Trump vs. The Academia-Industrial Complex And Pakistan’s Establishment: Two Societies Moving in Different Directions

Who governs? 

Pakistan has a long history of open conflict between civilian governments and what is widely called The Establishment – the military. Today however, a peaceful democratic election signifying only the second ever peaceful transition of power in Pakistan’s history has signalled the early stages of a shift from a policy of confrontation between the Establishment and government to one of cooperation. Before going further, it must be noted that while conflict between the military and elected government is a phenomenon that the international media tends to universally associate with Pakistan, such conflicts transpire in multiple nations with different histories and societal issues.

 

 

Turkey

Modern Turkey has a long history of civilian governments in open conflict with the military. In spite of reforms early during Erdogan’s time as Prime Minister to harmonise the relationship between the Turkish Army and elected government, the apogee of conflict between the military and government in Turkey occurred as recently as 2016 when elements of the Fethullah Terror Organisation infiltrated the Army and led an illegal coup against President Erdogan. The result has been an intensified effort by Erdogan and the civilian government to bring to justice those in the Army associated with all forms of anti-government activity. After his recent re-election under new constitutional regulations, Erdogan has made good on his pledge to make the army directly answerable to the president rather than operate as a body that was previously allowed to make public political pronouncements without conclusion with civilian factions.

 

 

Egypt

After the US backed de-stabilisation of Egypt in 2011, a Muslim Brotherhood government came to power in Cairo that was directly at odds with the military. In 2013, the military led an ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood’s leader Mohammad Morsi and put General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in power who remains President to this day. While some called Sisi’s rise to power a coup, others point out the reckless incompetence, unpopularity and social extremism of Morsi and his followers. Egypt is clearly a country where mainstream forces all make reasonable arguments both for and against the Army’s strong influence on the country’s national political development.

 

 

Pakistan’s light at the end of many tunnels 

Therefore, while Turkey took decades to peacefully harmonise military-civilian government relations and while Egypt has yet to fully do so, Pakistan stands on the verge of peacefully achieving such harmonisation. Furthermore, this was largely accomplished through the ballot box and domestic diplomacy. This is not to imply that the incoming PTI led coalition government of Pakistan is “subservient” to the Army as some of PTI’s domestic detractors have said for obvious enough self-serving reasons. Neither is it to say that Fatima Bhutto (whose relations with a powerful Pakistani political family are minimised by the Guardian’s editors) is correct in stating that “Imran Khan is only a player in the circus run by Pakistan’s military” as she recently did in Britain’s ultra-liberal Guardian newspaper.

In reality, Pakistan is maturing into a state where both the military and civilian leaders are increasing cooperating for the benefit of the nation, just as is the case within all three major superpowers where open schisms between the military and government are largely unheard of. While all such moves in any nation are bound to have growing pains, the fact of the matter is that Pakistan’s leaders are embarking on a new era of national unity – something that is necessary in order to ensure peace and prosperity for future generations. Therefore, less open antagonism between the government and military in Pakistan should be welcomed rather than be subject to conspiracy theories and wild speculation disguised as analysis.

 

 

America’s out of control academia-industrial complex 

In the United States, the military clearly serves the President who in addition to his civilian duties is also classed as Commander In Chief. That being said, the United States has a powerful un-elected force which influences government as much as zealous military leaders have done in the recent history of Turkey, Pakistan, Egypt and others.

America’s media industry – the fourth estate is engaged in an open campaign not just to constructively oppose the elected President but they are openly inferring he is a traitor, they are openly calling him a traitor and they have set about a narrative that he continues to collude with foreign leaders against the interests of the United States. Anyone familiar with south Asian media will instantly recognise these kinds of provocative narratives, but for many Americans, this new reality comes as a shock.

What has arisen over the last several years in the United States is something I have termed the academia-industrial complex.  To put it succinctly, high paid authors, researchers, professors, think tanks and the media personalities are engaged in a campaign which seeks to  undermine the elected government by openly suggesting that a replacement government should be formed by those who would suit the agenda of the academia-industrial complex.

Far from being complacent in the face of this onslaught, Trump has struck back, even after a meeting with New York Times owner Arthur Gregg Sulzberger which apparently did nothing to stop Donald Trump’s retaliatory attacks on the American fourth estate.

 

 

 

This demonstrates that at a time when Pakistan, a country unfairly maligned on a regular basis by both the US government and much of the academia-industrial complex is making quiet, but confident moves to harmonise both security and civilian policy making in a conflict free modern environment. By contrast, the US is now experiencing an open tug-of-war between an elected head of state and a powerful, wealthy and influential academia-industrial complex. For Americans who naively say “it can’t happen here”, the prospect of an academia-industrial complex led impeachment of the current President which could result in open civil conflict is far more real than it has been at any time since the American Civil War of the 1860s.

 

 

The universal lessons that can be drawn beyond the obvious admonition that those living in glass houses should not throw stones, is the fact that when it comes to good governance and a harmonising political system – the self-declared king of the first world is often far less stable than meets the eye while a country defamed for a difficult history which itself is due to the fact that Pakistan sits between deeply hostile nations, is actually persevering and progressing in spite of significant odds.

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