Sunday, March 18, 2007

# Posted 11:44 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

THE MUSHARRAF DILEMMA: In the bad old days of the Cold War, our government had a bad habit of pretending that friendly dictators were actually democrats. Even though George W. Bush has condemned this hypocrisy and insisted that stability is achieved by promoting freedom, it doesn't seem that we've actually broken our habit:
"We have a fundamental interest in the success of Pakistan as a moderate, stable, democratic Muslim nation," Assistant Secretary of State Richard A. Boucher said at a news conference Thursday in Islamabad during which he announced a $750 million aid package. According to the Associated Press, he added: "That's the direction that Musharraf is leading the nation, and we are proud to work with him."
That quotation is from a WaPo editorial, which goes on to explain why Mr. Boucher's statements are absurd. In addition, the WaPo observes that according to the logic of realpolitik, alliances with dictators are acceptable in the name of national security. Yet Musharraf seems to be doing at least as much to undermine our security as he is to improve it.

That is where the Post's editorial leaves off. As you can tell, I sympathize with it, because democracy promotion is an issue that I am extraordinarily passionate about. But when it comes to Musharraf, I still wonder whether there are any better options, because he may just have us by the balls.

Most of the dictators the US once befriended in the name of security were actually in control of their own countries. Yet Musharraf doesn't even seem to control his own military or intelligence services -- which actually strengthens the argument for giving him our support, since he could be replaced very quickly by someone very hostile toward the United States.

So, are there any ways out of this miserable situation? Not that I know of. But I am pretty sure that we can dispense with the hypocritical statements proclaiming Musharraf to be a democrat.

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