Pakistan on the Brink


With President Zardari forced to reverse his bans on political opponents, is Pakistan on the brink or is this a positive sign? What, if anything, can the West do to help maintain stability and democracy?

Posted by Lauren Keane on March 18, 2009 11:56 AM

Readers’ Responses to Our Question (71)

yeolds Author Profile Page :

BLUND:

The fight in GREATER ISRAEL issue is control of land and water between the native segment and the new immigrant segment.

Israel brings in the notion of God's people, a a way to justify the expropriations, subjections, assissinations. etc to the CHRISTIAN WORLD and the ZIONIST LOBBIES IN USA. Any other excuse for the ZIONIST expansion affort would be laughed away as uncompatible to xx-xxi century enlighment based human rights issues.

Israel will not exist in its present form in 10 years of so, for the major protector, the USA is on her finacial knees, with little or no chance to elude major drop in living standars, thus limiting foreign aid, and the armament industry [this will apply to government and private funds]. Israel can not afford her Defence Force, without outside subsidies, it can not afford new colonies without outside subsidy. Selling arms will be greatly decreased by all nations, for there is no money for that in the age of global warming and falling oil/natural gas supplies.

yeolds Author Profile Page :

TOM:
If you are of the opinion that man's desire for a good life is different in Europe fromUSA, I have a bridge for sale [in Euroes]. That the MORE corrupt USA political system created greater inequality in financial, wealth, educational fields to the advantage of the moneyed class is the fault of the SUPREME COURT JUSTICES who can not tell the difference [or do not want to] between wholesale bribery and freedom of speech.

It is true that there are poor and at times oppressed people in Europe [in France, Germany, etc] but non come close to the problems of UK and USA.

When post secondary edeucation is denied by high cost to a big percentage of USA's population, you do not have greater opportunity than the poor of Europe [sans UK] who cqan attend free or at minimal cost. When K-12 educational outcomes are as bad as USA [25% drop out rate] and as balkanized with respect to curriculum and teacher ability as in the USA - based on where you live [and on famility income] then you deny opportunity to a very large segment of the population.


shiveh:

It is undeniably true that the standard of living in USA relative to 2006 will have to fall 30-50 % in the coming years. In 1966 it was still possible to live on one set of wages if your medical insurance was carried by a large employer [in USA]. Then the Advertizing [a.k.a. LYING] industry sold a new american dream: if you can not afford it, increase your familiy's income by sending your nwife to work, so you can buy a nice car, a nice house, etc!! -While the cost of advertizing was demanded in price increases! Then the new idea, borrow, then spend.. to the point that a very large segment of income is related to interest payments and advertizing costs [NFL on TV????], where the extra income was channeled to the well to do investor class [or inherited wealth]. It did not matter that productivity increased, the % going to the workers decreased year by year.
China did not have influense on USA economy as a point of import til after 1973. On the other hand, Germany managed to keep her industry, so did France [but not UK] notwithstanding outsourcing craze the world over.

You seem to have forgotten that many USA industries created junk [e.g GM et al] at gloriously high prices - til the Europeans and JApanese firms brought quality to USA. Yearly model changes [waste of money] just to be able to sell more junk did not contribute to the industrial base of USA. This issue reflected on the LYING INDUSTRY's success in running a scam on USA population -- notably with very little improvement in quality!

blund Author Profile Page :

Daniel,

Again, go back to where I have ever said Israel is no democracy. You won't find it because I never said it or even implied it. Your sole argument for putting words in my mouth rests on the fact I don't continually trash the Muslims. Too say that would be weak logic on your part would be an undertatement. Some posters are willing to support Israel no matter what they do and bash Muslims as a matter of course. I am not willing to do that.

The only point I have tried to convey is that I can see both sides of the conflict and I don't think the US should be part of it. How that translates into supporting the Muslims and disparaging Israel is beyond me, but I'm sure some right wing nut job with the brain the size of a pea pod will come up with the "you're either for us or against us" argument that most people outgrow by age 5.

Anyway, let me clear up your obvious confusion over what I've continually stated about the ME for you Daniel. First, I don't think the Muslim countries are more democractic then Israel. Second, if I was forced to live in the ME I would chose to live in Israel. Third, I don't think the US should be providing military aid to Israel or any Muslim country (including Pakistan). Fourth, the quicker the US can get boots off the ground in the ME the better. Fifth, the US needs to find a way in the future not to put boots on the ground in the ME unless there is absolutely no other alternative. Sixth, I'm a Humanist. As such I reject Israel's claim God gave them the land. As such I also reject Allah has anything to do with the Muslims claim on the land. 7th, this is a land dispute based on religion and I don't want anyone I know to fight and die for or use my tax dollars in support of religion.

Now, given your history Daniel I fully expect you come back with, "See, I told you Blund hated Israel." Of course it won't be true, but what's that got to do with anything.

daniel12 Author Profile Page :

To Blund from Daniel. You are playing games of omission. You say you never said the Muslim world is more democratic than Israel. True. But you imply such because you say Israel is no democracy and then OMIT SAYING THE MUSLIM WORLD IS LESS DEMOCRATIC THAN ISRAEL. You play games of omission pure and simple. You criticize Israel for being no democracy but never say a word about Muslim countries being less democratic not to mention if you had a choice you would live in Israel rather than in any Muslim country. Or am I wrong about that? Which country please....

manishyt Author Profile Page :

Pakistani Society Is Dangerously Delusional. It Must Either Secularize Or Implode
Pakistan’s challenges today are so extreme that they represent an existential threat to the state itself. However, after years of being fed a warped view of the world – from biased school text books, inflammatory articles in the Urdu language press, and fiery Friday mosque sermons – many Pakistanis are living in denial. Pakistani society has become dangerously delusional.
http://dailyexception.com/2009/03/24/pakistani-society-is-dangeroulsy-delusional-it-must-either-secularize-or-implode/

blund Author Profile Page :

Daniel,

I know crap when I hear it. Go back to anything I've written or implied that I think the Muslim world is more democratic then Israel. One of these days you may actually get lucky and write something that has a modicum of truth to it.

daniel12 Author Profile Page :

All the rage today it seems...that Israel is far far far from being a democracy let alone a liberal one such as the best democracies. It seems Israel is the "big apartheid state". Never mind the fact that even with Israel constantly attacked over the years that she is still the most democratic nation in the middle east. Funny how all the poor "oppressed" Muslims with all their numbers and all the land they possess from Morocco to Indonesia still cannot be as democratic as Israel let alone the Western nations. But everyone wants to compare Israel to a fascist state as if the Muslims without Israel would just rise up to democracy or something. Hell, it seems people consider the Muslims as being more democratic than the Israelis right now. Even Westerners think so..."unbiased, fair, neutral, objective" ones such as...Blund.

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Salamon

Sweden is a cool place. My niece lives there while her boyfriend attends school. Sweden really doesn’t spend much on their military, and why should they? They’re neutral - and were throughout the twentieth century. Obviously, the US has a different role in the world than Sweden.

If you are going to use Europe as an example of “fairness” then you’re going to have to explain France’s lower class which has not been particularly happy. It seems over the past couple of years, they’ve set a record number of cars on fire, yet they have a very good welfare system (not to mention their traditional high unemployment). Class warfare in France?

In Europe, they value equality of outcome whereas in the US we value equality of opportunity.

I’m not sure you can pin our debt on the Republican Party since it’s the big “O” of the D party that is quadrupling the debt, and increasing our presence in Afghanistan as well (another 4000 troops today). He will need to increase the troops by a lot more than 21,000 if we hope to gain control of the Taliban, but I believe he is on the right track. Oh I know, no one can win in Afghanistan. I find it ironic that the “left” (like yourself) will happily abandon people who are subjected to the worst kind of brutality at the hands of the Taliban, but then again, you are driven more by (anti) US policy than human rights.

You may believe that the US is pitiful, but our system created unprecedented wealth (capitalism, Salamon) and our economy helped lift people all over the world out of poverty. Capitalism creates wealth, opportunity and freedom.

By the way, my hats off to Harper for leading the boycott against Durban II.

balasrini1242 Author Profile Page :

solution for the south asian conundrum of islamic fundamentalism leading to terrorism which is spilling over to western shores lies in the hands of pakistan.until it is not willing to introspect there won't be resolution.but for that to takeplace it has to have a clean slate to start that is where iran,afganistan and india come in.they have a lot of stake in pakistani stability as a long and permanent one if not the whole region will erupt and no pakistan will be found.so if united states is willing and able to provide a clean slate for pakistan that is a good beginning.

Shiveh Author Profile Page :

Yeolds,

Teenage pregnancy and single parenthood among the poor happens for lack of proper education and absence of proper parental supervision. I’m very interested to know how government can FORCE anybody to get educated or have their children learn at schools. Government can make schooling free (K to 12); give the kids sustenance so they are not hungry while they are at school; give them free healthcare if they are poor and help them with housing (section 8) and per child hand outs (SSI). US government is doing all of that and still there are people too lazy or too undisciplined to work for a better future. You can find a range of excuses to blame the system but none will substitute for lack of personal will. People make their own destiny.

Compared with USA, Sweden is a small and homogeneous society. What works in Sweden does not necessarily work in Louisiana. USA is large enough to have Massachusetts (Sweden if you will!) and Alabama (well, it is not Sweden!) People fit where it suits them (what an awful thing to say!!!)

Now, I know that greed and selfishness of bunch of Wall Street fools is bankrupting this country and hurting the world. I’m also aware of the corrupt and inept political system that the very rich control here. I just don’t think spending more money on people who are not ready to help themselves will solve any of our social or political problems.

There is a paragraph in your post that offers a very fair question. You compare a North American working class family of mid 20th century with one of this decade and ask if it shows progress. I’ve noticed it too and often asked myself why. See if you can agree with this explanation – in mid 20th century a North American laborer would comfortably make more money than a high skilled professional in almost anywhere else in the world except parts of Europe. Today through many innovations the world is practically smaller and people in other parts of it are able to compete with USA. Billions of people from China to Brazil have got a chance to better their lives by competing with the North American laborer. So, if you expand your attention to include the whole world and not just North America, you will certainly see the progress. Our unskilled (and some skilled) worker has to work harder for less, but do you want to turn the dial and send billions back to a desperate time to help him? Many people actually do, but the simple truth is that mid 20th century was a very special time for the North American laborer and it will not come back.

yeolds Author Profile Page :

TOM:

without doubt single parenthood is far from optimum and can be afforded only by well to do professionals.

