Friday, November 16, 2007

Musharraf And The Common Good

It's very naive for people to believe that our government does things for a common good outside of our own national self-interest. For example, that we took out Saddam because he was an evil dictator and all around bad person. Or that we're on a mission to spread Democracy for the good of foreign peoples.

It's all just pretty, sweet prose that the government uses to get the public to endorse some otherwise grossly pragmatic ideas. Not that that's always a bad thing... personally I want our government to act in our best interests. It's just that this particular government and I don't always agree on what that is.

Take our friend Musharraf in Pakistan, for example. Seriously, take him (bah duh dum!). He's an evil military dictator who is useful to us in the same way that Saddam was once useful to us... another one of the best friends money can buy. We give him enormous sums of money and look the other way when he plays pretend democracy and commits egregious human rights violations, and in return he keeps his thumb on the Islamic fundamentalists and gives us land use.

I'm not saying this isn't an acceptably practical approach but let's understand it for what it is: convenient. The US government is not an idealist. The US government is a pragmatist. You can't understand this as truth and still buy wholesale into the kind of hyper-emotionally charged crap we were fed in 2002-2003. That's what so infuriated those of us who were demonized in the run up to the war. Sadly, many of our peeps got swept up in a tide of nationalism and fear (born of a sense of vulnerability) and forgot that a healthy government requires the skepticism of its citizenry to act as a counterweight.

So anyway, here's where our anti-dictator, pro-democracy government stands today:
Fearing the collapse of a friendly government, the Bush administration has begun a concerted public effort to salvage the presidency of Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf by pushing him to compromise with political opponents and abandon emergency rule, US officials said yesterday.

US envoys intend to warn their longtime ally that they believe his power is ebbing, that he must lift the two-week-old emergency decree and work with former prime minister Benazir Bhutto and other opposition figures to stabilize the country.

Underscoring the warning will be an implied threat that if he doesn't take such steps, Washington is ready to deal with others who will, officials said.

The new tack reflects the Bush administration's belief that the weakened Musharraf remains their best bet, but that greater pressure and appeals to others within Pakistan are needed to elicit his cooperation. As part of their efforts, the Americans might appeal directly to Pakistan's all-powerful military, calculating that influence from Musharraf's officer corps is vital to ending the widening political chaos.

Really for reals, Bush is totally almost completely 100% serious about kind of absolutely fixing that Musharraf problem, for sure.


Anonymous eagle eyed milton said...

Ummm....If I heard Obama correctly...he is also for negotiating with the leaders in power regardless of how nasty they are....

1:35 PM, November 25, 2007  
Blogger Logic101 said...

Right, I know... but... Obama wasn't screeching the hypocritical "Saddam is a bad, bad man!" line in order to get public support to take him out. It's the hypocrisy that kills me.

It just seemed so obvious that the public was being played. And this is a president who just loves to present himself this way... Mr Democracy, Mr Good vs Eveeeel. But the truth is that that's all just a load of crap.

I wish I had more historical knowledge on this topic but the earliest memory I have of the public being emotionally manipulated -- I mean, where I actually saw it and recognized the bamboozelment -- was in the first Gulf War when everyone was freaking out about babies being taken out their incubators in Kuwait. Do you remember that? Because Americans might not have understood all of the pragmatic reasons for getting involved but they sure enough responded to the idea of innocent babies being tortured.

Man, I remember that story playing for a long time. That's what I thought of as the playbook Bush the Lesser was following as I watched this administration spin their way to Iraq like a top.

4:30 PM, November 26, 2007  

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