This bugs me: we never hedged our bets in our dealings with Pakistan. We placed all our chips on Musharraf, and now we’re desperately trying to buy back in. Now, the new Pakistani government doesn’t even want to play with us. We have no leverage in dealing with them because we assumed, unpleasant as he may be, Musharraf would cling to power forever and he was our best bet. Now that we know that’s not true, we’re screwed; but what bugs me is that we never even prepared for a situation where it might not be true. Now Pakistan associates America with Musharraf, and we’ve lost all our influence in one of the world’s most important conflict hotspots. Pakistan has nuclear weapons and al-Qaida has its HQ on the border, and everybody hates the US government.
Hey, maybe we ought to elect the one candidate in the presidential race whose foreign policy does not hinge on proving how tough he or she is. Hmmm, I wonder who that might be. …Any takers?
Maybe the one who doesn’t want to bomb Iran! Argh! Anyway…
The whole Pakistan thing makes me sad ’cause I’ve gotten really interested in Pakistan over the past year. I might want to visit there, sometime. It seems like a really modern, really developed country, but al-Qaida in encroaching upon their borders, smashing record shops and demanding that women cover themselves. When you’re somebody like me who doesn’t fit in, that makes you… sad… I guess. When I hear of terrorists attacking massage parlors and accusing the women of being whores, it makes me sad ’cause I think I could be one of those women, even if I can’t massage worth a damn. Benazir Bhutto seemed like a really modern woman… even if she didn’t do enough to fight extremism when she was prime minister, in her last days (she was so young! aaaagh!) her whole shtick was resisting extremism from Musharraf, resisting extremism from al-Qaida, and bringing Pakistan into the developed world, where women can wear or not wear headscarves as they damn well please.
Obviously… al-Qaida hurts everybody. They want to bring the world back into the Stone Age with them. It wouldn’t seem like a viable option for angry youngsters in the Middle East if the United States hadn’t made such an unbroken string of global PR mistakes. We never should have declared a “war on terror…” that legitimized the terrorists as soldiers rather than condemning them as criminals. We never really even realized that al-Qaida is hardly a centralized organization; it’s more like a movement, a really scary one that wants to kill all of us because, yes, we love freedom. They want all of us to give up our beliefs and our lifestyles because they think ours are inferior to theirs. It underscores why we must be careful not to make the same mistakes, and not judge people by how they look or what they believe. But, I’ve gotten off the subject.
We should have been more hands-off with Pakistan, spreading good will towards the US around the country… instead, we threw in entirely with Musharraf, and cemented our image over there as international meddlers rather than the persistent do-gooders we aspire to be. Perception matters… Abraham Lincoln knew that when he signed the Emancipation Proclamation and instantly turned the Confederacy
from plucky rebels being picked on into obstinate enemies of freedom. Lets meet a bad ideology with a good one… and let the best one win. (…Which is ours, and Pakistan’s.)