The breakdown of the family is partially due to the rise of secularism [do your thing] partially due to the falling inccome of men [historical correlation with the fall of trade unionism /robber baron socio-economic system] - the first took away the common morality opposed to single parenthood, the latter destroyed the ability of many families to be able to have a real life [as opposed to subsistence, often ONLY possible with state help].

in 1957, when I came to Canadaq, a saw-mill worker could afford a bouse, a reasonable car, raise his 3 children and keep wife home. This luxury is unattainable for 90% or so of families in either the USA or in Canada - called great progres!!!!

If you compare single parenthood statistics, you will find that Sweden is among tops, but has a social democrat system, and as a NECESSARY CORRELATION, has VERY GOOD EDUCATION and reasonably high standatd of living even for single parent/child units. THIS CLEARLY SHOWS that basing your conclusions SOLELY on USA data is erroneous, in fact your conclusion sounds more as empty propaganda failig to justify your position than anything else. [Canada is very similar to USA -sans Quebec-, unfortunately, so is UK -the great CAPITALIST SYSTEMS OF THE WORLD FAIL THEIR CHILDREN - a moral condemnation of the system, contrary to nature imbued effort to make child's life better than the parents'].

You claim that you care for the poorer segments [with large caveats] but you are willing to load the children with horrendous debt, just so you can have your wars of choice, a military budget reflecting more than 50% of the world's total, and very light taxation system. Another benefit of the Republican party's great experiment in sustainable civilization: trade in worthless paper, enjoy non-existent Wealth Effects [like loosing a years GDP's worth in a year] and leave the mess for others to solve, while you keep your low taxes. A very pitiful way of organizing society!

blund Author Profile Page :

Tom,

Wow, I've seen sore losers before, but come on. Obama is about as interested in class warfare as he is in playing in the south bound lanes of I-95 here in Washington during rush hour.

As much as you would like to blame democrats for Iraq, the economy, torture, Katrina, etc. etc., you have to look in a mirror and say all of this happened under a republican administration with a rubber stamp republican congress. I know taking responsibility for mismanaging the government is something republicans are willing to do as long as democrats exist. Afterall, republicans have someone else to blame for their failures.

How do you think the R's went from a permanant majority to the outhouse in 6 short years? One things for certain it wasn't because they were giving the people what they wanted or needed.

It's really getting to the point one can't even have a meaningful discussion with one of the republican faithful anymore. After Bush's dismal record all we hear is how everything that went wrong under the Bush presidency was a direct result of the Clinton administration or the minority democrats under Bush. And you wonder why only a moron will believe that line of thinking?

As a liberal I have no illusions when it comes to Obama. He'll make mistakes. Some things will work out rather well and other things will be dismal. One thing I'm not about to do is blame the republicans for Obama's errors.

At least Obama has a plan. I'm still waiting for the R's to put one forward. So far I'll I've heard is the same old worn out rhetoric about smaller government, lowering taxes on the rich and bashing democrats. Now there's a plan worth discussing? Not.

When and if the R's can stop sniping and actually contribute something useful they will remain a minority. The only possible hope they have of winning another presidential election again is if the D's screw it up as bad as Bush did and I'm not sure anyone that incompetent will ever be nominated again.

I have no doubt based on how dismal the R's performance has been combined with the demographic shift in the country the D's are looking at a permanant majority for some time to come. Get used to it.

Zolko Author Profile Page :

I think that the *real* problem of Wall-Street collapse was triggered by the bad mortgages, but anything else could have triggered it. The amount of paper in circulation was simply too big, and not related to any real assets (not related to the real economy). Broker sold mortgages, sliced them up, sold them with other credits, and those who bought-it wanted to be covered by the risk took up insurance on that, that was sliced up again and re-sold again, on which insurance was re-sold again... ad infinitum !

No actually, not ad "infinitum", but ad "the Chinese realized that oops, something is fishy there"

It's as if I sold you a pen worth 1$ for 100$ while you also sell me a pen worth 1$ for 100$, zero sum, and we pretend then that we are now rich of 100$ because there is a 100$ "market value" for our 1$ pen. That's *literally* what those brokers did. Plus, they also sold insurance on those expensive pens that they will provide you a replacement 100$ pen should your 100$ pen default in a crucial moment, and they sold those insurances... all based on 1$ pens.

yeolds Author Profile Page :

TOM:
One of the world's most interesting and influential, even seminal, economists, the Peruvian, Hernando de Soto wrote the following article in the Wall Street Journal that gets right to the heart of the present situation:
Today's global crisis -- a loss on paper of more than $50 trillion in stocks, real estate, commodities and operational earnings within 15 months -- cannot be explained only by the default on a meager 7% of subprime mortgages (worth probably no more than $1 trillion) that triggered it. The real villain is the lack of trust in the paper on which they -- and all other assets -- are printed. If we don't restore trust in paper, the next default -- on credit cards or student loans -- will trigger another collapse in paper and bring the world economy to its knees.

you may find the rest of the article at: http://seaton-newslinks.blogspot.com/

The article has an excellent analogy [based on RC sacrament becoming opoisonous].

yeolds Author Profile Page :

TOM:
Social democracy [e.g. Nordic countries, Germany, Fr etc] is a system of government where there is quite strong STATE SUPPPORTED social structure for unemployment, health care etc.

One of the reasons for this system's rise is the rise of secular society, and commensurate fall of various church based manpower availability. For instance a large perce3ntage of schools, universities, hospitals were manned, ran and supported/financed by Kalvinist, Lutheran, Greek Orthodox, Jewish and Roman Catholic organizations even after WW I. and after WWII til the Communist takeover - due to Churchil, Rosewelt and De Gaulle selling E. Europe to the USSSR in Hungary.

Similar organizations were ran all over Europe, and to an extent in USA and Canada. With the fall of the churches' influenze and finances, these works were taken over by the state, or by private enterprize [mostly USA, and UK with some reverse to state influence in later years -- Labour Governments].

That is the economic outline of Social Democracy - higher taxes usually than the USA, but far more efficient health care, more equitible access to post-secondary education, greater automatic balancing of society's operating level in cases of down turn -- I explained the difference before re Germany, France, etc.

Class warfare is another SPIN created by the advertizing/media/political party cohort. The result of the laisse faire robber-baron economy, as recently and in 1929 in USA is that the lower eceono/social classes have real unmet needs [housing, unemploument insurance, food availability] note rise in charitable food outlets in USA/CANADA etc, tent cities, etc] while the financial elite takes a heck of a shock. SO ALL SUFFER - with the added problem that the collapse is self-reinforcing to all economic classes.

Katerina is a real example of misallocation of funds, we finance war with borrowed money, but we can not devote borrowed money to make life SAFE to our own citizens. Forecasting the tragedy was done numerous times, we no perceptible effort by governments and/or financial elite to take measures to limit the potential damage. Same applies to public transport - the interstate highway system is deteriating, the bus train systems do not serve the needs of society in USA/Canada even though it was foreseen that there will be PEAK OIL [2005 was the max production of oil, 2009-2012 will be the max production of oil and liquid products].

The ROBBER BARON
economic system [USA 2000 - present, USA 1929-34, Russia 1989-98 or so] is generally destructive to the whole soiciety [rich and poor] and in the end foments either resistance movements [including very bloody revolutions - France, Hungary etc in the xviii-xix century, China at present] or the rise of fascist type governments [Mussolini, USA under Bush II. etc] with monopolies/great concentration in economic fields [Microsoft, pharma, car manufacturing, big banks, big insurance companies, big steel, etc] where mistakes by the managements/governments lead to systematic failure of the whole society.

The above is not to say that Social democratic system is fail proof, it just said that their inbuilt defences are more efficient in times of need.

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Salamon

Oh, I blame the government to a certain extent for the financial crisis. That's for sure - but not specifically ACORN although they were part of the problem.

ACORN, however, is symbolic for the class warfare that Obama promotes in this country. On top of that, why does an organization get federal funding for "get out the Democrat vote"?

I'm not sure what a social Democrat is, but I'm skeptical of any name with "Democrat" in it.

Sorry, I'm not religious, and I do feel empathy for the poor, but there's plenty of opportunity in this country without promoting class warfare. I believe that three of four black children are born to a single mom. Put all the money into the school system you want, but there will be little improvement to scores until the basic family structure is repaired. Its gotten so bad that Head Start is really more about pulling children from dysfunctional families (at age three) and (the government) caring for your child at an early age.

Finally, Katrina just proved how inept government is and why we don't want government running our health care system (or raising our children). The levy's that failed needed repairs since the late 60's.


yeolds Author Profile Page :

TOM:

I might be a social democrat, never a socialist [nor cummunist]. IF you take your own religious teachng seriously, you can not be a robber baron [all the oligarch of Russia achievec mul;ti billion fortunes due to corruption inj less than 8 years, for there was no private ownership before] and you have to express your concern for the less well off. I have read many religious tracts. commentary on many religions, history, etc -I yet have to find a religion which PROMULGATES ROBBER BARON BEHAVOIR!!!

The corruption of US Wall Street centered financial mess was created partially by the phony mortgage deals - as Blund explained to you, and those reading this blog, with the caveat that ACORN had very little to do with it, but the whole mess of other debts also contributed to the dicing and slicing to worthless [almost] toxic junk, from car loans and leases, to commercial real-estate,commercial accoutn receivable, plastic debt -with 8% failure now, & to rise] AND FEDERAL DEFICIT on top of State and Muni bonds.

Wereas uncle sam did not have money for WAR [borrowed on the future income of the next generations], did not have money for big part of DoD [and related hidden other departments' security related nonsense, like A bombs, 16 security/spy agancies, etc], but talked BIG!!! as the country contracted its REAL GDP [for the losses in housing, real estate etc in the last 18 months or so indicate that the valuation of previous GDP-s was fraudulent!!!].

As Katerina has clearly shown, the Bush cabal ahd only interest in WARS OF CHOICe and giving support to the USA's OWN robber barons - tax deductions, tax havens, non-enforcement of even poor regulations, etc.

I really think Mrs Clinton took the spin to the limit of concievability, when she promised to give $900 million top rebuild GAZA - wrecked by USA armaments ande ammunition, when she did not show who is lending her the money to keep her promise [nevermind that the money can not go to HAMAS, the effective government of Palestinians, as the USA promoted the election, and was supervised by international observers]. Tom if you can swallow the above as reality, I have a bridge to sell to you -- real good price - unfortuantely due in Euros, Yuans or YENS not USD.

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Salamon

The financial crisis stems from a housing bubble, not spending by the military. The cost of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq pale by comparison to the financial bailout due to the collapse of the housing bubble.

This whole reference to "robber baron" is garbage. You're a socialist, so its naturally for you to hope for the collapse of the capitalist system, but capitalism is the best route to freedom and prosperity. Look at China.

