Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Musharraf Welcome Committee

From Cornell University's ChronicleOnline:

Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf will speak to the Cornell community at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City, Tuesday, Sept. 26. The talk, in the college's Uris Auditorium at 7:30 p.m., also will be shown live on Cornell's Ithaca campus.

Musharraf will speak about experiences chronicled in his new book, "In the Line of Fire," released by Simon & Schuster this week, and about contemporary issues and challenges facing Pakistan and the world. He will be introduced by Cornell President David J. Skorton, who will moderate a question-and-answer session following the talk.


Musharraf's visit to Cornell was made possible through the energetic support of the Musharraf Welcome Committee, led by Wasif Syed, a Cornell doctoral student in applied physics, and his colleagues Omer Bajwa, a Cornell alumnus from Near Eastern studies, and Dr. Saeed Bajwa, Omer's father and a neurosurgeon in Binghamton.

From India's NDTV:

Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf's book In the Line of Fire, which was released in bookstores across America, has seen brisk sales.

His book was seventh on the list of bestsellers of online bookseller amazon.com.


Over the last three days, the author has been splashed all over the American media. From an exclusive on 60 Minutes, to the Today Show on NBC and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

From The New York Times:

Continuing a book tour that would make any American politician envious, General Musharraf is to go where no sitting leader of any nation — certainly not Mr. Bush — has gone before. He is to plug his new memoir, “In the Line of Fire,” tonight on “The Daily Show” on Comedy Central.

There, he will subject himself to questioning by Jon Stewart, the host, whose views on the conduct of foreign policy are unlikely to win him an invitation to the White House anytime soon.

But Mr. Bush must think General Musharraf’s work may reinforce his security message; he told reporters at the White House last week to “buy the book.”

From an Op-Ed at United Arab Emirates' Gulf News, called "Musharraf's rule is no better than others," written by Husain Haqqani, the director of Boston University's Centre for International Relations:

If Musharraf's military regime has failed to bring domestic stability and an end to corruption, has it helped project Pakistan's strength overseas? Alas, the answer to this question, too, must be in the negative.

It is true that Musharraf made the correct choice in allying with the United States in the aftermath of 9/11. But his recent disclosure that he made that choice under the American threat of bombing Pakistan into the Stone Age takes away the credit of any wisdom on his part. New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd recently described Musharraf as being part of an "Axis of Sketchy Allies".

The truth is that Musharraf is muddling through like most of Pakistan's previous rulers and offers little better in key areas such as domestic steadiness, reduction of corruption and external strength. If anything his regime's performance is becoming poorer with each passing day.

If muddling through is Pakistan's best option, it would be better to do so under civilian democratic rule, with a legitimate and representative government. Why persist with dragging the army into politics if the so-called benefits of army rule are just not available?

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice sat down with The New York Times editorial board the other day, and this is all there was on Pakistan:

QUESTION: Okay, looking at a different subject, when the President met with Musharraf last week, the President said he asked him about this Waziristan truce (inaudible) and Musharraf assured him that this would allow him to fight more strongly. And the President sort of lifted his eye and said, "I’ve known this man for five years. I’ve got to (inaudible)." We get very different statements out of Karzai and I think maybe there’s some meeting where they’re all coming together next week.

SECRETARY RICE: Yes, they are.

QUESTION: Outside of the proximity of Musharraf, what’s really gotten them --

SECRETARY RICE: Well, they do have a problem with this federally administered tribal area. They brought along the governor, who gave us all a little history lesson about – you know, the last time somebody tried to go in there was the British and before that, it was the Mongols. It was sort of an interesting perspective.

You know, these very traditional, pretty remote areas where outside authority is not welcomed, I think they’re trying to deal with that reality. And they tell us that they intend to deal with that reality in the following way. They intend to make very clear that the Taliban – to have the elders make clear that the Taliban is neither welcome there nor will be tolerated there. Secondly, that Tablianization of that area will not be and third, no al-Qaida.

