Recent events in Pakistan highlight Bush’s problematic hypocrisy in befriending certain dictators while touting democracy propagation worldwide. Bush’s “pro-democracy” position appears inconsistent because he still cultivates friendships with dictators, including those in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
Pakistan’s military dictator Pervez Musharraf or Mushie recently ordered a brutal democracy crackdown with martial law. He suspended elections and Pakistan’s Constitution, dissolved the Supreme Court, silenced independent media and imprisoned thousands, including lawyers and human rights activists.
In response, Bush softly called for reinstatement of elections, but said nothing about reinstating the independent judiciary, which effectively approves rigged elections. Bush also promised not to cut billions of dollars in military financial aid, despite pleas by human rights groups. All this is understandable considering their loving friendship entails Bush inviting Mushie to be the first Pakistani dictator to kick it at Camp David.
This loving friendship began shortly after the 9/11 Commission report concluded, “On terrorism, [Musharraf’s] Pakistan helped nurture the Taliban.”
The report also stated Pakistan’s nuclear weapons “hero,” Abdul Qadeer Khan, was involved in “the most dangerous nuclear smuggling ring ever.” Khan transferred nuclear technologies and materials to North Korea, Libya and Iran. Yes, the Iranian centrifuges Bush is so upset about were supplied by Pakistan.
Mushie has since pardoned Khan who now roams freely and is unavailable to American intelligence. Considering Bush supposedly invaded Iraq for weapons of mass destruction, friendship with a dictatorship proven to illegally disseminate weapons of mass destruction to rogues is stupefying.
After 9/11, Mushie modestly helped Bush invade Afghanistan in return for over $10 billion in military aid and for lifting Clinton-era sanctions for Pakistan’s development of 70 nuclear warheads. Bush also agreed to sell Mushie dozens of American F-16 warplanes that can deliver nukes. I wonder why Bush’s lover, with more than $10 billion from American taxpayers and numerous F-16s, can’t capture bin Laden after five years?
To answer this, I quote a young weapons manufacturer at an Iraq war weapons contracting convention. He said with a grin, “war is bad for soldiers, but sure good for business.” Perhaps bin Laden at large and extended chaos in the Middle East is good for sustained fear and military industrial complex profit growth.
Wealthy military investors would lose billions in stock value if the indefinite War on Terror ended. But do not dare contemplate nationalizing weapons manufacturing, you socialists! If the government made its own weapons or stopped starting wars, people would lose jobs and the stock market would crash!
However, we should not only criticize Bush because profit-driven weapons manufacturers and Pakistani dictator friendships are not new. Pakistan’s past dictators were equally repressive as Mushie, yet America continued friendship.
In 1971, Nixon backed Yahya Khan, who was involved in what U.S. consul Archer Blood referred to as “genocide” of hundreds of thousands of people in the aftermath of unfavorable electoral outcomes. Blood said, “Our government failed to denounce suppression of democracy…and to denounce atrocities… [and] failed to take forceful measures to protect citizens while bending over backwards to placate the [Pakistani] government.” Minus the genocide, this situation smells similar to Bush’s Mushie love.
Shortly after Khan was removed, another dictator, named Zia-ul-Haq, seized power in 1977. This dictator also declared martial law and executed the preceding democratically elected prime minister. Like Mushie, Zia strategically destroyed most of Pakistan’s democratic institutions.
In the name of fighting Communism, America substantially increased financial aid and CIA support to Zia in 1979. With American support, Zia eliminated the Soviets from Afghanistan by arming and training terrorists. Reagan even compared these terrorists to our founding fathers. Ultimately, Zia died in 1988 leading Reagan to “profound grief” for “a statesman of world stature”. Again, this stinks like Bush’s Mushie love.
Perhaps it is “strategery” to befriend dictators. Is it smart, though, when those dictators have terrorist connections and disseminate nuclear technologies? If so, why did we need to invade Iraq, and now Iran – two oil-rich enemies of bin Laden – without weapons of mass destruction?
Moreover, bin Laden resides in Pakistan and most of the Sept. 11 hijackers hailed from the homes of Bush’s other dictator friends – Egypt and Saudi Arabia – where Bush recently sold $20 billion in missiles, warplanes and warships. Perhaps people hate us in those dictatorships because America gives their dictators massive military financial aid and green-lights democracy crackdowns.
Most importantly, Pakistan’s disintegrating quasi-democracy may create civil war and uncertain futures for 70 nukes in the country where bin Laden lives. If Bush is concerned about keeping weapons of mass destruction from terrorists, honest encouragement of Pakistani democracy should be priority one, not continued dictator funding and friendship.
Link to The Arkansas Traveler, University of Arkansas Newspaper