Wednesday, February 9, 2011
The Dangers of Empowerment
Local tribesmen (Lashkars) in Pakistan were hired and armed by the Pakistani government to fight against the Taliban and Al Qaeda on the Pakistani/Afghan border. Dr. Tariq Amin-Khan, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Politics and Pubic Administration at Ryerson University, expressed concerns about the government’s strategies. Most important of these concerns was, if the Lashkars are successful in driving away the Taliban, what happens next? The Lashkars won’t just surrender their arms and give up power.
If history has taught us anything, it’s that we must be careful about how we handle crises. Many individuals/groups who have been hired, financed and trained by the U.S. and other countries to handle a crisis, have ended up retaining and abusing their power once the crisis has ended. One case of this is the Mujahideen, who were financed and armed by the U.S. and Pakistan to fight against the Soviets during the Cold War. The Mujahideen later gave rise to the Taliban, who engage in numerous terrorist acts and war crimes.
Recently, a revolution has begun to unfold in Egypt. Since 1979, the U.S. has given the Egyptian government billions of dollars to prevent Islamists from fighting with Israel and to keep the Suez Canal calm. The power that this left the Egyptian government with has been wildly abused. In the past 30 years, under Hosni Mubarak’s presidential rule, political corruption escalated in Egypt, as well as violation of citizens’ privacy and unconditioned arrests. Hosni also used the money for his personal use and neglected the needs of the citizens.
Other similar cases have occurred in history. Think Iraq and Saddam Hussein; Jamaica and the Shower Posse; Chile and Augusto Pinochet; and Indonesia and Suharto.
It’s time for governments to re-asses the effectiveness of empowering military-backed dictatorships to handle crises. What can be done to ensure those who were empowered don’t retain and/or abuse that power after the problems have been resolved? Or, are there better ways of handling crises altogether?
GlassFrog blogger, Sherisse