Monday, May 2, 2011

Laïdi on the Death of bin Laden

Zaki Laïdi sees bin Laden's death as a vindication of what he calls Obama's realism "à sang froid peu soucieux de théoriser son pragmatisme." His analysis of the constraints on American foreign policy is quite lucid. The one point he does not cover sufficiently in his tour d'horizon is the likely effect of the American commando raid on internal Pakistani politics.

Of course, one consequence of the raid is to reveal to anyone who did not yet sufficiently appreciate the point just how murky Pakistani domestic politics are. The location and character of the bin Laden "compound" in Abbotabad, just yards from a major Pakistani military installation, make it clear that he had protection. Just how extensive sympathy for him was and will remain among the Pakistani populace (to say nothing of the Pakistani elite) is one important question for the future.

Heads may roll inside Pakistan, but which heads? Those of bin Laden's covert supporters, or those of his ostensible enemies? Laidi points to the way in which "the Arab spring" has changed calculations across the Fertile Crescent, but I don't believe that the Arab spring has had much influence in Pakistan, a country whose social dynamics I have never been able to grasp (the Lieven book advertised above left is a useful introduction, however).

As for France, any internal changes that occur in the Pakistani power structure might well have a bearing on "Karachigate," on which light will never be shed until it's in the interest of some party or parties within Pakistan to share what they know, which of course almost certainly will not be the whole truth.


brent said...

Laïdi's refined analysis of Obama's 'cold-blooded' realism usefully underscores the pragmatism of this administration's policies in the Arab and Muslim worlds, but the geometer's distance from which he writes may cause him to miss something else about the extra-judicial assassination that has apparently occurred. In Laïdi's mind Bin Laden's death may reinforce the existence of democratic alternatives in Egypt and elsewhere, but from the US vantage point the event seems to have revived the crude reductionism--'good guys, bad guys'--so dear to the American electorate. In this atmosphere of blood-thirsty triumphalism to which we woke up this morning it may be hard for Obama, Clinton, et al. to pursue the nuanced diplomacy Laïdi describes, and that will be even truer in the event of reprisals.

Barbara Fritchie said...

 Obama continued the Bush/Cheney anti-terrorism policies, kept GITMO open, and maintained American military presence in Afghanistan. He should be given credit for that. It led to the location and killing of Bin Laden.

Bin Laden was reduced to living in isolation in a glorified hut without communication with the outside world. Any info he got was via courier system. Intell gathered by questioning detainees at Club GITMO perhaps from KSM himself, led to ID of the couriers and the taking out of Bin Laden. Altho he was only a symbolic figure in the end, the world is a better place with him dead not alive.