February 20, 2008

Jobs for Jihadis!

Hatched by Dafydd

The AP headline: Religious Hard-Liners Out in Pakistan.

The story:

Fed up with violence and economic hardship, voters in the deeply conservative northwest have thrown out the Islamist parties that ruled this province for five years - a clear sign that Pakistanis are rejecting religious extremism in a region where al-Qaida and the Taliban have sought refuge. [Say... that sounds promising...]

Instead, voters in turbulent North West Frontier Province, which borders Afghanistan, gave their support to secular parties that promised to pave the streets, create jobs and bring peace through dialogue and economic incentives to the extremists.

...And that sounds about as effective as making little al-Qaeda dolls and sticking pins in them. Or electing Barack Obama.

The New York Times carries essentially the same message:

The winners of Pakistan’s parliamentary elections said Tuesday that they would take a new approach to fighting Islamic militants by pursuing more dialogue than military confrontation, and that they would undo the crackdown on the media and restore independence to the judiciary....

The two opposition parties share similar views of how to tackle the terrorism problem. The new approach is more likely to be responsive to the consensus of the Pakistani public than was Mr. Musharraf’s and is more likely to shun a heavy hand by the military and rely on dialogue with the militants.

Mr. Zardari [Asif Ali Zardari, widower of Benazir Bhutto and head of the PPP since her murder] said his party would seek talks with the militants in the tribal areas along the Afghan border, where the Taliban and Al Qaeda have carved out a stronghold, as well as with the nationalist militants who have battled the Pakistani Army in Baluchistan Province.

Alas, what the victors propose is not "a new approach;" it's the same old approach that has been used in Pakistan under the previous administrations of Bhutto and Sharif, is currently being used in European countries such as Denmark and the Netherlands, and is being pushed by the Democrats in the United States Congress -- and in particular by Barack Obama, favorite for the Democratic nomination for president, who wants to sit down and dialogue with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. (Who I believe just said that Israel was a "filthy bacteria... lashing out... like a wild beast." And as George Orwell quotes, "the fascist octopus has sung its swan song.")

We even have a name for this strategy: Appeasement. But at least Neville Chamberlain never fantasized that appeasing Adolf Hitler would produce permanent peace... only "peace in our time."

A combination of trying to buy off al-Qaeda and the Taliban, coupled with the relegation of terrorism to a police problem, not enemy military action, has been tried repeatedly... and has produced one colossal failure after another. President Clinton's policy of policing and appeasing led directly to the 9/11 attacks, for a recent American example. It fails because it avoids the most fundamental and necessary strategy to combat Islamist terrorists: naming the enemy.

This is the perennial problem with Pakistan and other Islamic countries: Even more than the West, the ummah rejects the idea that the problem with hirabis is not that they're poor, downtrodden, or unemployed; their problem is that they are monstrously evil butchers whose vision of Islam demands constant human sacrifice. Militant Islamists are like a mutant hybrid of mullahs and Aztecs.

Naturally, the putative "new approach" of the winners in last Tuesday's Pakistan elections plays well in the elite media, because it plays into the Bush derangement syndrome that fevers their brains; and it also makes everything seem much less scary: They don't want to kill us because of who we are... they want to kill us because they don't have jobs! If we just get them jobs, feel their pain, reassure them that we love them, and dialogue with them, then all this scary stuff will just go away.

And besides: The enemies (Pakistani parliament leaders) of our enemy (President George W. Bush) must be our brothers. Back to AP:

That [the plan to "bring peace through dialogue and economic incentives to the extremists"] may conflict with U.S. pressure to step up the fight against armed militants linked to al-Qaida and the Taliban....

Five years ago, voters in this mostly Pashtun province -- many of them from the same ethnic group as the Afghan Taliban -- set off alarm bells in the U.S. when they elected a provincial government dominated by a coalition of pro-Taliban clerics -- the United Action Alliance.

The alliance rode to victory on the crest of public outrage over the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, not only winning control of the North West Frontier but taking 12 percent of the vote in national parliament balloting as well.

See? It's all Bush's fault. If only we had listened to Sharon Stone, instead of the Israel lobby; if only, instead of invading Afghanistan after 9/11, we had chosen peace -- and offered the Taliban and al-Qaeda dialogue, understanding, and a jobs program. Possibly membership in NATO.

The election results are very mixed. There were two major winners: The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP, headed until she was assassinated by Benazir Bhutto, the first head of state to formally recognize and heavily fund the Taliban), nor the Pakistan Muslim League (N) (PML-N, headed by the beloved protege of former Pakistan dictator General Zia, Nawaz Sharif). But neither could even crack the a third of the seats in the National Assembly; the PPP got 86 out of 268 seats (32%), and the PML-N got 66 (25%).

The Pakistan Muslim League (Q) -- the PML faction that supported Pervez Musharraf -- took only 38 of the 268 contested seats, for 14%. And "the remaining seats were divided among seven smaller parties and factions and 27 independent candidates," as the Times reports. (Ten seats are not yet decided.)

In addition, neither of the winning parties has a successful track record. From the Times:

But Mr. Zardari and Mr. Sharif have reasons to bear grudges. Mr. Zardari, who returned from exile only after Ms. Bhutto’s death, spent eight years in prison on murder and corruption charges under the government of Mr. Sharif. Mr. Musharraf was army chief at the time.

