Monday, November 5, 2007

Between Democracy and Religious Extremism a Military Dictator Takes His Place in History...

It was June of 1979 and this debonair gent to my left; one Zbigniew Brzezinski by name, was National Security Advisor to U.S. President Jimmy Carter. Following Zbigniew’s advice President Carter ordered the C.I.A. to start secretly funding the Mujahadeen and prepare them to repel Soviet aggression. The pro-Soviet Afghan government was losing control of the nation and it was thought that they would request military support from the U.S.S.R. Brzezinski rightly believed that American covert involvement in Afghanistan would further incite the Soviets to make their move and in doing so draw them into a Vietnam-like quagmire. It worked with the Soviet military entering Afghanistan in December of 1979 and staying for over nine years before retreating in defeat. The U.S.S.R. fell shortly thereafter and while experts argue whether the campaign in Afghanistan was the death-knell for the Soviet Empire it certainly couldn’t have helped.

With the U.S.S.R. no more many European nations gained their independence and the threat for a nuclear end to the Cold War was finally averted. It is considered to be one of the greatest victories of the 21st century, a victory that heralded a new era of western power and influence. There was however a trade-off; something that Brzezinski dismissed back then as he dismisses today. What would become a radical Muslim movement gained an equally momentous victory against a superpower and this would not only embolden them but validate their cause.

Brzezinski is a brilliant strategist who played no small role in helping the U.S. achieve an even greater supremacy in the world. What you might find interesting is that he studied at McGill University in Montreal and was planning a diplomatic career in Canada before the winds of fate brought him to Harvard and from there American citizenship. I wonder how Canada would have changed with the likes of him in a similar position counselling the Prime Ministers. The prescience of Brzezinski’s genius seemed to have served him well as far as the Soviet entrapment went but beyond that it is difficult to say. Radical Islam has continued to gain strength and spread over the years. Propaganda aside the Jihad may not be a global threat to equal the Soviets but we have no way of knowing what the future truly holds in this regard, the history is of course still in the works.

This weekend however a major milestone in this unfolding drama took place.

State of Emergency Declared in Pakistan

Pakistan has basically been put under martial law. General Musharraf suspended the Constitution and fired the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. This move seems to be an attempt to maintain control in the face of the growing pro-democracy opposition to his government and to fight the spreading radical Islamist influence.

White House Left Holding Their Dicks

For the Bush Administration this has resulted in a very serious situation. One of their major allies in the War on Terror has left the democratic scene despite their protests. Their influence on one of the war’s fronts may be severely diminished and the support they have given may wind up being a bad investment.

Arrests, No News, Tear Gas... The Usual

The day after a state of emergency was declared the lock-down began. Hundreds of political rivals, lawyers, and human rights activists have been detained. Television stations and international news feeds have been shut down. There is zero tolerance on the streets for protests or demonstrations. Democratic elections scheduled for this January have been indefinitely delayed.

We Love Democracy Just Not In "That Way"

Meanwhile the Bush Administration has refrained from condemning the move as they did against Myanmar last month. They have expressed disappointment but the billions of dollars in military aid that Pakistan receives will not be suspended. Unless Musharraf gets much worse it seems that a clamped down dictatorship makes for just as good an ally as an unstable democracy. At this stage it looks like they don’t have any better choice.

Pakistan has a mild and secular middle class that has permeated all levels of thought and government through the years. Perhaps that will help pull this nation back from the brink and prevent extreme action but right now this has all the necessary components to turn a nuclear power into a country consumed by chaos.

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