Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Coup Excuse?

I have been thinking much of the game of Junta lately because I am teaching Civil-Military Relations this term, and the game with much snark (it is an old game, so they probably used some other word than snark to describe it way back when) nicely simulates coup dynamics.

My favorite part of the game is that several cards and other parts of the game serve as excuses for coups--that one can but does not necessarily need to kick off the second level of this two level game--where one plays out a coup.  Since that fateful day in college long ago, when I see something that looks like an equivalent of one of the coup excuse cards of Junta, I naturally say: aha! coup excuse!  See these posts: here and here.

So, what is the coup excuse du jour?  The Pakistan government has fired the defense secretary, and the military is not pleased.  Whether this will cause or forestall a coup remains to be seen.  That the head of the military has a say in who is the defense secretary is evidence enough that Pakistan has some significant problems in the area of civil-military relations.  You know, in addition to the coups that happen every once in a while when the military starts wars that the civilians don't want.
“The army will not react violently, but it will not cooperate with the new secretary defense,” said a military officer, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the delicacy of the situation.
Lovely.  Of course, this is not new news--there has been much pondering over how much control the civilians have these days over the Pakistan military and the intelligence services:
General Lodhi, who was only recently appointed defense secretary, became embroiled in a controversy last month after he submitted a statement in the Supreme Court on behalf of the Defense Ministry stating that the civilian government had no operational control over the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, Pakistan’s powerful spy agency. Mr. Gilani accused Mr. Lodhi of overstepping and objected to his blunt statement, a public acknowledgment that, while the intelligence services are technically under the control of the prime minister, they are widely perceived to act independently of the civilian government.
And this gets us to Bin Laden, the Taliban, and the US.  The interesting thing here is that the military is admitting something that we have long believed--the civilians do not control the ISI, which has been abetting the Taliban, harming the US and potentially assisting Bin Laden (well, before he was killed). And the civilians are upset that the general, the defense secretary, was honest about this state of affairs.  I don't know whether he said it with pride or shame, but saying it out loud was probably not just important but the right thing to do.  You cannot fix a problem without admitting there is one.

Anyhow, I have to rush off and teach my Civ-Mil class. One optional component during the term--playing Junta because I do indeed have the game.

No comments: