Friday, September 22, 2006

Stone Age Diplomacy

What is General Musharraf up to then? He's claimed that the US threatened to bomb Pakistan back to the Stone Age after the 11th September attacks if they didn't co-operate fully in the "war" on terror.

It is widely accepted that the US government used carrots with the threat of sticks to secure Musharraf's co-operation back in 2001. The exact nature of the threats has always been a matter of speculation.

So is Musharraf telling the truth? Would the US government really threaten Pakistan, a nuclear armed power, so explicitly? In normal circumstances, probably not - you don't need to be a nuclear physicist to spot the dangers inherent in such an action* - but these are not normal circumstances.

We've got a US President with a simplistic, overtly religious and extremely polarised world view trying to deal with the aftermath of the deadliest terrorist attack the world has ever seen, an attack which was deliberately designed to be both immensely provocative and polarising. The idea that Bush would order this threat to be conveyed to Musharraf in late 2001 isn't far fetched. Remember the speeches Bush gave after the attacks?
"Over time it's going to be important for nations to know they will be held accountable for inactivity... You're either with us or against us in the fight against terror."
- President Bush, November 2001
What Musharraf is now saying is just a logical extension of that approach. He's probably telling the truth.

There is some suggestion that the General is pitching this at domestic opinion in Pakistan but I can't see how that holds together. Musharraf's rule in Pakistan is shaky and he does have problems with Islamists but how would this statement help him? I don't know a great deal about Pakistani domestic political situation but I'm fairly sure that this won't. He's effectively saying "yes, I agreed to help the US government but only because they threatened to bomb us". Do you think your average Pakistani Islamist is going to be impressed or assuaged by the fact that their President succumbed to bullying from the US government? It's hardly likely. This admission will surely weaken his position at home if anything, not strengthen it.

That still leaves the question as to why he actually made this claim at this time. It is possible that he simply wants the American people to know how their government has behaved. If so, I'm not sure it'll have the effect he intends.

Here are a couple of comments on Musharraf's claim from the sort of people who elected George W. Bush (both taken from Jihad Watch).
This needs to be a public statement to all muslim dominated countries by our President.


It is time to stand up and protect America.

Prepare, Be Armed, Be Ready.
- Texican

Let's crank up the heat then and start talking about nuking Mecca. Tancredo was right to bring it up. It should be an option.

I'm fed up with pussyfooting around these animals. Let's give them something to really howl about.
- atheling


Not Saussure on the madman theory. Interesting possibility.

* Just in case anyone gets the wrong idea (I'd hate to have a "Cyprus in 45 minutes" moment), Pakistan doesn't have missiles with the range to target the US. All the same, starting a bombing campaign against a nuclear armed power is probably best avoided in most circumstances.

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. said...

It has to be said that bombing Pakistan makes a lot more sense than bombing Iraq did, although it's still as unjustifiable.

Lopakhin said...

Very true @ previous commenter.

Do also though bear in mind that General Musharraf turns out to have a new book pending. It's not unknown for authors to hype things up in advance, though whether this is so in this case, I couldn't possibly comment.