Our Friend in Islamabad

One of the selling points of invading Iraq was to make it into a beacon of democracy for the Middle East, and the wider Muslim world. That’s always been a sham – aside from the President’s personal relationship with the most autocratic ruler in the region, there’s been the propping up of Musharraf in Pakistan. And according to the LA Times, it looks like that will continue…

Musharraf has been considered a crucial U.S. partner since his decision, in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, to aid the United States in its war against Islamic militants, including Al Qaeda and the Taliban. But even as the United States pours billions of dollars of military aid into the country, many have questioned the depth of his commitment to fighting the radicals.

The Bush administration expressed deep concern Saturday, but stopped short of personal condemnation of the general, whom it has supported through months of growing unpopularity among his people.

“The U.S. has made clear that it does not support extra-constitutional measures, because those measures would take Pakistan away from the path of democracy and civilian rule,” Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told reporters Saturday while traveling from Turkey to Israel. “And whatever happens, we will be urging a quick return to the path of constitutional rule and constitutional order. . . . We are urging calm on all the parties.”

So what does that “concern,” that “urging a quick return to the path of constitutional rule and constitutional order” look like?

Still, the Pakistani leader’s action will not mean an automatic suspension of U.S. military aid, Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said Saturday. “At this point,” Morrell said, “the declaration does not impact our military support for Pakistan.”

I remember some talk during the 2004 elections about how GW had “set in motion events that freed 50 million Afghans and Iraqis”. Pakistan has a population somewhere north of 160 million people. And nukes.

Anyway, as I read about Pakistan this morning, I thought about US support for dictators in Latin America. It always produces the same result… people who have a boot on their neck will side with just about anyone they have to in order to take that boot off, which usually means some folks we consider very unsavory. And one more thing… people who have a boot on their neck remember, for a very long time, who paid for that boot.