Tuesday, November 06, 2007

One Conundrum Down, One To Go

Remember when Speakerette Crazy Nancy Pelosi tried to ram a non-binding resolution through the House condemning Turkey for the genocide of Armenians committed by the century-defunct Ottoman Empire a few weeks back? Remember how the Turks got all pissed and started making noises about evicting us from our Incirclik Air Base, which would cripple our ability to supply our Iraq deployment, as well as invading northern Iraq to wipe out the PKK, the marxist Kurdish terrorist group that has been a thorn in Ankara's side for years?

Guess who has talked the Turks back from the brink, at least for the moment:

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan left Washington reassured Tuesday after President George W. Bush called Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq a common enemy and promised greater help against them.

A large-scale Turkish incursion into northern Iraq was now unlikely, said analysts. But they saw tacit US approval for surgical strikes on rebel targets across the border in Bush's promise to provide Ankara with "real-time" intelligence on Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) movements.

Bush also announced better communication channels between the top echelons of the Turkish and US military and the top US commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus. ...

"We understood each other well and agreed on the basic issues," Erdogan said Monday after his meeting with Bush, widely seen as the culmination of frantic US efforts to avert the threat of a Turkish incursion into northern Iraq.
And the libs say Bush doesn't do diplomacy, much less very well. Just goes to show that "jaw-jaw" can, after all, be a useful tool of statecraft, when applied where it is actually appropriate and can actually be useful.

That being said, the Turks were just the warm-up act for an even more harrowing diplomatic challenge (via StratFor):

Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf declared a state of emergency over the weekend, precipitating a wave of arrests, the suspension of certain media operations and the intermittent disruption of communications in and out of Pakistan. As expected, protests erupted throughout Pakistan by November 5, with clashes between protesting lawyers and police reported in Lahore, Karachi, Islamabad and several other cities. Thus far, however, the army appears to be responding to Musharraf's commands.

The primary issue, as Musharraf framed it, was the Pakistani Supreme Court's decision to release about sixty people the state had charged with terrorism. Musharraf's argument was that the court's action makes the fight against Islamist extremism impossible and that the judiciary overstepped its bounds by urging that the civil rights of the accused be protected.

Musharraf's critics, including the opposition's top leader, former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, argued that Musharraf was using the Supreme Court issue to protect his own position in the government, avoid leaving the army as
and put off elections. In short, he is being accused of staging a personal coup under the guise of a state of emergency.

Whether Musharraf himself survives is not a historically significant issue. What is significant is whether Pakistan will fall into internal chaos or civil war, or fragment into smaller states. We must consider what that would mean....
When last we looked in on Presineral (Genesident?) Musharraf, he had sent his army into Waziristan to crush Islamist rebels once and for all and reached a power-sharing agreement with former Prime Minister Benizar Bhutto to put Pakistan back on the road to democracy. The ostensible purpose of the latter was to put in place the means (and likelihood) of marginalizing al Qaeda and the Taliban politically so that they couldn't recover after being routed militarily.

Conveniently for Musharraf, the "war on terror" is his citation for declaring this latest state of emergency and halting the re-democratization process he himself agreed to. Are such protestations sincere, or is he just another waffling despot coming down with the tell-tale symptoms of cold feet?

The answer, says George Friedman, is something other, deriving from the, ironically, from Pakistan's eerily Iraq-like origins:

Pakistan, however, was not a historic name for the region. Rather, reflective of the deeply divided Muslims themselves, the name is an acronym that derives, in part, from the five ethnic groups that made up western, Muslim India: Punjabis, Afghans, Kashmiris, Sindhis and Balochis.

The Punjabis are the major ethnic group, making up just under half of the population, though none of these groups is entirely in Pakistan. Balochis also are in Iran, Pashtuns also in Afghanistan and Punjabis also in India. In fact, as a result of the war in Afghanistan more than a quarter century ago, massive numbers of Pashtuns have crossed into Pakistan from Afghanistan - though many consider themselves to be moving within Pashtun territory rather than crossing a foreign border.

Geographically, it is important to think of Pakistan in two parts. There is the Indus River Valley, where the bulk of the population lives, and then there are the mountainous regions, whose ethnic groups are deeply divided, difficult for the central government to control and generally conservative, preferring tradition to modernization. The relative isolation and the difficult existence in mountainous regions seem to create this kind of culture around the world.

Pakistan, therefore, is a compendium of divisions. The British withdrawal created a state called Pakistan, but no nation by that name. What bound its residents together was the Muslim faith - albeit one that had many forms. As in India - indeed, as in the Muslim world at the time of Pakistan's founding - there existed a strong secularist movement that focused on economic development and cultural modernization more than on traditional Islamic values. This secularist tendency had two roots: one in the British education of many of the Pakistani elite and the second in Turkish founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who pioneered secularism in the Islamic world.

Pakistan, therefore, began as a state in crisis. What remained of British rule was a parliamentary democracy that might have worked in a relatively unified nation - not one that was split along ethnic lines and also along the great divide of the 20th century: secular versus religious. Hence, the parliamentary system broke down early on - about four years after Pakistan's creation in 1947. British-trained civilian bureaucrats ran the country with the help of the army until 1958, when the army booted out the bureaucrats and took over.
Still awake? I hope so, because the payoff to that historical lecture is at hand:

Therefore, if Pakistan was a state trying to create a nation, then the primary instrument of the state was the army. This is not uniquely Pakistani by any means, nor is it unprincipled. The point that Ataturk made - one that was championed in the Arab world by Egypt's Gamal Abdul Nasser and in Iran by Reza Pahlavi - was that the creation of a modern state in a traditional and divided nation required a modern army as the facilitator. An army, in the modern sense, is by definition technocratic and disciplined. The army, rather than simply an instrument of the state, therefore, becomes the guarantor of the state. In this line of thinking, a military coup can preserve a constitution against anti-constitutional traditionalists. If the idea of a
military coup as a guarantor of constitutional integrity seems difficult to fathom, then consider the complexities involved in creating a modern constitutional regime in a traditional society.

