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Tilting at Windmills

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January 8, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

THE U.S. AND PAKISTAN....PIPA has released another in its ongoing series of public opinion surveys in foreign countries, and today's survey is from Pakistan. Generally speaking, it shows that Pakistanis want their country to be more Islamic, more democratic, and less corrupt. Support for religious extremism is low but nontrivial.

But the question on the right is the one that caught my eye. It's not surprising these days to see extreme distrust of the United States in Islamic countries, but not only did Pakistanis rate the U.S. presence in Asia and Afghanistan as Pakistan's biggest threat, they rated it as a higher threat than tensions with India. Crikey. When you beat out even the long-hated Indians as Pakistanis' biggest worry, you're in big trouble.

Kevin Drum 1:42 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (53)

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OK, we're fuct.

Posted by: hollywood on January 8, 2008 at 1:54 AM | PERMALINK

Hey, maybe Team Bush is finally firming up that legacy! We're number 1!!

Posted by: Quaker in a Basement on January 8, 2008 at 2:04 AM | PERMALINK

We're number one! We're number one! ... oh shit.

Posted by: Howard on January 8, 2008 at 2:04 AM | PERMALINK

Okay, so they hate us more than their ages-old arch-rival, and Osama bin Laden is hiding out somewhere within their borders.

Nice foreign policy, George. Really freaking crackerjack.

Posted by: mmy on January 8, 2008 at 2:07 AM | PERMALINK

The biggest complaint of Indians currently residing in India is that prior to 9/11 USA paid no attention to, and indeed dismissed completely, the Indian pleas for help against Muslim terrorism sponsored by Pakistan. The Indian find it quite ironic, and seem to take some satisfaction in the fact, that now the same problem has become so important to us.

Posted by: gregor on January 8, 2008 at 2:11 AM | PERMALINK

How do these people not know that we are the most benevolent country earth? An invasion will certainly rectify that misperception.

Posted by: Michael7843853 G-O/F in 08 on January 8, 2008 at 2:12 AM | PERMALINK

I wonder how much the perception of the U.S. is hurt by having Bush in the White House. It'll be interesting to see what the world thinks in 2009, when we have a new president.

Posted by: JJF on January 8, 2008 at 2:15 AM | PERMALINK

obamaw will with the nomination

Posted by: geoff grisey on January 8, 2008 at 2:17 AM | PERMALINK

oops, that should read:

obamaw will with the nomination

Posted by: geoff grisey on January 8, 2008 at 2:27 AM | PERMALINK

JFF - that depends on who is elected.

What I find interesting in the thread as well is the fact they want their country to become more Islamic (religious), and more democratic.

These things cannot co-exist. The more religious nutcase one becomes, the less likely he/she will tolerate people of different belief. Isn't this fucking obvious?

Posted by: Chris on January 8, 2008 at 2:28 AM | PERMALINK

to see what the world thinks in 2009, when we have a new president.

It will improve quite a bit - style does count - but not as much as some hope - substance counts too - and both parties seem set on carrying forth with the Great American Empire project. I mean 92,000 extra for your military and you already spend as much as the rest of us combined? Sheesh.

Posted by: snicker-snack on January 8, 2008 at 2:29 AM | PERMALINK

When you beat out even the long-hated Indians as Pakistanis' biggest worry, you're in big trouble.

If there's a war we got into on 9/11, then that's the real war: US v. Pakistan. Iraq and Iran and all that are sideshows. Always have been.

max
['Talk about an own goal.']

Posted by: max on January 8, 2008 at 2:33 AM | PERMALINK

"These things cannot co-exist. The more religious nutcase one becomes, the less likely he/she will tolerate people of different belief. Isn't this fucking obvious?
Posted by: Chris on January 8, 2008 at 2:28 AM | PERMALINK"

To you and me, yeah. However, we are operating under the assumption here that "democracy" = "liberal democracy." They're probably thinking of "democracy" = "majority rule." Also, remember that a lot of Marxists once sincerely believed that communism would somehow be more democratic than in capitalist countries. Besides, since when do people actually ever realize that their beliefs are in contradiction? It's like when trade protectionists complain about rising prices.

