Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Saturday, November 03, 2007

A coup within a coup

As the fuss about Kurds in Iraq and Turkey (and Turkish politicians' posturing over the genocide vote) dies down another of our "friends" is making life difficult for us. Pakistani Dictator, General Musharraf has ordered troops to surround the Supreme Court just before they were to rule on whether he was legally able to participate in the election in which he won "re-election."

This comes after he reluctantly allowed former Pakistani PM, Benizir Bhutto, back into the country. I'm not a Pakistan expert but my impression is that Bhutto is popular with the urban middle class types but her reputation is marred by some pretty serious corruption charges. There have been some attempts on her life since she arrived back in Pakistan and the circumstances (street lights mysteriously shut off, state security absent) were suspicious enough to allow speculation that Musharraff was rooting for the assassins - if indeed, he wasn't actually the one who sent them. Bhutto has garnered some high profile American support and her rhetoric is about rallying the modern elements in Pakistan to defeat the Islamists and reign in the tribal leaders.

So today we wak up to news that Musharraff has sent out the troops, surrounded the Supreme Court and plans for a parliamentary election in January (the reason for Bhotto's return) may be cancelled.

Here is what I think is going on. Bush et al decided to change horses in Pakistan. Musharraf has been protecting the tribal leaders (and Pakistani intelligence agents) who are protecting the Taliban and Osama Bin Laden along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. With Iraq spiralling out of control (just wait until the surgelet is over), Bush would love to capture Bin Laden. So Bush dusts off an old US ally from the late 1980s and 90s and sets her up as a potential replacement for Musharraff. But old Pervez didn't want to play that game so he ordered out the troops. He's called Bush's bluff. What exactly will the US do about a Musharraf coup? My guess is they MIGHT harrumph a bit a press conference but in the end they won't do much.

This situation in Pakistan is just more proof that the Republican party cannot be trusted with foreign policy. How they ever got the reputation as the natural foreign policy party is beyond me...well, actually, I think it's because of their shameless appeal to militarism and other micro-phallic compensations.


Dr. Strangelove said...

This is very important news... thanks for adding it to the blog, LTG. I have a slightly different take on the Musharraf/Bhutto misalliance. Everyone seems to agree that he agreed to the power-sharing deal with Bhutto because the U.S. government was pushing hard for it. Rather than a replacement, I think Bush saw her as more of a stooge... someone they could use to add a veneer of legitimacy and shore up Musharraf's power without going so far as to declare martial law. I understand that Rice has personally intervened a couple of times to prevent martial law.

It seems that the Supreme Court may have been prepared to play spoiler and declare that Musharraf was not legitimately elected by the legislatures. Musharraf got the jitters and decided that Bhutto was too dangerous as a political foe and too weak to help him keep the presidency... so he declared martial law anyway. News is that paramilitary troops have surrounded Bhutto's house, but she remains on the tarmac in Karachi, unable to leave--she apparently had a whiff that something was up and may have tried to flee again.

This is the crowning disaster for U.S. foreign policy. (I am not sure one can crown a disaster, but if one can, Bush surely has done it this time.) Bush's failure now stretches almost unbroken across the Middle East, from Israel--which blundered so badly against Hizballah in 2006--to Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and now Pakistan. Musharraf has no doubt greatly disappointed the neo-cons, who put up with his anti-democratic ways because they felt the needed him for the war on terror. The last mildly bright spot for Bush's foreign policy choices in the Middle East has just blown up in his face. We are powerless to affect things over there, and have no allies or friends who will stick their necks out on our behalf anymore. This is galling.

Raised By Republicans said...

I'm glad you liked that I posted this Dr. S. But if you continue to give credit to LTG for my posts, I'll go on strike!! :-)

Raised By Republicans said...

I think too we can extend Bush foreign policy failures as far east as India where he sold out the Non Proliferation Treaty to India. And for what? To get them to show restraint when Musharraf's nasty little friends in the ISI (Pakistani intelligenc service) were sponsoring a wave of terror attacks in India.

By the way, the corner stone of the Clinton foreign policy in Asia was to tilt away from an un-democratic, Islamist Pakistan that is foundering economically and towards a democratic India that is experiencing a kind of economic transformation.

The Bush foreign policy seems to be thought up by a bunch of frat boys who liked to play Risk in college.

Raised By Republicans said...

OK, BBC news is reporting that Bhutto was in Dubai on a personal visit when word brok that Musharraf had declared martial law. She then flew BACK to Pakistan. Dr. S. where did you hear that she was surrounded by troops at the airport?

Dr. Strangelove said...

Oops, sorry RbR--I don't know why I thought this post was from LTG. I also could have sworn that I read the news re Bhutto correctly, but if I can't even read the blog right, I must have been crazy. I can't even blame a martini for this one, sigh.

Raised By Republicans said...

Dr. S. I'm sure you saw somewhere that she was holed up at the airport I'm just curious about more sources of info other than BBC.

The Law Talking Guy said...

As a lawyer, I am very proud of the legal establishment in Pakistan. The rule of law is the most crucial guardian of liberty, more than just having elections or plebiscites. The willigness of Pakistan's lawyers to defend an independent (and secular) judiciary and the rule of law is extremely heartening for anyone hopeful about the future of Pakistan. Given that Pakistan already has a (relatively) diverse economic base with a broadening middle class, it would seem that, with the addition of the rule of law, Pakistan is surprisingly close to having the necessary elements for long-term stability and prosperity.

Which is what makes the Bush administration's unthinking support of the Musharraf dictatorship all the more galling.