President Obama is waging a class war, and why not, his whole background is in community service where the entitlement mentality and "victimology" develops (grievance liberalism). Why do you think that Michelle Obama said "For the first time in my adult life I'm proud of my country"? Because in the inner city of Chicago, everyone is a victim of white oppression.

Of course he's going to rally popular support against the AIG execs (that his own party wrote in a protection for the bonuses in the stimulus package). That's his whole life - convincing the poor that they are victims of the rich (and white) and rally popular support against the "robber barons" .

And now, ACORN, the recipients of 3-1/2 billion dollars from the stimulus bill, and the organization that sued banks to change their underwriting standards for loans to the poor (and broke the law registering Democrats for elections), leads groups of protesters to the houses of AIG execs. Organized class warfare.

The "great society" of LBJ failed and produced a class of victims primed for the entitlement mentality that Obama will produce by redistribution of the wealth from the so called "robber barons".

G.L.


vrcreddy2007 Author Profile Page :

Pakistan is certainly on the brink. Now in Pakistan they have two governments running parallel to each other. One is the democratically elected civilian government and the other is the Mulla led ugly Taliban government. It is indeed shocking that the civilian government reached into a peace agreement with the Talibans and left SWAT valley for them. They already occupied the emerald mines and started mining the precious stones. Obviously the Taliban's control over emerald mined will strengthen their hands and will enable them to carryout their activities with increased vigor. There are already news items getting published in various newspapers that the Talibans are slowly inching forward to take Islamabad. Whenever it happens it puts an atomic bomb in the hands of terrorist for the first time in the history of the world.
Talibans! Are they humans are the monsters? They way they are beating the people up and the way they are tearing down girl's schools is a real shame to the humanity. They are at the end of their mission of religious cleansing which they started in Pakistan long back. Now unable to bare the atrocities the Hindus in large numbers are crossing the border to escape the Islamic fundamentalists.

yeolds Author Profile Page :

TOM:

The major causes of the Russian collapse 1989- till Mr. Putin became PResident, were:

1.,Finacial collapse of the nation's ecopnomy due to misallocation of investment funds [Military industrial complex took too large a share].

2., Excessive cost of the Afgan war

3., the collapse of middle class

4., robber baron behavior by the oligarchs to the detriment of society at large [with ample corrution in the acquiring multi-billion dollar assets with no money down]

USA mirrors all four of the above points.

Pakistan similarly mirrors the above points [notable it was not ISI alone which created the Afgan fighter, the CIA and other branches of USA government were also involved up to their necks in effort to counter USSR's preceied threat]

Russia collapsed, but due to resiliency of population, they survived.

Pakistan is on verge of collapse, population will survive a la russia [low expectations, barely sustinence based economy in large parts of population./

Russia, USa and PAkistan have very great discrepency in wealth control - resembling USA at 1929]

USA's [ Canada's UK, etc] citizens for the most part are spoiled brats, totally unprepared for lowering standards of living, which is coming as sure as the next sunrise.

The debt of USSR, the debt of Pakistan and the debt of USA can not be sustained, and can not be repaid - as defaults in past and the printing press start in USA clearly indicate.

Possible savings re DoD, forward-bases, wars, can somehow contribute to the rebuilding of the USA internal economy, but restraints by scarcity of natural resources [we are mining less and less economically desirable ore bodies, oil fields, gas fields, ocean fishing, etc] clearly indicate that the living standards of 2006 [based on credit expansion] are dreams of the past, with major fall in levels for the future, even if discounting for the cost of lowering CO2 emission.

The problem of USA is greater than that of the USSR was, for you have exported [outsourced] a big % of your industry required for day to day living: clothing, shoes, public transportation etc needs in a society which demanded excess of all items in consumer goods.

The point I tried to make in previous and present posting is not that the USA is a near failed STATE, as Pakistan, but that the USA is less prepared to face reality of economic contraction..

Read the spin - no NEW loans by banks - false! they only lend to EXCELLENT CREDIT RATING persons, businesses.

Read the spin: all types of "aid" to banks etc, without admitting the enormity of the problem: 50 trillion dolars of deratives still have to be solved [approx 2-3 times the world's GDP].

Read the spin: military industrial complex safe from cuts, wars safe from cuts, no criminal or other charges against the MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE - though they wrecked the USA and subsequently the world's economy.

Read the spin: no rational admittence of the depth of housing fiasco, nor any proposed measure which would put a stop to the decline in housing prices - though all admit the prices will decline.

We in USA and Canada [UK et al] still do not get transperency, the actions, the beneficiaries of the rescues are basically unknown to the general public - so is the notion that living standards will fall for years.

You may pick on any of the above points, but that would only indcate less acknowledgements of the difficulties still to be resolved.

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Salamon

"..With the destruction of the middle class in the last few years, unfortunately , the USA is getting to resemble Pakistan. So what is DEMOCRACY IN UNCLE SAM LAND??..."

Come on Salamon, Pakistan is way too civilized to resemble the US; maybe we are more like the Congo?

yeolds Author Profile Page :

Shiveh:

Thanks for the link - enlightening ideas cogently presented.

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Shiveh

I’ve read a couple of his articles in the past in the Daily Star, and he is a really sharp individual. I enjoyed the article, especially his regional expertise. He didn’t really acknowledge the genius of Ahmadinejad on foreign policy matters. Unfortunately for Iran, he has been a domestic disaster.

I also believe that Iran is pragmatic (as are Hamas and Hezbollah), but in my opinion, Iran has gained far too much political capital in the Arab world to stop their nuclear program now. I guess I missed what Ben-Ami would do in the event of diplomatic failure. Another point in pragmatism is that diplomacy might have worked if there was a credible military threat. There isn’t. Iran understands this very well, thus their gambit has succeeded. That’s a major failure of the Iraq war.

Regional evaluations by experts provide a lot of topics for discussion.

Thanks.

Shiveh Author Profile Page :

Tom,

You may enjoy this:
http://www.jhubc.it/DOCUMENTS/BenAmi.pdf

Think2 Author Profile Page :

The question really is, how can the US, and to a lesser extent the other Western nations, best help stabilize the area? It is like asking how can they stabilize the Middle East? The answer is that they cannot do that much because the hearts of the people must change if stability and peace are to become the norm there. That change of heart is actually possible.

There is an extraordinary and significant sign being reported in the heavens (http://www.share-international.org), seen only once before, at the birth of Jesus. It is a brilliant, star-like luminary which, once Venus sets, will dominate the heavens night and day. It is the sign of mankind's deliverance from the death-dealing culture of competition and starvation. Mankind's Elder Brother, the Teacher of Angels and Men, has begun His mission of guiding men and women of every tradition, religious or non-religious. His message of love, brotherhood and sharing resources will heal the earth and transform our lives. Look up to the heavens, and look for an interview of a wise man who loves all men. The future awaits.


gamit17 Author Profile Page :

Shakil you wrote,
ShakirMumtaz Author Profile Page :
A serious thinking should be afforded by intellectual, policy stretegists and academicians of all walks of life about the Balkanization of India, which in my opinion is a sick elephant of the regional Jungle which is destroying the jungle and stampeding the grass, a source of most of the regional problems,miseries, and poverty engulfing 1/5th of the population of the world. The benefits accrued will be immensely valuable for the entire world's peace and prosparity.

You know in world there is only one place where Balkanization must happen - Pakistan.If you have read article "The Ralph Peters solution to the Middle East" it clearly tells where balkanization should happen & that is pakistan.& How?? want to know?? read this - "http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/aa/The_Ralph_Peters_solution_to_the_Middle_East.svg"
It shows what should be done to Pakistan in order to resolve all problems Afghanistan & Pakistan are facing.One more don't try to tell what India has given to world..tell what Pakistan has given to world...Let me tell.
1.Nuclear proliferation - remember A Q khan a nuclear smuggler who gave nucs training to Libia,Iran & North Korea.
2.Spread of Radical Islamic thoughts to surrounding Islamic countries
3.Pakistan is the soul reason for destabilization of Afghanistan
4.Resurgent Taliban who now controls nearly 70% of Pakistan's territory.
5.ISI & Pakistan army who spread network of terrorism in India & Afghanistan
6.Last but not least - OSAMA BIN LADEN !! & CIA belives that 9/11 planning was taken only in Pakistan.
Balkanization of Pakistan will keep peace in not only India,Afghanistan but rest of world also.

rehanaley Author Profile Page :

Untill and unless all deprived communities are not given their due share pak will keep on facing these kind of situations like in FATA it is time to bring real democracy and more importantantly the Provincial autonomy, the more centre(Central Punjab) will keep power the more insurgencies, terrorism(Jihad) will keep on happening.
It is fact that 85% army(all forces rangers, army, navy airforce) 80% of civil bureaucracy from Central Punjab but they have only 35% population share & around 20% resources share in Pakistan but they are enjoying 90% sahre of other innocent people that is creating despair among masses to take law in their hands and strive for islamization (shariat) because according to them shariat provides equal rights to all citizens.
West should realize this and if either provincial autonomy or due share of deprived people is not given the pakistan's future will remain uncertain and people will keep on to take law in thier hands.

Zolko Author Profile Page :

Tom,

please leave us out of any sort of "creative peace initiative" and forget "a European peace force" around Israel. We are not in any business protecting Israel from it's enemies, we won't do their dirty work. We already pay hundreds of millions for Palestinian infrastructure that the Israeli state over and over again destroys. We have our own BIG problems.

Israel is not our problem, even if it's our fault. My favorite solution would be to invite any Israeli/Palestinian person to immigrate to Europe, with a short opening window, and then consider that our sin has been paid back, and impose a global boycott on Israel/Palestine.

blund Author Profile Page :

SHIVEH,

I hope I'm wrong about the Israeli/Arab situation. I hope peace does break out. I hope all countries and parties come to realize that violence just begets more violence. I hope the Muslim world would say to Israel if they move back within their 1967 borders they can live without the fear of more violence.

I don't see it happening, but I hope everyday it does.

PS: I am Swedish.

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Shiveh (the previous post is to you also)

I don't believe that Obama can "force" Israel by threatening to cut off aid etc., but some creative peace initiative involving a European peace force might, or whatever?

We just have to look at what was offered to the Palestinians to see what the true obstacles to peace are, for example, the refugees?

One needs to look at both the 2000 and 2008 attempts at peace and go from there.

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Yes, you are right, Olmert was the acting Prime Minister (never elected). I would not count Netanyahu out of the peace process yet. He at least has the credibility to convince a skeptical population whereas Olmert didn't, and two wars were fought while Olmert was in power anyway. So who knows.

In addition, Bibi (that's a lot easier) may consider the Iranian question a priority?

Lets not forget Syria, Hamas-PA reconciliation, Hezbollah...

