That is the question.
President Bush yesterday offered his strongest support of embattled Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, saying the general "hasn't crossed the line" and "truly is somebody who believes in democracy."Joe Biden expressed the jaw-dropping dumbness of this statement well:
“What exactly would it take for the president to conclude Musharraf has crossed the line? Suspend the constitution? Impose emergency law? Beat and jail his political opponents and human rights activists?” asked Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a presidential candidate. “He’s already done all that. If the president sees Musharraf as a democrat, he must be wearing the same glasses he had on when he looked in Vladimir Putin’s soul.”And Steven Taylor notes:
Call me crazy, but somehow I don’t think one really deserves a lot of credit for releasing thousands of political prisoners that one was responsible for jailing in the first place–especially when the arrests where made to quell opposition to one’s legally dubious emergency decrees.They both seem to think Bush is simply gullible, but Joe Gandelman thinks Bush is being mendacious, knowing he is uttering nonsense, in order to profer Musharraf some political cover for concessions.
The notion that Musharraf is a “man of his word” would appeared substantially strained by the fact that he acted like he was going to abide by the Supreme Court’s rulings, at least until it was clear he wasn’t going to get want he wanted. I expect the Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto probably would have a thing or two to say about the purity of Musharraf’s utterances, for that matter.
According to reports, this is all part-and-parcel of an effort to defuse the Pakistan ticking political time bomb. Last weekend Deputy Secretary of State John D. Negroponte personally delivered a message asking Musharraf to step down as army chief. In this context, Bush’s statement should be seen as providing the Pakistan President a durable fig-leaf so that he can take off his Army uniform soon — a key concession to opposition leaders.This, it seems to me, is just another variety of gullibility, if true - believing that Musharraf has any intention of offering concessions if he cannot first ensure that everything will fall out his way. With a packed judiciary, a loyalist in charge of the military and a state of emergency that means he can supress opposition campaigning at will he has made certain that any election held under the current state of emergency is eminiently riggable - and his government has already said it has no intention of ending martial law before the elections. The only difference, then, would be that Bush is being deliberately misleading about what exactly he is gullible about.
There's a third possibility, though - as Kevin Hayden explains. He points to an interview at Democracy Now with British journalist Adrian levy (I mentioned that interview yesterday).
post-2001, it became blatantly obvious to everybody that there was only one military government repressing human-rights, connected tentatively to 9/11, state-sponsored terrorism with radical connections to Al Qaeda that was proliferating WMD and of course that was not Iraq, it was Pakistan. And the problem facing the Bush's administration was their policy post 9/11 was very much to embrace Pakistan as an essential ally in the war on terror in order to allow the narrative over Iraq and the WMD in Iraq to rise.And finally we're back to mendacity in a cover-up for gullibility - this time, the foolish belief that extremists groups which were and are organised, financed and directed by the Pakistani military and intelligence agencies could be put at threat by doing a deal with their masters, who are past-experts at duplicity. Or that looking the other way while Pakistan developed and proliferated nukes gave America any kind of leverage. As Kevin so succinctly puts it:
So 2003, as bits of news began to leak out, news that the U.S. has known about for years about Pakistan's nuclear proliferation, a leak of information that happens really quite accidentally through a fairly unknown Iranian dissident group called the MEK, that holds a press conference in Washington, in which it reveals that the Iranians have been developing a nuclear program, uranium program, and one that is being largely constructed due to the largesse of the Pakistan military.
Now Washington is forced to react to this. The Bush administration begins a series of fevered talks with Pervez Musharraf, the president of Pakistan and a deal is constructed. The deal very much is to indemnify the Pakistan military, the No. 1 ally in the war on terror and instead of portraying these gross acts of nuclear proliferation – I mean the most serious acts of nuclear proliferation in any of our lifetimes -- instead of portraying them as the foreign policy of the Pakistan military, to reconfigure it as the crime of one rogue scientist and a band of merry men who are working with him.
This deal has a quid pro quo. A. Q. Khan will be sacrificed along with the scientists and in return, Pervez Musharraf will give to America intelligence on the procurements and proliferation at work; will end proliferation, one should add; will be honest and faithful security partner in the war on terror, passing back intelligence, helping with military operations in the border areas – Waziristan, South Waziristan, Northwest frontier province. Aiding the crackdown on the Taliban and Al Qaeda. These are the terms of the deal.
Perv the Mushie has Bush by the short hairs and knows he can get away with martial law or anything else he wants to. But remember where the real blowback danger exists: if the Pakistan middle views our government as hostile to their democracy efforts, Bush could be radicalizing the majority to be anti-American.However, as far as I can see, you will search in vain today for Rightwing cheerleaders who are willing to speak up, either for or against their President's outrageous statement. Their silence is a deafening testament to their real commitment to "freedom." Yet more mendacity in defense of gullibility.