Posted by: Reality Man on January 8, 2008 at 2:50 AM | PERMALINK

Or free traders that complain about lower wages. Both examples are those of useful idiots.

Posted by: Chris on January 8, 2008 at 5:36 AM | PERMALINK

Hopefully, President Obama will begin healing the wounds inflicted on the Muslim world by the Bush fascists. We should be working, day and night, to disarming Pakistan. Instead, Numbnuts Bush keeps selling and giving them arms. The f*cking moron.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on January 8, 2008 at 5:53 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin, What this survey shows is bad. But your interpretation isn't quite right. It doesn't say that Pakistanis consider U.S. involvement in Afganistan a bigger threat than India, but that more people in Pakistan consider U.S. involvement a critical threat than consider the India problem a critical threat.

Not our finest hour, nonetheless...

Posted by: Jim G on January 8, 2008 at 7:46 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin, with respect the seemingly surprising numbers regarding tensions between India and Pakistan, its worth pointing out that a) the hyper-Hindu nationalist BJP government has been out of power for four years and b) even in an increased threat environment, the current government headed by PM Manmohan Singh has greatly advanced detente since the Congress party took power. Yes, serious tensions still exist with respect to Jammu-Kashmir, but it seems safe to presume that ordinary Pakistanis don't see India as being capable of engaging in overtly hostile actions without provoking an equally deleterious response, which would in turn retard the subcontinent's fast-paced economic expansion.

Posted by: Derrick Bond on January 8, 2008 at 8:08 AM | PERMALINK

When I was in Pakistan shortly after the start of the Iraq war, all the papers were running op-eds saying pakistan would be next. People really felt like the US was coming for them, and the latest rhetoric doesn't help.

Posted by: Rashad on January 8, 2008 at 8:27 AM | PERMALINK

Given that there are "secret" plans for the US to "remove" nukes from Pakiistan in the event of "instability", why shouldn't the US be regarded as a grave threat by the people of that country?? Especially when those nukes are seen as critical to the survival and pride of that nation?

Posted by: Neal on January 8, 2008 at 8:40 AM | PERMALINK

Get it right snicker-snack:

I mean 92,000 extra for your military and you already spend as much as the rest of us combined? Sheesh.

That is we "spend more than the rest of the world combined". Accuracy, man, accuracy.

This profligate spending on a waste of resources like an imperial army is the sign of a nation in decline. It wont last much longer so take heart (and make preparations in case the collapse comes during your lifetime).

Posted by: Praedor Atrebates on January 8, 2008 at 9:16 AM | PERMALINK

Amazing the ethnocentricity of the comments. Why does everything always have to be about us? Always bringing it back to our own internal politics.

The issue is Pakistan, a failed state, or failing state, made up of different ethnicities and long disputing tribal cultures, bound only by their nominal Islamic faith. It has never been stable or western-leaning since postwar partion of India and the subsequent civil war resulting in an independent Bangladesh.

Jimmy Carter or even Louis Farrakan could be President of the US and Pakistan would still be anti-American. Dream on if you think that smiling Barak or cheery John become President in 2009, and the image of the US in Pakistan would change one iota.

Posted by: Seppo on January 8, 2008 at 9:21 AM | PERMALINK

"What I find interesting in the thread as well is the fact they want their country to become more Islamic (religious), and more democratic. These things cannot co-exist. The more religious nutcase one becomes, the less likely he/she will tolerate people of different belief. Isn't this fucking obvious?"

I refer you to:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_democracy

Please develop your knowledge base. What may seem "fucking obvious" to you may just be a reflection of an incomplete understanding on the subject.
There is nothing in the Islamic religion itself that prohibits democracy. The problem as always arise from the people who mispractice it, not from the doctrine itself.

