“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Pakistan Coup, Mid-term Review

Does he take his coffee black?

Some people are better at coups than others. The Russians always seemed good at these sort of things as they were particularly vicious and clumsy at crushing dissent. The clumsiness part always seemed to work well because it served the purpose of dishing out lots of collateral damage which had a colon cleansing effect on nosy civilians. You can always tell a good coup by studying the street litter and the degree of emptiness on the streets. Empty streets well sprinkled with discarded shoes and other personal affects are always good signs. Think Tianeneman square. Streets, crowded with thousands of lawyers in Armani Knock-offs, is not the same and does not have the desired panache.

Successful coups require brutal simplicity, a large black coffee approach. The Pakistani coup has more of a "marble mocha macchiato with skim milk" feel to it. I am sure you agree.

Responding to internal or external threats is always a good idea for a coup. It provides justification and virtue. Musharraf may be getting around to that part.

Overall I give him a "D-" on his coup, but finals are coming and we shall see.

Army claims Pakistan rebel deaths

Militants in Swat maintain a highly visible profile

At least 33 militants have been killed in clashes between the army and pro-Taleban rebels in north-western Pakistan, the military has said.
The troops attacked rebel positions in the mountains of Swat using helicopter gunships and artillery.

Two soldiers were also killed in the attack, the army said.

Located near the country's restive tribal area along the Afghan border, Swat has been the scene of recent clashes between the two sides.

The authorities say there are fears that the Swat valley is becoming a haven for al-Qaeda and the Taleban and last month the army sent reinforcements to the area.


The men were killed on Wednesday in a series of attacks in Swat, a valley about 160kms (100 miles) northwest of the capital, Islamabad, army spokesman Maj Gen Waheed Arshad said.

"Helicopters were used in the operation. They shelled known militant positions on hill tops," he said.

"In one incident a vehicle carrying 17 militants was targeted, the vehicle fell from a hilltop and all were killed. They were militants, there is no doubt, they had arms," he added.

Officials said the dead militants were loyal to a pro-Taleban rebel cleric, Maulana Fazlullah.

An army statement said militants fired six mortar rounds on Wednesday at the airport near Mingora, the region's main town, killing two troops and injuring five more.

Ringed by mountains, the Swat Valley is a scenic area traditionally popular with tourists, but has been overrun by militants in recent times.


  1. "Responding to internal or external threats is always a good idea for a coup. It provides justification and virtue. Musharraf may be getting around to that part. "
    Coup, or no coup, the insurgency is real, and on a roll.
    Mushie either responds, or loses the country.
    The good old USA could have responded in similar fashion (from the air) 3 years ago and nipped this thing in the Bud, but "saner" heads prevailed, the Bush Doctrine went up in smoke, along with all the rest of his BS rhetoric, and the rest is history:
    More people die, the danger grows when Taliban/Al Queda insurgencies are ignored.
    We learned that, in retrospect in Afghanistan, and could conveniently blame Clinton, but that is now ancient history, our Born Again Cowboy has developed WOT/Alzheimers, and history ignored/forgotten, must now be relived.
    Say the Curse!

  2. LAPD scraps plan to map city's Muslim community
    During Oct. 30 testimony before Congress, Downing described the plan as an attempt to "mitigate radicalization."

    Downing and other law enforcement officials said police agencies around the world are dealing with radical Muslim groups that are isolated from the larger community, creating potential breeding grounds for terrorism. He cited terror cells in Europe as well as the case of some Muslim extremists in New Jersey arrested in May for allegedly planning to bomb Ft. Dix.

    But in a statement, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said that "while I believe the department's efforts to reach out to the Muslim communities were well intentioned, the mapping proposal has created a level of fear and apprehension that made it counterproductive."
    The Truth:
    This program was transparent from the begining, from Downings testimony before congress, to notifying all the communities in advance, to Bratton and Villagarosa holding a News Conference to announce/explain it.
    But one could have predicted that as soon as CAIR and other Muslim groups the ACLU, and etc began to howl,
    Ex Gang Member, Ex President of the LA ACLU, Mayor Antonio Villagarosa (who never passed the State Bar) would cave and order his Puppy Bratton (fired by Giuliani) to have the Police Stand Down.
    Voluntary Dhimmification Continues.
    Stay the Course!

  3. Maybe it's not a good idea to have Ex Gang Members as Mayors?
    He's HISPANIC!
    That'd be RACIST.

  4. Military role is his power source
    Musharraf's rule would be shaky if he relinquishes his army position, experts say.