Shiveh Author Profile Page :

Tom,

I’m not blaming Israel for her defensive policies; just don’t think her expansionist policies are defensive, and I am trying to keep the distinction clear. I know there are rational and peace loving people among the Jews in Israel and the Diaspora. In fact that is why I’m hopeful. My question is that why are they sidelined and for the most part quiet? You say that they tried and failed because the Arab side was not receptive (overwhelming violence from the Arab side.) But what if they are the only alternative? That makes quitting not an option. What I’m trying to say is that all efforts should be concentrated on promoting and strengthening the moderate Jewish forces and turning back the expansionist policies even when they initially look counter productive (Gaza.) It will take a while for this change of attitude to be recognized and it will get worse before it gets better. But it will not work if Israelis jump from reconciliation to retaliation and back every few years. Israel is strong enough to play fair. The long term result of the incursion to Gaza can prove more destructive than the prior pull out. Obama administration can provide an opportunity for (forced) reconciliation and a new start with new players from both sides. We should seize this opportunity.

Was Olmert ever elected? He was forced out though.

Shiveh Author Profile Page :

Blund,

I remember you mentioning that your ancestry comes from Scandinavia. So you can not be Angelo-Saxon, German perhaps. But of course it is beside the point and my apologies if I’m wrong.

Your European origin makes you unfamiliar with the delicate relationship that has existed between various tribes living together in the Middle East for centuries. Jews and Arabs have co-existed in that region for thousands of years and they can and in my opinion will eventually relearn to live together once more.

We do have this difference and have discussed it before. Although I accept that today there is a strong religious tone to the conflict, I do believe that it started as a land dispute and think the smart way to solve the problem is to divert attention to the land again. It will be possible if that part of the Jewish and Arab activists that are moderate in their views (and there are many of them although not well organized) take the initiative from the extremists. Next few years could provide a chance for this change.

Of course you disagree.

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Shiveh

Israel does have a peace movement. I also believe that most Jews in the US are against the current settlement policies. The Hareetz is a relatively liberal newspaper. Olmert was a liberal elected for that reason, but pulling out of Gaza and Lebanon didn’t get the anticipated results (rocket fire, the election of Hamas, the war with Hezbollah, etc.), thus Israel has turned to the right wing Lukid party as a direct result of what most Israelis now believe was a huge mistake- too many concessions (principally Gaza). The Israeli peace movement took a huge hit in Gaza.

Hamas is younger than many of the settlements (although they really got their start in the late 60‘s, just not their military wing), but they were present to undermine the Oslo Accords and the peace initiative in 2000. Clearly, Israel does not know how to deal with “never”. I’m not sure either.

I believe that Israel and the PA should continue their talks based on the initiative from last year, and build from there. I also believe that the Israelis should freeze settlement expansions. Its killing them in world opinion polls (which does affect their policies to a degree).

blund Author Profile Page :

SHIVEH,

I am a WASA, but I don't question Israel's right to exist. I question why we are supporting Israel in a religous war with their neighbors. I question why we backed the creation of a Jewish State in the middle of the Muslim world which would, and has, resulted in nothing but unending violence. I question why people like Tom constantly bring up many Arab leaders refusing to recognize Israel's right to existence as something bad. If I was Muslim, which I'm obviously not, I wouldn't recognize Israel as a legitimate State either.

Everybody keeps running around trying to invent political solutions to solve a religous war. I question why anyone on the planet thinks this is even possible.

blund Author Profile Page :

Tom,

Might in itself never makes a right. What it ends up making is something that approaches varying time periods of control. We (US) control our country and not the native Americans because we used might to make them inconsequential. If there were still 40 or 50 million native Americans in the US today we'd have a serious problem ourselves.

There's nothing hypocritical about recognizing history. I don't know why so many people today don't want to admit how this country came into existance. Our past isn't sin free by any means. What our forefathers did to the native Americans and Slavery comes to mind.

Don't you find it the least bit odd that a rationale for Israel was to provide a safe haven for Jews so they wouldn't be presecuted? Then we drop them, at their insistence, right in the middle of the Muslim world. Obviously, this was the one area of the world where they would be hated passionately. I've stated before we should have relocated them to Alaska (where their biggest worry would be accidentally hitting a moose instead of rockets raining down on them) or anywhere else except the ME. All we have ended up doing by creating Israel in the first place was to insure a perpetual state of war would exist until one side or the other prevails. Again, now there's a foreign policy decision to be proud of. (note the sarcasm)

Shiveh Author Profile Page :

Tom,

Israeli expansionist policies are a matter of choice not necessity. In my opinion they are followed with the knowledge that the policy exacerbates the security problems. Why Israel does not draw a map of the country with marked boundaries? Why settlements are encouraged? Why 2 states solution is fading? How do you factor Hamas in these decisions which are mostly older than Hamas?

Shiveh Author Profile Page :

Tom,

You have rightly suggested in previous posts that Moslems should be in the forefront of fight against Islamic extremism. Shouldn’t the same apply to the Jews? Why is silence your preferred response on a behavior that can change the faith of a country so important to you?

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Shiveh

The world also needs to accept the finality of the concept of Hamas's "never" - as in never accept Israel's right to exist, and how that translates to security for Israel. So there are two major problems to solve. Israeli expansionism and security.

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Shiveh

Sorry, I didn't answer the question. I have no answer. The only thing I can suggest is looking at the most recent negotiations between the PA and Israel, and see where they still disagree and go from there...


Shiveh Author Profile Page :

Tom,

There is an increasing world outrage towards Israeli expansionist policies. It is different and separate from Arab grievances. This is the tide that in my opinion can become the decisive factor in Israel’s future. Reading your response to Bob, I felt that you are ignoring it. Hard to believe that you are not watching the trend and it’s importance. So, back to my original question; how can this Israeli behavior be countered especially now that Likud is in control?

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

There's nothing I can add to my previous post, Bob, to convince you why we should NOT let nature takes its course (neutrality).

One thing, however. Its not "love it or leave it" at all. To me, its just hypocritical to live in a location that you have less of a right to than an Israeli (you have zero right) and expect him to leave or be wiped out. By your reasoning, its not right or wrong but shear numbers (and power, or the threat of terrorism) that determine who goes and who stays. That's not a liberal concept I'm familiar with.

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Shiveh

Good to hear from you. I'm against any Israel expansionism, of course, but it is their right to exist that is questioned. Bob's post questions their right to exist, and I'm guessing he's a WASA (white Anglo Saxon Atheist). Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah, al-Qaeda, Islamic Jihad etc. all question Israel's right to exist. At least expansionism can be reversed (unless you believe that you are entitled to the land), but ideology is much more difficult to change.

blund Author Profile Page :

Tom,

I would expect anything Obama does to remind you of a bad episode of the West Wing.

Israel, a "liberal democracy?" Israel may be a lot of things, but a liberal democracy they are not.

I never suggested or inferred Israel was the cause of all Islamic bad actions. Only that the Muslim world does not want them to exist in the ME.

You have to get off the territorial claim by the Jews for the land. It simply doesn't exist. There is no legal chain of title that dates back 2,500 years to claim this land. The American Indians have a far better claim to this country then the Jews do to Israel.

My point was on the comparison of the US to Israel the US was able to virtually wipe out the resistance. In the ME that isn't possible for Israel to do.

America, love it or leave it? Do you love everything about America? Of course not. Yet, I'm not telling you to pack your bags and leave. Or was this the basic republican rhetoric of loving everything republican and if you disagree then you should move?

The basic question still remains to be answered. Why should Islamic Arabs tolerate Israel? Outside of a non-existant land claim and our telling them they need to there isn't a single reason they should. Duh! And we wonder why peace hasn't broken out?

Face it Tom, it was the Jews who wanted Israel against the objections of the Arabs. It was the West that created the State against the objections of the Arabs. It was the Jews who knew they would need to fight to keep the land against overwhelming odds. This war has nothing to do with democracy or theocracy. It is a religous war pure and simple. This a war between the Jews and the Muslims. Go ahead if you want and take sides, but in doing so you alienate the other side. Hence, I can only conclude by your strong support for Israel the Muslims can be damned.

Shiveh Author Profile Page :

Tom,

It is not Israel’s right to exist but Israel’s Expansionist behavior that is fueling the world outrage. Any idea how to control it?

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Bob

First of all, the Israelis didn’t throw anyone on a reservation, Bob, so the history of the US is not comparable to Israel, and in addition, the US had no historical ties to North America whereas the Jews lived in Palestine for thousands of years. Jerusalem is their holiest site for a reason. The Israelis didn’t confiscate Palestinian land. Palestinians also immigrated and settled in areas around Jewish cities because of the economic activity. Although peaceful immigration does not make the creation of Israel right, comparing US history to Israeli history is misguided. (To Salamon: Tibet differs from Israel also. The Chinese conquered Tibet - and then immigrated to give credibility to their invasion. There is no separate state of Tibet that I can find on any map).

If your torn by your country’s history, pack up and be the first American to renounce your citizenship, and go back to Europe because - as a good liberal - you believe that our ancestors were wrong. You won’t, I won’t and neither will anyone else. The Israelis won’t either. Acts of intimidation - like threatening “neutrality” until they’re wiped out by the majority Muslims - won’t make them leave the Middle East either, but it will certainly make the terrorist happy. No Bob, you’re completely wrong. The Israelis are a recognized, legal country the size of a shopping mall that the terrorists apparently have convinced you by acts of terror (such as 911) that Israel is not worth the price for US support (“I much rather have it be the Muslims fighting among each other and Israel then fighting with us“).

Dropping support for Israel won’t solve the problem of world-wide terrorism unless you want me to believe that our support of Israel is the cause of Islamic terrorism in Sudan, the Philippines, Indonesia, Pakistan, India, Chechnya, China, Thailand, Kashmir and fundamentally everywhere else that a Muslims have set foot.

In addition, if we are the cause of terrorism, then the British creation of Pakistan should be an example of the opposite, namely, how Muslims coexist with the world when the “West” supports Islam, but its not. In fact, just the opposite. Islamic Pakistan is not only at war with their neighbors, they’re at war with themselves.

Islamic terrorism is related to a war within Islam itself. Fundamentalist (Wahhabism or related “strains“) Islam is a world-wide totalitarian movement. In Afghanistan, for example, the Taliban forced a fundamentalist philosophy on a population of Muslims who practiced a different and more liberal kind of Islam. In an ABC/BBC poll conducted in 2009, only 4% of the population of Afghanistan supported a return of the Taliban to power over the current government. Blaming Israel or our support of Israel for the cause of Islamic terrorism world-wide is completely misguided and ignorant.