In order to make that possible, the reconstruction of the area, or I should say, the development of the area needs to take place. Because until the earthquake, this was a part of the country that was really completely remote from – just the kind of connectivity between the country and the tribal areas was very, very weak. And so they’re trying to enhance that connectivity.

Now they believe those two strategies, very clear, no safe haven, and very clear there’ll be a good outcome from that is the way to handle these areas. They told us that they retain the option for the use of military force to do whatever they need to do, but that they believe that, as with very many counterinsurgency problems, the military part of it is a small percentage and the political part is a large percentage.

I think our view is that that strategy has to be given the chance to work. Now it doesn’t mean that you don’t – that you stop aggressive efforts to, based on intelligence, root out cells and the like when you see them. I think there’s an understanding about that. But it is not unlike what we’re trying to do in places like Ramadi and what we did in Fallujah and did in Mosul, where you used the local political structure to try to get by into a counterinsurgency strategy rather than fighting the local structure at the same time that you’re trying to deal with the insurgents.

And so that’s how I read it. I don’t know that it will work. We’ve asked lots of questions about it. I think we’ll continue to ask lots of questions about it; but that it may be the way to deal with the federally administered areas. I think we have to give that a chance to work if that’s what the Pakistanis think. But I think you have to reserve that if there are people who are there who are plotting and planning, that – you know, they have to be rooted out. I think that’s a different matter.

QUESTION: Changing the subject again,

Not that the next question wasn't important, but what the fuck was that? And what the fuck was that question? What the fuck is the point of this interview if there are no fucking follow-up questions?

Some more from long speeches by Rice pre-empted by occasional questions from The New York Times editorial board:

QUESTION: There have been a couple of reports about Usama bin Laden in the last few days. One is that he died of natural causes. The other was – Karzai was on CBS yesterday saying that he’s in Pakistan. I wonder if you think he’s alive and if he’s in Pakistan and what do you know about that.

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I have no reason to believe he’s not alive. Let me put it that way. I don’t know where he is. I do know that there are people who spend every waking hour worrying about where he is and trying to track and trying to follow the intelligence. And it’s the kind of thing – you saw it with Zarqawi. You know, all of a sudden it comes together and it happens. And I think you just – until then close isn’t good enough. You just have to keep pursuing it.

But it brings me to a larger point and a little bit goes back to where we started. You know, there are two ways to look at what happened or what our strategy had to be after September 11th. And I think what is at the root of what is the relationship of Iraq to the war on terror is that debate is at the core of it.

On the one hand, I think there is – everybody agrees that you have to take al-Qaida down as an organization -- the people who did 9/11. And while Usama bin Laden is very important and we’re pursuing it, taking down their field generals is awfully important. I mean, the Khaled Sheikh Mohammeds, the Ramzi bin Al-Shibs. And you see that by taking down the operational field generals you actually stop attacks. And you have to keep doing that because they regenerate, but they regenerate with less experience and less, you know, battle-worn veterans with each generation that you take down.

Secondly, you obviously have to deal with their safe haven and so overthrowing the Taliban and stabilizing Afghanistan I think there’s a general understanding that that’s very important to the war on terror.

The third question though is: Is that all that you need to do to win the war on terror? And some people – I should add of course homeland security issues and what you can do to protect yourself on the defense, which is where the intelligence is important and the information and surveillance and so forth. All of that is an important part of the war on terror, but is that enough?

And for me, I think I know for the President and others, it’s not. Because there will be future al-Qaidas and there will be future jihadist movements unless you go and begin to change the very nature of the place from which they came, what spawned them to begin with. And that’s where the strategy on the broader Middle East and democratization and in fact Iraq as the kind of linchpin of that different Middle East, because nobody can imagine a different Middle East with Saddam Hussein in it. Whatever you think about the war, I doubt you’d find very many people who say, oh yeah, you can have a different kind of Middle East with Saddam Hussein still sitting there firing at your airplanes and threatening Kuwait and making weapons of mass destruction as we thought because you don’t have transparency into what he’s doing. That Middle East is always going to be one that is malignant and difficult as long as Saddam is there.

