Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Bush's policies set up the Pakistan crisis

Almost all the news out of Pakistan these days is discouraging, with former prime minister and great American Hope Benazir Bhutto (who in some ways is no great prize; the corruption charges that led to her being exiled were not without substance) under house arrest again and the demonstrations she has tried to lead quashed. One of the sharper analyses of how Pakistan came to such a sad pass comes from Ivan Eland of the Independent Institute. He says the Bush administration exacerbated Pakistan's problems by occupying not one, but two Muslim countries. That created the best recruiting tool al-Qaida ever had, and the recruiting has easily outpaced the various campaigns against al-Qaida.

Stability won't be reached (and maybe not for quite a while even then) until we let Afghanistan be run by Afghans and reduce or end subsidies to Pakistan. In the early stages, around 2002, Musharraf gave us a tacit green light to go after al-Qaida and Taliban forces in the northwest provinces, but the administration was already focused on Iraq and dropped the ball. Since then our lavish subsidies have made most Pakistanis think Musharraf is a U.S. puppet, making him unpopular, ineffective and desperate. Nice work.

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