Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Friday, February 22, 2008

Betting on a Dead Horse, Again

Political chaos in Pakistan could bring nuclear headaches for the US, and what our government is doing to prop up a failing regime recalls efforts three decades ago on behalf of our old ally, the Shah of Iran.

The McClatchy Newspapers report: "The Bush administration is pressing the opposition leaders who defeated Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf to allow the former general to retain his position, a move that Western diplomats and U.S. officials say could trigger the very turmoil the United States seeks to avoid.

"U.S. officials, from President Bush on down, said this week that they think Musharraf, a longtime U.S. ally, should continue to play a role, despite his party's rout in parliamentary elections Monday and his unpopularity in the volatile, nuclear-armed nation."

Pressuring the newly elected anti-Musharraf majority to retain our iffy friend may turn out to be the kind of mistake we made in the late 1970s on behalf of the Shah before and after he was deposed in Iran. Despite Jimmy Carter's misgivings, he was persuaded by Henry Kissinger and his oil friends to let the old US ally come here, which resulted in occupation of the American Embassy in Tehran for 444 days and the ongoing hostility with Iran.

President Bush has reacted to the Pakistan elections with a wishful observation that "it's time for the newly elected folks to show up and form their government, and the question then is, will they be friends of the United States, and I certainly hope so."

Behind the scenes, however, the White House is urging the newly elected Pakistanis not to reinstate the judges Musharraf ousted last year, who would likely try to remove him from office--a strategy that veteran State Department officials feel could backfire.

But not to fear, Henry Kissinger is still around to give the Administration the benefit of his wisdom and is helping John McCain with foreign policy advice.

What could possibly go wrong?

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