Meanwhile, the USA continues to support dictatorships in Egypt, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, etc... while the general only wishes it could dream about democracy and those that do more than wish get locked up.

Posted by: Osiris on January 8, 2008 at 9:39 AM | PERMALINK

What's a good example of Islamic Democracy? I mean on a scale larger than a small emirate luke Kuwait or the UAE or something. Turkey? Turkey had forced secularization by Attaturk. Morocco? Maybe. Indonesia might be a good example.

I'm interested in seeing what it would look like.

Note: I'm not trying to troll or be an asshole here though I'm sure many of you will think I am.

Posted by: MNPundit on January 8, 2008 at 9:55 AM | PERMALINK

Nontrivial? Nontrivial? Is that like "doubleplusungood"? How about "not trivial" or "still notable."

If we're going to keep this wording, let's discuss my laundry. My remembering to put a dryer sheet in the dryer is nontrivial.

Nontrivial is. . .pretty trivial.

Posted by: Anon on January 8, 2008 at 10:08 AM | PERMALINK

"What's a good example of Islamic Democracy? I mean on a scale larger than a small emirate luke Kuwait or the UAE or something. Turkey? Turkey had forced secularization by Attaturk. Morocco? Maybe. Indonesia might be a good example."

Indonesia. It is the world's third largest democracy. You answered your own question :) Lebanon also runs free and fair elections when its not being occupied or attacked by its neighbors. Palestine's elections were also monitored and deemed free and fair. Here is a nice reference for you for more info:
http://www.cfr.org/publication/9481/muslim_democracy.html

As for Turkey, while secular, it is still predominantly muslim, just as america and many european countries are predominantly christian. Religion plays a role in politics even though they are secular countries.

It is more accurate to say that democracy and extremist idealogy (regardless of the religion it pretends to follow) are incompatible.

Posted by: Osiris on January 8, 2008 at 10:15 AM | PERMALINK

I'm not sure why Turkey doesn't county as an Islamic country. Yes, it's more secular than the rest of the Islamic world, but an Islamist party, the AKP, has won a majority the last 2 elections.

Posted by: Peter H on January 8, 2008 at 10:23 AM | PERMALINK

Wow, Karen Hughes did a "heck of a job" improving the USA's image in the muslim world.

Another failed Bushie...

Posted by: Stephen on January 8, 2008 at 10:29 AM | PERMALINK
What I find interesting in the thread as well is the fact they want their country to become more Islamic (religious), and more democratic.

These things cannot co-exist.

Yes, they can.

The more religious nutcase one becomes, the less likely he/she will tolerate people of different belief. Isn't this fucking obvious?

It is that; it is also fucking irrelevant to the poll question, since neither of the two things you describe as inconsistent are part of the preference expressed in the responses. They didn't say they want their country to be more
"religious nutcase", nor did they say they wanted themselves (or their government, for that matter) to become more tolerant of people of different belief.

"Islamic" is not a synonym for "religious nutcase" (though, like all religions, it certainly includes its share of those), and "democracy" is orthogonal to "tolerant toward different beliefs"; the latter is more related to limited government than democracy: while both are, at least in terms of ideals, features of the US system of government, they aren't the same thing.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 8, 2008 at 10:35 AM | PERMALINK

What I find interesting in the thread as well is the fact they want their country to become more Islamic (religious), and more democratic.


Yes, I find that interesting too. Look no further than the United States to see that phenomenon in action. It is curious that since our major "competition" (the Soviets) have withered away that many have decided that Secularism is corrupt and we need to get back to the good ole time religion. The decline of Arab nationalism - Baath Socialism, etc, has been an interesting parallel to this.

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on January 8, 2008 at 10:45 AM | PERMALINK

From: "In the Garden of Allah" Don Henley
...
Nice car
Ah, I love those bavarians
So meticulous
Yknow I remember when things were a lot more fun around here
When good was good and evil was evil
Before things got so fuzzy...