  5. I don't see a coup happening so much as a revolution. The situation in Pakistan has gotten so clouded that it's hard to know who you can trust and who you can't. Of course the answer is "none of them". When I hear Musharraf, I sympathize with him more so than anyone else such as the Chaudry, Imran Kahn or Benazir Bhutto. It appears that Musharraf's dictatorial days are coming to a close and if he is to stay in power, it must be as an elected President and former military man.

    It's not the nukes I fear so much as it is the cancer developing unhindered. Left to grow and spread causing unimaginable pain and suffering as it does.

  6. U.S. Is Looking Past Musharraf in Case He Falls
    Bush administration officials are losing faith that the Pakistani president can survive in office and have begun discussing what might come next.
    Interview With Gen. Pervez Musharraf (Nov. 13) (mp3)

  7. This goes right to the question of whether 9/11 was a crime or an act of war. An investigation ends when the perpetrator is caught. If Osama is caught or killed, then it's over. But if 9/11 was an act of war, then Osama's capture or death won't end it. That's why I put quotation marks around the words.

    11/14/2007 10:19:00 PM

    trish said...
    "Is it US and Musharraf's policy that if Musharraf won't act then we will? That would basically imply that Musharraf will say one thing publicly and another thing privately; as in denounce the intervention publicly and grin inwardly."

    I'm not sure about the grin. I'm sure about all else.
    Unfreaking believable!
    It it simply a fact that Harvard trains one to think of ridiculous minutia to the exclusion of the central issues?
    It took me about a millisecond after the second plane hit to put the criminal model to bed, FOREVER.
    (wrt Al-Q/Taliban)

  8. On second thought, I think I'll rethink Pearl wrt to the probing questions of whether it was a misdemeanor, felony, or act of War.

  9. Stargazera5 said...
    Wretchard said: The obvious strategic choices that are open to the US are: a) to enlarge the battlefield to include the direct military occupation of Pakistan;
    I guess he wrote it since it's quoted, as Trish said, they aren't getting any smarter!
    "direct military occupation of Pakistan"
    Ho, ho, ho,
    Pass the Crack Pipe, Baby!
    Why the fuck waste the pixels?

  10. The next guy has a better idea, occupy Iran instead!

  11. Here's Bobals post from the last thread with a hyperlink and repeated crap deleted.
    Notice, ANOTHER F....... Outlaw Pub from Texas is giving our country away.
    Should just make Texas part of Mexico and be done with the worthless, criminal, bastards.
    Haven't heard S... about this on talk radio.

  12. RWE, et al:
    P-38 Lightning Rises Up From a Beach in Wales

    A reader in Bermuda alerts me to a great story and pics about a World War II-era P-38 Lightning fighter that has emerged from the sand on a Welsh beach.

    The Tank

  13. There you go, doug.

    No fence, no security, no licesnses, no insurance, no ID.

    We win?

    While in Pakistan we may just tumble the 1999 coupsters, six or seven years late. $10 billion, money for nothin', the chicks, they want tips.

  14. The "right" batttles for "National Soveriegnty", but does not achieve it. Not even close ...

    Only maintains the chaotic status que, which is not really a very good thing to conserve.

  15. In Pakistan, the Army has no loyalty to the Government, only to itself.

    They are the "stable force".
    Fascists that we support against those that support civil, constitutional government.

    If we only had accepted that, in Iraq.

    Invade and occuppy all these folks, doug. Occuppy 300 million folks across the mussulman arc.

    One to fifty, that's the troop to folk ratio we'll need. 15 million troops on the ground, loyal and true.

    Get the Selective Service fired up. Hire those Mexicans...
    We got a long way to go, a short time to get there.

  16. Aunt Benazir's false promise

    from my post yesterday....

    Bhutto's return bodes poorly for Pakistan -- and for democracy there.
    By Fatima Bhutto
    November 14, 2007
    KARACHI -- We Pakistanis live in uncertain times. Emergency rule has been imposed for the 13th time in our short 60-year history. Thousands of lawyers have been arrested, some charged with sedition and treason; the chief justice has been deposed; and a draconian media law -- shutting down all private news channels -- has been drafted.

    Perhaps the most bizarre part of this circus has been the hijacking of the democratic cause by my aunt, the twice-disgraced former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto. While she was hashing out a deal to share power with Gen. Pervez Musharraf last month, she repeatedly insisted that without her, democracy in Pakistan would be a lost cause. Now that the situation has changed, she's saying that she wants Musharraf to step down and that she'd like to make a deal with his opponents -- but still, she says, she's the savior of democracy.

