Monday, November 05, 2007

Pakistan and U.S.: Pots and Kettles and Constitutions

"Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities"

-- Voltaire

From the "Irony Is Still Dead" files:

Over the weekend, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called for a "quick return to constitutional law." Lamentably, she wasn't talking about a return to constitutional law in the United States. She was talking about Pakistan.

Rice's remark about constitutional law was prompted by the state of emergency President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan declared in his country Saturday night. Musharraf has not said how long the emergency will be in effect. This is not to be confused with the state of emergency Mr. Bush declared in his country on September 14, 2001 that is still in effect and will be for the indefinite future. These two states of emergency are completely different, of course. Mr. Bush declared an emergency because terrorists attacked two major cities in his country. Mr. Musharraf declared an emergency because terrorists threatened to take control of his country.

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto has accused Musharraf of using the specter of terror to maintain his hold on power. Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore has accused Bush of using the specter of terror to commit "a gross and excessive power grab."

Musharraf's suspension of Pakistan's constitution defied strong warnings from the United States. On November 1, Condi Rice broadcast the message that “…it would be quite obvious that the United States wouldn’t be supportive of extra-constitutional means.” Musharraf apparently didn't take her seriously.

Who can blame him?

It is not, of course, like Pakistan and America are wholly identical when it comes to their heads of state practicing absolute executive powers. Well, yeah, Messrs. Bush and Musharraf did first take power under unsavory circumstances at about the same time (Musharraf in 1999, Bush in 2000). But hey, at least the division of powers works differently in the two countries. Pakistan's Supreme Court was considering a ruling that would put Mr. Musharraf out of office. America's Supreme Court, on the other hand, made a ruling that put Mr. Bush in office. And Musharraf fired the high court justices who wouldn't go along with his "provisional constitutional order," whereas Mr. Bush merely fired the U.S. Attorneys who wouldn't play ball with his political agenda.

Here are a couple more differences. America is the first true global hegemon in the history of humanity. Pakistan is not and never will be. America has the largest economy of the world's nations, posting an estimated gross domestic product of over $13 trillion in 2006. Pakistan's 2006 economy, at just under $438 billion, was 26th among the world's countries and less than four percent the size of America's.

And yet, amazingly, Pakistan can get whatever it wants from America while America can't get anything it wants from Pakistan (see, I told you the two countries were different!). Condi Rice is reviewing whether or not we should try to make Musharraf behave by cutting off his allowance, but as Senator Joe Biden (D-Delaware) has noted, our "hands are tied" from withholding Pakistan's foreign aid because, despite Condi's assertions to the contrary, the Bush administration has in fact put "all its chips" in Pakistan on Musharraf.

That brings up a couple more differences between America and Pakistan. If Musharraf falls from power, Pakistan's nuclear weapons might fall under the control of dangerous ideologues, while America's nuclear weapons are already under the control of dangerous ideologues.

And while America stands alone in the world diplomatically, Pakistan has joined with Turkey and Iran to form an "Axis of Weasels," a loose confederation of middle eastern countries whose economies and defense budgets are well under five percent those of the United States, yet who manage to lead America on a seemingly endless foreign policy goose chase.

And who do we have to handle this situation? Condoleezza Rice and her department full of career diplomats who don't want to deploy to Iraq, the invasion of which created the foreign policy pickle barrel we now find ourselves in.

Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, bless this bed that we lie on…


Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes from Virginia Beach, Virginia. Read his commentaries at Pen and Sword, ePluribus and Jeff's novel Bathtub Admirals (Kunati Books, ISBN: 9781601640192) will be available March 1, 2008.


  1. Jeff, not being a diplomat, either of us, maybe we're just missing the BIG PICTURE, I mean, what do people like US know??

    Look at the DoD and Bush administration of late, telling us how nice and quiet Baghdad is now a days, murders and bombings are WAY down, al-Qaeda is on the run, all that stuff...

    Well, they may be correct, al-Qaeda may have bugged out of the AO in Iraq, Pakistan is ripe for insurgency and they are nuclear, what better combination could there possibly be?? al Qaeda and nukes, nukes and al-Qaeda, a match made in heaven...

    Dollars to 3 day old donuts in the Ward Room, that's the next WMD we go after...

    Possible?? Or am I stretching it a bit??

  2. I think it's possible we'll do that, Fred, but I think a lot will happen first. I'm just curious to see what happens to the "smoking gun" rhetoric on Iran now that the focus is on Pakistan where it should have been in the first place

  3. Anonymous12:49 AM

    State of emergency? No, state of irony.

    In as much this administration has sought to control and influence the region, Bush and Rice show absolute impotence. The US foreign policy in this region can best be described as watching a train wreck in slow motion.

    Left Coast

  4. Anonymous7:13 AM

    Not to mention that both countries have provinces under the control of religious fanatics & chronic problems with immigration from a poorer war-racked neighbor.

  5. William Bollinger8:28 AM

    C'mon Fred/Jeff, how much oil is there in Pakistan? Everyone knows you got to have oil to hide WMD.

  6. LC,

    And I'm not even sure I'd call it slow motion. They've undone over two centuries of building power and credibility in a mere six years.

    Lol, WIlliam. Yeah, not enough oil there to actually go to war, even if it's to get bin Laden.

  7. bin Laden... BINGO, now that Saddam is dead, Bush has got to refocus, and Binny is as good as any...

    Maybe I'm wrong but I honestly feel that IF Pakistan falls into the hands of Islamic terrorists, we may have no choice but to make a wasteland of it, and it won't be because of the immediate threat to the USA but to that of the region, as Jeff has pointed out on numerous occasions, they're NOT going to follow us here and to the bestof my knowledge, Pakistan doesn't have ICBM capability, but on a regional basis they could raise hell all over Asia, and India has a very 'itchy' trigger finger where Pakistan is concerned...

    Damn, there goes Dell Tech Support too...

  8. Anonymous2:01 AM

    Indeed, Musharraf's government was never democratic neither Bush's. So maybe they are only gradually changing from covert fascism to overt fascism.

    We've been had, and I'm afraid we are very near the "too late" point.

    Regarding this issue, there is an interesting article I've found here

  9. Anonymous2:02 AM

    Sorry, this is the rest of the link above:

  10. Thanks for the link(s).

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