Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Just Wondering...

You are the leader of a powerful alliance of countries that have come together in response to being attacked by terrorists. As leader, you have certain goals.

One of these goals is to do away with religious fundamentalists in Countries A and B, because they are the most notable sponsors of the organisations that have been bombing your countries.

You also enlist the help of Country C, itself a major sponsor of those terrorist organisations, but lucky enough to have convenient geographical positioning and a way with words.

You know that if Countries A, B, or C have civilian regimes then things will be difficult. Action will not be taken quickly enough, too many people will have a say in what can be allowed to happen, and generally things are not conducive for decisive action.

You are, of course, fortunate that none of the three countries has a civilian regime. One is ruled by a dictator that you want out, the other by a group of tribal warlords that you placed there yourself, and the third by an army leader whose anti-democratic moves you silently condone, especially for the reasons mentioned above.

This Country C, ruled by a military dictator, poses the biggest challenge. (Countries A and B have been blasted out of existence and it is up to whoever is interested to pick up the pieces.)

From your alliance's point of view, it is good to let the military leader, General D, rule Country C as long as possible. He has proven to be malleable, responds to your demands, and makes the right noises, even if you don't know what he is up to when your back is turned.

But General D has an interest to stay in power. His biggest opposition to remaining in power comes from Political Parties E and F, that each ruled the country before the transfer of power to the military. Parties E and F look to consolidate their power base while 'in opposition' so that the next time there is an election they might have a chance again.

General D does not like this. The only thing he can do to prevent this political unrest from becoming a movement against his rule is by weakening Parties E and F. Sending their leaders into exile is all very well, but the power void must be filled by someone.

Enter Fundamentalist Parties G and H. General D courts their friendship and appeases them, because he doesn't see them as a power threat (just yet) and because their support renders Political Parties E and F ineffective. Fundamentalist Parties G and H may even win the next election.

If Fundamentalist Parties G and H win, or even grow in strength, then this boosts the case of all subsidiary fundamentalist organisations in the region. Country C has already been a Bad Boy, selling objectionable pictures and diagrams to other local bullies. Goodness knows what will happen if these guys come to power.

As leader of the alliance, you watch all this. The very fundamentalists whom you wanted to de-fang have been made more powerful by the very military leader whom you recruited to be on your side. You have strengthened your own enemies through your convenient mutual friend's self interests.

What do you do now? Make friends with Neighbour I, busily portraying itself as Another Victim and A Good Guy, just to add some more masala to the regional stew that brews?

Nah. Go play some golf.