Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Archive for May 15th, 2009

Moyers on Pakistan

Posted by Charles II on May 15, 2009

On Bill Moyers, Juan Cole and journalist Shaftan Mufti did a good job of analyzing the issues in Pakistan. This is what they said:

1. The street demonstrations (for example, to restore the Supreme Court justice removed by Musharraf) are a sign of stability, not instability.
2. The Taliban number perhaps 15,000 and are not an existential threat to the nation. They are unpopular with most Pakistanis (particularly the large middle class and women) who tend to be religiously moderate.
3. The nuclear weapons are well-secured.
4. The governmental action against the Taliban in the Swat Valley was undertaken only to placate Washington. The military operation has displaced hundreds of thousands of people from rural areas and forced them into hard living in refugee camps.
5. However, there has been a convergence of opinion among Pakistanis that the Taliban are a problem that needs to be dealt with now.
6. The most important thing the US can do is promote economic growth and a broadly shared prosperity.

I did think that they very much underestimate the risks to Pakistan. It does not take many insurgents to make life grim. Furthermore, Pakistan’s democracy is extremely fragile. There are risks of a military takeover and risks of paralysis because of infighting between the two major parties. Corruption is endemic and, along with militarism, is leading Pakistan into deeper and deeper poverty. The lower classes are susceptible to the siren song of religious fundamentalism and, as large as the middle class may be, there are even more poor. If economic conditions decline, support for extreme responses of all kinds may rise.

But I sure hope Barack was listening, because Predators are not going to resolve this conflict in our favor.

Posted in Pakistan, terrorism | 6 Comments »

Obama Overrules Gates, Cancels Nuke Program

Posted by Phoenix Woman on May 15, 2009

You’d think that a) a president overruling his SecDef and/or b) cancelling a major nuclear-weapons program would be Big News. But only TNR, Global Security Newswire, and The Field have mentioned it as far as I can tell.

Here’s TNR’s skinny:

Obama’s new budget plan includes a little-noted sea change in U.S. nuclear policy, and a step towards his vision of a denuclearized world. It provides no funding for the Reliable Replacement Warhead program, created to design a new generation of long-lasting nuclear weapons that don’t need to be tested. (The military is worried that a nuclear test moratorium in effect since 1992 might endanger the reliability of an aging US arsenal.) But this spring Obama issued a bold call for a world free of nuclear weapons, and part of that vision entails leading by example. That means halting programs that expand the American nuclear stockpile. For the past two budget years the Democratic Congress has refused to fund the Bush-era program. But Obama’s budget kills the National Nuclear Security Administration program once and for all.

“My colleagues just stared at that line,” says Joe Cirincione, a longtime nonproliferation expert and president of the Ploughshares Fund. “They had never seen anything like that.” Killing the program, he said, was “the first programmatic impact of the new [zero nukes] policy. People have said they want to see more than words, this is the very first action.”

Indeed. (Crossposted at Daily Kos.)

Posted in Good Causes, Good Things, nukes, Pentagon, President Obama | Comments Off on Obama Overrules Gates, Cancels Nuke Program

Friday Cat Blogging

Posted by MEC on May 15, 2009



Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments »

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