smart people” know it’s true, anyway.

  28. Ali,

    In case it isn’t clear, of course I agree that people in developing countries are capable of democracy. And I absolutely agree that not intervening to assert our own power there is essential for democracy to arise.

    That’s exactly the argument I’m always making about Venezuela.

    My disagreement is with those who think democratization can happen by being invaded and occupied by the United States.

  29. joe, yeah, i know. i was just elaborating on my question and not disagreeing with anyone.

  30. I don’t know how meaningful a category “the Muslim world” is. Malaysia, Indonesia, Turkey, and India are full of Muslims; their politics is a lot different from, say, Egypt’s. Pakistan, for all its troubles, has been electing its leaders for decades, and has enough of a legal tradition that this fall thousands of lawyers protested Musharraf’s interference with the justice department. There’s a pro-democracy segment of the population, and it doesn’t always vote for radical Muslim parties. You can’t compare Pakistan to Iraq in terms of democratic institutions.

  31. Ali, I also think democracy by invasion is a fools mission. I differ with others by asserting that many cultures are NOT prepared to take on the responsibilities of self government. That is, if given the vote they will elect an authoritarian regime, thern accomodate and make excuses for it. It’s that turning over power peacefully to your opponents that gets my respect and admission to J sub Ds list of democracies. Yes, authoritarian regimes do transition to democracy without a revolution, but because so many backslide after the first election, I withhold recognition as a free society until the ruling party turns over power peacefully.

    I’m a skeptic. Especially about human nature. People will screw it up is my default position. I’m usually right because of that.

    Hoping things work out in South Asia, but I remain unconvinced that democracy has taken a firm hold in Pakistan.

  32. …and bring peace to the turbulent province through dialogue and economic incentives to the extremists.

    Honest question: is there some insight about extremists in Pakistan that they are more tribal than religious (and thus, more likely to appreciate the economics of this life)?

  33. It seems there are ways that tribal loyalties can get in the way of terrorism. It’s harder for Taliban factions in Waziristan to coordinate when each leader can only work in his own tribal area. (I’m getting this from here .)
    But I wouldn’t assume that tribal affiliations make people less religious, or even that being less religious makes people more economically practical.

  34. J sub D-

    If a nation peacefully gives the rule of their country to a dictator, what do we have to loose? Human nature has its limits as far as tolerance towards injustice. But I agree with you otherwise.

  35. If a nation peacefully gives the rule of their country to a dictator, what do we have to loose?

    “We” (the U.S.) don’t lose anything when a nation pisses away representative democracy. The citizens who allow it to happen are losing a lot, but it like I occasioally say when I want to fire up a liberal, “Other people’s problems are just that. Other people’s problems.”

  36. But I wouldn’t assume that tribal affiliations make people less religious, or even that being less religious makes people more economically practical.

    This is gonna make me sound like a real jerk, but bear with me.

    If I now love my new wife more than I love my mother, it doesn’t mean I love my mother less. But it does move mom down a spot on my list of loyalties. If you love your tribe more it doesn’t mean you love your reliion less, it means the tribe has higher precedence.

    You’re still just as much a superstitious god fearing theist, but in a dispute between religion and tribal loyalties, religion comes in second.

    Atheists and theists alike all love money. Convince anyone that capitalism is the best way to create wealth and they will likely adopt it if they love there fellow citizens.

  37. J sub D-

    Agreed. Their problems should become ours only if they start exporting their problems here. If we’re to take action, we’d better take it judiciously and with the least amount of intervention.

  38. J sub D @ 10:06- Makes sense to me. No jerkiness about what you said at all.

  39. Among the Disbelievers

    Pithy post title, but it would upset the ANP and their supporters. Do you really want to suggest that a secular party that supports separation of religion and state must be made up of “disbelievers?” That seems to me to be a profound mistake, both intellectually and politically.

  40. My disagreement is with those who think democratization can happen by being invaded and occupied by the United States.

    Well, obviously it can happen, though I’d argue that it’s much easier to restore democracy than to create a new one. But to argue that democratization never follows an invasion is to ignore Grenada (independence in 1974, coup by Bishop who outlawed other parties in 1979, infighting led to him being deposed and later executed in 1983 and rule by a military government), Panama (which started democratic in 1903 but had had various military dictators since 1968), and other examples.

