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It can't be good, but I don't know the ins and outs of Pakistani politics well enough to venture a guess.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Thu Dec 27th, 2007 at 08:55:39 AM EST
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That's my problem: I have a dim picture of competing tribal, religious, military and class based forces, but I can't make any sense of it.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Dec 27th, 2007 at 08:57:50 AM EST
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Well, it's much more complicated than the sort of one-on-one confrontations I'm accustomed to seeing in politics and war both in the present and in the overviews of history (even though I recognize that it's always more complicated than that).  Here we have the PPP vs Musharraf vs radicals vs whatever else you can toss in there, to say nothing of overlap and the degrees to which the parties do and don't get along.  And I just don't know how they all fit together.

Being a "hope for the best, prepare for the worst" type, I'm inclined to assume Helen is right -- that the gravity of the situation hasn't yet set in, and that we're looking at a bloodbath in Pakistan between rival factions.  It's clear to me that Musharraf holding things together for the time being is not guaranteed.

The nuclear weapons issue is frightening in the sense that we don't know what the ultimate outcome of this will be.  But I disagree with Helen about America, Europe and others getting involved, at least in any role involving the military, because the capacity to get involved simply isn't there.  That said, Pakistanis are not children, and they're more sophisticated than the western press gives them credit for.  I don't think Pakistan is likely to be taken over by the looney toons, which is obviously what most people are thinking about when they refer to the nukes.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Thu Dec 27th, 2007 at 09:26:37 AM EST
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But I disagree with Helen about America, Europe and others getting involved, at least in any role involving the military, because the capacity to get involved simply isn't there.

Maybe not in terms of becoming a peacekeeping force, but the west has been increasingly uncomfortable with a nuclear armed pakistan as it became obvious the country was a shambles with dangerous elements beoming influential. I imagine they might come in to withdraw the weaponry to a safer place.

That said, Pakistanis are not children, and they're more sophisticated than the western press gives them credit for.  I don't think Pakistan is likely to be taken over by the looney toons, which is obviously what most people are thinking about when they refer to the nukes.

Just as the americans have Bush, the sophistication of the people is moot when the leaders, there by force of arms, are fools. And, let there be no doubt, there are influential, powerful and armed factions within Pakistan who are indistinguishable from looney toons. It's certainly becoming obvious that Pakistan cannot be governed without, at least, the passivity of the wahabinist madrassas.

Yet what will be the price of such passivity ? The middle classes in paklistan has divvied up power and corruption between them to such an extent that having their lives and freedoms constrained by "looney tunes" may be a force for destabilisation or at least the economic gutting of the country in the medium term. so any settlement now will create problems further down.

And any hope of peace in the middle east will be impossible without a peaceful pakistan. India will mobilize to Kashmir. Afghanistan will become a tinder box.

The only good thing may be that Al-qaeda may become distracted from Iraq, but as their influence there is fading, that may not matter so much.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Dec 27th, 2007 at 09:54:45 AM EST
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Afghanistan is already pretty close to a tinder box, if it's not already there, and al-Qaeda's attention to Iraq is a losing cause, anyway.  It's the only group in Iraq with significantly lower approval ratings than the Americans.

Where is the West going to get the manpower to go grab the weapons?  And that also works with one of two assumptions: (1) that the Pakistani military is simply going to allow them to do this, or (2) that the western powers are simply going to do away with the Pakistani military -- again, with what manpower? -- in order to get at the weapons.  Neither of these options seems incredibly likely, especially if there is the possibility you noted of India moving.  (India might like to do this, but I don't see it happening.)

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Thu Dec 27th, 2007 at 10:18:20 AM EST
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All good questions and any person claiming to know the answers is both a fool and a liar.

how this pans out nobody can know, but it will be violent and bloody.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Dec 27th, 2007 at 10:50:35 AM EST
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On that, I unfortunately agree.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Thu Dec 27th, 2007 at 10:51:24 AM EST
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