That al-Qaeda and their "tribal" allies in the Taliban are anti-Enlightenment in nature is nothing new. However, al-Qaeda the organization's philosophical antipathy towards the Westphalian order has not been emphasized nearly enough. It is no accident, to be sure, that anti-states like Somalia, Yemen and Afghanistan are the breeding grounds of Islamic fundamentalist terrorism, nor that only recently stable countries like Uganda and the even more fragile Iraq are front-and-center on their radar. From Mike Signer in HuffPo:
The world has been governed by an arrangement of sovereign nation-states with fixed boundaries since the Treaty of Westphalia was signed in 1648. But that system faces threats today. In a fascinating article in Foreign Policy, Atlantic staff writer Graeme Wood described today's worrisome "quasi-states"--ethnic enclaves that have currency and governments, yet are not officially recognized by the United Nations. Wood includes Abkhazia, an entity of 190,000 that separated from Georgia after a war in the early 1990s; Somaliland, a refugee enclave from a Somalian dictator's brutality in the late 1980s; and Kurdistan, which stamps visas "Republic of Iraq-Kurdistan Region."
No less worrisome are weak nation-states that are currently facing threats to their sovereignty from terrorist groups within their borders. The attempted airplane bombing by a Nigerian disciple of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which has taken root in Yemen, is only the latest reminder.
Clearly this is the number one reason we are getting into bed with the loathesome, corrupt Karzai government ("some $29 billion in aid over the past nine years") and passing such cynical grin-and-bear-it pieces of legislation like the Kerry-Lugar bill ($7.5 billion to the paranoiac Generals in Pakistan):
STRATFOR does a wonderful job untangling the complex issues surrounding citizenship, immigration, border security and the nation-state -- all of which are, for whatever curious reason, flash points in today's geopolitical conversation. I understand -- regarding Pakistan -- the importance of engaging the Generals (particularly considering the threatening possibility of nuclear proliferation). I also fear that the excessive Realism of the Obama administration, a corrective philosophical counterbalance the the hyper-Idealism of Bush, 43, does not engage nearly enough the nascent Legislative branch. When was the last time, for example, that we have heard Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaking to lawyers and judges -- our natural allies -- in Pakistan?
What has happened to the Department of State, which, ordinarily, would be bolstering a legislative branch in Pakistan? Since Bush 43 marginalized State to Rumsfeld's DoD at the outset of the War on Terror, the State Department has yet to right itself. It is not inconceivable that in a period of war, the Department of State lessens in value even as the Defense rises. That may explain, in part, why Hillary Clinton and Robert Gates appear joined at the hip:
It has always been the opinion of this blog that even as we deal with the Pakistan military (thanks AQ Khan), we ought always to have been speaking and helping the lawyers movement. If Pakistan ever becomes a true democracy, it will be through a robust and stable legal foundation and a court system that is stronger than its military and dedicated to a justice that inspires the young and gives solace to the elderly.
We seem to have forgotten about that in our pursuit of Realpolitik.