  41. Sure, I’d agree that Grenada and Panama were obviously easier for various reasons, and I’d absolutely agree that by being easier they led to the type of hubris that we’ve seen in Iraq. Pretending that pieces of evidence that are exceptions to your sweeping statement don’t exist would be rather intellectually dishonest though, I think, and eventually unconvincing. I think it serves everyone better to distinguish why the individual situations were different, and what sort of factors might lead to success.

    Of course, if you object to the invasions of Grenada and Panama on moral grounds, you certainly don’t have to accept them on practical grounds. Ignoring their realities still bespeaks of a lack of, shall we say, Reason.

  42. Boy, am I ever going to look like an idiot when douchebag corning comes back with a bunch of quotes from Bill Clinton, Al Gore, John Kerry, Jon Murtha, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Joe Biden, Barack Obama, Chris Dodd, Barney Frank, and Dennic Kucinich saying that it was impossible for brown people to have democracy.

    Bush’s record for democracy in the middle east:

    Iraq
    Afghanistan
    Lebanon
    and now Pakistan

    These people’s record for Democracy in the middle east: Bill Clinton, Al Gore, John Kerry, Jon Murtha, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Joe Biden, Barack Obama, Chris Dodd, Barney Frank, and Dennic Kucinich

    …..

    For a group of pro democracy interventionists who opposed intervention that produced results they sure have a shoty record.

    Your narrative fell apart long ago joe…having a hissy fit over it only makes you look worse.

    ….and condemned his undemocratic actions. With words. More to the point, Bush actually fought off an attempt to withhold some of those billions of dollars after Musharrif imposed martial law and cancelled the elections.

    Only words joe? Bush didn’t put a little pressure on Musharrif to get a little back?

    The news reported would seem to indicate that Bush pushed a little more then with words and got a fuck load more then you are willing to admit.

    Anyway it would be funny for you to actually explain why all these secular political groups don’t hate bush or the US and how they are more popular then the Islamic groups that do hate the US. That has been a long standing narrative of the American left right? That all these people would now hate us.

    And I absolutely agree that not intervening to assert our own power there is essential for democracy to arise.

    Funny how when the US bombed a sight in Pakistan without permission less then a week ago and no one gave a shit.

    Your thesis lacks any evidence outside of what your heart desired the world to be.

    The best part of this is that your lefty views of democracy require the preservation of sovereignty of state…a view that honestly has more to do with nationalism then with anything.

    Sort of fascism plus feature…”we must protect the nationalism of our socialist brothers” meme…truly weird.

  43. joshua corning —
    You seem to be arguing that Bush (singlehandedly?) created democracy in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, and Pakistan, despite the dastardly efforts of Democrats to keep democracy away from the “Middle East” (which somehow includes Pakistan and Afghanistan?) You also say that Bush must have pressured Musharraf behind the scenes not to rig the election.

    First of all, the PML(Q) did attempt to rig the election; they just didn’t succeed. Second of all, how can you give Bush credit for the Cedar Revolution or the homegrown Pakistan opposition to Musharraf? Your unspoken assumption is that only Americans can give democracy, and any other countries that move towards democracy must have had our help.

  44. I hope no one is equating democracy with liberty. Having majority rule through elections (democracy) doesn’t mean we don’t have tyranny. Turning over the government peacefully to the opposition also doesn’t meanwe have shed ourselves of tyranny. We can and usually do just exchange one form for another.

    But I guess if enough people picked the new form, it’s OK, right?

  45. Lebanon has been a democracy for decades, you tool.

    So has Pakistan – Bhutto’s FATHER was elected Prime Minister. How can manage not to know this, and still decide you are in a position to lecture people?

    So, found any Democrats who said democracy can’t work in Muslim countries? Like you were originally charging?

    Nope. My narrative seems to be holding up pretty well.

    This, btw, is absolutely precious:

    Your thesis lacks any evidence outside of what your heart desired the world to be.

    …coming from the guy who thinks that George Bush introduced democracy to Lebanon and Pakistan.

    joshua, think you for a lift to my morning. That little lift from seeing my opponent immolate himself always gets me going.

  46. First of all, the PML(Q) did attempt to rig the election; they just didn’t succeed. Second of all, how can you give Bush credit for the Cedar Revolution or the homegrown Pakistan opposition to Musharraf?

