Conspiracy World: Pakistan by mattsteinglass
November 28, 2009, 10:22 pm
Filed under: Afghanistan

As with all significant events in Pakistan, it’s unclear what, if anything, this means. President Zardari has given up his chairmanship of the country’s Nuclear Command Authority, meaning the military now has full control over the nuclear arsenal without civilian supervision. But in fact they always did anyway, and the civilian control was pretty much fictive. The US has been trying for many years to get the military to tell it where the bombs and their triggers, which are stored separately, are located. But in fact, as Seymour Hersh reported this month, the Pakistanis feed the US only non-critical information because, if the balloon ever really went up (Taliban assassination of the president or other complete chaos in Pakistan), there’s no way the Pakistani military would let the US seize its nuclear arsenal.

I still think part of the impossibility of effective diplomatic action by the US in places like Pakistan and Afghanistan is the incredible ubiquity of conspiratorial thinking in those societies: it’s never clear what any political moves mean, because people interpret all moves through a refractive lens of paranoia and suspected duplicity. People constantly suspect the US has ulterior motives for anything it does, just as everyone else is assumed to have ulterior motives for whatever they do, and they think that whatever appears to be going on is just a screen and that the real forces driving things are secret conspiracies by the CIA and the ISI. And that position is incredibly hard to dislodge because for decades, the real forces driving things actually were secret conspiracies by the CIA and ISI. And, perhaps, that’s still true.


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