Thursday :: Feb 21, 2008

Winning the War on Democracy?


by Turkana

Sometimes, the ineptitude of the Bush Administration would almost be funny, if not for the real life consequences. Remember all the blather about spreading freedom and democracy? Remember that war on terror? As Scott Horton explained, a few days ago:

Pakistan appeared to be heading for a transition to an elected civilian government Tuesday after President Pervez Musharraf told visiting United States senators that he accepted the resounding defeat of his party in elections, and would work with a new Parliament.

Many Pakistanis expressed relief that the overwhelming victory of the two major moderate opposition political parties in the Parliamentary elections on Monday marked a change in direction after eight years of military rule under Mr. Musharraf even though in the past the parties have rarely produced models of stable government.

After fears that violence and vote rigging would mar the polling, international election observers described the victory for the opposition Pakistan Peoples Party and the Pakistan Muslim League-N as an accurate reflection of the voting.

Pakistan and Afghanistan, and particularly the bleeding borderland they share–the Pushtun heartland–constitute the center stage of the war on terror. While not acknowledging this in their public rhetoric, at length the key analysts of the Bush Administration have come to this recognition. Too little, too late, as ever. And now they face a clear prospect of meltdown in Pakistan with a vast popular repudiation of Musharraf, creating the nightmare contingency for which they have no plans in place. Unanticipated? I think not. This vote is just what the serious analysts have forecast for more than a year, and one of several reasons why the better analysts have questioned the Bush Administration’s Pakistan policy. The Bushies evidently staked their bets on election fraud. The truth is, they never had a Pakistan policy that saw a future for the region; they consistently entrusted the region and the issues surrounding it to political hacks. What we got was a Musharraf policy that ended in a blind alley.

But the people of Pakistan have spoken, and Musharraf accepts their decision. But someone else doesn't. For despite having initially attempted to spin the result as a victory for his policies, despite its actually having been a repudiation of the corrupt regime he'd tried so hard to protect, Bush has suddenly realized that maybe repudiation doesn't actually mean support. Or maybe someone explained that to him. As McClatchy is now reporting:

The Bush administration is pressing the opposition leaders who defeated Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf to allow the former general to retain his position, a move that Western diplomats and U.S. officials say could trigger the very turmoil the United States seeks to avoid.

U.S. officials, from President Bush on down, said this week that they think Musharraf, a longtime U.S. ally, should continue to play a role, despite his party's rout in parliamentary elections Monday and his unpopularity in the volatile, nuclear-armed nation.

The U.S. is urging the Pakistani political leaders who won the elections to form a new government quickly and not press to reinstate the judges whom Musharraf ousted last year, Western diplomats and U.S. officials said Wednesday. If reinstated, the jurists likely would try to remove Musharraf from office.

Bush's policy of hanging on to Musharraf has caused friction between the White House and the State Department, with some career diplomats and other specialists arguing that the administration is trying to buck the political tides in Pakistan, U.S. officials said.

The will of the Pakistani people being of no importance, because the Bush Administration is desperate to keep Musharraf in power. And this comes on top of this new Washington Post story:

Once a month, Pakistan's Defense Ministry delivers 15 to 20 pages of spreadsheets to the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad. They list costs for feeding, clothing, billeting and maintaining 80,000 to 100,000 Pakistani troops in the volatile tribal area along the Afghan border, in support of U.S. counterterrorism efforts.

No receipts are attached.

In response, the Defense Department has disbursed about $80 million monthly, or roughly $1 billion a year for the past six years, in one of the most generous U.S. military support programs worldwide. The U.S. aim has been to ensure that Pakistan remains the leading ally in combating extremism in South Asia.

But vague accounting, disputed expenses and suspicions about overbilling have recently made these payments to Pakistan highly controversial -- even within the U.S. government.

So, there's another six billion of our tax dollars pissed away to no purpose. What exactly have those Pakistani troops accomplished? Osama's still on the loose, the Taliban and al Qaeda are growing stronger, and Musharraf was actually forced to negotiate with the Taliban. It would seem our support of Musharraf wasn't accomplishing much. Except, of course, alienating the Pakistani people, even more. Which, you know, might have something to do with Bush's lack of success in winning the region's hearts and minds. And which Bush's attempts to undermine the will of the Pakistani voters is bound to propitiate.

Turkana :: 4:45 PM :: Comments (3) :: Digg It!