    I think we’re still waiting on a bit more evidence to conclude that the PML(Q) did attempt to rig the election. It wouldn’t have surprised me if they did, but so far we’ve been pretty free of such claims from the neutral observers that were there, both Pakistani and foreign.

    Second of all, while it’s clearly false that “only Americans can give democracy,” and for the US to take credit for all moves towards democracy in an allied country, certainly it’s equally false to render all blame to the US for any antidemocratic moves or actions in allies as well. To some degree, a country’s situation exists independent of the US, and the US must decide to deal with what is there.

    This is part of why overarching criticism of US foreign policy is difficult anyway. Not only are there many schools of thought, but US foreign policy takes different approaches from nearly all of the schools depending on the country and situation.

    That said, the US has offered support for the March 14 coalition in Lebanon, even though of course it came from within the country. We can acknowledge that US policy has been quite different from under James Baker, when Syria’s dominance over Lebanon was accepted. Furthermore, it has continued to press Syria over the issue, something that both realists and Obama adviser Zbig Brzezinski seem to oppose. With Musharraf, it’s acknowledged by all sides that the US State Department pressured him into letting Bhutto return, aside from the various calls to have elections. One can dispute how seriously all this was meant, and it’s obviously an open question what would have happened had overall policy towards Musharraf been different. One does not want to make the mistake of historicism. More generally, US-backed governments have a pretty good track record of morphing into fairly free liberal democracies, regardless of whether that has to do with avoiding ruinous socialist economic policies or nudges from the US or whatever.

    So, found any Democrats who said democracy can’t work in Muslim countries?

    I think it would be highly unlikely to find such a statement, particularly on ethnic or cultural grounds. OTOH, certainly there’s no shortage of John Kerry not being concerned about the issue and saying that democracy and human rights are not high priorities, particularly in the Middle East, etc. Of course, most Americans aren’t really concerned about the issue enough to make it a priority either.

  47. …coming from the guy who thinks that George Bush introduced democracy to Lebanon and Pakistan.

    I think defended it where it was and help expand it where it wasn’t is pretty accurate. I don’t think introduce it was the word i used.

    But if your only defense to your narrative of the results of Bush’s foreign policy is to put words in other people’s mouth essentially making a straw man then beat up that straw man then i have to say your narrative is getting pretty weak.

    So for shits and giggles lets look at your narrative:

    “The Muslims and the world will hate the US”

    Events in Pakistan seem to say different

    “Putting troops in foreign lands will create more terrorists”

    Events in Iraq and Pakistan seem to say different.

    “Democracy cannot be made at the tip of a gun”

    the history of japan panama Germany and Falklen and events in Afghanistan and Iraq seem to say different

    Your Narrative is looking pretty ratty there joe.

    I think it is safe to say that the lefty narrative in all of this has fallen into a deep hole. My suggestion to the libertarians here and the Reason staff is that a whole sale rejection of the socialist narrative. I am not saying to jump on the Neocon boat but a reexamination is in order. The lack of a libertarian narrative has been absent in all of this and perhaps it is time to start developing one.

    And blind Bush bashing is not it.

  48. John Thacker: fair enough on most points. The US certainly had a hand in letting Bhutto back in, and in calling for elections. I’m not really pushing for the realist point of view, anyhow.

    I do question your comment about U.S.-backed regimes “morphing” into liberal democracies. Saudi Arabia’s democratic credentials are questionable. Farther in the past, what about Saddam Hussein? Pinochet? Diem? The U.S. has a pretty consistent history of backing dictators in the interests of stability. Some would say our relationship with Musharraf around 2003 was like that. The policy of urging allies to hold elections and supporting democratic oppositions seems to be a counter-trend.

  49. Events in Iraq (tens of thousands dead in terrorist bombings) and Pakistan (ongoing campaign of terrorism against Shiite mosques, Benazir Bhutto assassinated) demonstrate that terrorism hasn’t increased?

    You’re really on a roll, corning. Keep it up.

    I think it is safe to say that the lefty narrative in all of this has fallen into a deep hole. Uh huh. What color is the sky in your world, where the critics of George Bush’s foreign policy are “looking pretty ratty?” Because in this world, we’re taking over the country.

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