Pardon the sarcasm, Robert

Robert Kaplan realises that the FATWAT is the Taliban’s silent partner

What is most surprising about Kaplan’s startling discovery is that it took him so long to make it. (via Coming Anarchy)

Our backing of an enlightened government in Kabul should put us in a far stronger position than the Soviets in the fight to win back the hinterland. But it may not, and for a good reason: the involvement of our other ally in the region, Pakistan, in aiding the Taliban war machine is deeper than is commonly thought…

The situation is tragically simple: the very people we need to kill or apprehend we can’t get at, because they are in effect protected by our so-called ally, Pakistan. All we can do is win tactical battles against foot soldiers inside Afghanistan, who are easily replaced. [NYT]

Despite finally getting the hang of it, Kaplan’s view of Gen Musharraf is still sympathetic. And overly so, for Kaplan subscribes to the conventional wisdom that “(Musharraf) is among the last of the Westernized, British-style officers in the national army; after him come the men with the beards”.

Musharraf’s military successors may lack his polished style or command over the English language, or even a facade of “enlightened moderation”. But however bearded and Islamist they might turn out, they will primarily act in the institutional interests of the Pakistani military establishment. Even as seasoned an observer of geopolitics as Kaplan misses an important point—the reason behind Musharraf’s signing on to the America’s war on terror was initially self-preservation and is now self-perpetuation, both institutional and personal. The bogey of a worse successor has long worked to this end.

The United States and India will see many more meaningful policy options arise if they were to stop believing that there is no alternative to Musharraf.

Afterthought: To be fair to Kaplan, he has reported Pakistani support for the Taliban in his earlier reports for The Atlantic.

5 thoughts on “Pardon the sarcasm, Robert”

  1. I don’t get it…why on earth do you people follow the NYT?
    no one in the US gives a rats butt to their opinion and they are always-almost always flawed in local, national and international opinion..their columnists are idiots (yeah yeah including your beloved India loving Tommy the enlightened Minnesotan jew too)

  2. N.R.

    I, like you am no fan of the NYT. Indeed, I switched to the New York Sun [ http://www.nysun.com/%5D
    However, that doesn’t change the fact that it is the paper of record. And it’s voice carries weight in the corridors of power, from DC to Delhi.
    Even her detractors have admitted as much.

  3. Nitin: Gratifying though, to see NYT periodically get its head out of where the sun does not shine. The analysis may be flawed on Mush and his successors, but the basic thrust is in the right direction.
    Kaul: well put.
    NR: Oops sorry for reading NYT. The next time I’ll ask for permission.

  4. Having no alternative to Saddam didn’t stop the US from going into Iraq. Pakistan still is ‘useful’ to the US (dunno in what way…front to war on terror?) so as soon as it ceases to be useful. Bam!

  5. Mush has played the “apres moi, le deluge” card to perfection. It does not matter whether the generals/colonels following Mush are “British style” (what does that mean anyway) or heavily bearded. The problem, at least from our perspective, is that anti Indian, and dare I say, anti Hindu feeling has been institutionalised in the Pak Army (at least that is what I can gather from what I read…….anybody know a Pak army officer, would be great to get his perspective). Mush will come and go but our problems with Pak Army, and by extension Pakistan, will remain till there is aloo in samosa.

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