Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Pakistan - Waziristan ? Blame the Bristish

Reading this article on New York times got me thinking.

It is often conveniently forgotten that the British are responsible for much of the strife in today's world. You might be surprised, but let me explain. Who can ever forget the role of British Imperialism in shaping 1) the Palestine and 2) Pakistan.

These two regions owe their existence to delusions of British law makers of the last century. Both have turned out to be regions of conflict. Usually, the British were very good at building institutions which eventually sustained governance and law in the countries that they colonized. However, the above mentioned were created at the end of the great British empire and a as result there was not enough time to develop such structures.

Well, maybe it is not a good idea to keep pining about history and time to move on and think about what can be done.

With respect to Pakistan, it has turned out to be a failed state with a military dictator who masquerades as a champion of democracy at its helm. No matter how much Indians like me want democracy in Pakistan, the reality is that a military Pakistan is always better than a democratic Pakistan and we all need to grudgingly acknowledge that. Historically, except for Ul-Haq's regime, most of the belligerent tones emanated from democratically elected governments in Pakistan.

Consider the relationship between India and Pakistan to understand why a military Pakistan is better.A military Pakistan is rational enough to not attack a stronger India, as the leaders who are from the army ranks know that they cannot win a direct confrontation with a much larger India. A democracy however, has delusions - of grandeur, non-existent albeit, but one that instills a false sense of pride and nationality among its citizens. Such delusions lead to skirmishes more often than required at the border. It seems like the US figured this out - that a supportive military Pakistanis better than a non-supportive democratic Pakistan.

Mr. Bush faces a daunting task ahead of him. If he wants democracy to survive in Iraq, he has to support the monarchy in Saudi, not to mention all the other emirates, and most importantly support a military dictatorship in Pakistan. He needs the support of a dictator to help resurrect a country in which there was a long dictatorship until recently. Ironical ? Yes, but irrational, no!

I have come to realize that there is no way out of this conundrum for the US. As Niall Ferguson says, the US is not good at building institutions in other countries from ground up. There is a need for able administrators on the ground, and not just the presence of military commanders. The sooner US realizes this and learns lessons from British experience of the past two centuries, the better. A military victory will not stabilize Iraq as Bush expects it will. Unless he reinforces a military commitment with a long US commitment in other aspects of the society (law, governance, finance etc.) for a long long time, the future of Iraq and the middle east seems bleak.

I wish, better sense prevails. I wish the US public supports continued commitment to Iraq even after the war is over. Else, the US has done nothing but stir up a hornet's nest. I wish I am proven wrong.

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