    The reality, however, is that there is no one better placed to benefit from emergency rule than she is. Along with the leaders of prominent Islamic parties, she has been spared the violent retributions of emergency law. Yes, she now appears to be facing seven days of house arrest, but what does that really mean? While she was supposedly under house arrest at her Islamabad residence last week, 50 or so of her party members were comfortably allowed to join her. She addressed the media twice from her garden, protected by police given to her by the state, and was not reprimanded for holding a news conference. (By contrast, the very suggestion that they might hold a news conference has placed hundreds of other political activists under real arrest, in real jails.)

    Ms. Bhutto's political posturing is sheer pantomime. Her negotiations with the military and her unseemly willingness until just a few days ago to take part in Musharraf's regime have signaled once and for all to the growing legions of fundamentalists across South Asia that democracy is just a guise for dictatorship.

    It is widely believed that Ms. Bhutto lost both her governments on grounds of massive corruption. She and her husband, a man who came to be known in Pakistan as "Mr. 10%," have been accused of stealing more than $1 billion from Pakistan's treasury. She is appealing a money-laundering conviction by the Swiss courts involving about $11 million. Corruption cases in Britain and Spain are ongoing.

    It was particularly unappealing of Ms. Bhutto to ask Musharraf to bypass the courts and drop the many corruption cases that still face her in Pakistan. He agreed, creating the odiously titled National Reconciliation Ordinance in order to do so. Her collaboration with him was so unsubtle that people on the streets are now calling her party, the Pakistan People's Party, the Pervez People's Party. Now she might like to distance herself, but it's too late.

    Why did Ms. Bhutto and her party cronies demand that her corruption cases be dropped, but not demand that the cases of activists jailed during the brutal regime of dictator Zia ul-Haq (from 1977 to 1988) not be quashed? What about the sanctity of the law? When her brother Mir Murtaza Bhutto -- my father -- returned to Pakistan in 1993, he faced 99 cases against him that had been brought by Zia's military government. The cases all carried the death penalty. Yet even though his sister was serving as prime minister, he did not ask her to drop the cases. He returned, was arrested at the airport and spent the remaining years of his life clearing his name, legally and with confidence, in the courts of Pakistan.

    Ms. Bhutto's repeated promises to end fundamentalism and terrorism in Pakistan strain credulity because, after all, the Taliban government that ran Afghanistan was recognized by Pakistan under her last government -- making Pakistan one of only three governments in the world to do so.

    And I am suspicious of her talk of ensuring peace. My father was a member of Parliament and a vocal critic of his sister's politics. He was killed outside our home in 1996 in a carefully planned police assassination while she was prime minister. There were 70 to 100 policemen at the scene, all the streetlights had been shut off and the roads were cordoned off. Six men were killed with my father. They were shot at point-blank range, suffered multiple bullet wounds and were left to bleed on the streets.

    My father was Benazir's younger brother. To this day, her role in his assassination has never been adequately answered, although the tribunal convened after his death under the leadership of three respected judges concluded that it could not have taken place without approval from a "much higher" political authority.

    I have personal reasons to fear the danger that Ms. Bhutto's presence in Pakistan brings, but I am not alone. The Islamists are waiting at the gate. They have been waiting for confirmation that the reforms for which the Pakistani people have been struggling have been a farce, propped up by the White House. Since Musharraf seized power in 1999, there has been an earnest grass-roots movement for democratic reform. The last thing we need is to be tied to a neocon agenda through a puppet "democrat" like Ms. Bhutto.

    By supporting Ms. Bhutto, who talks of democracy while asking to be brought to power by a military dictator, the only thing that will be accomplished is the death of the nascent secular democratic movement in my country. Democratization will forever be de-legitimized, and our progress in enacting true reforms will be quashed. We Pakistanis are certain of this.

    Fatima Bhutto is a Pakistani poet and writer. She is the daughter of Mir Murtaza Bhutto, who was killed in 1996 in Karachi when his sister, Benazir, was prime minister
    Musharraf is at least a devil we know. It was Benazir that first recognized the Taliban.

  17. Doug, was hoping you'd take Whit's 'political test' and tell us what your results were.

  18. I uncovered the riddle to whits' political choice test and came up with a conclusion.

    Joe Biden is planning to vote for Rudy Giuliani for President. You heard it here first!

  19. At first I was suspicious that the test might be a Hillary set-up; no matter how you answered it would tell you that you were in Hillary's camp.

    OT--but a story I have been following. Government works a little, in Hawaii at least.

