The parliamentary debate in Pakistan on taking on the Taliban in Waziristan is a text-book case of the limits of pseudo-imperial power. Although the debate was designed by Zardari to provide some democratic legitimacy to anti-terror military action, it revealed instead a deep reluctance to join what is seen as America's war and a desire to distinguish between the Taliban and al Qaeda:

In their speeches, the politicians stressed the need for a negotiated settlement with the Taliban, said Jehangir Tareen, the leader of a faction of the Pakistan Muslim League.

In its precarious economic situation, with dwindling foreign exchange reserves and high inflation, Pakistan cannot afford a continuing battle against the militants, which has driven away foreign investment, he said.

“The sense of the house is that there is no military solution to this,” Mr. Tareen said. “This is not a war we want to be part of. There is a sentiment that we are being pushed to do all this by the United States. We want this war to end.”

Meanwhile, in Iraq, the political parties realize that supporting the SOFA may kill their support in the provincial elections. The more democracy is expressed in Iraq and Pakistan, the greater the desire to kick out the Americans. In the end, the next president may not have a dilemma over whether to stay in either country for much longer.The decision may be taken out of his hands by the people of the two countries.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to