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on January 8, 2008 at 10:50 AM | PERMALINK

""Islamic" is not a synonym for "religious nutcase" (though, like all religions, it certainly includes its share of those), and "democracy" is orthogonal to "tolerant toward different beliefs"; the latter is more related to limited government than democracy: while both are, at least in terms of ideals, features of the US system of government, they aren't the same thing."

Finally, another voice of logic and wisdom.

Intolerance is also not an Islamic value, it is extremist idealogy. When Americans stop generalizing extremist idealogy to blanket label the majority of muslims we might actually open the way to creating some valuable relationships built between the US and middle-eastern countries. Then we might see improved public opinion in the middle east.

Posted by: Osiris on January 8, 2008 at 10:52 AM | PERMALINK

What I find interesting in the thread as well is the fact they want their country to become more Islamic (religious), and more democratic. These things cannot co-exist. The more religious nutcase one becomes, the less likely he/she will tolerate people of different belief. Isn't this fucking obvious?

Well, yes and no. If you look at Pakistan's immediate neighbor Iran, it is both more overtly religious and more democratic than Pakistan. Ironically, while Iran is obviously not a wonder of liberal democracy, it is actually one of the more democratic countries in the region and provides universal suffrage and a popularly elected government, which is more than many of its neighbors can boast.

Posted by: Stefan on January 8, 2008 at 11:12 AM | PERMALINK

Intolerance is also not an Islamic value, it is extremist idealogy. When Americans stop generalizing extremist idealogy to blanket label the majority of muslims we might actually open the way to creating some valuable relationships built between the US and middle-eastern countries. Then we might see improved public opinion in the middle east.
Posted by: Osiris

My take is it is an internal battle for the soul of Islam, and we're mostly bystanders. The voices of extremism certainly are louder and more effective than the voices of peace and moderation in Islam. Where is their Martin Luther Kings? Their Ghandis?

To that end, I think Sistani should have earned a couple of Nobel Peace Prizes by now.

Posted by: SJRSM on January 8, 2008 at 11:34 AM | PERMALINK

"...you're in big trouble."

News flash! America is in big trouble!

Posted by: Boronx on January 8, 2008 at 11:37 AM | PERMALINK
....it is an internal battle for the soul of Islam, and we're mostly bystanders....SJRSM at 11:34 AM
Bystanders don't invade and occupy Islamic countries. The problems is that we are not bystanders but the cause of the rise of Islamic nationalism due to our policies of kneejerk support for Israel and unjustifiable invasion of Iraq.

From Second Chance, Zbigniew Brzezinski

pp 149-150:
"in the fall of 2003, a revealing poll asked responders whether they regretted the initial lack of effective Iraqi military resistance – in effect whether they regretted that more Americans were not killed. The disappointed numbered 93 percent in Morocco, 91 percent in Jordan, 82 percent in Lebanon, 82 percent in Turkey, 82 percent in Indonesia, 81 percent in Palestine, and 74 percent n Pakistan."
Way to go, Bush. Real smart.

Posted by: Mike on January 8, 2008 at 11:48 AM | PERMALINK

Bystanders don't invade and occupy Islamic countries. The problems is that we are not bystanders but the cause of the rise of Islamic nationalism due to our policies of kneejerk support for Israel and unjustifiable invasion of Iraq.

Oh, up until we invaded Iraq things were moving hunky-dory towards peace, love, and happiness in the Islamic world? The reason why things sucked in all those other Islamic countries is because of the Palestinians? Dog ate your homework?

The Islamic world sucks for plenty of their own reasons. They've had a thousand years to stop being medieval. Stop treating them like children.

As for people wanting the resistance to have fought better...duh. No one wants to be associated with of a bunch of losers, and that's what the Iraqi military was, a bunch of guys unwilling to die for Saddam Hussein. At least the Islamic world can see that.

Posted by: SJRSM on January 8, 2008 at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK

Where is their Martin Luther Kings? Their Ghandis?

Where are ours?

It is ironic indeed that someone who supports the party of hatemongers and warmongers such as Dick Cheney and Rush Limbaugh complains about the lack of "peace and moderation" on the other side.....