When liberals believe that we are the cause of terrorism, that gives terrorist the credibility to achieve their goals (Afghanistan to begin with). Today, terrorists have liberals convinced that terrorism results from our support of Israel. Its propaganda, Bob. The terrorist have waged a successful war of propaganda against the US (and the west). The “why they hate us” is garbage. You could get the same poll results in Europe on US policy. Why does Europe hate us?

Once again I’ll state it. Our support of Israel is fundamentally right. We should not throw a country under the bus - especially a liberal democracy - because terrorists threaten us. The terrorist, of course, love your concept of “neutrality”. That’s a gift from Allah. We should work towards a solution, but giving in to terrorism is the very worst possible strategy. Israel has every right to exist as a nation just like us, Canada, Australia, New Zealand etc.

President Obama making a U-tube video appeal to Iran should, however, give you great hope to realize your concept of “neutrality“. Why does that video remind me of a bad episode of the West Wing?

nuqshbandymohrvi Author Profile Page :


The West should help improve economic infrastructure in Pakistan; democracy does not grow like grass even if unattended; democracy needs economic nursing; democracy and development (economic) are willing bed-fellows begetting more fellows of worth; the political conditions obtaining in Pakistan today are more orless the same in the neighbouring zones, but no one casts skepticism about them; international commentators should not pour poison of biases on Pakistan alone; what economic rebuilding role the international watchers are playing for Pakistan who is enmeshed in the Afghan imbroglio since 1979? I ask this question.

nuqshbandymohrvi Author Profile Page :

The people of Pakistan have tremendous inner resilience to stand on their own feet; a better educational opportunities which help them to step in the modern technological market for competition can be the success resource to channelize their inherent workmanship; since 1979 Pakistan is embroiled one way or the other in Afghan syndrome; the international community extracted for use the best in Pakistan; socio-economically not fully rewarded by the international players-community; long periods of difficulties have difficulty-hardened the masses of Pakistan - a resolve to live on, to face any inhospitabilities, etc. etc. whatever opinion the outside world may cherish about Pakistan, but I am hundred percent sure, the country and the nation would emerge victorious from any regional storm; the people of Pakistan have a history of struggles spread across centuries which forms the very fermentation to live upon.

ShakirMumtaz Author Profile Page :

read my new articles on Americanchronicle.com

1)Balkanization of Indai.
2)Axis of Evil to Axis of Upheaval.
3)Obama placed on too high a padestal.
4)Indian 9/11 a tragedy of course, but...
5)Power of Intention (a non secular philosophical reading)
6)mystries of creation.
Shakir Mumtaz

blund Author Profile Page :

Tom,

Nice try, but no cigar. It is simply a fact that there was no Israel for 2,500 years. It is simply a fact the world kept right on going without an Israel. There is no reason to believe it would not keep on going if Israel existed or not. If anyone considers that an anit-semitic statement they need their head examined.

This paranoid concept that if one doesn't support Israel they must be in favor of a (Nazi Germany) "Final Solution," is crap and you know it. If someone is a bigoted against Israel based on religious principles or lack thereof then they qualify for the label of anti-semites. (This would include just about the entire Muslim World). I'm not a Muslim nor am I a Jew or a Christian. I could care less what someones relgion is or whether they have one at all. In my world I hope people finally attain a state of enlightenment and regulate all religion to the history books.

The fundamental Jewish clain on the territory they occupy today is based on religous beliefs. Divine will is the guiding principle to their claim. At least 99.8% of the world's population missed this "Divine Decree" from God. The only group that does believe this is a good portion of the world's 15 million Jews. Even Christians don't believe God gave the Jews Israel. (If you disagree with this last sentence I can show you why Christians have to disagree)

All that is happening here is the west relates to the Jews far better then we relate to the Muslims. The Muslims aren't stupid. They understand this. We continually rub it in their face. Again, the friend of my enemy is my enemy. I'm sorry if this concept isn't convienent in the support of Israel, but it's reality. As long as we support the state of Israel the Muslim world will hate us. As long as we provide money, arms and munitions that are used to impose western will, occupy their land and kill their families they will hate us. Can you blame them?

We're a realatively young country. Have we learned nothing from our beginnings? Basically, large groups of European settlers came to this land and systematically cheated, stole, murdered and subjagated the American Indian almost to the point of extinction. We were able to do this via massive immigration and military superiority. By the early 1900's if there was an endangered species act in this country the American Indian would have been on it. In Israel we have the exact opposite population issue. Israel only has 5 million people. They are surrounded by a couple hundred million Muslims. So far their military superiority and the Muslims ineptness has allowed them to survive. Since there is no reason to believe Israels population will ever grow significantly it's safer to assume at some point the Muslims will become less inept at warfare. When that day comes (next 10 years or next 100 years) it's also fair to assume based on numbers Israel will ultimately lose.

It was the height of arrogance for the west to believe they could create the State of Israel in the middle of the Muslim world and people would happily co-exist. From the day of Israel's creation the Muslim world was united in not letting it stand. You seem particulary upset because various Muslim leaders refuse to accept Israel and have openly stated they are for the destruction of Israel. Why? How would you expect them to act? "The west rammed this down our throats against our wishes so we should just accept it?" Now there's a basis for a rational foreign policy on our part.

The US has had some spectacular foreign policy accomplishments as well as a limited number of spectacular failures. In the success column Japan comes to mind. In the failure column Vietnam and Cuba come to mind. I have never been a believer in my country right or wrong. I have always believed praise is due for positive outcomes and fixing outcomes that we broke. I firmly believe we are guilty of assisting in the breaking of the ME when it comes to Israel and the only way I can see to right what has been up to this point as a debacle is to switch over to a policy of neutrality. Stop arming and assisting both sides.

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Bob

“…On one hand you have a chain of title on the land that goes back 2,000 years in the Arabs favor and on the other hand you God's will. Hmmmm, you wonder why I claim neutrality on this fight?….The world went over 2,500 years without an Israel and we can go another 2,500 years…”

That’s neutral? Neutral might be more akin to finding a two state solution since Israel is a legal state. Since you have (in the past) predicted that the Arabs will prevail in the long run because of their numbers, then what “neutral” means to you is allowing Israel to be “wiped off the map“.

Your final solution, Bob?

clearthinking1 Author Profile Page :

Pakistan is a failed state. Reinstatement of a judge because of a mob is an insignificant event. The trajectory of Pakistan is clear.

ECONOMIC FAILURE: Pakistan is bankrupt. Even all the loans from IMF, World Bank, Paris Club, London Club, overt and covert aid from US, and repeated refinancing of the debt have not worked.
MILITARY FAILURE: 4 wars have been lost by Pakistan. Bangladesh was freed in 4 days. The military is demoralized and cannot even control its own territory.
SOCIAL FAILURE: the miserable poverty and exploitation within Pakistan is shocking. The Honor killings and treatment of women is unacceptable.
POLITICAL FAILURE: The military coups, suspension of constitutional law, murders of Bhuttos (father and daughter) reveal no evidence of a modern political culture or democracy.
EDUCATIONAL FAILURE: The lack of modern schools and scientific education shows no potential for Pakistan to develop economically or politically in the future. The madrassas are where terrorists are openly bred.
CULTURAL FAILURE: A nation that looks the other way as terrorists and murders are being trained openly is morally bankrupt. Every Pakistani knows whats been going on in their country, and one must assume they approve of the violence in their heart.

Pakistan must be dismantled into 4 ethnic provinces - Sindhi, Punjabi, Pashtun, Balochi. This will weaken the terrorist Islamists in the military/ISI, and it will allow the ordinary people of Pakistan to concentrate on economic development.

blund Author Profile Page :

Tom,

While none of us know for sure what will happen in Iraq when we leave all we can do make hopefully educated guesses.

My point was Iraq will probably revert to a state of civil war once we leave. If that's tomorrow then civil war will probably break out shortly thereafter. If it turns out to be 10 years from now then civil war will break out shortly after that. Hence, why are we wasting precious lives and treasure to prolong the inevitable?

I think we both agree the Muslim countries in the ME leave a lot to be desired. I know I wouldn't want to live in one and be subjected to their laws. We are fully aware they reject many western values and there is no end in sight to this rejection. However, the heathen westerners imposing their will militarily on Muslim countries isn't winning us any friends in this part of the world. Not that friendship is the name of the game, but something approaching peaceful co-existence should be.

I have stated before I don't believe peaceful co-existence is possible as long as we support Israel. It's impossible to be the friend of someone's enemy and be there friend as well. Hence, our current policies simply state we're going to support Israel and if the Palestinians or any other Muslims don't like it, tough. That is no recipe for peaceful co-existence.

As a Humanist I reject dieties. I don't reject other people believe in them only that I find no useful purpose for believing in them. Based on this belief I reject Israel's claim they are God's chosen people and this land was basically divinely willed to them. I see this as an argument based solely on faith without a shred of reason backing it up. On one hand you have a chain of title on the land that goes back 2,000 years in the Arabs favor and on the other hand you God's will. Hmmmm, you wonder why I claim neutrality on this fight? Both sides are convinced they are right. Nothing we can say or do will convince either side they are wrong. By supporting Israel we (the US) are basically saying we see more merit in God's will which is a direct slap in the face to the Muslim's. Then we have the audacity to wonder why they don't like us and won't act the way we want them to?

There are just no win-win outcomes in the ME. Somebody is always going to lose. I much rather have it be the Muslims fighting among each other and Israel then fighting with us. I just don't see the value in taking sides. Whether Israel continues to exist or not will not make any difference to the west one way or the other. The world went over 2,500 years without an Israel and we can go another 2,500 years.

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Bob

Capitalism is based on greed, Bob. To call Wall Street greedy is like calling Al Capone a criminal. In my opinion, the financial crisis results from many factors including the “stupidity” of Wall Street - a perfect storm of conditions.

The government has no business prying into bonuses for private companies (regardless of greed) with the exception of bailouts where, obviously, none are deserved. It should be noted, however, it was a democrat, Dodd, that wrote in the protection for the AIG bonuses in the stimulus package. I love how Obama directs all this rage toward Wall Street when he signs a bill protecting AIG bonus recipients written by a democrat. Does anyone on his staff inform Obama what’s in a bill that he signs? Does any democrat respect Obambi?

Changing the underwriting standards was not a novel idea cooked up by Wall Street Bankers. The government, at all levels, pushed the idea of home ownership for the poor - the American Dream.