In case you missed it, Rice said, "And that’s where the strategy on the broader Middle East and democratization and in fact Iraq as the kind of linchpin of that different Middle East, because nobody can imagine a different Middle East with Saddam Hussein in it."

Thankfully, the Times editorial board woke up when they heard that, as you'll see.

Continuing from Rice's response above:

Now, for us, a Middle East in which Iraq transforms and becomes an example of a national unity government in which Shia are not oppressed but in fact even though they are the majority are able to live in harmony with others in their region is also a very important model for how Sunni and Shia deal with each other in the Middle East.

So it comes to whether or not you think you really have to go at the basic character of the Middle East. And I happen to think that that’s right. And so even if there’s a short-term effect of Iraq as mobilizing, as it did for Zarqawi, people to fight the jihad there, I think there’s a reason that they mobilized to fight it there. They get it. They understand that an Iraq that is transformed is the end of their particular ideology in the Middle East, in the center of the Middle East, and that the Middle East is going to go in a quite different direction.

If I could just say one thing kind of historically because – and please, I don’t mean to try to make an exact analogy here. But Europe fought for more than a hundred years in wars from the Napoleonic wars all the way through to World War I, drew us into their balance of power war. We left. They rearranged the deck chairs in their balance of power war, and 30 years later we were back fighting again.

At the end of World War II though, they didn’t rearrange the deck chairs in a balance of power. What they did was to change the basic structure and you got a democratic Germany, you got NATO, Germany and France never fought again and Europe was at peace, and we haven’t been back to war in Europe – the Balkans notwithstanding – since.

In a sense, I think that’s how you have to think about the Middle East. You’ve got to now change the structure there so that you create an environment in which you’re not going to have these extremist forces, these jihadist forces, the financing of terrorism, the madrasas that are running wild, the authoritarian governments that don’t permit political space for moderate forces so that all of the politics takes place in the radical mosques. Unless you deal with that problem, you’re going to continue to have a very formidable jihadist movement, whether it calls itself al-Qaida or something else. And it will take time to transform that, but you’d better get about doing it. And I think that’s really the debate that we’re seeing.

QUESTION: And Iraq was the center – epicenter of that, in your view?


QUESTION: None of what you said really had anything to do with Iraq.

SECRETARY RICE: No, it has a great deal to do with Iraq.

QUESTION: But you could say – you said – I mean, you described Saddam. You could use that same description to describe half a dozen Middle Eastern – Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iran --

SECRETARY RICE: No, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Iran have not – did not draw the United States into two wars in the Gulf within a period of 12 years. Saddam Hussein had ambitions for the region, married to a lot of wealth, married to a penchant for the development of weapons of mass destruction which he once used, and a willingness to use his power to annex his neighbors, which you would not associate with either Syria or Saudi Arabia, and not even with Iran.

You know, but memories are short but there’s a reason that we went to war in 1991 against Saddam Hussein. It was his ambitions in the region starting with Kuwait and moving forward. The other – so you overthrow this particular threat in the region and you create space for a different kind of Iraq, much like you overthrew Germany’s Hitler and created space for a different kind of Germany. That’s the point.

QUESTION: Couldn’t however – could you not make the argument that (inaudible) right now Iraq and Afghanistan are both failed states and that in a divided and politically weak Iraq, Iran has an enormous amount of power both indirectly and also directly in terms of the incredible ties and infiltrations going on in the south of Iraq, that there’s Iranian presence in Afghanistan too (inaudible) that the Lebanon war arguably gives Iran an enormous stake in politics and the argument on the left (inaudible) and that, you know, willy-nilly going to war in some of these places may have strengthened the Iranian hand in the region?