Posted by: Stefan on January 8, 2008 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

I hate Limbaugh and despise Cheney, so I fail to see any irony. Thanks for playing.

Posted by: SJRSM on January 8, 2008 at 12:17 PM | PERMALINK

How did the thread shift from threat to hate?

Threat depends on capabilities.

Posted by: Adam on January 8, 2008 at 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

That's a bit of a non sequitur, Red State Mike, unless you're implying that the fact the Islamic world has serious problems makes it ok for us to go in there and make matters worse.

Posted by: Boronx on January 8, 2008 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK
,,,until we invaded Iraq things were moving hunky-dory towards peace.....As for people wanting the resistance to have fought better...duh..... SJRSM at 12:00 PM

Did the dog eat your brain? If you had the slightest knowledge of the Middle East and the history of Western imperialism, you would sound less foolish. No one wants to be associate with a bunch of losers and yet you support Bush's war and counterproductive policies.

Your ability to comprehend is striking in its absence. That poll is an expression of anti-Americanism. That anti-Americanism is a result of our imperialistic policies and support for Israeli terrorism.

I suggest you study the history of the region post WWI. The betrayal of Arab national aspirations by the Allied powers was the beginning of Islamic nationalism. The west, especially the US has always supported dictatorships against the rule of democracy in the region. We fought Gulf I to re-establish a monarchy. We overthrew an elected government in Iran. We support dictators in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan which crush their people's desire for democracy. The creation of Israel and the ethnic cleansing of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians was a direct cause of numerous wars. Our support for it, our support for the wars on Lebanon, and our refusal to prevent our ally and client state from committing numerous acts of aggression is a direct cause of more anti-Americanism.

I do not treat people like children. If you understood anything about humanity, you would have the wit to realize that when you push, people push back. You and your neo-con friends are treating that region as a killing zone as if it was our oil under their desert.

The Islamic world does not "suck." Their art, architecture and poetry are world class. Their business leaders are becoming powerhouses in world commerce. You need to put aside your prejudice and bigotry and grow up.

Posted by: Mike on January 8, 2008 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

Unfortunately this survey includes no consideration of China's influence in Pakistan. China now seems to be one of the most important world rivals of the US, if not the chief rival, and China plays an important role in Pakistan and the region.

Posted by: Don Bacon on January 8, 2008 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

The Islamic world does not "suck." Their art, architecture and poetry are world class. Their business leaders are becoming powerhouses in world commerce.

Excellent post, Mike.

Posted by: trex on January 8, 2008 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

The Islamic world does not "suck." Their art, architecture and poetry are world class. Their business leaders are becoming powerhouses in world commerce. You need to put aside your prejudice and bigotry and grow up.
Posted by: Mike

Google and read the Arab Human Development Report, written by Arabs for Arabs in Arabic but translated (I know, Arab does not mean Islamic, but a lot of overlap in the Venn diagram) and see if you still think that. And they don't blame their woes on WWI and the white man, like you do. They "man up" and understand it is their problem to solve. One tidbit that still amazes me...

- The GDP of all of the Arab countries summed together equals roughly that of Spain's.

The report deliberately draws comparisons that emphasize the depth of the crisis, in a bid to shatter the complacency and denial that afflict the Arab discourse on development. The most provocative comparisons stack the Arab world against the so-called "Asian Tigers" and Israel...

http://www.meforum.org/article/513

Posted by: SJRSM on January 8, 2008 at 1:35 PM | PERMALINK

Mike, you took the post right out of my brain. Nice post. I wish their were more Americans such as yourself who understand history beyond their own life time. I will also respond to one thing that SJRSM, wrote, though I doubt as eloqently as you have.


"They've had a thousand years to stop being medieval."

