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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

LoP, The Iran of 1979?

Comparing the current turmoil in the Land of Pure with the turmoil in Iran right before Ayatollah Khomeini took over and send Iran down an Islamic spiral, David Ignatius, of Washington Post, suggests it may be time for US to stop meddling in LoP's affairs.

The shah was America's friend, just like Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf. He was our staunch ally against the bogeyman of that time, the Soviet Union, just as Musharraf has been America's partner in fighting al-Qaeda. The shah ignored America's admonitions to clean up his undemocratic regime, just as Musharraf has. And as the shah's troubles deepened, the United States hoped that moderate opposition leaders would keep the country safe from Muslim zealots, just as we are now hoping in Pakistan.

And yet the Iranian explosion came -- a firestorm of rage that immolated any attempt at moderation or compromise. A similar process of upheaval has begun in Pakistan -- with one terrifying difference: Pakistan has nuclear weapons.

The Iran analogy was made forcefully two weeks ago by Gary Sick, a Columbia professor who helped oversee Iran policy for the Carter administration during the time of the revolution. "There was no Plan B," Sick wrote in an online posting. He sees the same dynamic at work in Pakistan. "We have bet the farm on one man -- in this case Pervez Musharraf -- and we have no fall-back position, no alternative strategy in the event that does not work." ...

The abiding truth, about Iran then and Pakistan now, is that outsiders don't understand the forces at work in these societies well enough to try to manipulate events. The disaster of Iran happened partly because of American meddling -- in installing the shah in the first place and then enabling his autocratic rule. Pakistan, too, has suffered over the years from too much U.S. intervention...

But changing Pakistan is a job for Pakistanis, and history suggests that the more we meddle, the more likely we are to get things wrong.[In Pakistan, Echoes of Iran - WaPo]