Mr. Sharif was thrown out of the government in 1999 by Mr. Musharraf, who mounted a coup and arrested and then exiled him. Many Pakistanis agree that the governments of Ms. Bhutto and Mr. Sharif did not distinguish themselves. Both were ridden with corruption.

But I believe there is real hope here, though not in the way that the drive-by media fantasize. See if this reminds you of anything:

Powerless to stop the militants, local police stood by as tribal leaders opposed to the Taliban were assassinated and owners of video and music stores received threats to close their businesses or face death.

"They made false promises. They said they would give us education, food and jobs but they didn't give us anything. They were all lies," said retired soldier Mohammed Akram Shah. "I am from a village of more than 30 homes and we don't have any electricity even after five years."

As I read this, I see the nascent beginnings of a Pakistan Salvation Council. I don't know if it will be born, but the sperm (the staggering arrogance and murderous hatred of the militant Islamists) and egg (more than five years of Pakistans in the tribal areas having to live under the brutal jacksandal of Taliban/al-Qaeda rule) have merged, and the anger of the people indicates we're at least at the blastocyst phase, if not yet a full-blown embryo.

As Pakistan is still a Democracy, gestation of a Pakistan Salvation Council would likely take the form of a political party, rather than a militia. But if the Moslem terrorists respond as they always have before -- murderously -- then the party will likely metamorphose into an armed political movement. But clearly, the people of Pakistan are fed up to the eyelids with living under terrorist rule... but also by the feeble, half-hearted military tactics of Musharraf's army, which is strong enough to rile the terrorists but not enough to destroy them, cripple them, or drive them out. It's been a "lite" version of the American strategy in Iraq prior to the arrival of Gen. David Petraeus.

So on the whole, I'm pleased by the vote. Not because it's the right solution -- it isn't -- but because it indicates that Pakistanis are groping for a way to boot the militant Moslems. They recognize that what Musharraf was doing wasn't working; they're somewhat willing to give the PPP and the PML-N a second chance (but not particularly persuaded that they're going to succeed)... and I think they're going to start edging closer to the solution that has worked throughout Iraq and that is starting to appear in Afghanistan: Sunni tribesmen themselves rising up against the slaughterhouse-rule of al-Qaeda and the Taliban and recapturing Islam from the Baal worshippers who have declared themselves beyond any judgment but their own.

Islam has gone through periods of horrific expansionist violence against the West and times of relative peace. We're currently in one of the former; but ordinary Moslems around the globe have the power -- and increasingly the will -- to wrench Islam back to the latter.

The rise of salvation councils à la Iraq is exactly what we mean when we call for a more "moderate" Islam.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, February 20, 2008, at the time of 4:44 PM

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The following hissed in response by: Geoman

Everyone who thinks Muslim radicals hate us because they don't have jobs should carefully look into the background of the 9-11 hijackers.

I used to think they hated us because the Ummah is similar to a socialist enterprise in some ways...and has the same effect of infantilizing individual Muslim behavior. But that is not the answer.

The real answer is inherent conflict in the religion - if Allah controls everything in the universe, and Islam is the one true religion, and you are a good Muslim, but your life sucks, then the only possibility is....some devil Christian/Jew/Hindu has unfairly cheated you out of your earthly rewards! It takes very little to go from that realization to "Die Infidel!" and believing all sorts of crazy conspiracy crap.

This explains the 9-11 hijackers - those that have most contact with the west often hate us most, because they are more aware of the discrepancy between Islamic promises and world reality.

The above hissed in response by: Geoman [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 20, 2008 6:10 PM

The following hissed in response by: hunter

Most excellent points.

What a good take on the election.
I think this kind of voting over there is equivalent to those here who keep thinking if we just leave and act nice, it will be OK.
Those who vote that way deep down know better, but they are hoping against hope that they can appease the bad guys.
The problem right now is that behind the scenes every effort of AQ is to get someone in the Pakistan chain of control of their nukes to turn them over to AQ.
Appeasers are more easily turned to this.
If the Pakistanis do lose control of their nukes and India gets hit, I hope we will all stand aside long enough to permit India to squash this for the long term.

The above hissed in response by: hunter [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 21, 2008 4:46 AM

The following hissed in response by: Chris Hunt

This is an existential war, but I believe that the stakes are much higher for Muslims, because of hunter's scenario. When the mosquito buzzes around your head, you wave it away. When it bites you, you squash that particular mosquito. When you learn that mosquitoes carry deadly diseases, and someone you know gets bitten and falls ill, then you burn out the swamps and eradicate mosquitoes as best you can.

We can only watch and pray that enough Muslims figure this out before the hirabis bring the deluge upon the ummah.

The above hissed in response by: Chris Hunt [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 21, 2008 5:44 AM

The following hissed in response by: Geoman

Chris Hunt - All I can say is I wish I said that.

If the Taliban or AQ ever become too dangerous to us, why do they think we won't turn Pakistan into a sea of radioactive glass? Our own morality is the only thing preventing their immediate extermination.

Once they become an existential threat, they are doomed. Ask the Chechens about how this works - they've been through it at least twice.

The above hissed in response by: Geoman [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 21, 2008 10:03 AM

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