Monday, October 29, 2007
Two For Two
Critics of the Bush administration's "See no evil, hear no evil" policy towards Pakistan have surely taken comfort in recent headlines out of that country. Not only has opposition leader Benazir Bhutto been allowed to return from exile, thereby providing a measure of legitimacy to upcoming elections, but the Pakistani military has recently begun a major military push aimed at bringing the badlands on the Afghan border under government control. The only trouble, as this article from The New Statesman points out, is that there's no guarantee that Pakistan can survive either:
...In what amounts to total war on the Taliban and al-Qaeda, President Musharraf is planning to bring the whole region under military control. This is a high-risk strategy, as the consequences of failure could be devastating for Pakistan. They could even lead to the break-up of the country.
Behind the headlines, the state's contradictions and tensions are being tested to the limit. The arrival of Benazir Bhutto, supposed to help marshal the forces of moderation and reform, has increased political instability. Supporters of the other former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, who plans a second attempt to return from exile to Pakistan in the first week of November, are preparing a mass campaign against Musharraf that could lead to political gridlock...
The point here, I think, is that while it's become a knee-jerk reaction to criticize the Bush administration for its mismanagement of American foreign policy, the fact is that as a result of that mismanagement, we're now faced with an array of regional crises, none of which offer any easy or straightforward solutions.
The political crisis in Pakistan, as a nuclear-armed country that also happens to be essential to any longterm stabilization of Afghanistan, is definitely worth our attention. But besides the sparring match between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton over unilateral strikes on Wajiristan, I haven't seen much discussion about it.