Wednesday, November 21, 2007

More on Pakistan and "Spreadin' Democracy"...

This week's 'toon is drawn from my initial reaction to the actions taken recently by Pervez Musharraf in Pakistan: really, they're not too damn different than some of the stuff Bush has been doing here for the past seven years. It's just a bit more conspicuous, and bit less of a manipulative, covert scheme to maximize his control. Of course, that doesn't make what Musharraf is doing right, it's just an interesting parallel.
  • If you've missed it, Musharraf has suspended Pakistan's constitution, arrested thousands of his political opponents (mostly lawyers, judges, and human rights activists), disbanded the Supreme Court (which was about to rule that he was ineligible to serve another 5 years as president), and shut down the country's independent news media. Of course, he's blamed the whole thing on the danger of terrorism, but privately admitted that his real aim was self-preservation. His main political rival, Benazir Bhutto, is not exactly universally loved.

    The funniest part about all of this is that, despite all that he's done, the Bush administration can't really decide if they think Musharraf is a friend or foe of democracy. Of course, "democracy" has nothing to do with it... the real question is whether Pakistan will continue to obediently kowtow to the administration's agenda in the "war on terror." Some reports have the U.S. "looking past" Musharraf in case he falls, and acknowledging him as "part of the problem." Publicly, though, Musharraf is still an "indispensible" friend (according to Negroponte), who has simply made a "bad decision" or two (Condi). Then there's Dubya, who yesterday said that Musharraf "truly is somebody who believes in democracy" and that he "hasn't crossed the line." Of course not... he's just doing what Bush does.

  • Check out Juan Cole's comparison of George W. Bush to Napoleon Bonaparte, both of whom "employed the same basic political vocabulary and rhetorical flimflammery, invoking the spirit of liberty, security, and democracy while largely ignoring the substance of these concepts." Bush's use of grandiose rhetoric, such as:
    "Men and women in every culture need liberty like they need food and water and air. Everywhere that freedom arrives, humanity rejoices; and everywhere that freedom stirs, let tyrants fear." contrasted by examples like this:
    The American deployment of terror against the Iraqi population has, of course, dwarfed anything the French accomplished in Egypt by orders of magnitude. After four mercenaries, one a South African, were killed in Falluja in March of 2004 and their bodies desecrated, President Bush is alleged to have said "heads must roll" in retribution.
    ...When the assault, involving air power and artillery, came, it was devastating, damaging two-thirds of the city's buildings and turning much of its population into refugees. (As a result, thousands of Fallujans still live in the desert in tent villages with no access to clean water.)

    See also Alain Gresh on the administration's democracy spreadin' policy of "constructive instability," all part of their greater plan to turn the Middle East into America's "backyard."

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