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Monday, December 31, 2007

Mark Steyn on Bill Richardson on Pakistan

Soon after Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated various individuals, pundits and Presidential candidates on both sides had something to say about it. I don't really care what across the spectrum.

Governor Bill Richardson is the Democrat Party candidate most qualified to be President (far more so than the front-runners of his Party) and of course I wouldn't vote for him because his ideas aren't quite up to good quality. He has some of the most foreign policy and the best executive experience of the candidates in his Party and all of that doesn't detract from the fact that his vision of the world is just plain stupid. When Pakistan PM Bhutto was killed his view was especially simplistic and Mark Steyn put it all in stark contrast with an intelligent approach to foreign policy. In a way it is fortunate and unfortunate that Governor Richardson is one of the least viable and least visible candidates.
In the stampede of instant experts unveiling their Pakistani solutions-in-a-box, some contributions are worthy of special attention. Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico, who is apparently running for the Democratic presidential nomination, was in no doubt about what needs to happen in the next, oh, 48 hours:

“President Bush should press Musharraf to step aside, and a broad-based coalition government, consisting of all the democratic parties, should be formed immediately... It is in the interests of the U.S. that there be a democratic Pakistan that relentlessly hunts down terrorists.”

Wow. Who knew it was that easy?

Except maybe it isn’t.
Briefly setting aside the invasive nature of such a foreign policy maneuver, Mark Steyn analyzes the make-up of Governor Richardson's supposed coalition.
A “broad-based coalition” of “all the democratic parties” would be a ramshackle collection of socialists, kleptocrats, tribal gladhanders and Islamists. Whether this is the horse to back if you’re looking for a team that “relentlessly hunts down terrorists” is, to say the least, uncertain.
The rest of the article duly puts down Bill Richardson as a brief burp but that is only in the concluding paragraph and the thrust of the entirety of the piece is about Pakistan and its complicated politics and geographical and military struggles, especially against an "Islamist" (read: "evil Muslim", "Muslim terrorist", "Islamofascist") threat that actually has sympathizers within the ranks of the Pakistani military and the Pakistani military intelligence agency. Whatever you can say about Pakistan with any degree of optimism you will not find an easy solution. Before let's jump to any conclusions about the nature of Islam itself or the ease of Pakistani geopolitics, Mark Steyn can swiftly compare Indian Muslims to Pakistani Muslims for the allure of jihad:
No people are immutable. It’s worth noting that Muslims next door in India are antipathetic to jihad. Yet they are ethnically and religiously indistinguishable from the fellows in Islamabad wiring up one-year old babies as unwitting suicide bombers. The only reason one’s an Indian and the other’s a Pakistani is because of where some British cartographer decided to draw the line in 1947. Since then, Indian Muslims have been functioning members of a modern pluralist democracy, while Pakistani Muslims have been mired in incompetence, backwardness and dictatorship, and embraced jihadism as the most viable escape route.
That's a rather drastic oversimplification of history, yet the results are somewhat inarguable. The Indians do their damnedest to shape and live up to their national identity as pluralistic and a society made up of multiple non-blending cultures, ethnicities and faith-based belief-systems. Pakistan is based on a more homogeneous vision with no need for pretense or (genuine) principle regarding multiple groups with a pluralistic society supporting wildly divergent points of view. I won't say it's evil in and of itself but the political system in Pakistan certainly yields more economic pains and dictatorship effects than its Indian neighbor-rival. It generally is a damaged world that drives a devout Muslim to violent Jihad, in order to fix that world, right the wrongs and render a correction upon injustice. But what do I know? Perhaps a coalition of fools, tyrants, and thieves really can rebuild a country more in line with American interests and morals.

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