Comments: Random Musings about Pakistan

imperial satraps manning the fort at the New York Times

Is it fair to call New York Times editors "satraps"? Satraps usually have a little power of their own. Musharraf counts as a satrap, I'd say. NY Times editors are just sniveling court scribes, several rungs down the ladder in the imperial power structure.

Posted by Jonathan Schwarz at December 28, 2007 05:36 PM

I'm trying to imagine a post-imperial future where the U.S., its economy in ruins, its army a hollow shell, no longer has the power to dictate anything to anyone.

Would the discourse of our New York-Washington elites be any different? They'd still fuss about what Washington must "demand" or "insist", and our diplomats would prepare impressive démarches, dictating, in great precision, how others should conduct themselves. They'd go on furiously pulling the strings, but no one would have the heart to tell the NY Times editorial board or the Secretary of State that the strings aren't connected to anything.

Not a bad future, I think. The trick is how to get from here to there without killing too many people.

Posted by SteveB at December 28, 2007 05:52 PM

"Let us kill the DREAMER and see what becomes of her dream." Ms. Bhutto IS a hero(ine) having KNOWINGLY laid her life for her dream, so few have that testimony. What she lacks as a bureaucrat she has AMPLY surpassed as a martyr. Musharraf is on his way out, as no matter whom he blames, with or without proof, the pakistani joe sixpack, will blame him. BUT anyone but an AMERICAN could have told Mr. Musharraf " No matter how much money he gives you, when YOU follow the advice of an idiot, well, all YOU will get is an idiotic result." (EX: if YOU are an AMERICAN, just look out YOUR window onto OUR country)

Posted by Mike Meyer at December 28, 2007 07:01 PM

Jon: I have no doubt Judy Miller saw herself as an imperial satrap, but she's gone, and now maybe they're stuck with the sniveling court scribes (good phrase by the way).

Posted by Bernard Chazelle at December 28, 2007 07:17 PM

1-202-225-0100-call it and DEMAND IMPEACHMENT.

Posted by Mike Meyer at December 28, 2007 07:19 PM
This is a statement of breathtaking ignorance.

Or is it a statement of breathtaking boldness, facts be damned and matter only to small minds of feeble imagination? Hmmmmmm?

Really Bernard, I don't recall us respecting the democracies of Europe and the will of their people, when they didn't support our adventure in Iraq. The sentiment in those places was what? 70-80% against, yet our view was one where the informed rabble thare, was not up to be compared or contrasted with the imperial stenographers here. Freedom Fries indeed.

The press has much less interest in informing us, than to act their part as the fourth estate; influencing policy at the behest of media conglomerates.

I prefer to think that this is not a statement of ignorance, but one of intentional manipulation and duplicity. Otherwise those Columbia, Yale, Harvard, Princeton educations were poor quality indeed (and I know they're not).


DAMN YOU CRUEL WORLD!!!!! Why, oh why, did Tom Friedman take his sabbatical just now?!?!? I need my Friedman fix and six-month prognostication of significant events for the office pool.

Posted by Ted at December 28, 2007 07:27 PM

Speaking of sniveling court scribe doubling as a satrap, I see that Bill Kristol is becoming a NYT columnist. I assume this is a joke.

Posted by Bernard Chazelle at December 28, 2007 07:29 PM

It must be! The world is so just that an influential organ of public opinion like the NYT would never publish supporters of war crimes.

Posted by StO at December 28, 2007 08:28 PM

It's interesting that just a few months ago her niece (a person who seems young, idealistic and fairly uncorrupt by familial standards) wrote this piece, I dunno if it's family rivalry at work here, but if this is to be believed Bhutto would just be the victim of chickens coming home to roost:,0,2482408.story?coll=la-opinion-center

Posted by En Ming Hee at December 28, 2007 09:21 PM

Well, the woman got killed at least SAYING she wanted a better world, but face facts, she was dealing with those greedy AMERICANS (U&I)and OUR OWN lovely administration, there is simply NO way for a good end.

Posted by Mike Meyer at December 29, 2007 04:48 AM

How about "Washington must learn to mind its own business"?

Don't you get it? Mehrka knows best. Sunni/Shi'a? Ain't no differents; they's both the same. Iraq/Iran? Ain't no differents; they's both the same. Pushtun? Wasn't he the leader of some Russki ragtime band? Iraq/9-11; Iraq/9-11; Iraq/9-11. Oh, and Pakistan ain't a democracy just cuz uv a little military coup? Reedikulus. That'd be like saying the U.S. ain't no democracy just cuz uv a little vote rigging among family and friends.

Never mind Orwell; Mencken and O. Henry are marveling how hyperbole and irony are rendered obsolete by circumstance.

Posted by cavjam at December 29, 2007 09:09 AM

Bernard, your piece left me speechless. It was that good. Like the guy who hated shorebirds, you left no tern unstoned.

Posted by Don Bacon at December 29, 2007 12:33 PM

I think Musharraf is an excellent suspect, and I'm willing to bet he at the very least allowed this to go forward, if not actually organized it. So his government is now in tatters - so what? Surely he feared the alternative much more: January 8th came, and Bhutto roundly defeated him in the polls, completely destroying any pretended legitimacy he might have. And like all dictators, there's nothing he wants more than legitimacy. So, yes, if he killed her, this was a bad decision he may come to regret, but from his perspective, perhaps letting her live was a worse one.

Posted by saurabh at December 29, 2007 04:12 PM

Also, the argument that a strong democracy in Pakistan would not have the will to fight the Taliban seems baseless to me. Yes, "Pakistan" helped create the Taliban in the 90s, just about the same way that "America" organized Operation Condor or Operation Ajax. It would be wrong to suppose that these represented popular will, rather than the will of a subset of the intelligence agencies.

Posted by saurabh at December 29, 2007 04:39 PM

Saurabh: Pakistan is ruled by the Punjabi elite (from the East) but the Taliban originate from the Pashtun area, including Balochistan. If the local tribes rose against the Taliban, yes, you're right, they might prevail. But Islamabad cannot be the initiator. The problem facing both Bush and Musharraf is that the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan makes no sense whatsoever. It's the famous Durand Line which split the Pashtun people into two different countries. Another brilliant colonial move that has brought uninterrupted warfare to the region.

Posted by Bernard Chazelle at December 29, 2007 05:21 PM

Musharraf does not control the ISI: they would be my No.1 suspects.

Posted by Bernard Chazelle at December 29, 2007 05:26 PM

"the murderous extremists (not to be confused with the murderous moderates)..."


Posted by Jonathan Versen at December 30, 2007 07:26 AM

"Speaking of sniveling court scribe doubling as a satrap, I see that Bill Kristol is becoming a NYT columnist. I assume this is a joke."

And why, exactly, would you assume that, Mr. C?

God, imagine his ravings on the same page as Paul Krugman. It doesn't bear imagining.

Posted by catherine at December 31, 2007 11:28 AM