Chaos in Pakistan

So which should be our priority, defending democracy or fighting terrorists, and what do we do if a democratic country votes in the terrorists? That is only one of the issues in the chaos that is Pakistan. Raising the ante is that this particular country, now thrown into political chaos, ALREADY has nuclear weapons that the jihadists would love to get their hands on. Unfortunately, our man, President Musharraf, is repressing moderate secularists as well as Islamic extremists, and maybe more so. Does anyone have any suggestions? This article is somewhat consoling, if it is correct, maintaining that the jihadists are few in number and that we need to support the moderate majority.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Joe

    I think it is more difficult than the article makes it out. It is true that the jihadists are a small minority in Pakistan and that western leaning secular types would win an honest election but the article forgets something. Musharraf is not going to simply walk away. He is the head of the military and it is loyal to him – not the county. If we are too forceful in how we convince him to end martial law and insist too much that he step down from the presidency or military there is a real possibility that he will look for support elsewhere. The question is how far can we push him before he turns his back on us and takes his army with him and joins the Taliban factions in Pakistan. He is interested in power.

    As for your specific question, fighting terrorists is the main goal. Their is nothing inherently good about democracy – it is only as good as the people who run it. Indeed, Socrates was ordered to his death by the purist democracy even known to man.

  • Joe

    I think it is more difficult than the article makes it out. It is true that the jihadists are a small minority in Pakistan and that western leaning secular types would win an honest election but the article forgets something. Musharraf is not going to simply walk away. He is the head of the military and it is loyal to him – not the county. If we are too forceful in how we convince him to end martial law and insist too much that he step down from the presidency or military there is a real possibility that he will look for support elsewhere. The question is how far can we push him before he turns his back on us and takes his army with him and joins the Taliban factions in Pakistan. He is interested in power.

    As for your specific question, fighting terrorists is the main goal. Their is nothing inherently good about democracy – it is only as good as the people who run it. Indeed, Socrates was ordered to his death by the purist democracy even known to man.

  • Bror Erickson

    Though I agree that there is nothing inherently better about democracy than other forms of governemnt. I agree with the general view of this article. The majority of the people in Pakistan seem to want democracy. They should have it. To remain a dictatorship much longer will only move the sympathies of the people away from the United States, and endear them to the radicals of Islam.
    And lets face it the Pakistani army will only be loyal to Masharif as long as we make him beneficial to them. We can change that if we want to. He should step down and go into exile/ retirement. There are plenty of other generals that we can find in that military to do our bidding, while at the same time supporting democracy.

  • Bror Erickson

    Though I agree that there is nothing inherently better about democracy than other forms of governemnt. I agree with the general view of this article. The majority of the people in Pakistan seem to want democracy. They should have it. To remain a dictatorship much longer will only move the sympathies of the people away from the United States, and endear them to the radicals of Islam.
    And lets face it the Pakistani army will only be loyal to Masharif as long as we make him beneficial to them. We can change that if we want to. He should step down and go into exile/ retirement. There are plenty of other generals that we can find in that military to do our bidding, while at the same time supporting democracy.

  • Joe

    Bror – the problem is that if a full blown democracy pops up in Pakistan we can’t find another general to do our bidding. We’ll have to convince a democratically elected gpvernment to do our bidding. That is a much harder sell in some parts of the world.

    I think the most probable solution is an interim power sharing gov’t with Bhutto and Musharraf that generally transitions to a democracy after it stabalizes things to a point where no one else could jump in and take control.

  • Joe

    Bror – the problem is that if a full blown democracy pops up in Pakistan we can’t find another general to do our bidding. We’ll have to convince a democratically elected gpvernment to do our bidding. That is a much harder sell in some parts of the world.

    I think the most probable solution is an interim power sharing gov’t with Bhutto and Musharraf that generally transitions to a democracy after it stabalizes things to a point where no one else could jump in and take control.

  • fwsonnek

    Democracy is the tyranny of the ficle 51%. There is no inherent justice in the 51% dominating the 49% or even the .001%.

    Constitutional, republican government, which is ALL about the rule of LAW and not we, the people, is what is good and right. the 1% treated on an equal footing to the 99%.

    Individual dignity and human worth must ALWAYS trump the greater common good. I say this as a christian who believes the blood of Christ gives each unborn , AND born child, an intestimable worth and dignity.

    Individuals must never be sacrificed for “the cause“.

    So we should aim for human rights, not democracy. This actually is the approach that the european union takes when considering applications to join their club. Turkey therefore has many hurdles to overcome besides merely being democratic. They will need to recognize the rights of Kurds and other minorities constitutionally and in practice…. we would do well to follow their example and thinking here.

    The enemy of our enemy is our friend. realpolitik. national self interest. The concepts are immoral and lead to OUR creation of the taliban, saddam hussein (we armed him to fight Iran…) and many criminal third world dictatorships that served our interests.

    Here in my new country of Brasil, the US abetted a military dictatorship that `disappeared` 10s of thousands out of our fear of the spread of communism in the 1960s.

