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Bush and Musharraf's Self-Serving Definition of Democracy

By       Message Ron Fullwood     Permalink
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BUSH once called democracy "terror's antidote." At the height of his hubris, months into his second term, Bush had fully embraced his fantasy that his invasion and occupation of Iraq, and the installation of a new regime behind the shock-and-awe and intimidation of our military forces (and in Afghanistan, as well), would usher in a movement toward democracy in the Middle East. Yet, everything they've done abroad behind the sacrifices of our nation's defenders (in the name of 'spreading democracy) has been couched in their manufactured 'war on terror.' Bush insistence in 2001, that other nations are "either with us, or against us" in his terror war is still their mantra and guide.

Nowhere is the danger of the administration's self-serving posturing more evident than in the administration's seeming acquiescence to Gen. Musharraf's second coup in Pakistan. Musharraf has imposed 'emergency rule' and has suspended the country's national election which was due in January. In addition, Pakistani police have rounded-up and detained thousands of opposition members including the acting president of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif's party. This follows Musharraf's earlier suspension of Pakistan's constitution and removal of the nation's chief justice, Iftikhar Chaudhry, who had promised to rule on the legality of the dictator's re-election as president last month by Parliament.

Since 2001, the Bush administration has given the general over $11 billion in exchange for promised cooperation against terrorism. "Some of the aid that goes to Pakistan is directly related to the counterterrorism mission," SoS Rice said yesterday in response to questions. "We just have to review the situation. But I would be very surprised if anyone wants the president to ignore or set aside our concerns about terrorism," she said.

Rice pronounced herself "disappointed" by Musharraf's decision to 'delay' elections as he ordered his military to detain thousands of his political opponents, invoking 'emergency powers in an attempt to hold on to power. But, it has become clear that the administration has no intention of cutting of their military ties with the offending dictatorship. In fact, their excuses for their wink and nod at the strongman's attempt to stave off a democratic upheaval of his imposed rule, mirror Musharraf's own excuses that he offered in an address to the citizens of Pakistan:

The Pakistani dictator blamed 'rising violence from Islamic militants' and a 'series of judicial decisions for demoralizing law enforcement officials', 'setting known terrorists free', and the (alleged) 'undermining his efforts to move the country toward democracy.'

The emergency declaration “does not impact our military support of Pakistan'' or its efforts in the war on terror, Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell assured reporters yesterday.

I don't believe this administration is really concerned with the effects of political unrest and power transfers in Pakistan beyond what those changes might mean to themselves politically; or what they might mean to their regional benefactors -- like the Saudis working with Pakistan in their pursuit of nuclear technology. They'll likely bend any result in Pakistan around whatever suits their craven focus and determination to hold on to every inch of control they can manage -- even if that means accepting some other dictator or autocrat who might emerge, as long as that individual postures ever so slightly toward the U.S.. It will also be smart to watch for some type reciprocating assistance from Musharraf to the administration's planned assault on Iran.

The Bush administration's cynical, opportunistic embrace of the language of support for democracy in their dual Mideast invasions and occupations (as well as in their support of Israel's recent invasion and assault on Lebanon) will, no doubt, find something to latch onto as they address the posturing of Musharraf in Pakistan. We'll be told to be patient and to allow their respective militarism to take its course. To interrupt their 'process' toward democracy would be fatal, we will undoubtedly be warned.
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Pakistan's military dictator will insist, as he did, here in the U.S., months before Bush invaded Iraq, that a democracy is already in place in Pakistan.

"Over the last 50 years, five decades, we have had dysfunctional democracy in Pakistan," Musharraf told reporters in the White House in 2003. "What I am doing, really," he said, "is to introduce sustainable democracy. Let me assure you, all the constitution changes, all the political restructuring that we have done is in line with ensuring sustainable democracy in Pakistan. We will continue with this process, to ensure that democracy is never derailed in Pakistan. This is my assurance."

What Bush and Musharraf share is their satisfaction with the erection of Potemkin democracies which only serve their cynical political campaigns promising to complete the actual democratic processes that they, themselves obstruct with their military defense of those self-serving deceptions. How more clear can the danger be of their unabated posturing and their anti-democratic grabs for assumed power and influence over their hapless citizens?

Bush and Cheney must be watching in pride (and envy) as their protege' in Pakistan deftly manipulates the absolute power manifest in his control over his country's military. It's a familiar posture to our own lame-duck militarists in the White House who've cast their every anti-democratic abuse of power as a defense of our national security. Bush talks regularly about 'listening to his generals' as he justifies his own military ambitions behind their expected defense of whatever mission he orders them to carry out.

He's repeatedly reminded us that 'we're at war,' even as he stubbornly refuses to use the bulk of the force of our military to directly confront the original subjects of his 'use of force' mandate from Congress. Instead of pursuing those suspects, those obvious instigators of resistant violence, Bush has us mucked up in Iraq, pretending to Americans that his operational junta he's established there and the tracts of land our soldiers occupy represent the beginnings of some future democracy. Iraq is Bush's terror factory where he manufactures the props for his perpetual protection scheme.
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It's not hard to imagine Bush and Cheney thinking about manipulating a 'state of emergency' in the U.S., like Musharraf in Pakistan has -- with an eye toward clinging to power -- claiming that the elected Democrats threaten our national security in their refusal to act on some trumped-up 'threat', like in Iran. That paranoia is not all that far out of line considering recent moves by the administration in their advancement of 'Directive 51', which elevates the role of the president as supreme over all other branches in a national emergency -- which, of course, the Executive would have the power to define and declare. It's even more of a realistic paranoia when considering the demonstrated inability or unwillingness of the present Congress to take charge of any lever of power this president has defiantly usurped.

In an amazing mockery of our nation's history and our own defense of democracy, Musharraf today compared his anti-democratic actions to those of our President Lincoln, who, during the Civil War, suspended the writ of habeas corpus, imprisoning more than 13,000 southerners who he determined to be agitating unlawfully against the Union.

“I would at this time venture to read out an excerpt of President Abraham Lincoln, specially to all my listeners in the United States," Musharraf said on Pakistani television. As an idealist, Abraham Lincoln had one consuming passion during that time of crisis, and this was to preserve the Union… toward that end, he broke laws, he violated the Constitution, he usurped arbitrary power, he trampled individual liberties. His justification was necessity and explaining his sweeping violation of Constitutional limits he wrote in a letter in 1864, and I quote, ‘My oath to preserve the Constitution imposed on me the duty of preserving by every indispensable means that government, that Nation of which the Constitution was the organic law. Was it possible to lose the Nation and yet preserve the Constitution?’”

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Ron Fullwood, is an activist from Columbia, Md. and the author of the book 'Power of Mischief' : Military Industry Executives are Making Bush Policy and the Country is Paying the Price

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