Monday, December 22, 2003
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The bargaining strength of weak leaders
Over the weekend, there was good news out of South Asia: In pursuit of peace with India, Pakistan's president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, is prepared to abandon his country's 50-year quest for a U.N.-mandated referendum on the future of the disputed Himalayan territory of Kashmir, according to an interview published Thursday.
Musharraf's conditional offer to put the referendum "aside" is the latest in a series of recent peace overtures between the two nuclear-armed neighbors, which have fought three wars -- two of them over Kashmir -- and nearly fought another one last year.
Last month, India and Pakistan agreed on a cease-fire in Kashmir, and the Indian prime minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, is due here next month for a regional summit that Pakistani officials hope will pave the way for formal peace negotiations.
Now, any progress in stabilizing relations between two nuclear powers who have fought three wars over the past fivty years is a good thing. The fact that Pakistan has been the country to compromise appears to be even more promising.
Until we get to today's New York Times story on Pakistan and nuclear proliferation:
I'd love to say that the U.S. response should be to appply as much coercive pressure on Musharraf as possible -- but I can't.
Musharraf is probably the best the U.S. could hope for in a cooperative Pakistani leader. His grip on power is far from certain. Because he's so weak, he can resist Western pressure to punish Khan.
I'm happy to entertain suggestions of how to deal with this problem.
UPDATE: The Financial Times reports that Khan is now free to travel within Pakistan -- and the United States is OK with it:
posted by Dan on 12.22.03 at 03:04 PM
Triangulate. Cozy up with India as much as possible. Contracts for F-22s?posted by: Mark Buehner on 12.22.03 at 03:04 PM [permalink]
Are you kidding? You don't know what to do? Surely you realize that we must invade them. To do otherwise - indeed, even to counsel that we should pause to consider whether to invade - would constitute appeasement. You wouldn't want to be a lily-livered, weak-kneed, pansy French/German appeasement monkey, would you? If they have WMD, or even might have them, and they're consorting with terrorists, or even if a few exiles tell us they're pretty sure they heard a rumor that they're consorting with terrorists, then our only option is to invade.
“While General Musharraf was responsible for sidelining Dr. Khan nearly three years ago..”
“Because he's so weak, he (Pervez Musharraf) can resist Western pressure to punish Khan.”
Sidelined nearly three years ago? Why is it so important that Abdul Qadeer Khan be punished? I’d settle for his marginalization. It strongly appears that Musharraf wants to cooperate with the White House. Considering the constant danger threatening his very life, the best we can hope for is a complete end to the past shenanigans. Why not be satisfied if Khan goes off to a country estate and is never heard from again?posted by: David Thomson on 12.22.03 at 03:04 PM [permalink]
Was that your way of admitting that you don't know what to do either? Or is it your opinion that whining about the current president will fix all the world's problems.posted by: Jon Black on 12.22.03 at 03:04 PM [permalink]
“Go crawl back under your rock and appease terrorists with Kofi Annan.”
Oh my, that reminds me that Kofi and I simply must do lunch in the near future. We appeasers should stick together. I just hope that the terrorists will allow us to finish dessert and coffee before murdering us.
The present government of Pakistan is cooperating with us. We must of course keep up the pressure and not take anything for granted. The situation in Iraq had gotten out of control. Saddam Hussein had openly defied the United Nations resolutions he had earlier agreed to. Pervez Musharraf is a proven---and very brave ally. That makes all the difference in the world.posted by: David Thomson on 12.22.03 at 03:04 PM [permalink]
Mark: That's a surefire plan to hand the Paki govt to HT.
David: Forgetting Khan will only allow him to collect a paycheck from the badguys without our knowledge of it.
Me: Mushy is the best of several poor options. Life sucks. Next?posted by: bubba on 12.22.03 at 03:04 PM [permalink]
Remove the textile import restrictions.....posted by: Jason McCullough on 12.22.03 at 03:04 PM [permalink]
“Remove the textile import restrictions.....”