    We started our disgraceful divorce from our ideals, as best as I can tell, with our alliance with Josef Stalin, who killed at least 30million ukranians and kulaks , dwarfing the holocaust. He was our ALLY!!! We are culpable for his crimes by allying with him.

    I have a blind (?) faith that if the US fosters our ideals, even of those appear not in our best interests, that ultimately we will leave a better place for our children.

    I pray that God will raise up a president who will be a great orator and remind us of our forgotten faith in our ideals, and cause us to believe once again that doing what is right for others will ultimately be right for us, even if the results do not serve our selfish self interests.

    India is the largest democracy in the world, but , like the French, they are not our lapdogs. So we ally with Pakistan. They will ultimately serve us as did the taliban who we armed and strengthened to fight the russians.

    There may be a place for democracy in Islam. There is probably NO place for the rule of law that give equal footing to religious and other minorities. Except to submit or die to the rule of Allah. We must resist.

    Meddling in Pakistani internals will result in what Jimmy Carter accomplished in Iran by pushing for democracy and getting rid of the shaw. This looks much like you or I interferring in the life of a married couple. We should mind our own business except for being very vocal about the Rule of Law, and setting an example.

    We are immoral when we push for `regime change´. Governments are installed by God. Even bad ones. Radical change results in radical results. Our revolution was a conservative one, as was the English one. it was to order the status quo.

    Guantanamo would be a great place to start that example. There is NO `war`on terrorism. war is about fighting another country. we have been sold a bill of goods here. Terrorists are common criminals and should be tried in our courts as such, much like terry McVeigh. We can avoid the sophistries and enemy combattant-or-soldier arguments.

    whew. I am done!

  • fwsonnek

    Democracy is the tyranny of the ficle 51%. There is no inherent justice in the 51% dominating the 49% or even the .001%.

    Constitutional, republican government, which is ALL about the rule of LAW and not we, the people, is what is good and right. the 1% treated on an equal footing to the 99%.

    Individual dignity and human worth must ALWAYS trump the greater common good. I say this as a christian who believes the blood of Christ gives each unborn , AND born child, an intestimable worth and dignity.

    Individuals must never be sacrificed for “the cause“.

    So we should aim for human rights, not democracy. This actually is the approach that the european union takes when considering applications to join their club. Turkey therefore has many hurdles to overcome besides merely being democratic. They will need to recognize the rights of Kurds and other minorities constitutionally and in practice…. we would do well to follow their example and thinking here.

    The enemy of our enemy is our friend. realpolitik. national self interest. The concepts are immoral and lead to OUR creation of the taliban, saddam hussein (we armed him to fight Iran…) and many criminal third world dictatorships that served our interests.

    Here in my new country of Brasil, the US abetted a military dictatorship that `disappeared` 10s of thousands out of our fear of the spread of communism in the 1960s.

    We started our disgraceful divorce from our ideals, as best as I can tell, with our alliance with Josef Stalin, who killed at least 30million ukranians and kulaks , dwarfing the holocaust. He was our ALLY!!! We are culpable for his crimes by allying with him.

    I have a blind (?) faith that if the US fosters our ideals, even of those appear not in our best interests, that ultimately we will leave a better place for our children.

    I pray that God will raise up a president who will be a great orator and remind us of our forgotten faith in our ideals, and cause us to believe once again that doing what is right for others will ultimately be right for us, even if the results do not serve our selfish self interests.

    India is the largest democracy in the world, but , like the French, they are not our lapdogs. So we ally with Pakistan. They will ultimately serve us as did the taliban who we armed and strengthened to fight the russians.

    There may be a place for democracy in Islam. There is probably NO place for the rule of law that give equal footing to religious and other minorities. Except to submit or die to the rule of Allah. We must resist.

    Meddling in Pakistani internals will result in what Jimmy Carter accomplished in Iran by pushing for democracy and getting rid of the shaw. This looks much like you or I interferring in the life of a married couple. We should mind our own business except for being very vocal about the Rule of Law, and setting an example.

    We are immoral when we push for `regime change´. Governments are installed by God. Even bad ones. Radical change results in radical results. Our revolution was a conservative one, as was the English one. it was to order the status quo.

    Guantanamo would be a great place to start that example. There is NO `war`on terrorism. war is about fighting another country. we have been sold a bill of goods here. Terrorists are common criminals and should be tried in our courts as such, much like terry McVeigh. We can avoid the sophistries and enemy combattant-or-soldier arguments.

    whew. I am done!

  • Manxman

    If you’d like to get some insight as to what Musharraf is up against, read Lawrence Wright’s book “The Looming Tower,” a fascinating and readable history of al Queda. Militant Muslims in Pakistan are not a recent occurrance. They are deeply entrenched, heavily armed and well-funded by Muslims from all over the world. They have been there for years and they aren’t going to go away just because many Pakistanis would like to have democratic rights’ & freedoms. It’s going to take more than protests and lawyers marching in the streets to eliminate the radical Muslims. A lot of blood is going to have to be shed, and as far as I’m concerned, it ought to be Pakistani blood. I honestly feel like Musharraf has no choice but to clamp down on rights-oriented liberal secularists if he hopes to have any success at all dealing with the militants.