A thousand years ago, The Muslim world was far more advanced than the western world. The renaissance in Europe was built on the foundation that the Muslim world laid down both through discovering the knowledge of ancient Greece and their own innovation in science, technology, and medicine. Algebra, Algorithms, Chemistry, Modern Medicine, to name a few, are all inventions of the arab/muslim world.
The arab & muslim world is the very reason why the western world was able to "stop being medieval." The west climbed up on the shoulders of the arab world and thanked it by centuries of imperialism and subjugation and the US is continuing in that most ungrateful of traditions.

Posted by: Osiris on January 8, 2008 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

Google and read the Arab Human Development Report

Where to begin?

First, who cares what some arbitrary report says that you cite? I could come up with a few dozen reports and scholarly essays that tie current ME problems to past western meddling.

Secondly, there is no "Arab Human Development Report," there are a series of reports put out every few years by the U.N. Developement Programme with this name that address various issues in the Arab world. Thirdly, and possibly most importantly, the report that you cite does not does not have in its scope historical causes, which means that it does not speaks to Mike's point about a long history of colonialism and interference from the west in keeping middle eastern countries from flourishing.

Further, the report is a product of the U.N. Am I to suppose if one were to google around they'd find that you are a huge fan of that institution and its agenda?

The "Islamic world" has problems? Yeah, so does the lawless and "Christian world" of central and south America. So does Christian and pagan Africa. So does the Buddhist southeast Asia. They all also have contributed in inestimable ways to world culture, produced important and valuable people, and live normal everyday lives like those of us here in the U.S.

And none of that, good or bad, justifies invading their countries or suggesting that they are singularly bad in some way due to some poorly perceived cultural or religious uniqueness.

Posted by: trex on January 8, 2008 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

I hate Limbaugh and despise Cheney, so I fail to see any irony. Thanks for playing.

Yeah, but I bet you voted for George Bush in 2000 and 2004, didn't you?

Posted by: Stefan on January 8, 2008 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

Having invaded a sovereign nation to take over oilfields and establish permanence, while endlessly making shit up about weapons of mass destruction and mushroom clouds, is it any wonder the US is considered the most feared and distrusted nation to Pakistan...or anyone else, for that matter...

Posted by: cwa on January 8, 2008 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK
....The GDP of all of the Arab countries summed together equals roughly that of Spain's..... SJRSM at 1:35 PM
You're trying to move your goalpost, chum. The original point was the origin of anti-Westernism, anti-Americanism and the rise of Islamic nationalism. Modernization is an entire different issue and is currently happening. Remember, it took the Japanese over a century after Perry's black ships and China even longer after the country was carved up by Western powers. Right now, the UAE and Dubai are moving to first world status. Iraq was one of the more modern Arab countries until 20 years of sanctions and a horrific occupation have destroyed its infrastructure and decimated its population.

Thanks for the kind words TRex and Osiris.

Posted by: Mike on January 8, 2008 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

Pakistanis are more aware of US agression and its consequences than Americans are.

Posted by: Brojo on January 8, 2008 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

Not to mention the treatment of prisoners at the US Bagram military base detention center in Afghanistan--a secretive site, prompting complaints from the International Committee of
the Red Cross--the only outside group permitted inside that detention center--with numerous prisoners held incommunicado in isolated cells--600 + detainees, twice those held at Gitmo...
Tim Golden of the NY Times details this mess.

No wonder countries in the Middle East fear the US--perpetual detention of people without legal recourse, likely snatched right off the street.
Rendition.
We know the Red Cross isn't lying when it says the prisoners were kept from its inspectors and subjected to cruel treatment violating Geneva Conventions...
but we sure know this administration lies.

This, in our name.


Posted by: cwa on January 8, 2008 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

"Provocitive" Now that is a word Bush should stay away from and my point is this, Bush was what to Iraq and Suddam before his war started, now that is kind of calling the kettle black isnt it, as I said before he is a total idiot.

Posted by: Al on January 8, 2008 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

Two words for GWB re: the findings of this report:

Mission Accomplished.

I would call him a moron, but that would be an insult to morons.

-Z

Posted by: Zorro on January 8, 2008 at 5:38 PM | PERMALINK
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