Monday, February 25, 2008

After Musharraf

Pervez Musharraf's days as President of Pakistan are numbered. What happens after he steps down? What happens to Pakistan's nukes? To the campaign against the Taliban? I explore those issues at Pajamas Media.

President Musharraf’s political party (PML-Q) has been heavily defeated at the polls by a coalition led by two major opposition parties. The opposition has probably won enough seats to form a new government. The Telegraph reports Musharraf’s exit is now days, not months away. And the man with the power to determine the shape of the new government is a man with close ties to AQ Khan, presided over the development of Pakistan’s nuclear program and has just returned from exile in Saudi Arabia.

Nothing follows.


Blogger Kevin said...

It is a very good article but to me the situation in Pakistan all boils down to one simple calculation; is it in Saudi Arabia’s interest for the anaemic campaign in Afghanistan to continue? To me the answer is an unequivocal “yes” and therefore I wouldn’t look for any changes in Pakistan’s position in the war that carefully avoids doing anything about Saudi terror.

For you see, having the US and friends playing around chasing jihadis on a retail level in Afghanistan means that the main bases of wholesale jihadi production in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan remain untouched. Or to go back to my wasp analogy, the Saudis don’t want to cut off access to the isolated garden where the fool is wearing himself out swatting at individual wasps because that may just give him the idea to go after the main wasp nests and do some serious damage. The Saudis are quite happy for things to continue just as they are and will order their new puppets in Pakistan to keep following the same playbook as their perhaps soon to be former puppet.

2/25/2008 07:27:00 AM  
Blogger Whiskey said...

Kevin I both agree and disagree. I agree that Saudi has and continues to use Pakistan/Afghanistan as a convenient outlet for disaffected young men to go and make themselves less of a nuisance, the way Britain used it's colonies to gain social peace.

But ... the security situation for Saudi is far more complex. Iran is a rising regional power which will get nukes. And could well force the US out of the region. What then? Well then the problem becomes how to stop Iran from peeling off the Shia Eastern provinces where most of the oil is.

And the Saudi Government, being highly factionalized, has less initiative to "do" things than you suggest. More likely they can only remain inactive, and will be buffeted by events. China also is oil hungry and will be certain to move into any security vacuum created by the US.

Already Pakistan is so seriously riven by divisions that traditional alliances are coming undone. Islamists attacked directly Chinese workers which is a slap in the face to the Army-China alliance against India that existed since the early 1950's. China leaned hard on Musharraf to deal with the Red Mosque after Chinese women were taken prisoner and held there.

Saudi money will only go so far when tribal and Islamist and Col/Major level officers see the prize glittering before them. It's as if an aging, dying of cancer John Gotti still tries to control his crime family from behind bars. He has "some" influence but the decisive influence belongs to the young capos on the streets who can seize power directly for themselves.

2/25/2008 12:51:00 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

Whiskey, I don’t believe for a second that the Saudis would wish to see the US leave the Gulf region, far from it, any such move would be a catastrophe for their bank accounts. They are well aware that the Gulf would soon be closed if it were left up to themselves and their neighbours to police it or as you allude, China and Russia would have much more demanding terms, and a far dimmer view of property rights, than we do.

The Saudis however are caught in the classic contradiction faced by any group who use a fanatical ideology to stay in power. On the one hand the ideology is useful for cementing their power, on the other hand the reality of global power politics means they will sometimes have to be in apparent conflict with the various dogmas associated with their ideology.

The best literary illustration of this conflict appears in Koestler’s Darkness at Noon where the communist-led dockworkers in Belgium were enthusiastically executing a boycott on goods bound for Italy, just after their invasion of Ethiopia in the Thirties. That was until their Soviet master delivered the news that due to the realities of protecting global markets, the dockworkers would have to break their boycott and unload a Russian ship full of petrol bound by truck for Italy. The idealistic true-believer leader of the workers was so crushed that he hung himself.

After the Iranian revolution the Saudis found themselves in a similar dilemma although unfortunately their militants didn’t choose the route of suicide. For years the House of Saud had given their Wahhabi militants control over internal affairs but had kept foreign policy separate from the typical militant Islamic ideology. After the Iranian Revolution, militant Saudis demanded to Islam-ify the Saudi foreign policy too, in other words to force their leaders to stop dealing with dirty infidels like the USA.

The way the Saudis dealt with this challenge was to send their militants off to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan or, to a lesser extent, to fight the Persians in Iraq. These two conflicts served as a release valve to for Saudi society. The potentially dangerous militants, the “tribal and Islamist and Col/Major level officers“ you refer to, who didn’t accept the idea of limiting their ideological imperatives to domestic issues, were strongly encouraged to go and fight, and hopefully die, abroad.

