Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Competing Bush Doctrines in Action

Events in Pakistan put two premier Bush Administration foreign policy goals--fighting the war on terror and spreading democracy--squarely at odds with each other. And there is no deux ex machina waiting in the wings to put things right.

The preferred solution for much of the Washingotn elite is for a liberal democratic reformer to take power who would then intensify the struggle against Al-Qaeda and Taliban elements in the tribal areas (and who would make a deal with India on Kashmir to boot so as to remove one of the nagging irritants that prevent the world's largest and the world's oldest democracies from fully consumating their relationship). This is in keeping with the belief that democracies automatically align their domestic and foreign policies with U.S. interests.

Well, that doesn't appear to be an option. The three that are on the table are all "undesirable" in one form or another:

1) Stick with the general and hope that his brand of authoritarian reformism can move Pakistan along and that he can hold the lid on the extremist elements in the country;

2) Go with the liberal democrats whose hearts are in the right place but haven't shown that they could actually effectively govern the country;

3) Cut deals with the moderate conservative/religious opposition who could probably engineer some sort of transition but who would not carry U.S. water when it comes to serious crackdowns on the Taliban.

I assume that there is a fourth option but one never embraced by Washington--which is do nothing and let the local situation sort itself out, but that is always overriden by our desire to "get involved".

Some choices have to be made.

By the way, for those interested, Ximena Ortiz talked with Pakistan's Interior Minister Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao.

US needs to prioritze what it wants from Pakistan and pick and choose what sort of governance it wants. It can't continue to change its mind (democracy versus military strongman).
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