Greenspan‘s role in the financial crisis will be debated for the next 50 years. Additionally, Wall Street provided the creative lending and the markets had plenty of investors - especially from overseas. Securitization of the assets spread the risk (at least so they thought). The government, in my opinion, provided the impetus to change the underwriting standards (although the banks clearly ran with it). The CRA, ACORN, government pressure on Fannie and Freddie, HUD and the Federal Reserve of Boston all contributed to changing the underwriting standards industry-wide. The Federal Reserve enabled the crisis. In today’s Wall Street Journal, economist Gary Becker discusses what (he believes) caused the financial meltdown (“Now is no time to give up on the markets“, March 21, 2009):

“…Mr. Becker sees the finger prints of big government all over today's economic woes. When I ask him about the sources of the mania in housing prices, the first culprit he names is the Fed. Low interest rates, he says, were "partly, maybe mainly, due to the Fed's policy of keeping [its] interest rates very low during 2002-2004." A second reason rates were low was the "high savings rates primarily from Asia and also from the rest of the world."
"People debate the relative importance of the two and I don't think we know exactly," Mr. Becker admits. But what is clear is that "when you have low interest rates, any long-lived assets tend to go up in price because they are based upon returns accruing over many years. When interest rates are low you don't discount these returns very much and you get high asset prices."
On top of that, Mr. Becker says, there were government policies aimed at "extending the scope of homeownership in the United States to low-credit, low-income families." This was done through "the Community Reinvestment Act in the '70s and then Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac later on" and it put many unqualified borrowers into the mix.
The third effect, Mr. Becker says, was the "bubble mentality." By this "I mean that much of the additional lending and borrowing was based on expectations that prices would continue to rise at rates we now recognize, and should have recognized then, were unsustainable."
Could this behavior be considered rational? "There is a lot of debate in economics about whether we can understand bubbles within a rational framework. There are models where you can do it, but it's not easy," he says. What he does seem sure about is that "the lending would not have continued unless there was this expectation that prices would continue to rise and therefore one could refinance these assets through the higher prices." That mentality was at least partly related to Fed action, he says, because the low interest rates "generated an increase in prices and I think that helped generate some of this excess of optimism."…”

You say that greed was the primary motivation for changing the underwriting guidelines, but changing the underwriting guidelines was not a novel idea, Bob. It had precedent at Fannie and Freddie (1993). It also had precedent within the Federal Reserve of Boston who wrote in 1992 (Malanga, February 18, 2009, “ The Long Road to Slack Lending Standards”):

“…Quoting from a study (“Closing the Gap: A Guide to Equal Opportunity Lending”) which declared that “underwriting guidelines…may be unintentionally racially biased,” the Boston Fed then called for what amounted to undermining many of the lending criteria that banks had used for decades. It told banks they should consider junking the industry’s traditional debt-to-income ratio, which lenders used to determine whether an applicant’s income was sufficient to cover housing costs plus loan payments. It instructed banks that an applicant’s “lack of credit history should not be seen as a negative factor” in obtaining a mortgage, even though a mortgage is the biggest financial obligation most individuals will undertake in life. In cases where applicants had bad credit (as opposed to no credit), the Boston Fed told banks to “consider extenuating circumstances” that might still make the borrower creditworthy. When applicants didn’t have enough savings to make a down payment, the Boston Fed urged banks to allow loans from nonprofits or government assistance agencies to count toward a down payment, even though banks had traditionally disallowed such sources because applicants who have little of their own savings invested in a home are more likely to walk away from a loan when they have trouble paying…”

ACORN (yes, that pimple on the butt: Malanga, February 18, 2009, “Feds Re-Impose Loan Standards They Helped Undermine”) became involved:

“…In 1998 Acorn activists disrupted Federal Reserve hearings on the proposed Citicorp merger with Travelers, waving red umbrellas, a corporate symbol of Travelers, and then later protested Citigroup's acquisition of Associates First Capital Corp. Eventually Citigroup signed an agreement to provide mortgages through Acorn counseling centers, including home loans to undocumented aliens in California…”

That’s what I mean by stupidity.

And (Malanga, Wall Street Journal, August 26, 2006, “ACORN Squash”):,

“…The Department of Housing and Urban Development under President Clinton, for instance, threatened to introduce legislation to make non-bank lenders, that is, mortgage finance companies, subject to CRA if these firms didn’t sign on to affordable lending goals. HUD even crafted an agreement with the Mortgage Bankers Association, the industry trade group, which pledged that the group’s members would aid in affordable housing goals. One of the first members of the MBA to take up the pledge was Countrywide, which pledged to introduce low-down payment loans with high income-to-payment ratios for low-income borrowers…”

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Bob

You made the point in a previous post that when the US military withdrew from Iraq, Iraq would probably return to civil war. You might be right, but that’s exactly why I oppose us completely withdrawing. A return to internal fighting will likely result from external forces like Iran and Syria seeking their own special “influence” in the Iraqi government (much like Lebanon).

I have no illusions about an Iraqi democracy. A model of power sharing similar to Lebanon comes to mind, but not a liberal democracy like we have in the west. That requires protection of minorities - not wiping them out.

yeolds Author Profile Page :

Blund:

I agree with you re problems of election finance. The source of this mess is the Supreme Court of USA, in its various interpretation of "FREEDOM OF SPEECH". These Supremes can not differentiate between freedom of expression and purchase of politicians.

You will note that Canada has similar juduciary set up, has similar constitutionally guaranteed freedom of speech, however, the limitation on political contributions are viewed differently by the two respective Supreme Courts.

I am all for freedom of speech [barring yelling fire as a scare tactic in a crowded public place and such], however, I find that getting a president elected in the USA takes 1 billion dollars or more to be a legal request for political corruption. This all the mnore disturbing in the sense that there seems to be very little REAL [as opposed to rethorical] difference between the two parties - as all members are purchased by the same oliogarches [or their K-street lawyers].

While I admit that Mr. Obama is very different from Mr. McCain, both of them would and do face the same Congress, thus their power is limited to what Congress seems to like. Very good example is the recent reaction in Congress to the internal horrific police action of Israel in Gaza. Please recall that war can be only fought by sovereign entities, Gaza [or west Bank, with its similar but lower level police action] is not sovereign! Thus no WAR, thus police action by the armed forces against defenceless subjects of the State [a la Waco in USA a fgew years ago, just tanks, no planes - thoug similar result, the carnage was very large, with woman and children among the victimns].

Another example of this consatraint on the POLITICS is the recent speeches by Mr. Obama to IRan and to the Arab [Saudi owned] news service. Lots of talk [impressive] but no substance - for the politics ofr Congress do not allow positive substance to IRan, for such is opposed by AIPAC and the military industrial complex [the one bankrupting USA] and by the congress mem]bers purchased by the vaqrious K-street interest groups [most of them serving anybody but the PEOPLE FOR THE PEOPLE]. Rest assured we, in Canada, have similar problems with our politicians, but not quite to the degree, for there are more parties in Canada than the two [symboites to each other] in the USA.

I am happy that you enjoyed the debate. I think that the main problem was in Washington, for the banking crisis in Canada [while of some major losses] survived far better than the USA's due to different and more stringent regulation.

GL

blund Author Profile Page :

YEOLDS,

Interesting site. I have no doubt holding debates in NY will result in blaming Washington. Holding a debate like this in Washington will result in blaming Wall Street. Holding the same debate in Peoria will result in both sides being blamed equally.

I think it's pretty much human nature to play down your failures and blame someone else. Taking responsibility isn't something most people or industries do well. In private industry, like Wall Street, the threat of litigation and associated costs have a great deal to do with not taking responsibility. On the Federal side political parties don't want to take responsibility for fear of losing elections.

Personally, I point my fingers at both sides equally. There were horrendous decisions made by both sides that led to the collapse. While this happened under the Bush Administration it just as easily could have happened under a democratic administration. When things are going well and everyone is making a lot of money no one wants to rock the boat. When things go poorly everyone wants to say it was the other guy that created this mess.

In my mind there is no doubt the Feds should have stepped in earlier and engaged in regulations to protect Joe Sixpack from Wall Street. Wall Street on the other hand should never have digressed into a state of terminal greed. Wall Street and Washington share in this downfall equally.

As much as Obama talks about fixing Washington I'm not convinced that's not a fools game. I'm not sure given the basic structure of Washington it can ever be fixed. In order for politicans to successfully run for office they need cash. Lots of cash. In almost all cases they are willing to sell a piece of their soul for that cash. That's American politics on a State and National level. When the transcripts were released on Blago in Illinois I just shrugged my shoulders and thought "so what else is new." A politican looking for money, now that's a novel concept?

On to Wall Street, the brokerage houses and the major banks. In the last 10 years they can be summed up with one word, greed. (Unbridled pure irrational greed) Not just at the top, but through the entire system. When things are going well they have performance bonuses. When things aren't going well they have retention bonuses. Way too many of these bonuses are nothing short of obscene when things are going well and they border on criminal when things are going poorly. Again, nothing but greed. It has turned into a cesspool of greed. Greed isn't necessarily a bad thing if it's tempered with reason and responsibility. However, greed is a destructive force once reason and responsibility no longer exist. Wall Street has proven beyond any reasonable doubt they have fallen into this abyss. This is the case for regulation on a much tighter scale. Wall Street has proven it can't be trusted to be left to it's own desires. The days of believing the markets are more capable of doing what's in their best interests are over except for a few die hard free market people (mostly republican by the way) who still can't see the forest through the trees.

I got the biggest kick out of the people at Fannie and Freddie yesterday crying about the bonus issue. These morons, and I mean morons, have very specific skills. These skills don't translate well into other fields. Where are they going to go if they quit? Yup, nowhere except the welfare office. On top of this in the last 3 years over a half a million mortgage people have lost their jobs. There isn't a single person at either Fannie or Freddie that couldn't be replaced the same day. There are thousands of people qualified to do exactly what they do who would jump at the chance if given the opportunity. So when the head of Fannie comes out and says these people are "critical skills" employees I bust a gut laughing. When I hear AIG's Financial Products division deserves retention bonuses for bringing down the company I bust a gut laughing (then I cry).

One way or the other this all ends up on the backs of the consumers. Either we pay for these excesses in increased fees for the services or we use taxpayer dollars to bail out these arrogant morons. There needs to be some very serious restructuring on the fundamentals of Wall Street and I simply don't believe any longer Wall Street is capable of cleaning up it's own mess.

yeolds Author Profile Page :

BLund:

interesting debate on causes of the fiasco, short cut to the three separate ones: http://www.rgemonitor.com/blog/roubini/ for:
Intelligence Squared US/
The Rosenkranz Foundation
590 Madison Avenue, 30th Floor

Zolko Author Profile Page :

yeolds: "So what is DEMOCRACY IN UNCLE SAM LAND?"

It's the right for the people to choose between 2 candidates, pre-selected by "the system". It's a much more subtle form of mono-partism that prevailed in the former Soviet-Union (SU), where the unique party presents actually 2 faces. I would reformulate it that the unique powerclass presents 2 parties to the elections. This unique powerclass allows also other people to run for the elections, except that those others have not access to the mass media.

