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Monday, November 12, 2007

Hacking Pakistan

The fact is most true hacks don't work. The ones you hear about are the few that do, and the rest are sitting in a box in a closet somewhere. When you try to hack a country with a hundred and sixty million citizens, well there just isn't a closet that size anywhere if you don't get it right.

Fifty years of fiddling with Pakistan have brought us the funkiest nuclear power on earth. Even presented with an opportunity to restore secular democracy (in the loosest definition of the term) we have waffled, afraid of democracy and the possibility that an elected Pakistani leader wouldn't be our poodle. The truth is that any democratic leader isn't going to be as compliant as a dictator.

Democracy, or any other form of government, in Pakistan is going to be corrupt. That is the nature of tribal societies. We just don't have to encourage the machinations that comes with fiddling with the wiring of the Pakistani government.

Pakistani nukes are the direct result of our playing footsie with Abdul Qadeer Khan's operation during the Carter administration, and more overt aid under Reagan. You can click on this entry's headline for an excellent link to The Washington Post's article on Pakistan's nuclear program or copy and paste this link:

The CIA thought they were sticking a thumb in the Soviet's eye by countering India's, their ally, nuclear arsenal. How we ever became the enemy of the largest democratic nation in the world is another tale of cold war insanity.

So now we continue to try to hack Pakistan, turning the most perilous place on the planet into a more dangerous snake pit. The tragedy is that Pakistan is showing all signs of re-developing secular democratic government. If you watch the news the images we see are of rioting Islamists, but those are less than ten percent of the hundred and sixty million Paks, mostly from the notorious border lands of Waziristan and the Hindu Kush. We have fundamentalist crazies here in the USA who are every bit as unstable as the Islamists, but have no chance of getting control of the government. The reason our fundamentalists can't establish a theocracy here is because they never will have enough of the electorate to overthrow our constitutional federal democracy. This is a system that is self correcting, stable, and less prone to corruption than any other. We have become insular and self absorbed, lacking in knowledge of others if it doesn't serve economic ends. Our intelligence services train few ethnographic experts or even native speakers to serve our human intelligence needs. A Predator UAV is a whiz bang bit of technology, but it will never tell us what a couple of tribal Sheiks are planning over tea. The men and women trying to hack Pakistan in out intelligence service are instructed to save our "friend Musharif" as a primary goal, even though this path leads to almost certain civil war, and an unacceptably strong possibility of loose nukes in Islamist hands. Like a geek that has taken apart a new iPhone and fiddled with its workings that it was never designed for, we have our hands on a disaster that has no way back. Unlike hardware, Pakistan has the ability to heal herself, given time and support. Pakistan will eventually excise the tribal Islamists, if given the chance.

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