Jason McCullough is finally talking some sense. The Bush administration should do this as soon as possible. It is a disgrace that the President still caters to the protectionists. He should have more backbone on this issue---like former President Clinton.
“David: Forgetting Khan will only allow him to collect a paycheck from the badguys without our knowledge of it.”
Marginalizing someone is not the same thing as forgetting them. In this particular case, I would be glad if the dude would simply disappear to a South Pacific island and live in the lap of luxury---as long as he stopped fooling around with weapons of mass destruction.posted by: David Thomson on 12.22.03 at 03:04 PM [permalink]
"Mark: That's a surefire plan to hand the Paki govt to HT."
You're thinking from a position of weakness, not a position of strength. About risk, not opportunity. Will Pakistan remove Musharif and antagonize the US who has 15,000 troops on their border and bunch of files explaining how Pakistani intelligence abetted Bin Laden and the Taliban? Or will they stick with the guy Bush likes and hope to cut a deal? As in, we'll cut down on the proliferation and you cut down on aid to India.' Thats how you cut a deal, not by laying down and then saying 'see, see, i did what you wanted! look what a good friend I am, now about the thing i wanted...'posted by: Mark Buehner on 12.22.03 at 03:04 PM [permalink]
It is highly likely that any terrorist nuke detonated anywhere in the next ten years will be of Pakistani origin.posted by: Tom Holsinger on 12.22.03 at 03:04 PM [permalink]
Unexpectedly, I find myself agreeing with David Thomson. The pressing issue is not punish past proliferation but to prevent it in the future.
I also note that no "Iraqi Freedom" supporters has tried to respond seriously to Brendan Lynch's post. Pakistan has nukes and is a refuge of Al Qaeda, which as we know was not the case of Iraq. Why do you become appeasers?
All that's left then, is the issue of drying up market. And given the news, that's apprently being handled.posted by: Bithead on 12.22.03 at 03:04 PM [permalink]
History has shown, that when we have a STRONG President in office, one that will do the nessesary to achieve his goal. The rest of the world soon (six months to eighteen months) falls in line with America.
The diplomats and government people play their games with each other and have their own personal agendas most of which maintains the statis quo. In other words NO CHANGE!
posted by: Jim Coomes on 12.22.03 at 03:04 PM [permalink]
This post is amusing in its revelations about the contradictions of the present anti-proliferation policy of the United States, but all of this is really moot. A point Dan missed as well. Kashmir matters in Pakistan. Dear leader wasn't exactly popular before, now completely irrational nationalists will take stern objection to his stance. He's almost been assassinated several times, one near miss most recently. It was ascribed to Al-queda but it could have been anyone there. Not sure how long Musharaff is going to last at this rate. He may have taken one step too far here.posted by: Oldman on 12.22.03 at 03:04 PM [permalink]
Wow, been agreeing with Oldman a lot of late. You are exactly right in your second assertion, and I'll even go so far as to agree with your first assertion about the apparent 'contradictions', except your not going to like it...
Contrary? Gosh, Mark, It's almost as if Bush's policy is "nuanced" or something? Eh, Brendan?posted by: TommyG on 12.22.03 at 03:04 PM [permalink]
A better question is the Bush administration doing ANYTHING to speak of to strengthen a friendly regime in Pakistan. Obviously many things could be done (less textile protection being one mentioned above) to improve life in Pakistan if this was a priority of the U.S. government. But we're to busy trying to work our way out of the Iraqi quicksand than to spend much time worrying abut national security. This should be a top three priority in our foreign policy.posted by: Badger on 12.22.03 at 03:04 PM [permalink]
The main reason why the United States should be worried is that Pakistan has never accepted or come to terms with its own duplicity; thereby making it impossible to believe in its sincerity when Musharraf says they've reformed.
Pakistan has not accepted that they created the Taliban; Pakistan has not accepted that they sent armed terrorists into India since 1947; Pakistan has not accepted that they traded nuclear secrets with North Korea, Iran and Libya.
