Sunday, November 04, 2007

Barnett Rubin Is In Pakistan

By Cernig

Barnett Rubin, an expert on Afghanistan and the war on terror there, was in Islamabad when General Musharraf declared martial law. He's livebogging as he can over at Informed Comment:Global Affairs. Definitely a must read.

Rubin's latest post notes the way in which, for Musharraf, judicial activism is just as dangerous as Islamist terrorism - in fact, more so, since the dictator's edicts so far have all been aimed at the former rather than the latter. He compares Musharraf's actions to writings by U.S. conservatives about "lawfare" as a substitute and adjunsct to warfare and finds that Musharraf might well have adopted the Bush administration's ethos wholesale.
Scott Horton of Harper's, writing on "Bush's War on the Rule of Law" describes how the attack on judicial activism entered national security doctrine through the concept of "lawfare":
According to Major General Charles J. Dunlap Jr., now the Air Force’s deputy judge advocate general, lawfare is the “strategy of using or misusing law as a substitute for traditional military means to achieve an operational objective.” As the neoconservative lawyers David Rivkin and Lee Casey have put it, lawfare aims to “gain a moral advantage over your enemy in the court of world opinion, and potentially a legal advantage in national and international tribunals.” The concept, which has been discussed in the Federalist Society and at National Review Online, became doctrine in the March 2005 National Defense Strategy of the United States of America: “Our strength as a nation state will continue to be challenged by those who employ a strategy of the weak using international fora, judicial processes, and terrorism.” Note the equation of “international fora, judicial processes, and terrorism.” In other words, turning to courts for the enforcement of legal rights, appeals to international tribunals, and terrorism are seen as the elements of a single consistent enemy strategy. In the strange reasoning of the lawfare theorists, lawyers who defend their clients, or who present their claims to domestic or international courts, might as well be terrorists themselves.
This could serve as a cogent summary of the doctrine presented by President Musharraf. Unlike Bush, Musharraf at least had the decency to announce to the whole world that he was placing the constitution "in abeyance" and arrogating all power to his sole person. The Bush administration prefers to promulgate shadowy memoranda, signing statements, and Humpty-Dumpty like amendments to the meaning of common words. Since the courts are instruments of terrorists (and can even be used to demoralize the security forces!) counter-terrorism logically requires the abolition of the rule of law.
Sure enough, over on the extreme right's blogs, commenters are already drawing the parallel between Mushie's recalcitrant judges and "liberal courts and a lot of liberal judges here in the USA", in tones that make it clear they approve of Musharraf's actions and would like to see the same happen in America.

It's only a matter of time before some Republican big-name blogger or pundit explicitly joins these members of the Republican base in comparing Musharaff's situation to that in America in terms that make it clear they wish Bush would emulate the Pakistani dictator.

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