    Hawaiian Superferry Set To Skim The Waves

  20. Ms Bhutto is the savior, from DC's point of view.
    From the frying pan into the fire.

    But the freedom and democracy campaign that Team43 has been on since 2001, the rhetoric and images used to promote that US theme ...

    Abandoned in Pakistan, today, political campaigns where the contenders are locked in their homes, the newspapers shut down, the Courts closed.
    The General President complaining that Ms Bhutto is not supportin him and his policies, to the detriment of Pakistan, from his perspective.

    If he didn't lock the country, he'd lose the election and Pakistan would be DOOMED!!!

  21. 2164th wrote:

    "Overall I give him a "D-" on his coup, but finals are coming and we shall see."

    Can you lead a coup against your own government - one where you took power through a coup? Doesn't make much sense to me...

  22. For Rat:

    Frito Lay introduces Solar Potato Chips in Arizona.

    THIS is where we're going.

  23. At that dinner, Joe Biden, speaking with characteristic good sense and uncharacteristic concision, said there is "not a single, solitary problem out there that can be solved with a 51 percent solution." That is, another close election will guarantee another four years of paralysis.

    For conservatives, who think gridlocked government is wonderful, that is a second reason to hope Clinton is nominated. The first is that she would be easier to beat than Obama, for reasons highlighted in the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC poll: She is judged negatively by pluralities on sharing their positions on issues and, even more important, on likability and honesty.

    Large undertakings in domestic policy -- e.g., the enactments of Social Security in 1935 and of Medicare in 1965 -- often follow landslide elections. In the 15 presidential elections since the Second World War, only twice has the Democratic candidate won 50 percent of the popular vote -- Lyndon Johnson emphatically in 1964 and Jimmy Carter narrowly in 1976. In 2008, Obama is more likely than Clinton to win an impressive electoral vote total that will look like a mandate. Conservatives should think: Although Republicans have much to fear in 2008, they might have less to fear from her as a candidate and, if she wins, as a president, than they would from Obama.

    George Will

    George says we ought to be hoping for a Hillary candidacy, that Obama would be harder to beat. Maybe, but I doubt.

    Fear a Hillary/Obama ticket.

  24. Great Post, Rufus!!!

    Now I can argue to my wife that while I'm stuffing my face with Lay's I'm saving the environment!!!

  25. That is a positive development, heating water with the sun, in Casa Grande.

    Who'd have thought ....

    ... to use the sun.


    A long way to go, amigo.

  26. The FOX News Network is saying the "Generals" are crediting Iran for the drop in violence in Iraq.

    It's Iran's assistance in stemming the illicit arms flow that has been all important.

    See, diplomicy may just work, or that Israeli crossborder strike in Syria did send a message, to the mullahs.
    Or some such combination thereof.

  27. I found this over at Balloon Juice and I thought of you Doug:


    Sebastian Holsclaw at ObWi responds to Pattterico’s torture hypothetical (that many of you brought up in the comments) here and here. The most important part, of course, is precisely what I have stated over and over until I am blue in the face:

    "Let me say that again. Bush’s administration has tortured men who were factually innocent.

    Not men who got off on technicalities. Factually Innocent.

    Your hypothetical demands that the government be CERTAIN of the following things:

    This man is who we think he is.

    This man knows what we think he knows.

    No non-torture technique will work.

    Patterico, you work with the government. You know for a fact that it gets things wrong all the time. Even when we go through the huge and complicated process of a trial, it gets things wrong. And we aren’t talking anything like a trial here. In reality, we are talking about torturing suspects. That is not a power to be given to the government.

    Your hypothetical doesn’t speak to the question of what the policy of our government ought to be, because no important part of the hypothetical actually has anything to do with the empirical reality of governmental torture. You pride yourself at not being distracted by stated intentions which have bad consequences in areas like rent control, housing policy, and education policy. Don’t let Bush wave the national security flag and make you forget everything you know about how the government actually operates."

    Following Patterico’s lead, I have my own hypothetical:

    If a right wing blogger is about to write another stupid post attempting to justify the use of torture, would it be ok for me to run over and kick them in the junk, rendering them unable to blog?

  28. ash said:

    "Can you lead a coup against your own government - one where you took power through a coup? Doesn't make much sense to me...'

    What we have here is a coup-coup. Musharraf was upset that the Supreme Court and the Armani crowd were staging their own coup against his coup. That is the court was usurping powers it did not have against the powers Musharraf should not have had, as he had his power from the first coup, thus we have a coup-coup.

    I regret that I had not made that more clear.

