Heavy Lies the Head of the Poodle Dog
Political poodle dogs lead a tough life. Just ask Saddam.
Your owner trains you, feeds you, encourages you to bite and take a dump in other people's yards. But as Mr. Hussein learned the hard way, no matter how many people you've attacked just following orders, if you pee on your Master's pant leg even just once, you're certain to be put down.
By contrast, Tony
Blair, prime minister of the formerly great Britain, is a poodle of a
different color. He sits when told to sit, heels on command, barks when
ordered to bark, and never stops licking his master's hand. Good dog,
Mr. Prime Minister! Mr. Blair won't bite the hand that feeds him,
though he repeatedly bites the citizens who he is supposed to serve. In
return for his canine obedience, Mr. Blair remains England's top running
dog, even though he has to be contented as small companion to the pack's
American Alpha male.
Other dogs have paid heed: Colombia's president Alvaro Uribe and the interim mayor of downtown Kabul, Hamid Karzai, both learned their lessons well at the American obedience school for poodles. So did Jordan's Hashemite King Abdullah. So did Iraq's interim American guard dog and Prime Minister-for-the-Moment, Nouri al-Maliki. So long as they obey, sit up and roll over on command, they eat well, sleep protected in comfortable homes and are well groomed by American military aid. They know, however, that if they ever step out of line, then they too can be replaced by a fresh young puppy eager to fetch and play ball with their master.
Pervez Musharraf of
Pakistan is a different kind of canine, however -- more like a wily coyote
than a truly domesticated dog. Like the rest of the pack, Mr. Musharraf is
a favorite of some of the boys in the Bush Administration, probably
because he, like their Washington boss, also was never democratically
elected. There are rumblings in Washington, however, that some at the
highest levels of policy-making think the Pak-poodle, Musharraf, is no
longer useful. They are preparing to have him neutered, to trim his ears
and tail, or to have him retired to the shelter for abandoned dogs.
Trapped between aggressive cultural memes to its east, west and north, and stuck in a rut between modernity and medievalism, Pakistan became dependent on foreign (read: American) aide -- economic and especially military -- in order to survive. Thus, the game in Pakistan is to keep America interested in Pakistan's survival and, thus, to keep America pumping in a river of money and weapons technology.
Pakistan had two things going for it. First, it became a nuclear power, one that America originally countenanced as a counterweight to the nuclear arms of the then Soviet ally India. Second, Pakistan presented itself as a bulwark against “creeping communism.” Pakistan's security agency, the ISI, together with Saudi Arabia and the CIA, created Al Qaeda and the Taliban, ostensibly to combat the socialist regime installed in Afghanistan by the Soviets. The U.S. aided the Afghan war against the Soviet Union and together with deliberate Saudi downward manipulation of international oil prices, tipped the Russians into bankruptcy and eventual disintegration in the 1980s. Unwittingly, however, the crash and burn of the Soviet Union rendered Pakistan less useful in the eyes of the United States, its principal benefactor.
Although Pakistan's ISI involvement in the 9-11 events may never be fully known, there are reasons to believe that it, among certain notable others, had some foreknowledge about, if not a helping hand in the affair. Barely had the twin towers fallen when Bush & Co. moved to occupy Afghanistan, Pakistan's old stomping grounds during the first anti-Soviet Afghan War and the domain of the ISI's creation, the Taliban.
General Musharraf has claimed in his memoirs that the U.S. threatened to bomb Pakistan “back to the stone ages” if it did not fully cooperate with the American invasion of Afghanistan. Perhaps Musharraf was an unwilling ally, and perhaps not. Nevertheless, the 9-11 events and the subsequent invasion of Afghanistan suddenly thrust Pakistan back into the limelight . . . and back onto the IV of American financial and military aid.
When the U.S. forces entered Afghanistan they encountered a rag-tag remnant of foreign Arab fighters, but very few indigenous “Taliban”. The Taliban, the ISI's creation, had withdrawn back into Pakistan. At the urging of the United States, Pervez Musharraf then embarked on a half-hearted military campaign to “rein in” the Taliban and its supporters in the tribal hinterlands of Pakistan. The effort was just enough to keep Pakistan on American life support, and just enough to use that life support to maintain the balance of military power vis-à-vis Pakistan, Iran, India and China.
Meanwhile, Bush & Co. forgot all about its purported Most Wanted Terrorist, the Emmanuel-Goldstein-like chimera of Usama bin-Laden. Instead, like a true capitalist suffering from Attention Deficit Disorder (and a severe petroleum addiction), the U.S. redirected its energy and seized the oil fields of Iraq. So far, so bad, because contrary to the rosy film-script of the Rumsfeld/Cheney/Neocon movie directors, Iraq would not play its designated role of submissive maiden rescued from Dragon Hussein by the American knight in body armor. Nor would America's pre-invasion allies, the Iraqi Shi'a leadership, give more than a perfunctory “thanks dude” after the U.S. had knocked off Saddam. Instead, they recognized the U.S. for the imperialist that it is, and have steadily moved to coordinate the “new Iraq” with Iranian interests.
