Tuesday, February 26, 2002

American relations with three countries, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan, are convoluted and filled with bad faith on both sides. The basic model is that each of these countries will pretend to be completely anti-fundamentalist and anti-terrorist, while having significant elements in government that support the most radical Islamic terrorist groups. The United States, while knowing this, pretends to accept the anti-fundamentalist, anti-terrorist faces that these countries present. The reason for the pretense is that there is a real fear that if these countries are pressed to rid themselves of the radical elements, the radical elements will rise up, overthrow the government, and create a truly dangerous state. This flexibility of diplomacy has allowed elements of the governments of each of these states to actively support al-Qaida, both financially and with intelligence and logistical support. At the moment, the situation in Pakistan is the most striking, with General Musharraf playing the role of a great American ally, and the Americans playing along, all the while knowing that Musharraf's position as ruler of Pakistan is at least partially dependant on his maintaining good relations with the Pakistani intelligence agency, much if not all of which is extremely sympathetic to the terrorist movements that are a sworn enemy of the U. S. It remains to be seen how long all the parties can keep these various deceptions going. The death of Daniel Pearl seems to reflect Musharraf's problem.