SECRETARY RICE: I don’t doubt that if we fail to challenge the trends that you have just outlined, that Iranian – you will have an ascendance of Iranian power in the region. But you have to look at also from the Iranian point of view they have a new neighbor in Afghanistan and they have a new neighbor in Iraq with American forces in both. They have a counter model developing in Iraq to the legitimacy of the Iranian revolution and the Iranian regime which, if it succeeds, will be a Shia-majority, non-theocratic with Najaf as its center with a claim to leadership of the Shia world that Iran could only hope for.

Excerpts from a Fox News interview by E.D. Hill with Democratic Tennessee Congressman Jim Cooper:

REP. COOPER: The truth is, E.D., that President Karzai is little more than the mayor of Kabul, and the country of Afghanistan is as big as Texas. So most of it has become the biggest dope-growing country in the world, and that's under our supervision. That's a terrible problem because that pumps billions of dollars a year into Taliban- type movements.

Pakistan is also a huge problem because we know that they not only want nuclear weapons, they've got them, and they have missile delivery systems. And we've never been able to get real access to A.Q. Khan, the nuclear mastermind who we know has pumped weapons into North Korea and other terribly dangerous places around the world.

So U.S. policy in this region is not doing very well right now.

MS. HILL: Well, it sounds like you're skeptical about the true intentions of the leaders of in particular Pakistan, but also Afghanistan.

REP. COOPER: A lot of Americans don't realize that Pakistan has a population today that's bigger than that of Russia, and they already have nuclear weapons, and they don't control most of their territory in Pakistan. Baluchistan is a province in particular where there's very weak central government control.

So it's a very troublesome area. We think that Osama bin Laden is in one of these two countries. We can't tell which one. And it could be that Pakistan is actually harboring one of the most dangerous terrorists in the world.

This is from Robert Rubin's introduction of Musharraf at a Council of Foreign Relations Meeting:

It is now my honor, privilege and pleasure to introduce our speaker. As you know, the custom of the Council on Foreign Relations is not to read from the speaker's biography -- that's all in your material. But, as you can see by reading it, he has had a truly illustrious and distinguished career.

Let me, however, begin with one personal observation. It seems to me that all of us need to understand a great deal more than those in our country tend to know about Pakistan, the Muslim world, the meaning of democracy in the context of countries very different from our own, and the perspectives of those whose experiences and circumstances are, again, very different than ours. In all of these respects, in my view, the recently published memoir, "In the Line of Fire," by President Pervez Musharraf, is a truly remarkable, insightful and thought-provoking book. I mentioned to the president a few moments ago I not only read it, but I bought it. (Laughter.)

I don't know if reading this memoir will change your conclusions and judgments about the many issues it covers, but what it will surely to is provide you with perspectives, with views, with insights around a set of extraordinarily important and complex issues that are different from the views that we hear in ordinary life, and are missing in many of the discussions and opinions that we hear in the world that we live in.

The book also gives you a sense of a remarkable man and his thinking and his vision on a broad array of issues as he leads his country, a country that is critically important to all of us at a time when what happens in Pakistan is of immense importance to the global community.

One more comment. When Shaukat Aziz, my highly respected former colleague at Citigroup, was appointed first finance minister by the president's administration, he came to my office and he said, "What is it like to be finance minister?" And so I said, "Oh, it's a piece of cake." (Laughter.) Well, if you read this book, you will find that being finance minister, and obviously multiples more being president of Pakistan, is not only an enormously important job in terms of the well being of all of us, but it is also immensely complex because of the context in which it occurs.

So now, without further ado, it is my privilege and honor to introduce the president of the Muslim Republic of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf. Mr. President. (Applause.)

I'll post excerpts from Musharraf's Council of Foreign Relations speech, and appearances on Fox's Hannity and Colmes and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart tomorrow.


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