Is Pakistan’s Musharraf like the Shah of Iran? (if so, bad news for us)

I strongly recommend reading this. Gary Sick is someone to listen to; note bio below.

Musharraf and the Shah” by Gary Sick, Intenational Herald Tribune (26 October 2007)


What is happening today in Pakistan takes me back to the time when the Iranian revolution was brewing, when I was the desk officer for Iran on the U.S. National Security Council.

The ultimate reason for the U.S. policy failure at the time of the Iranian revolution was the fact that the United States had placed enormous trust and responsibility on the person of the shah of Iran. He – and not the country or people of Iran – was seen as the lynchpin of U.S. strategy in the Persian Gulf.

Everything relied on him. …

A brief biography of Gary Sick

Professor Gary Sick is a senior research scholar at SIPA’s Middle East Institute, and an adjunct professor of international affairs at SIPA. He is the author of All Fall Down: America’s Tragic Encounter With Iran (Random House 1985) and October Surprise: America’s Hostages in Iran and the Election of Ronald Reagan (Random House 1991). Professor Sick served on the National Security Council under Presidents Ford, Carter, and Reagan. He was the principal White House aide for Iran during the Iranian Revolution and the hostage crisis. Sick is a captain (ret.) in the U.S. Navy, with service in the Persian Gulf, North Africa, and the Mediterranean. He was the deputy director for International Affairs at the Ford Foundation from 1982 to 1987, where he was responsible for programs relating to U.S. foreign policy. He is also a member of the board of Human Rights Watch in New York and the chairman of the Advisory Committee of Human Rights Watch/Middle East. He was the executive director of Gulf/2000, an international research project on political, economic, and security developments in the Persian Gulf, being conducted at Columbia University from 1994 to 1995 on behalf of the W. Alton Jones and Rockefeller Foundations.

6 thoughts on “Is Pakistan’s Musharraf like the Shah of Iran? (if so, bad news for us)

  1. Thanks for the link to your blog.

    To me it seems like there are some important differences between the two. The Shah of Iran represented a hierarchy system that was unique, while Musharraf could be replaced with another general. Not that a different general would be desirable, it just means there are perhaps other possibilities. I got that from watching Armatage on the C-Span.

    Also the nukes represent a potential all their own. They have their own rules and I imagine security network, that are not exactly available to outside forces. There are probably rulesets which only a few have access to so it probably will not be turned over easily to something like a revolutionary army.

    Then, is there even a revolutionary army like that which was in place in Iran when the Shah was ousted? If I remember correctly, they were made up of university students. It doesn’t seem to me that Al Qaeda is a governmental body of a type that could take over the beuracacy of a government.

    Students are better at this, but I am not sure, because I don’t know, if the kind of students are the same in Pakistan as they were in Iran. Someone who is quick to move through Orientation might not make the best governing body. But then when you-know-what hits the fan maybe it doesn’t matter.

  2. Nukes are a difference. Nukes change everything.

    You raise an important issue. Sick is talking about the risk that the ruling structure of Pakistan might change — not just the General at the top. Is there any social structure (preexisting or new group) in Pakistan strong enough to do this? Or would this require years to build?

    What happened in Iran? Was the Shah replaced by a pre-existing power structure, the Shiite leaders, or did Khomeini build a new structure to take over?

    Perhaps some reader with deep knowledge of the region could help us.

  3. Well, What if ? We think this scenario through. Bhutto was deposed, as a proven corrupt criminal. Proven unfit to lead the country. And yet she’s back, backed by US inerests as as the most viable and desirable alterntive to the Generalisimo. As usual, the us is setting it’s self up for disaster. Recall the politics of early US involvement in Vietnam. Go figure.

    And they we wonder why they all hate us, for “our freedumb.” It’s sad really, pathetic.

  4. The US always seem to back the wrong horse (s). In otherwords, there’s no future in installing a corrupt and what is percieved by many, pakistani musllims as a decadent Buhtto regiem, in favour of what
    monsters the US previously endorsed.

    As I metnioned, reminds me the the littany of corrput, incompetent, and inept leaders the US hand picked, and paraded through S. Vietnam, and look where that got us. The US just dosn’t seem to “get it.” Or at the least, places expediency ahead of carefull planning in the best interests of those involved. And we never learn, apprently.

    Replacing Musafiff with Bhutto again, might buy you a few years, but behond that, your’e just leaving the door wide open for somwthing wich to your own interests, as demonstrated in Iran, that will be much worse.


  5. I disagree with your view of American history. Perhaps the implied comparison was with Heaven. If so, quite right — but you must die to get there. Down here everything is pretty much always screwed up, everywhere. History is a story of the blind leading the blind. But both the species and America has done great things. One has to have faith that we can continue to stumble upward.

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