James Clay Fuller

Things We're Not Supposed to Say

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Piece 5: Bush bungling in Pakistan

It is an established fact that George W. Bush makes instantaneous decisions about individuals he meets on “gut feelings” and rarely thereafter allows fact to alter his opinion.

He fell immediately in love with Vladimir Putin, said good ol' Vlad was “my kinda guy,” and has yet to deny his first impression despite Putin's open contempt and conflicting stances on a growing list of major situations, from Iran to Kosovo.

But can anyone explain to a reasonably rational human being the Bush/neocon continued embrace of Pakistan's isolated and despised President Pervez Musharraf?

The White House is practically sticking its tongue down Musharraf's throat and feeling up his backside on the streets of Islamabad while the entire populace of Pakistan is searching for good jagged stones to throw at the pair of them.

The behavior is obscene, and the start of the stoning can't be far off.

Yet I find no record of Bush have declared his undying love of the Pakistani ex-general. The public comments of Bush & Co. have been dutiful but hardly doting.

So what the hell is going on here?

Only one explanation presents itself to me, and it is so feeble that, as criminally inept as the neocons/Bush are in foreign affairs, it seems hardly believable. That is, simply, that having embraced Musharraf as an ally –- in the face of overwhelming evidence that Pakistani president paid only lip service to American goals while giving physical comfort to the Bush administration's enemies –- they don't know what else to do.

Having chosen their “friend” in Pakistan, they have sought no alternatives, have considered no other possibilities than to prop him up even as his country rises against him. It has become “the American way.”

Is that really it? The only thing clear is that the White House's continued full-bore support of Musharraf is guaranteed to provide the United States with yet another implacable enemy in the Middle East in the near future.

On Friday, Feb. 29, The New York Times carried a front page story that pulled together facts that had been filtering in from many sources in recent weeks. Reporter David Rohde noted that Pakistani voters had overwhelming rejected Musharraf's party at the polls earlier in the month.

Bush's continued unquestioning support of the Pakistani president “is fueling a new level of frustration in Pakistan with the United States,” Rohde reported.

That, according to other reports, is putting it mildly.

Yessirree, George W. Bush and his band of merry neocons are the champions of democracy all over the world –- except where it doesn't suit them. And democracy in Pakistan apparently doesn't suit them any more than it does in, say, Venezuela, though the reasons aren't as clear as they are in the land of Hugo Chavez, where American corporations have lost money and power.

Well. Rohde of the Times went on to note that the Bush support of Musharraf after the latter's rejection by his own people “has rankled the public, politicians and journalists here, inciting deep anger at what is perceived as American meddling and the refusal of Washington to embrace the new, democratically elected government.”

The Times report also said that Pakistanis agree that Bush & Co. “is grossly misjudging the political mood in Pakistan and squandering an opportunity to win support from the Pakistani public for its fight against terrorism.”

There is more detail, but that about sums it up: The Bush administration shows contempt for the democratic choices of the people of Pakistan, has alienated virtually the entire Pakistani public, including its intellectual elites, and is, in fact, undermining its own loudly proclaimed policy of fighting terrorism in the region.

As I said, the Times report is confirmed by others, notably the foreign press.

Generally, it is possible without much effort to spot the motivations of the Bush administration in any of its deeds and misdeeds. Sometimes the actions are peculiar enough, or so against the stated aims of the administration, that one has to dig a little deeper, but this one truly is a puzzler.

If it is not simple and utter incompetence –- and that may prove to be the answer –- then what is the buffoonery in Pakistan about?