Political commentators generally tend to misrepresent the position of Islamists in Pakistan. Being close to Pakistan and actively observing the current events it becomes quite obvious that despite the post-Sept. 11 events (i.e. the increased hatred for the United States), the MMA (mutahida majlis-e-amal, coalition of Islamic parties) simply lack the voting base or the popularity to force an Iranian-style revolution. Musharraf has the most interest in exaggerating the Islamist threat in order to retain American support for his dictatorial regime. Historically, the Islamic parties have always gone to bed with the military establishment and their ability to organize protests and cause agitation has been used by the military to destabilize secular, civilian governments. Hold free and fair elections today and the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz Sharif) and Pakistan People’s Party (Benazir Bhutto) will undoubtedly come out winners because these are the mainstream parties with popular support. Up til now, the demonstrations have been peacefully calling for independence of the judiciary and the rule of law (i.e., civilian control of the armed forces). The problem in Pakistan is that the military is by far the strongest institution, and they are not likely to peacefully relinquish power. Will this cause a revolution? Unlikely. Islamist revolution? Even more unlikely. The most likely scenario is that the the military generals will remove Musharraf, hold some kind of elections, perhaps make some kind of deal with the political parties, share power for some time while also using domestic intelligence agencies to create enough instability, making room for the next coup d’etat and regaining complete domination. That is how things have always worked in Pakistan. The other potential scenario that is more troubling for the world is if this dispute disintegrates into violence, protesters pick up arms, and there is chaos on the streets and civil war.
I assure you political Islam will be a blessing as opposed to fringe terrorist groups operating in an environment of disorder and state failure. If Islamists come to power and gain access to the bomb, it will be as much of a threat to the world as the Israeli (Jewish?) bomb or the American (Christian?) bomb. I must say though, it seems very pompous of you to imply that an Islamist state will act out based on some crazy dogmas (your perception of their dogmas) when it is the U.S. that claims to be executing God’s will. Most people in the Muslim world (granted, Pakistan is my point of reference) don’t even support peaceful political Islam, much less violent extremists.
Furthermore, take the case of any Islamist party in the world (the Taliban not being a political party): they have moderated when they have come to power. Ultimately, politics subverts religion and decisions are made based on political interests rather than outdated dogmas.
Ivan Eland replies:
The Islamists don’t need to win with votes in this society, just like the Bolsheviks didn’t in Russia. Iran is an example of radical Islamists taking power. The Iranian regime hasn’t moderated that much. The Taliban did run the government in Afghanistan and didn’t moderate either.
Excellent article, Ivan, and one that demonstrates, superbly, the duplicity with which Britain and the U.S. act toward other nations. At the moment (and indeed for the last 27 years), there has been uncompromising rhetoric aimed at Iran, much of which is unfounded and caused initially by the U.S. embassy hostage situation. Here in Britain most of the terrorist attacks and plots involve young disenfranchised and brainwashed men of Pakistani origin; in fact when was the last time an Iranian national was directly involved in a terrorist act? The idea of an Islamist government in Pakistan would frighten me far more than Iran’s nuclear program.
Ivan Eland replies:
One has to wonder if Justin Raimondo researches his topics prior to writing on them. In his “Remember the Liberty!,” he commits many falsehoods. The “Israeli Lobby” did not pay for A. Jay Cristol’s book. The book, The Liberty Incident, was his Ph.D. dissertation at the University of Miami. Not only that, but his book was fully peer-reviewed and published by Brasseys, Inc., which publishes military books. Raimondo also mentions that Ward Boston said that Adm. Isaac Kidd said the attack was intentional against a known American ship. One big problem. Ward Boston only went public with these comments after Admiral Kidd was dead!
Raimondo claims the ship was attacked because Israel wanted to prevent the U.S. from knowing they would attack the Golan Heights. But the White House knew in advance that they were going to attack Syria, and the USS Liberty crew members publicly say that the ship was attacked because Israel realized the ship saw them executing over 1,000 Egyptian POWs! Even this new claim is ridiculous, as Egypt never mentioned anything about their POWs allegedly being executed.
