We’ve all learned in the last 50 years, that everything pales, democracy pales, the prospect of nuclear war pales, everything pales when measured against the balance of what Washington thinks is its interests. September 11th came and General Musharraf did what any smart military or political leader would have done. When the United States threatened Pakistan either you join us in the war against the Taliban or we will bomb you, of course, he joined.
General Musharraf had a meeting with Pakistani newspaper editors to explain this huge shift in Pakistani policy. He told them that the Americans threatened to make an Iraq out of us. In short, he was forced into supporting the U.S. So, if anybody thinks that General Musharraf is an ally, forget it! He did it because he had no choice. He did not surrender his relationship with the Taliban willingly. He did not allow U.S. troops into Afghanistan and into Pakistan willingly, but because he had no choice.
What happened in Pakistan over the last few weeks is profoundly important for two reasons. One is that you can fool all the people only some of the time, and the people of Pakistan had had enough of General Musharraf. And so, even though they had all the resources of the state, and candidates were brow-beaten, bribed, and intimidated, they could not produce an overwhelming majority in support of General Musharraf in the new Parliament. Second, what we have seen is that radical Islamic political parties â€“ who are opposed to General Musharraf – have won a sizable proportion of seats in the National Parliament. This is a political earthquake. And the reason for this can be laid absolutely, squarely at the doorstep of the White House.
We are beginning to lay the basis in Pakistan for an armed Islamic underground revolutionary movement, because the fact of the matter is, that the policies that Musharraf will follow will be tied much more closely to what Washington wants than what the people of Pakistan want. And so the gap will just grow until it becomes unbearable, and then something will break.
I think that there’s a larger moral to this, though, than just what happens in Pakistan, because what happens in Pakistan has crucial importance to what happens in India. The Indian government is already worried about the implications of these election results. The Indian government has also started to follow very closely the Bush reasoning over the war in Iraq. Senior Indian ministers have started to talk about why preemptive war is the right of any state, not just the United States.
A dangerous tension is developing. As Pakistan becomes more fragile, the U.S. becomes ever more dependent on General Musharraf to hold it together and stop it from falling apart. If it falls apart, then not only is Afghanistan lost, but the Bush Administration and the oil companies’ ambitions for Central Asia are lost also, because in all of these countries of Central Asia, the U.S. is basically propping up ex-Soviet tyrants, who, for a good sized Swiss bank account, will sell-out their country and their people. These leaders will not survive the tidal wave that will arise if Pakistan goes under. And the spill-over will be felt by India also. To prevent that, well, the Indians and the U.S. may well feel they have no option but to take preemptive action.
People now will not tolerate the United States behaving like the British and the French conquering countries and creating new colonies. The people of the Third World did not fight for independence for 200 years against the British and the French and the Dutch and the Belgians and every other little European country that thought it had the military and economic power to push brown and black and yellow people around because they had something that they wanted. Well, that period of history is past! The Vietnamese should have taught everybody this. You do not go and take over somebody else’s country.
There are two ways for George Bush and Washington to learn this lesson. One will be a slaughter in Iraq and then decades of violence, where there will be people who will step off the sidewalk when they see an American, because they are so afraid. Or Americans will realize this is not the world that they want. It is a choice between wars of conquest, wars of colonization, things of the past, or the future based on a common, shared respect for everyone.