Saturday, November 17, 2007

Why did Bush trust Musharraf?

Many firm believers in democracy have been wondering for a long time why and how George W. Bush could have been suckered by a deceiving man such as Gen. Pervez Musharraf, the President of Pakistan. Musharraf has never been a small-d democrat. Democracy and martial law are inherently antithetical to each other. Bush fell for the line, the NYT will report in tomorrow's Sunday edition.

Yet it should not be a surprise. Augusto Pinochet, Alfredo Strossner and Manuel Noriega were all installed by conservative US regimes who didn't distinguish between democratic socialism and communism. When Ngo Dinh Diem proved to be too inconvenient for John F. Kennedy, the CIA assassinated the former. And given the choice between Taliban style rule and "the alternative" one would naturally choose the devil one knows; especially when that devil has his fingers on the nuclear button. So of course, Bush would continue to support Musharraf even once he knew he had been had. He now wants the General to drop martial law and proceed with truly fair elections; but we all know it's not going to be totally fair.

But even if Musharraf keeps his promise this time (which he probably won't) and before we get too quick to thinking Benazir Bhutto is Pakistan's salvation and the key to capturing Osama Bin Laden, let's not forget that Bhutto had her hand in the cookie jar while she was Prime Minister. And despite her denials at the time about the country's nuclear intentions it's now clear that the country was well on the way to having a bomb before her ouster; it was just a question of when the country was going to do its first "test" detonation.

So why won't Bush do the morally right thing and cut Musharraf loose all together? As the article notes, look at how long he held onto Rumsfeld and Gonzales after even most Republicans wanted them out. I can hardly wait until a terrorist group actually seizes power in Pakistan and gets control of "The Button." It's really just a matter of time.

Then we'll see how Bush reacts to that.

During the civil rights struggle, many white people told the blacks, "Wait." Martin Luther King pointed out that really meant "never." Surely Bush should have learned that the word "wait" means exactly the same thing in a country with a military government. One doesn't need friends like that. Instead one must insist, democracy now -- or we'll cut you loose.

A world leader can be a true democrat without being a tool of the United States.

UPDATE (Sunday 8:49 am EST, 1339 GMT): I said the CIA assassinated Le Duc Tho. It was, of course, Ngo Dinh Diem. Le Duc Tho was the man who co-won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1973 for the treaty that "ended" the war in Vietnam; then declined the prize since the war hadn't actually ended.

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1 comment:

The Mound of Sound said...

I doubt that Bush ever trusted or even thought he needed to trust Musharraf. It wasn't Pervez that Washington has been concerned about but the alternative if he's toppled. As for democracy, that's always been pretty much irrelevant since Hamas was democratically elected by the Palestinians and Hezbollah won a bucket full of seats in Lebanon. The Islamists have shown that, given a chance at democracy, they can win so that noble cause is dashed. If the US could find a stronger, tougher leader who would genuinely wage war on the tribal lands and keep the fundamentalists in the army and intelligence services under control they'd probably topple Musharraf in short order.