Did Raimondo even read A. Jay Cristol’s book? Has Raimondo ever seen A. Jay Cristol’s Web site, which fully debunks all the myths and lies told, including the ones in Raimondo’s column? It appears that Raimondo has such a virulent hatred against Israel that he will believe any nonsense people say about it. The attack was inherently intentional as all military attacks are. It was simply a case of mistaken identity. Do some more research, Justin, and then apologize.
~ Sam Karpov
Pat Buchanan stops short of affirming what my wing of the antiwar/anti-interventionist movement holds to be true, which is that even if Congress considers a resolution of declaration of war as it was done in 1898, 1917, and 1941, the initiation of a war of aggression would be illegal. If it were otherwise, all our fine promises made at Nuremberg would be empty.
He also is in conflict with contributor Gordon Prather when he suggests that Iran is refusing “to let the IAEA see what it is doing.” Prather has persuasively, and with documentation, argued that Iran has been more open than it is obliged to by international agreement to be in permitting inspection of its nuclear program.
Ask them for yourself! I have asked and received the answer from the Democratic Party leaders that permanent U.S. bases in Iraq are needed for the training and support of the Iraqi military. If the Democratic Party leaders will not say they are against permanent U.S. bases in Iraq, then they are for them!
There are at least four “super-bases” in Iraq, none of which have anything to do with “withdrawal” from that country. Quite the contrary, these bases have been constructed as little American islands of eternal order in an anarchic sea. Whatever top administration officials and Democratic Party leaders say and they always deny that the U.S. seeks “permanent” bases in Iraq facts on the ground speak with another voice entirely. These bases practically scream “permanency.” One of the enduring mysteries of this war is that reporting on U.S. bases in Iraq has been almost nonexistent these past years.
The permanent U.S. bases fit snugly with other Pentagon plans. For instance, Iraq’s 400,000-man military has been replaced by a 100,000-man, lightly armed military without armor or an air force. (In an otherwise heavily armed region, this ensures that any Iraqi government will be almost totally reliant on the U.S. military and that the U.S. Air Force would, by default, be the Iraqi air force for years to come.)
As long as KBR keeps building them, making their facilities ever more enduring and ever more valuable, there can be no genuine “withdrawal” from Iraq, nor even an intention of doing so. The administration does not discuss them (other than to deny their permanency from time to time). No presidential speeches deal with them. No plans for them are debated in Congress. The opposition Democrats generally ignore them and the press won’t even put the words “base,” “permanent,” and “Iraq” in the same paragraph. It may be hard to do, given the skimpy coverage, but keep your eyes directed at our “super-bases.” Until the administration blinks on them, there will be no withdrawal from Iraq.
Mr. Paul Roberts and his views play a large part in what I see as the demise of the United States of America as a power to effect positive change in the world. Regardless of what the liberal Left wants to believe, the majority of positive change in this world was achieved through violent revolutionary actions, which equates to advances in human society (humane treatment, rights of equality, individual freedoms) through a painful and sometimes costly means. As any evolutionary scientists can attest, the advancement of most all living systems is a process, violent by nature, that ensures the continued existence and adaptation to a changing world this can also draw parallels to human society on a global scale; to believe that we can continue to be a force that can exert positive change on this planet without experiencing strife and pain is ludicrous. We cannot plunge our heads into the sand and expect the world to progress into the utopia that liberals tend to believe will happen if the U.S. would just stay out of the global fray.
Paul Craig Roberts replies:
This must be a joke, a caricature of the type of morons who still support Bush (down to 28 percent, the stupidest people in America).
Certainly no one as intelligent as Tony Butler could possibly interpret as “positive change in the world” the murder of 650,000 innocent Iraqi civilians, the destruction of the economic life of a country, the commission of heinous war crimes, the gratuitous lying to the American people and the world, the utter squandering of $1 trillion, the destruction of our country’s reputation, the radicalization of the entire Muslim world, and the wake-up warning to Russia, China, and our former European allies that the U.S. is the greatest threat to peace and stability.
On the other hand, perhaps I overestimate Tony Butler’s intelligence. Anyone who could mistake me, a notorious Reaganite, with the “liberal Left” is stupid enough to be one of the despicable 28 percent that lusts for blood and demands yet more war crimes from the White House.