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Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Middle East Dialectic Blues

posted by on November 6 at 8:59 AM

What I actually like about the scary news from Pakistan (if it actually leads to an open struggle between Bhutto and her secularist faction/the Islamist faction/and Musharraf’s secular military faction) is this: We’ll finally have an answer.

Pakistan has been the picture of denial for almost ten years now with its intractable rivalries maintaining a heated limbo. Much like the open fight that broke out in Palestine this year between Hamas and Fatah, we are finally getting to the bottom of things.

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Oh Josh, be careful what you wish for.

Posted by Providence | November 6, 2007 9:04 AM

Really, we're seeing which one of those groups gets control of nuclear weapons. HOW EXCITING!

Posted by seattle98104 | November 6, 2007 9:08 AM

Since when is Pakistan in the Middle East? Two words: south Asia.

Posted by James | November 6, 2007 9:17 AM
Much like the open fight that broke out in Palestine this year between Hamas and Fatah, we are finally getting to the bottom of things.

Uh, no. We're not. Neither party has the resources to decisively remove the other from power without outside intervention and whichever party gains or accepts outside intervention immediately boosts recruiting for the opposition. This isn't North Vietnam vs. South Vietnam. It's the Crips vs the Mexican Mafia, and it has the potential to go on indefinitely.

Posted by Judah | November 6, 2007 9:17 AM

Josh, this is totally dumb and insensitive. You might have the luxury of simply "getting an answer" (which I don't think you will. But there are over a billion people in that part of the world, and to wish on them the inevitable conflict that will arise from having TWO NUCLEAR powers in that area at fundamental odds from each other... that's just heartbreakingly foolish.

Posted by arduous | November 6, 2007 9:30 AM

Because Palestine is a joyous paradise now, right? That Hamas-Fatah thing is all settled now. Whew.

Pakistan is an example of the struggle everywhere in the Islamic world: how can you have democracy when the demos wants pure insanity? The ultra-repressive government is widely seen as the only hope to keep the medieval nutcases away from the bombs, but that repression ends up just making things worse. Egypt is the same, minus the bomb, and minus the significant professional class. Saudi Arabia. Even Turkey: this is the struggle.

Ironically the way forward might just be Iran, where the kooks take charge and find out the hard way that modernity is necessary. The secularist public in Iran is, despite the WWIII talk, closer to actually taking the lead there than in any of these countries. If our government knew or cared anything about diplomacy, they might be there by now.

But again, the bomb. Having Al Qaeda with nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them would be disastrous. And we sat by and watched Pakistan get them, and even helped protect the guy who did it. Nice work, George.

If Musharraf falls, Israel gets nuked. And then Pakistan gets nuked. And WWIII starts in earnest.

Posted by Fnarf | November 6, 2007 9:35 AM

Hey, and only a few thousand folks will get 'disappeared' in the meantime, eh?

Josh, you are an asshat.

Posted by Tlazolteotl | November 6, 2007 9:35 AM

For someone who's generally an astute political thinker, you sure have it wrong on this one. If Pakistan had no nukes, this would be easy to figure out with three options. Musharraf would retain the support of the military and lead Pakistan for another decade or so, the military would replace Musharraf with another general, or the Islamists would take over entirely.

With the nukes, only the first two options are palatable to the rest of the world. The third opens up a host of horrible, horrible possibilities, most of which involve India.

First off, please note the increasing diplomatic, cultural, economic, and military ties between India and Israel. Next, keep in mind that AQ Khan is largely responsible for the proliferation of missile technology throughout nations hostile to Israel, India, the US and so on, Iran in particular. Do you think that any of these countries are simply going to allow the Taliban to have nukes? Would you think it responsible of us to allow the Taliban to have nukes, and not in a, "We've received intelligence that Saddam is buying yellowcake from Niger" way, but in a, "Hey, they've just taken over a nation with proven nuclear capability" way?

If the Islamists take over, the first thing that may happen is a fifth Indo-Pakistani war that will last just long enough to bring about nuclear annihilation to the sub-continent, or until India can dismantle the Pakistani nuclear program. India's pretty smart, and doesn't like quagmires, so I assume they'd leave as soon as that was done, but who knows what they'd do if Srinagar or the Punjab got nuked?

No matter what, if India took military action against Pakistan, they'd have significant Israeli intelligence and military support, enough that Arab nations might get involved. We'd probably have little choice but to come in on India's side with air support and so on.

Really, the nightmares are endless here. The uncertainty is so much worse now.

Posted by Gitai | November 6, 2007 9:41 AM

So Josh, am I right that after a few comments taking you to task for being an idiot you'll take it back by saying you were just joking? Have you considered using winky smilies at the end of posts that you don't really mean? Like this:


Posted by elenchos | November 6, 2007 10:07 AM

"If Musharraf falls, Israel gets nuked."

Why is Musharraf the only option against WWIII?

Are all those lawyers in the streets just fronting for Al Queda? All those supreme court justices who have been imprisoned don't believe in the Constitution and are just secretly plotting World War III? Bhutto clearly returned to Pakistan so all power could be given to terrorists. That's her plan.

People in the US and Israel are using the pretense of WMDs to justify supporting Musharraf no matter what the cost. It's part of our much longer history of propping up dictators in the name of democracy, because most people outside the US are supposedly unfit for self-government. I wonder why they hate us? Might as well blame Islamic fundamentalism.

Posted by wf | November 6, 2007 10:17 AM


I don't know, maybe they're worried about another Iran situation. The uprising is started and fought by leftists, then co-opted/stolen by nutcases. The nutcases cannot be allowed access to nukes; that much is certain.

Posted by keshmeshi | November 6, 2007 4:18 PM

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