I will here tell you my own experience, that I had in november 2004 in the US: I was visiting the US for personal reasons, and it was campaign time. In my motel, one evening, I had nothing better to do and watched a debate between Kerry and Bush. It was boring as anything, but what struck me was what I DIDN'T see: where were the other candidates ? In Europe, during elections, ALL candidates have equal access to TV and media, and there is an independent authority that checks that. It is unthinkable that 2 candidates debate while the others are absent. It is an admission of preference, a negation of elementary human rights: all people are not equal.

It's still not a very good democracy "over here", mind you.

yeolds Author Profile Page :

TOM:

It is quite possible that some Muslim countries will not ever achieve what is known as "democracy" [the closest to the ideal is Switzerland; with the USA falling into the category of Oliography with some point of voting rights - as long as gerrymandering is permissible].

Real democracy needs a surplus of funds by a large percentage of the population, to allow the freedom to be involved in politics - time consuming and does not pay [except for K-Street and corruption, both anathema to democracy] for the elected person. The Idea of ancient Greece, that the politician's total wealth is at risk of failure would suddenly depopulate the Congress [and also many other institutions, including those of Canada and other nations].

That Sudan is a problem only arises in USA consciousness is due to oil, Congo with 20 times the body count is barely noticed!

A Heck of a smear on the Honor of Israels' democracy are the latest revelations on IDF practices in GAza [not that such is news to the discrimnate reader after Lebanon's many travails]. When will we have similar confessions by the USA armed forces, Cia, etc re IRaq, Afganistan etc?

The USA should give up her efforts to put in puppets [purchased with money for corruption] in any and all countries, for the blow back is far too costly for the backsee provider.

Recall it was CIA with Sadam Hussain, with Bin Laden and with the Afgan resistance to Soviet efforts. All these previous "friends" [a.k.a. tool in the great game of USA attempt at Hegemony] proved to be liabilities ASAP as Uncle Sam forgot PAY them.

I presume that a few more revelations and mis-steps by the Likud idiots and IDF will force the USA to slowly "forget to provide $ "[the $ it has to borrow or print].

Unfortunately, Pakistan is between poverty, a small middle class [lawyers and such] and the super rich -- the demographics are against democracy.

With the destruction of the middle class in the last few years, unfortunately , the USA is getting to resemble Pakistan. So what is DEMOCRACY IN UNCLE SAM LAND??

your answer would be appriciated.

ShakirMumtaz Author Profile Page :

I think, the role played by US and UK so for, separating the grappling parties in noble. The problem, however,is not so simple as it seems, we all know that,therefore the best course would be to leave them alone and let them fight it out; where one comes up victrious or both are destroyed. Bothe being destroyed would be an ideal situation from Purely Pakistani point of view. However west has to make up its mind if it wants to get embroilled in it and get damaged or let it take its own course. It is a process which needs be completed despite ho so ever messy it might turn within its own boundries. The younger deeply frustrated generation from these inept politicians, waiting in the wings and learning, is eventually going to take over and that is what would be the best for Pakistan. No foreign power should try to derail, influence that transition otherwise the mess would take a much more destructive turn, especially turning against the west and Christiandom.
I do not think Christiandom does have the Intellectual, Academic or Militant capacity to handle the onslaught of Islamic resurgence at this juncture. It is a moment of extreme caution for the West. Stay away if you wnat to co-exist.

A serious thinking should be afforded by intellectual, policy stretegists and academicians of all walks of life about the Balkanization of India, which in my opinion is a sick elephant of the regional Jungle which is destroying the jungle and stampeding the grass, a source of most of the regional problems,miseries, and poverty engulfing 1/5th of the population of the world. The benefits accrued will be immensely valuable for the entire world's peace and prosparity.

ShakirMumtaz Author Profile Page :

I think, the role played by US and UK so for, separating the grappling parties in noble. The problem, however,is not so simple as it seems, we all know that,therefore the best course would be to leave them alone and let them fight it out; where one comes up victrious or both are destroyed. Bothe being destroyed would be an ideal situation from Purely Pakistani point of view. However west has to make up its mind if it wants to get embroilled in it and get damaged or let it take its own course. It is a process which needs be completed despite ho so ever messy it might turn within its own boundries. The younger deeply frustrated generation from these inept politicians, waiting in the wings and learning, is eventually going to take over and that is what would be the best for Pakistan. No foreign power should try to derail, influence that transition otherwise the mess would take a much more destructive turn, especially turning against the west and Christiandom.
I do not think Christiandom does have the Intellectual, Academic or Militant capacity to handle the onslaught of Islamic resurgence at this juncture. It is a moment of extreme caution for the West. Stay away if you wnat to co-exist.

A serious thinking should be afforded by intellectual, policy stretegists and academicians of all walks of life about the Balkanization of India, which in my opinion is a sick elephant of the regional Jungle which is destroying the jungle and stampeding the grass, a source of most of the regional problems,miseries, and poverty engulfing 1/5th of the population of the world. The benefits accrued will be immensely valuable for the entire world's peace and prosparity.

blund Author Profile Page :

Tom,

With the exception of the last sentence I couldn't have said it better. You virtually made my point as to why Iraq won't end up a democracy.

rehanaley Author Profile Page :

What west can do to stablise pakistan is to bring provincial autonmoy and stoopage of victimizing deprived people by central Punjab. In Pak army has real power in pakistan & no reforms are being brought in & other communities are being given their due share in Military & Civil bureaucracy, merit is not being promoted all the corrupt politicians are given powersw who has given powers to them since 1951 army+America (primarily due to aid)has real powers, all others are puppets until and unless merit is not promoted and all deprived communities are not given their right share pak will keep on facing these kind of situations like now’s in Baluchistan it is time to bring real democracy and more importantantly the Provincial autonomy, the more centre(Central Punjab) will keep power more insurgencies like this will keep on happening.

All politicians have contacts and money in western world but alwyas SINDHI politicians are highlighted, defamed through articles media it is also fact that Bhutto was the pioneer of Islamic bomb which prevented india from attcking pakistan and Benazir brought Missile Technology in pakistan strenghtened the Pak Army but same army generals (Punjabis) only due to ethinicity jealousness killed bhutto whole family, are sindhis not pakis then this ethinic jealousness why.. in all govt organizations other communities SPECIALLY SINDHIS BALUCHs are treated like dalits ashouts even worse than them why this kind of behaviour with other communities by central Punjab why articles are not written for Central Punjab's exploitation, robbing of resources of other deprived nations.

Even now days Sui people, interior sindh people have no access to Gas but in Central Punjab factories, chimnies bhathas are being run on Sui's, sindh's Gas, The coastal is at the borders of Sindh and Baluchistan but academies are at risalpur, sargodha(Central Punjab), Navy Head quarter is at Islamabad 85% army(all forces rangers, navy airforce) from Central Punjab. 70% of civil bureaucracy is from Central Punjab but they have only 35% population share & around 20% resources share in Pakistan but they are enjoying 90% sahre of innocent people.

Sir we are deprived of evry thing we have, we own if ever any leader is appearing from other areas specially from Sindh they are being killed e.g Zulfi bhutto , benazir murtaza etc but cntral Punjab;s never. write some thing for deprived people the Illiteracy poverty rate in baluchistan southern Punjab, Sindh, NWFP is about 60 to 70%. Sindh is being deoprived of generating electtricity through Coal, Wind the cheapest sources because the central Punjabs Generals want to establish Dams to irrigate their land usurped from Sirais at cholistan thal, thal canal was built only to irrigate Genrals land , Coal reservoirs of Sindh are being ignored since 1994, in 2002 a Chinese company was forced to withdraw from Electricity genration Project, even nows undue pretends are being given to invetors for leaving electricity genration from other than hydal resourcees by wicked Nepra wapda.There are many other things why not central Punjab is understanding that if baluchistan will develop they will also if sindh will grow they will also get share .

West should realize this and if either provincial autonomy or due share of deprived people not given pakistan's future will remain uncertain.

rehanaley Author Profile Page :

Army has real power in pakistan & no reforms are being brought in & other communities are being given their due share in Military & Civil bureaucracy, merit is not being promoted all the corrupt politicians are given powersw who has given powers to them since 1951 army+America (primarily due to aid)has real powers, all others are puppets until and unless merit is not promoted and all deprived communities are not given their right share pak will keep on facing these kind of situations like now’s in Baluchistan it is time to bring real democracy and more importantantly the Provincial autonomy, the more centre(Central Punjab) will keep power more insurgencies like this will keep on happening.

All politicians have contacts and money in western world but alwyas SINDHI politicians are highlighted, defamed through articles media it is also fact that Bhutto was the pioneer of Islamic bomb which prevented india from attcking pakistan and Benazir brought Missile Technology in pakistan strenghtened the Pak Army but same army generals (Punjabis) only due to ethinicity jealousness killed bhutto whole family, are sindhis not pakis then this ethinic jealousness why.. in all govt organizations other communities SPECIALLY SINDHIS BALUCHs are treated like dalits ashouts even worse than them why this kind of behaviour with other communities by central Punjab why articles are not written for Central Punjab's exploitation, robbing of resources of other deprived nations.

Even now days Sui people, interior sindh people have no access to Gas but in Central Punjab factories, chimnies bhathas are being run on Sui's, sindh's Gas, The coastal is at the borders of Sindh and Baluchistan but academies are at risalpur, sargodha(Central Punjab), Navy Head quarter is at Islamabad 85% army(all forces rangers, navy airforce) from Central Punjab. 70% of civil bureaucracy is from Central Punjab but they have only 35% population share & around 20% resources share in Pakistan but they are enjoying 90% sahre of innocent people.

Sir we are deprived of evry thing we have, we own if ever any leader is appearing from other areas specially from Sindh they are being killed e.g Zulfi bhutto , benazir murtaza etc but cntral Punjab;s never. write some thing for deprived people the Illiteracy poverty rate in baluchistan southern Punjab, Sindh is about 60 to 70%. Sindh is being deoprived of generating electtricity through Coal, Wind the cheapest sources because the central Punjabs Generals want to establish Dams to irrigate their land usurped from Sirais at cholistan thal, thal canal was built only to irrigate Genrals land , Coal reservoirs of Sindh are being ignored since 1994, in 2002 a Chinese company was forced to withdraw from Electricity genration Project, even nows undue pretends are being given to invetors for leaving electricity genration from other than hydal resourcees by wicked Nepra wapda.There are many other things why not central Punjab is understanding that if baluchistan will develop they will also if sindh will grow they will also get share .

Central Punjab should realize this and if either provincial autonomy or due share of deprived people not given pakistan's future will remain uncertain.