Although the British tradition of parliamentary government fell apart in Pakistan, one institution the Britons left behind grew stronger: the Pakistani army. The army - along with India's army - was forged by the British and modeled on their army. It was perhaps the most modern institution in both countries, and the best organized and effective instrument of the state. As long as the army remained united and loyal to the concept of Pakistan, the centrifugal forces could not tear the country apart.

Musharraf's behavior must be viewed in this context. Pakistan is a country that not only is deeply divided, but also has the real capacity to tear itself apart. It is losing control of the mountainous regions to the indigenous tribes. The army is the only institution that transcends all of these ethnic differences and has the potential to restore order in the mountain regions and maintain state control elsewhere. [emphases added]
And, I might add, prevent al Qaeda and the Taliban from taking over Pakistan and gaining access to its nuclear weapons stockpile.

Now, all of this is not to say that what Mrs. Bhutto called "a mini-coup" doesn't look awfully self-serving, as well as self-defeating to the notion of marginalizing the Islamists. By cutting her off at the knees like this, Musharraf risks making common enemies of both bin Laden and Mullah Omar on the one hand and Mrs. Bhutto on the other. Or, put another way, the Islamists' enemies may be dividing and conquering one another, while they can sit back, watch the fur fly, and then move in and easily knock over which ever side remains standing.

Why are we not surprised, then, to see the foreign policy crazoids on the Left push that very same argument?

The truth, these critics say, is that, to the extent that terrorism is a problem, this is a function of the lack of democracy. Give the people a peaceful outlet to vent their grievances, and they will turn away from violence. Musharraf’s opponents insist that the way to staunch the spread of Islamism is to take power away from the army and hand it to a secular middle class capable of transmitting modern and liberal mores to the country as a whole.
A secular middle class that has never been able to keep Pakistani democracy running for very long before falling victim to repeated military coups. And an army that is, in fact, the only thing standing between a woefully imperfect U.S. ally in the war and a nuclear-armed al Qaedastan.

That, evidently, was also Foggy Bottom's que for their similar brand of idiocy:

The State Department response — calling for immediate free elections — is idiotic. Break down Pakistan's instability into just some of its component parts — Islamist militancy, tribal unrest, deep-seated ethnic separatism, feudal oppression, sectarian hatred, an incompetent and corrupt ruling elite, an ill-educated population, a paranoid and conspiratorial culture — and it's far from clear that dictatorship is the disease or elections the cure.
And if Musharraf doesn't immediately accordian to Condi Rice's demands, then what? Will we cut off all economic and military assistance? And that would aid the struggle against the Islamists in Waziristan how, exactly?

Hugh Hewitt answered that rhetorical questions with a decidedly non-rhetorical query of his own:

When you read headlines like this one, you have to wonder if the careerist-dominated Department of State is pushing for a replay of Iran, 1978 or South Vietnam, 1963.
I don't wonder at all. Turning wayward allies into bitter, implacable enemies is Foggy Bottom's specialty.

Or we could just throw Musharraf completely under the bus by following Barack Obama's advice and just invade Pakistan ourselves. It would have the "virtue" of speeding up the rise of al Qaedastan dramatically.

Something that may be inevitable regardless of all the peripheral folly, for a reason as ominous as it is not new. Mr. Friedman explains:

[T]he problem is that the army, in the long run, reflects the country. The army has significant pockets of radical Islamist beliefs, while Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the military's intelligence branch, in particular is filled with Taliban sympathizers. (After all, the ISI was assigned to support the mujahideen fighting the Soviets in the 1980s, and the ISI and other parts of the army absorbed the ideology). Musharraf has had to walk a tightrope between U.S. demands that he crack down on his own army and his desire to preserve his regime - and has never been able to satisfy either side fully....

In simple terms, the real question is this: Will the army split? Put more broadly, will some generals simply stop taking orders from Pakistan's General Headquarters and side with the Islamists? Will others side with Bhutto? Will ethnic disagreements run so deep that the Indus River Valley becomes the arena for a civil war? That is what instability in Pakistan would look like. It is not a question of civilian institutions, elections or any of the things we associate with civil society. The key question on Pakistan is whether the army stays united.
Friedman thinks it will, regardless of whether Musharraf personally survives and whatever the status of Pakistan's democratization.

To me, it is a question of priorities and process. The top priority has to be to keep Pakistan and its nukes out of bin Laden's hands. After that comes the matter of fumigating Waziristan. Only then does democratization enter the picture.

That is the process, and it has to be in that order. Otherwise, in the Commodore's words, "The U.S....will wish for a better alternative than what [it] ha[s], and [will] end up with far, far worse."

UPDATE: Don't think Pervez Musharraf isn't politically savvy? He's already lobbying the two Donk Foreign Relations Committee Chairs, and has already gotten the results he was seeking - for now.

UPDATE II: Could the state of emergency be for the purpose of crushing al Qaeda and Taliban forces in Waziristan once and for all, including redeploying Pakistani forces from the Indian border? Might all this be over by Thanksgiving?

One thing is for sure: speed is of the essence. If Musharraf dithers, or fails, it could get very ugly, very quickly (the Obama option, anyone?).