As the Iraq quagmire sucks the life out of the American military and eviscerates the American economy, more and more, U.S. money has been dedicated to the new Iraq-nam, rather than to paying Pakistan to “chase terrorists” or to safeguard the borders of Afghanistan. Meanwhile, Musharraf's half-hearted military suppression of Pakistan tribesman, although funded and egged on by the Americans as the price for continued financial and military support of Musharraf, was creating dangerous fissures in Pak society, dangerous, at least, to Mr. Musharraf personally. At the risk of his own assassination or of civil war, this year Musharraf sealed a truce with his dissident countrymen and, effectively, with the Taliban resident in the countryside. It could be just a coincidence, but no sooner had the Musharraf government agreed to a truce with its own people than the Taliban resurfaced in Afghanistan to increase pressure on the so-called NATO coalition forces that presently occupy the country.
In the meanwhile, Bush & Co. flubbed its attempt to destabilize Iran and Syria through Israel's back alley mugging of Lebanon. In the process, Israel inadvertently strengthened, rather than weakened Hezbollah, Syria and Iran.
The Administration's attempt to isolate Iran and construct another “coalition” by which Iranian nuclear research facilities could be attacked, has also (so far) failed. It failed, in part, because the Democratic People's Republic of Korea stole the limelight and rendered completely ludicrous any argument to attack an Iran which obviously has no nuclear armaments while North Korea does.
With elections looming and with a significant segment of opinion shapers beginning to call for the American Administration's scalp due to “incompetence”, some policy makers have started to become frustrated. And when mean people get frustrated, they start to kick their dogs.
The first poodle dog to get kicked was Iraq's Nouri al-Maliki. In fact, by the time you read this essay, the U.S. will already have set in motion the process to make Mr. Maliki the scapegoat for all that has gone wrong in Iraq. In the process, American planners will abandon “democracy” in Iraq altogether and just throw its weight behind a good old fashioned, Pinochet-style military autocracy.
The next poodle dog to get kicked will be Pervez Musharraf, in his case, the designated scapegoat for the Administration's disastrous occupation of Afghanistan. The kicking of Musharraf was already under way when the Pakistani leader, while working the television talk shows of America this late summer, was repeatedly hammered by certain U.S. pundits for Mr. Musharraf's lack of “success” and the “will” to slaughter his own people in furtherance of the American Global War On Terror (known by the delightfully moronic acronym “GWOT” that rhymes with “WHAT?”). The pundits, hiding no pretense as to who makes or breaks leaders in Pakistan, have started calling for Mr. Musharraf to be, euphemistically put, “replaced” by someone more willing to do Washington's bidding.
Mr. Musharraf, of course, may be an unelected autocrat, but he is no dummy. The perpetual GWOT serves his and Pakistan's interest just as the never-ending state of war and perpetual terrorism serves the political and economic interests of the United States. For so long as the GWOT continues, so long as there are dangerous “Taliban” on the lose, then Pakistan remains an essential element of controlling them and, therefore, an indispensable beneficiary of American financial and military aid. If, on the other hand, the “terrorist threat” should disappear, or if Afghanistan “stabilized” as a pro-western capitalist “democracy”, then Pakistan's raison d'etre would also disappear, as would its massive American aid.
Afghanistan, after all, is only a small player in the bigger game of U.S. encirclement and containment of both a resurgent Russia and a burgeoning China. The need to counter India itself is also passé because India, once a Soviet protégé, is now America's best buddy. India, along with a soon to be nuclear-armed Japan, is being groomed by the United States as another young Asian boxer to challenge East Asian economic champion, China, and, undoubtedly, to open another military vulnerability on China's flanks.
Last, but not least, among the pro-Israel hawks who populate the inner circles of Washington's policy makers, there are many who cannot abide the notion of any Islamic country -- let alone a nominally pro-American Islamic country, like Pakistan -- that possesses nuclear armaments. Thus, the mutterings heard in Washington are not only to replace Mr. Musharraf, but also to take out Pakistan's nuclear arsenal in aerial bombardments similar to what is planned for Iran.
In October, shortly after Mr. Musharraf returned to Pakistan, he was greeted with a spate of bombings and attempted bombings. One explosion occurred near his Rawalpindi residence. An unexploded device was discovered near Pakistan Intelligence HQ and a third bomb, rigged to detonate remotely, was uncovered on the road that Mr. Musharraf would travel from his residence in Islamabad to the Parliament building. Coincidence? Perhaps, and perhaps not. Supposedly, the perpetrators were home grown terrorists out to settle their own scores. But it is also possible that the bombings were encouraged or orchestrated by American assets who intend to deliver a blunt message: play ball or play dead.
The political poodle dog lives a good life, so long as his Master is happy. When the Master gets pissed at him, however, then it becomes a dog's life, indeed. It remains to be seen whether the dog-lovers in Mr. Bush's camp want to bother keeping Mr. Musharraf as part of the President's “Pak” of hound dogs. At this point, the odds are less than even.
Heavy lies the head of the political poodle dog.
Zbignew Zingh can be reached at: Zbig@ersarts.com. This article is CopyLeft, and free to distribute, reprint, repost, sing at a recital, spray paint, scribble in a toilet stall, etc. to your heart’s content, with proper author citation. Find out more about Copyleft and read other great articles at: www.ersarts.com. copyleft 2006.
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