December 28, 2007

Confounding Our Narrative

After the job of POTUS, being the leader of Pakistan has to be the toughest job in the world. If you listen to candidates for president from both parties, you'd think it was the responsibility of the United States to maintain order and stability in Pakistan from half a world away.

The administration's critics have been anything but consistent, as VDH notes, faulting our efforts to foster self-government in Pakistan as both naive and insufficient, while also criticizing our engagement with a military dictator in the attempt. But I thought Andy McCarthy had one of most insightful takes on he Pakistan problem that I have seen. This place turns most of our habitual assumptions upside down. He speaks of the two Pakistans..the one we imagine, and the reality. Excerpting liberally...

There is the Pakistan of our fantasy. The burgeoning democracy in whose vanguard are judges and lawyers and human rights activists using the “rule of law” as a cudgel to bring down a military junta. In the fantasy, Bhutto, an attractive, American-educated socialist whose prominent family made common cause with Soviets and whose tenures were rife with corruption, was somehow the second coming of James Madison.

Then there is the real Pakistan: an enemy of the United States and the West.

The real Pakistan is a breeding ground of Islamic holy war where, for about half the population, the only thing more intolerable than Western democracy is the prospect of a faux democracy led by a woman — indeed, a product of feudal Pakistani privilege and secular Western breeding whose father, President Zulfiquar Ali Bhutto, had been branded as an enemy of Islam by influential Muslim clerics in the early 1970s.


The real Pakistan is a place where the military, ineffective and half-hearted though it is in combating Islamic terror, is the thin line between today’s boiling pot and what tomorrow is more likely to be a jihadist nuclear power than a Western-style democracy.

In that real Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto’s murder is not shocking. There, it was a matter of when, not if.

It is the new way of warfare to proclaim that our quarrel is never with the heroic, struggling people of fill-in-the-blank country. No, we, of course, fight only the regime that oppresses them and frustrates their unquestionable desire for freedom and equality.

Pakistan just won’t cooperate with this noble narrative.

Whether we get round to admitting it or not, in Pakistan, our quarrel is with the people. Their struggle, literally, is jihad. For them, freedom would mean institutionalizing the tyranny of Islamic fundamentalism. They are the same people who, only a few weeks ago, tried to kill Benazir Bhutto on what was to be her triumphant return to prominence — the symbol, however dubious, of democracy’s promise. They are the same people who managed to kill her today. Today, no surfeit of Western media depicting angry lawyers railing about Musharraf — as if he were the problem — can camouflage that fact.



Times of London

Ross Douthat

Bernard-Henri Levy

Posted by dan at December 28, 2007 12:00 AM