The fact the the United States takes Musharraf's statements at face value without seeing insisting on a structural reformation of Pakistan is myopic and is sure to come back and haunt it.
Musharaaf has a love/hate relationship with the Pakistani population. He's loved by liberals and business leaders seeking to widen the Pakistani presence in globalisation. He's hated by Taliban supporters, Kashmiri militant supporters and Al Qaida supporters. These three groups however are practically one in the same. Sanctuary for each group can be had under the same roof.
Pakistan is in my opinion going to define the future of Western Civilization versus Islamic Civilization. The Pakistani expatriate community is very pro-liberal and pro-west. They've seen the horrors of resurrecting the seventh century with modern technology and wish no part of it.
The X Factor is the role of Pakistani Nationalism. There's a strong push to take the ideas of the west and build institutions in a way unique to Pakistan. Democratic constructions of the past have provided a blueprint of sorts for reformists in Pakistan, but the desire to add a homegrown touch will take time. Pakistani resource cultivation and mining is a great example of the desire to resist foreign investment to drive the local economy.
President Bush should forge ahead with Pakistan. Sharon is trying to get ahead of the curve with India. My only suspicion is the potential for foolish diplomacy games that could be fanned between Pakistan and India.posted by: Axiom on 12.22.03 at 03:04 PM [permalink]
Um, isn't it kinda hard to invade a country once they actually have a nuclear weapon ready to deploy? And isn't that why countries want them?
The pre-emption doctrine means, let's see, pre-emption?posted by: Madhu on 12.22.03 at 03:04 PM [permalink]
ok, no one has balls here. I'll say what needs to be done: eliminate pakistan
no more proliferation, no more alqaueda, buh bye ISI, etc
we have the technology... just need to evacuate the Indians and Afghans affected by any fallout
there. there's an aggressive response to this crap. and its the right one: you screw around and let things go, and we will eliminate your country
except nork, because rok is stupid enough to build its capital 30 miles from the border with a stalinist despot, so we can't drop the bottled sunshineposted by: hey on 12.22.03 at 03:04 PM [permalink]
*General* Musharraf is a liar and rarely intends what he promises. If anyone here thinks that there is going to be any serious Pakistani movement towards a settlement, they are mistaken.posted by: krishna on 12.22.03 at 03:04 PM [permalink]
Well, you're a smart guy so of course you've been agreeing with me ;-) Seriously, unlike some these yucks you got something going on upstairs. The main difference between you and me is experience - experience namely in human character. That's why we come to different conclusions, different experiences and different amounts.
Like for instance Thomson keeps on going on about how things are gonna get better in Iraq cause we're doing such a bang up job. Now suppose we are. I say it doesn't matter. Why? Cause like Twain said, the difference between a dog and a man is that a man will bite your hand after you feed him. What I believe is that narrow minded core constituenticies and power groups would rather send Iraq spiralling into a disaster than allow their power base to be threatened. Does this seem unrealistic? Think of the Palestinians. Thomson freely condemns Yassar Arafat, but the man is merely venial and not diabolical. He's a penny ante strutter, and they've got those a dime a dozen over there. Saddam, yassam, it doesn't matter. The people in Somalia cheered the yucks who shot at our soldiers feeding them over there. Iraq isn't going to be any different.
The first and last thing you always gotta think about at the end of the day is human nature. If you understand that, if you understand how really ignoble human nature is ... you can foresee allot of things pretty damn accurately.posted by: Oldman on 12.22.03 at 03:04 PM [permalink]
Musharraf is a liar.
After 9-11, when Musharraf did a U-turn on his Taliban policy (under pressure from the US), he gave two sppeches:
one speech was to the Western audience in English. In this speech, he condemned terrorism, and denounced Taliban
In the other speech, meant for the home audience, delivered in Urdu, Musharraf compared his strategic shift on Taliban (and his acceptance of American troops in Pakistan) to that of Prophet Muhammad befriending the Jews for a brief period (friendship of convenience).posted by: arun on 12.22.03 at 03:04 PM [permalink]
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