Friday, November 9, 2007

A Realistic Look At US Policy Towards Pakistan

Charles Krauthammer, in my opinion, is a realist when it concerns American foreign policy, and has a great column on President Musharraf in The Washington Post. Key graphs:

Universal democratization is lovely, but it cannot be a description of day-to-day diplomacy. The blanket promise to always oppose dictatorship is inherently impossible to keep. It always requires considerations of local conditions and strategic necessity.

Lebanon, for example, has a long tradition of democratic norms going back to independence in 1943. America's current policy (backed strongly by France) of vigorous support for an independent Lebanese democracy is not utopian. Sudden democratization of Egypt and Saudi Arabia, however, is utopian -- an invitation to the kind of Islamist takeover that happened in Gaza and nearly occurred in Algeria.

Pakistan is not the first time we've faced hard choices about democratization. At the height of the Cold War, particularly in the immediate post-Vietnam era of American weakness, we supported dictators Augusto Pinochet in Chile and Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines. The logic was simple: The available and likely alternative -- i.e., communists -- would be worse.
What Krauthammer says is essentially true, and he’s doubtful Pakistan can make the transition.
That depends on whether we think Benazir Bhutto is Corazon Aquino and whether Bhutto and her allies can successfully take power, which means keeping both the army and the country intact. Heightening the risk of dumping Musharraf is that external conditions today are not like the relatively benign conditions of the 1980s. The Taliban and its allies are gaining in strength and waiting to pick up the pieces from the civil war developing between the two most westernized, most modernizing elements of Pakistani society -- the army, one of the few functioning institutions of the state, and the elite of civil society, including lawyers, jurists, journalists and students.
Yes, there are no Abraham Lincolns waiting in the wings; and Bhutto and her counterpart, Nawaz Sharif, are far from ideal, but they enjoy some modicum of popular support. And I disagree with Krauthammer that the army is a westernized institution. In fact, it’s increasingly becoming radicalized. It’s more of a hindrance than a pillar of support.

Read the rest of the article, Krauthammer makes a lot of sense.