  29. The idea of bombing Iran seems to be slipping off the table if you can believe the Reports

  30. hmmm, sounds like a new dance, a "coup-coup".

  31. Another Jerusalem Post article here

    So, the muzzies get Gaza and the West Bank as missle launch platforms, Iran gets the bomb, and Pakistan goes to hell, and al queda ends up with nukes. Great outcome. Fanaticism, death and thoughtlessness win.

  32. Some woman just ask for it don't they?

    ..."A court in the ultra-conservative kingdom of Saudi Arabia is punishing a female victim of gang rape with 200 lashes and six months in jail, a newspaper reported on Thursday.
    The 19-year-old woman -- whose six armed attackers have been sentenced to jail terms -- was initially ordered to undergo 90 lashes for "being in the car of an unrelated male at the time of the rape," the Arab News reported.

    But in a new verdict issued after Saudi Arabia's Higher Judicial Council ordered a retrial, the court in the eastern town of Al-Qatif more than doubled the number of lashes to 200.

    A court source told the English-language Arab News that the judges had decided to punish the woman further for "her attempt to aggravate and influence the judiciary through the media."

    Saudi Arabia enforces a strict Islamic doctrine known as Wahhabism and forbids unrelated men and women from associating with each other, bans women from driving and forces them to cover head-to-toe in public.

    Last year, the court sentenced six Saudi men to between one and five years in jail for the rape as well as ordering lashes for the victim, a member of the minority Shiite community.

    But the woman's lawyer Abdul Rahman al-Lahem appealed, arguing that the punishments were too lenient in a country where the offence can carry the death penalty.

    In the new verdict issued on Wednesday, the Al-Qatif court also toughened the sentences against the six men to between two and nine years in prison.

    The case has angered members of Saudi Arabia's Shiite community. The convicted men are Sunni Muslims, the dominant community in the oil-rich Gulf state...."

  33. Beware Ash, I'm about to write something that might floor you. You might want to grab something to keep you steady or even skip it!

    You sure you want to risk this?

    With a cherry on top?

    You have probably advocated a policy that resulted in an innocent person getting harmed.

    It is called imperfect policies in an imperfect world and its now our little secret.

  34. But the woman's lawyer Abdul Rahman al-Lahem appealed, arguing that the punishments were too lenient in a country where the offence can carry the death penalty.

    What the heck does this mean? Is the woman's lawyer arguing that her sentence is too light?

    Hell of a justice system. People like this definitely deserve to haved nuclear bombs, and mini-states from which to launch rockets into Israel.

    I'm depressed.

  35. Heh, heh;

    That was my first reaction, too, Bob. I, almost, put up the same post you did. But, on rereading it, I'm pretty sure that her lawyer was appealing the laxity of the sentences given to her attackers.

    At least, I sure as hell Hope that's what it meant.

  36. Here's what we need--more optimistic cowboys. Saddle Up

    "I haven't run into any bad people", he says.

  37. Forget the borders, forget Iraq, I guess this is really what the Feds are supposed to do - Bush Sets Plan to Ease Holiday Air Delays

    " Mr. Bush is also expected to say that the F.A.A. will take “common sense” steps over the Thanksgiving holiday to improve the flow of traffic, including make sure that air traffic facilities are fully staffed. It was not immediately clear how this differed from normal practice.

    The other anticipated steps are expected to take months or years. For example, the President is expected to announce proposed new rules that would enable passengers to get a more accurate picture of delays. Department of Transportation statistics would be changed to reflect delays when airplanes push back from the gate on time but sit on the tarmac. In addition, flights that are canceled would be figured into the delay statistics. At present, a plane whose flight is canceled before push-back does not show up in the statistics.

    Under another proposed rule, airlines could be penalized for an “unfair and deceptive” practice if they published schedules that airplanes missed by more than 15 minutes, more than 70 percent of the time.

    The administration will also push forward with a proposal announced earlier to raise the compensation for passengers who are “bumped.” And another proposed rule would require the airlines to “incorporate legally binding contingency plans for tarmac delays.” The plans would include steps like guaranteeing food, water, bathrooms and medical attention."

  38. know he may have trampled on a few of our rights but at least the planes were on time!

  39. Mussolini made the trains run on time, you know that Ash.!

  40. re: trains running on time

    Isn't that the latest apology for groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas?

    They're bad, but they "provide social services"?

    Nevermind they shoot competing providers.

  41. I've never used that as an apology for those groups myself but rather as a suggestion as to a foundation for their popularity.

  42. They spread a little money around that comes from petro dollars, Europe, us, and the Israelis provide the electricity. Absurd.