Sunday, November 4, 2007

Musharraf Is Just Doing What Bush Wishes He Could Do, And U.S. Has Long Supported The Likes Of Him

Pakistan has often seemed to me like an ally for the foolhardy, if one is actually interested in promulgating world democracy. Now, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, the nation's "president," has done exactly what I would have expected, suspending the nation's constitution, blacking out unsupportive media, replacing the chief justice, and putting the jackboots on the streets -- purportedly to preempt "rising Islamic extremism." Any of this sound familiar?

The Associated Press reported that the U.S said it was "disappointed." Give me a break. We're talking here about Il Doofus, who in 1998 described the governorship of Texas, a far easier job, in this way: "You don't get everything you want. A dictatorship would be a lot easier." (Governing Magazine 7/98)

The Mush Man never seemed like anyone the U.S. -- the real U.S. -- should ever have trusted. According to some accounts, Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar may be taking refuge in a remote part of that very country, right now. Mushie and his supporters don't really want to jack around with the part of the country where the likes of them might be hiding.

If there had been any remaining doubt, I think we should know exactly what Musharraf is about by now. The opposition politicians and media in that country figured it out long ago.

But when it comes to U.S. foreign policy mistakes, this man is nothing new. Let's review the very long history of "pro-American strongmen." "We Americans," in the editorial sense, have a history of betting on lots of enemies of the people who, even with all our liberty-loving, moral sensibilities put aside, turned out to be mostly losing horses.

Let's see: There were the Somozas in Nicaragua; Vietnam's Diem and Thieu; China's Chiang Kai-shek; Cuba's Batista; the South African Apartheid regimes; Haiti's Papa Doc and Baby Doc; Congo's Mobutu Sese-Seko; assorted authoritarian regimes in Mexico; the Saudi royal family's kingdom; the Shah of Iran; Chile's Pinochet; murderous governments in places like El Salvador, Guatemala, Argentina; Indonesia's Suharto; Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines ...

The list is getting pretty long. I know I'm forgetting some. I recall that Spain's Franco and Portugal's Salazar weren't badly treated, for decades. (The rationale was that at least they weren't commies.)

And then, there were two who really turned into sour apples: Panama's Manuel Noriega, and that fellow in Iraq named Saddam ...

The support of allegedly pro-American dictators doesn't seem to yield good results in the long term. I recall an '80s TV debate in which the now-deceased Rev. Jerry Falwell, a bona fide fool, said that "it's OK to make friends with a skunk as long as he's spraying in the direction of your enemies."

But there's a problem there, Jer, wherever you are: In the CIA, even the pseudo-pragmatists call it "blowback." The wind can change any day.

"Murka," get ready for some serious stench from Pakistan. This petty little dictator has been trouble for a very long time. "We," in the editorial sense, just haven't seemed to recognize it, for the most part.

Crossposted at Manifesto Joe.