Monday, November 5, 2007
Musharraf's Trump Card
In the face of their tepid reactions to the state of emergency in Pakistan, questions are being raised about whether Washington and London actually gave a last-minute green light to the measure. According to some reports, CentCom commander Adm. William Fallon was still in the offices of the Pakistani chiefs of staff while Pervez Musharraf was fine tuning the actual declaration, and by all indications had not yet left the country when the announcement was made.
But whether they reluctantly consented or not, it's increasingly clear that Musharraf felt emboldened to disregard their objections based on his reading of the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan, exacerbated by NATO's recent refusal to increase the force structure there. Having established Pakistan as an indispensable ally in that effort, Musharraf correctly assumed that neither America or England could afford to take him to task for his power grab, despite the enormous public relations fiasco the move represents.
It reminds me of the old saw: If you owe me $50 and you can't pay, you're in trouble. If you owe me $50 million and you can't pay, I'm in trouble. The return to democratic rule was kind of like Pakistan's interest payment in return for us showering them with military grants and re-integrating them into the circle of "responsible nations". Now, not only have they stopped paying interest, they've defaulted on the entire package.
In the meantime, because we failed to finish the job in Afghanistan before shifting our attention to Iraq, we've transformed a situation in which they needed us into a situation where we need them.