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

PG

Its ridiculous to reference “democracy” when discussing Pakistan. Pakistan is being torn apart by extremist political and religious movements - some nurtured by the Pakistani government to conduct terrorist attacks in neighboring India and Afghanistan. Many (like the Pakistan Taliban) despise the freedoms we enjoy in western liberal democracies, and have declared war on girls. Unlike India which embraced democracy from the get go, Pakistan has struggled with democratic change - and they have either been ruled by the military or have been just a step away from a military dictatorship since independence in 1947. Today, Pakistan stands at the precipice of total collapse, but the government (of Zardari) is under the watchful eye of the military lead by General Kayani who could become the “new” President in the near future. In Muslim countries, in general, dictators appear to be necessary to prevent the self destruction derived from ethnic and religious hatred.

Pakistan is politically more dysfunctional than ever, and has gone steadily downhill since Musharraf was forced to step down. The rule of law is under assault. Zardari has completely failed because, to a large degree, he is not even in charge of the country. Zardari serves the military. He‘s the President because the military wants to give the impression that Pakistan is back under civilian control, but its not. Zardari does perform an important state function, however. He is the main fundraiser for the military, and a liaison to the US where he taps into US dollars by lying about Pakistan’s commitment to fighting the Taliban. This hoax has been perpetuated since 911 to the tune of $12 billion.

Zardari was elected, but the military rules Pakistan. Historically, when the military deems it necessary, they step in and rule for number of years. Musharraf was the last, and now, General Kayani could be the next in line. Stabilization of the government in Pakistan should be the priority, not the illusion of democracy in the current environment.

The mess in Pakistan begs some larger questions. Will a true liberal democracy ever emerge in a Muslim country? Is Islam compatible with democracy? Ethnic and religious hatred dominates many if not most Muslim nations (especially in the greater Middle East). What are the most common reasons for the state of Muslim nations given by Muslim apologist? Muslim societies are the victims of western colonialism and imperialism which includes (but is not limited to) support of dictators, exploitation of natural resources, and the creation of Israel on Muslim holy land (is there any other?). Except for western interference, surly most Muslim countries would look like Sweden.

To begin with, Muslims are consistently hypocritical in their views toward violence and human rights. Turkey is widely considered to be an example of the compatibility of Islam and democracy. Currently, Turkey is governed by the AKP, an Islamist party under the leadership of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan who was elected by a wide margin. Erdogan slammed Israel during the Gaza operation. He suggested that Israel should be banned from the UN, yet al-Bashir of Sudan was a guest in his country just last year. Al-Bashir is responsible for the deaths of 250,000 Muslims in western Sudan. In addition, while tens of thousands marched in protest in the Middle East during the Gaza war, the 22 member Arab League (at a later date) criticized the ICC for their indictment of al-Bashir who is finally being held accountable for the slaughter in Darfur. What is their criteria for moral outrage if not the massacre in Sudan? There have been no protest or outrage expressed by the Muslim community just about anywhere in the world.

Violence draws selective moral outrage from Muslims. The Danish cartoons and a false story that a copy of the Koran was flushed down a toilet drew huge world-wide protest and violence by Muslims. The Pope was highly criticized (and threatened) for remarks he made about Islam. Blasphemy can get you killed, but kill a couple a hundred thousand Muslims in Africa? No problem (as long as Muslims do the killing).

Muslims didn’t protest the massacre in Mumbai even though the attacks originated in Pakistan (with the exception of some Indian Muslims - who were probably driven more by self preservation than principal). In Pakistan, well dressed lawyers marched in protest over the reinstatement of a judge, but were conspicuously silent when terrorists splashed acid in the faces of girls on bicycles on their way to school. Where is the outrage in Pakistan over the burning and bombing of girls schools in a nation that elected a women as President? The Taliban’s war on girls will continue until someone stops it (militarily). Where are the lawyers when the ISI (their own government) conspires with Muslim extremist to attack innocent civilians in Afghanistan and India? The rule of law must be applied consistently - especially to your own government. Selective outrage.

Islamic countries are tailor-made for dictators. Many Islamic societies are torn by extremist religious and political movements - many divided along ethnic lines - that only a violent dictator can prevent from imploding into a civil war. Hatred has developed over centuries. Saddam Hussein necessarily held the Iraqi society together by violent means. The violent overthrow of the Shah in Iran produced yet another oppressive theocratic government. Certainly, the development of a liberal democracy even in Indonesia - far from the dysfunctional Middle East - seems remote. Over 60 million Indonesian Muslims believe that violence against American civilians is justified. I can understand where a few hundred, or thousand kooks might feel that way, but 60 million?

So, its ridiculous to discuss democracy when discussing Pakistan - just like most Islamic countries. Pakistan may be better off under dictatorial rule. Of course, the fault lies entirely with the west.

daniel12 Author Profile Page :

Pakistan a stable nation, one worthy of being considered a foundational structure for a future single and worldwide government which promotes democracy and freedom of speech and human rights? Or is Pakistan a destabilizing structure, one opposed to any future worldwide government worth speaking of let alone a worldwide government which aims at democracy, freedom of speech and human rights?

My answer is clear: Pakistan is a destabilizing structure. Furthermore even the most benign governments in the world could very well be destabilizing. Furthermore I do not see how a future and worldwide government which is democratic, for human rights and freedom of speech can exist without the U.S., the E.U., Russia, China, India, Japan and Brazil getting together and first be willing to work together and send troops worldwide to prevent destabilization and work toward stable structures and then eventually a worthwhile democracy to consider.

I have a very pessimistic but I believe accurate view of the world. Notions such as leaving Pakistan alone, withdrawing from having a Western influence on her, is absurd. I do not believe Pakistan or any number of other nations for that matter (but mostly concentrated where we speak of Islam, Africa and central and south America) are anywhere near being workable partners toward a single and worldwide government based on democracy.

Essentially I see things in these terms: We are in a race to create a single and worldwide stable government (that first before a truly worthwhile worldwide democracy) before we succumb to the spread and use of WMD of all types, before we succumb to all actions which can be summed up as not respecting the environment and climate,--and before we succumb to increasing lawlessness of all types as the world without just rising up to democracy falls instead into a worldwide and ungovernable chaos.

I believe firmly that the need for force to govern the world is inevitable,--furthermore precisely because no one nation today can be the pole the world revolves around the most powerful nations must ally or potentially contribute to worldwide chaos as much as rampant and dangerous nations such as Pakistan. The most powerful nations rather than operating singly and potentially contributing to chaos by trying to govern the world singly (thus resembling virtually any nation in being selfish and trying to dominate) must work together to "tie up" the world and cut down on chaos first then work up to democracy, human rights, etc.

And of course even the most powerful nations working together will be unable to dispense with force in bringing the world toward a single and worldwide governmental structure. The sad fact is the world is in today something of the position various tribes were in in say, France or Germany, just prior or at least near the creation of the nation France or Germany. In other words, just as most of the tribes that ended up composing France or Germany had to give up their sovereignty and revolve around the more dominant tribes to create France or Germany, today most of the nations in the world will end up under the umbrella of the U.S., E.U., Russia, China, India, Japan and Brazil or be crushed completely from having any part at all in a future and single worldwide government.

I am completely opposed to all such notions as the U.N.--essentially all beliefs that the problems we face worldwide such as WMD, environmental disaster and lawlessness of all types can be overcome by the more powerful nations just speaking to other nations, respecting all their rights as they see them, and essentially expecting that a future worldwide government based on democracy, human rights and free speech will come about by the peaceful methods which so many people are not only familiar with but trot out as their view every day.

This is not to say I am against good intentions--although no doubt everyone will call me everything from an imperialist to a fascist to a colonialist--I just believe such intentions are naive and destined to be ruined to the chagrin of the people who stake their whole lives on being "only peaceful persons". Furthermore, do I really have to say that so many of those "peaceful persons" for all their "peacefulness" really never make any effort which can be described as martyrdom for the sake of the world and just instead form crowds and protest for a day or vent themselves in words in other places?

The vast majority of the peaceful people for the "peaceful U.N.", for all the "oppressed", really do nothing but talk and for all their feelings of sympathy for the unfortunate of the world think of nothing when sitting down to the table for dinner except the good food on the plate. So hypocrisy aside, I ask such "peaceful" people how they expect a single and worldwide government which is democratic will come into being. Or rather I do not ask them. They will scream "peaceful methods!" and of course in all their screaming and caring they will be on the side of precisely the people farthest from democracy and free speech and human rights--because of course they, the "peaceful people" believe every last little language, custom, entity such as ethnic group, nation, tribe, must have a voice and exist exactly the same in a world which supposedly will be peaceful with all nations getting along.

I do not have the luxury of such views. I have traveled too much, read too many books. The U.S., the E.U., Russia, China, India, Japan and Brazil must get together in my opinion, they must get together. The alternative I do not see as peace but rather the turbulence possible within the ocean. No peaceful waters but rather the sinking of ships. Please, no Titanic but a great and all encompassing new world government with at least law and order, and hopefully a worthwhile democracy. That is the position to be worked for. All other views in my opinion mean no justice to history. History must have a human voice or be nothing.

Zolko Author Profile Page :

Stop any sort of military involvement in the region: Afghanistan, Iran, India, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan... Invite for cultural and educational cooperation (invite students from there into the US, and send US students there).

Alternatively, plan a CIA-mounted coup d'état and impose a US puppet on the throne.

umairqureshi Author Profile Page :

It is the aspirations of the 170 million people of Pakistan on side and an American agenda on the other.

The politicians and the Army must choose which side they are on.

Citizenofthepost-Americanworld Author Profile Page :

"What, if anything, can the West do to help maintain stability and democracy?"

Fareed Zakaria has just said it in his last article: the West, beginning with the US, should simply end its post-colonial and "imperial foreign policy".

That is all the West needs to do... It can then try and get out of its current mess before people take to the streets. Repressed anger and rage are not healthy... trying to "move forward".

yeolds Author Profile Page :

I think there are three destabilitizing operations that have to be ended.

1., USA's [and cerain ill advised allies'] attempt to place puppets at the head of the Palistani Power structure.

2. The occupation of Afganistan must cease, for the demarcation line drawn by the British Empire between Pakistan and Afganistan did not take tribal bounderies into considearation thus attack on Afganistan is als an attack on Pakistan.

3., The USA [and noted allies] should stop selling/donating arms to Pakistani armed forces, they do not need same, and society needs other things than arms: higher living standards for the masses/

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PostGlobal is an interactive conversation on global issues moderated by Newsweek International Editor Fareed Zakaria and David Ignatius of The Washington Post. It is produced jointly by Newsweek and washingtonpost.com, as is On Faith, a conversation on religion. Please send us your comments, questions and suggestions.