The nineties brought peace and with it the internal contradictions of Saudi society started to build up pressure as more and more militants demanded Islamic orthodoxy on foreign policy issues. In this light, the Saudi-sponsored attacks of 9/11, at least from the point of view of the Saudi princes, were less an attack on American freedoms but much more an attempt to create an effect similar to that of a booster rocket; not to drive the US out of the Middle East but instead to change the orbit of US foreign policy. The Saudi goal was isolated conflicts, virtual incinerator pits in fact, in Afghanistan and eventually Iraq to deal with the detritus of Saudi and increasingly Pakistani Wahhabi-based societies. The internal pressures have relieved at least in Saudi Arabis. It is less clear what is going on in Pakistan.

So now the Saudis have the US chained to the rock that is the Middle East while the vulture of militant Islam is pecking at our liver. The Saudis certainly don’t want us to get so weak that we leave the rock; it is vital for them that we stay. But at the same time they are not about to let go of Wahhabism and the power they derive from it. From our point of view, the rock is too valuable to leave but we need to do something about those vultures. As the Saudis continue to spread their Wahhabi madrassas around the Middle East, the need for incinerator pits to deal with the resulting leftover mass of ideologically drive militants will only grow. In other words, more and more vultures will be chopping away at our liver. Now if the supply of vultures, that is Islamic militants, was limited, then the current US policy would be viable. But that is not the case. It is vital that we get to the root of the problem, which is the Wahhabi ideology itself, before Americans get so fed up that we actually do leave the Middle East, which would be catastrophic for everyone.

2/26/2008 07:58:00 AM  
Blogger Zenster said...

Kevin: As the Saudis continue to spread their Wahhabi madrassas around the Middle East

Slight correction: As the Saudis continue to spread their Wahhabi madrassas around the WORLD.

This is the real problem. Much as the MME (Muslim Middle East) is indeed the locus of your useful Promethean metaphor, it is not just petroleum politics that are driving this Arabian Grand Guignol.

While the influx of billions in oil wealth has certainly leveraged Saudi Arabia’s regional influence, the global spread of Wahhabist Islam represents a far more serious problem. By establishing Wahhabism as the de facto worldwide Islamic standard, a host of other quite serious problems have begun to manifest as well.

Slow jihad—in the form of demographic displacement—, especially in Europe, Muslim entitlement—in the disproportionate abuse of Western social services—seen as jizya and the gradual insinuation of shari’a—by way of lawfare and intimidation—throughout Infidel lands all represent a less overt, yet equally if not more damaging, way that Islam drains off further financial sums which meet or exceed MME oil revenues. Coupled with the negative economic impact of global terrorism on commerce, urban jihad’s vandalism—as with Paris’ banlieues—and the horrendous financial toll of waging war in the MME, the petrodollar drain pales into insignificance.

Taken as a whole, Islam’s Grand Game is nothing less than a debilitating plague upon all non-Muslim entities. It is a central reason why—as a prelude to eventual ejection from the West—Islam needs to be declared a political ideology and stripped of all religious legal protections. Further, Islam’s massive and intentional financial burden that is imposed upon the West must be exacted from the MME. Appropriation of the Gawhar oil field and other MME petroleum resources are a necessary response to this massive hemorrhage of capital that Islamic jihad has thrust upon the West.

It is only moral relativism that somehow confers even a remote sense of validity upon Islamic jihad. In reality, it is nothing but larceny, embezzlement, extortion, blackmail and robbery all bundled into a form of sub rosa warfare and swaddled in pseudo-religious garb to give it a whiff of moral sanctity. A single glance at the ongoing and massive violation of human rights happening throughout the MME makes clear how there is no upside to Islam save for the perks enjoyed by its clerical, academic and financial elite. There is no uplifting or improving aspect to it. Rather, prosperity is widely regarded as undesirable in that its comforts distract Muslims from their obligation to perform jihad. All of this only serves to guarantee continued human suffering throughout Islam and wherever its tentacles seek to reach.

Currently, we are hewing at only one or two of the octopus’ arms. Like the Hydra’s heads, they simply grow back with alarming speed. Only by amputating all of the cephalopod’s limbs can we cause it to starve and, finally, perish. Unearned oil wealth, untrammeled global proliferation, nuclear arms, unwarranted moral authority, unmerited religious protection, unchecked corruption, theocratic rule and the ability to wage asymmetric warfare are the eight appendages that Islam must be shorn of to make it wither and die. Either we do this or consign ourselves to the slaughter of every living Muslim on earth. The sole other alternative is surrendering to Islam. Only one of the foregoing is remotely humane and it is incumbent upon the West to begin this onerous task post haste.

3/02/2008 03:07:00 PM  

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