  • Manxman

    If you’d like to get some insight as to what Musharraf is up against, read Lawrence Wright’s book “The Looming Tower,” a fascinating and readable history of al Queda. Militant Muslims in Pakistan are not a recent occurrance. They are deeply entrenched, heavily armed and well-funded by Muslims from all over the world. They have been there for years and they aren’t going to go away just because many Pakistanis would like to have democratic rights’ & freedoms. It’s going to take more than protests and lawyers marching in the streets to eliminate the radical Muslims. A lot of blood is going to have to be shed, and as far as I’m concerned, it ought to be Pakistani blood. I honestly feel like Musharraf has no choice but to clamp down on rights-oriented liberal secularists if he hopes to have any success at all dealing with the militants.

  • Bror Erickson

    I don’t see Bhutto backing jihadist muslims. I do see the military following her orders. I do see us retaining a crucial allie in the area when she is elected. Musharaf is just trying to hold on to power. If Bhutto is elected, as is indicated will happen. We will have a stronger allie with the populace behind her, not just an unpopular military regime.

  • Bror Erickson

    I don’t see Bhutto backing jihadist muslims. I do see the military following her orders. I do see us retaining a crucial allie in the area when she is elected. Musharaf is just trying to hold on to power. If Bhutto is elected, as is indicated will happen. We will have a stronger allie with the populace behind her, not just an unpopular military regime.

  • http://www.oldsolar.com/currentblog.php Rick Ritchie

    “From this view of the subject it may be concluded that a pure democracy, by which I mean a society consisting of a small number of citizens, who assemble and administer the government in person, can admit of no cure for the mischiefs of faction. A common passion or interest [for example, radical Islam] will, in almost every case, be felt by a majority of the whole; a communication and concert result from the form of government itself; and there is nothing to check the inducements to sacrifice the weaker party or an obnoxious individual. Hence it is that such democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths. Theoretic politicians, who have patronized this species of government, have erroneously supposed that by reducing mankind to a perfect equality in their political rights, they would, at the same time, be perfectly equalized and assimilated in their possessions, their opinions, and their passions.”

    “A republic, by which I mean a government in which the scheme of representation takes place, opens a different prospect, and promises the cure for which we are seeking. Let us examine the points in which it varies from pure democracy, and we shall comprehend both the nature of the cure and the efficacy which it must derive from the Union.”

    James Madison, from Federalist #10

    I can’t believe how much space democracy gets in these discussions. Of all the political advantages we have, why would we fasten on this one aspect, something that really does not characterize our Republic, especially in its initial conception?

    I would rather hear about inalienable rights, checks and balances, informed juries, free speech, and an active press. Not one American life should be wasted, though, in giving people an opportunity to vote each other into despotism.

  • http://www.oldsolar.com/currentblog.php Rick Ritchie

    “From this view of the subject it may be concluded that a pure democracy, by which I mean a society consisting of a small number of citizens, who assemble and administer the government in person, can admit of no cure for the mischiefs of faction. A common passion or interest [for example, radical Islam] will, in almost every case, be felt by a majority of the whole; a communication and concert result from the form of government itself; and there is nothing to check the inducements to sacrifice the weaker party or an obnoxious individual. Hence it is that such democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths. Theoretic politicians, who have patronized this species of government, have erroneously supposed that by reducing mankind to a perfect equality in their political rights, they would, at the same time, be perfectly equalized and assimilated in their possessions, their opinions, and their passions.”

    “A republic, by which I mean a government in which the scheme of representation takes place, opens a different prospect, and promises the cure for which we are seeking. Let us examine the points in which it varies from pure democracy, and we shall comprehend both the nature of the cure and the efficacy which it must derive from the Union.”

    James Madison, from Federalist #10

    I can’t believe how much space democracy gets in these discussions. Of all the political advantages we have, why would we fasten on this one aspect, something that really does not characterize our Republic, especially in its initial conception?

    I would rather hear about inalienable rights, checks and balances, informed juries, free speech, and an active press. Not one American life should be wasted, though, in giving people an opportunity to vote each other into despotism.

  • fwsonnek

    more james madison:

    “If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.”

    “It is a universal truth that the loss of liberty at home is to be charged to the provisions against danger, real or pretended, from abroad.”

    “No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.”

    “The executive has no right, in any case, to decide the question, whether there is or is not cause for declaring war.”

    “War should only be declared by the authority of the people, whose toils and treasures are to support its burdens, instead of the government which is to reap its fruits.”

    “Each generation should be made to bear the burden of its own wars, instead of carrying them on, at the expense of other generations.”

  • fwsonnek

    more james madison:

    “If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.”

    “It is a universal truth that the loss of liberty at home is to be charged to the provisions against danger, real or pretended, from abroad.”

    “No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.”

    “The executive has no right, in any case, to decide the question, whether there is or is not cause for declaring war.”

    “War should only be declared by the authority of the people, whose toils and treasures are to support its burdens, instead of the government which is to reap its fruits.”

    “Each generation should be made to bear the burden of its own wars, instead of carrying them on, at the expense of other generations.”


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