By David A. Love
Published by The Black Commentator
The raw power grab in Pakistan, in which General Pervez Musharraf has imposed a state of emergency, suspended the Supreme Court and the provincial courts, and silenced private-owned media, tells us far more about the United States than Pakistan.
To be sure, Musharraf is behaving like a caricature of a third world petty dictator, direct from central casting, with the rounding up of thousands of people and the beating of lawyers in the streets by police. He is using the war on terror as a pretext for the suspension of the rule of law and a war on civil society and progressives in that country. How unfortunate it is that so many leaders abuse their power and suppress their own citizens, particularly in the developing world, where already there is so much deprivation and despair. But from whom is the General taking his cues?
Pakistani citizens are paying the price for the misguided policies of Washington decision makers. The U.S. government stands idly by because it does not want to offend one of its primary allies in this war on terror, viewed by many as a war on civil liberties here at home and a war on international human rights law and the Muslim world. Besides, America, or rather, Bush & Co., the inventor of the preventive war doctrine, believes in cracking down, starting wars and stripping rights, based on what they think people might do in the future. War is perpetual, and constitutional guarantees stand in the way of this war, in their view. I will discuss this doctrine at greater length in an upcoming commentary, in which I will review the new book by David Cole and Jules Lobel, Less Safe, Less Free: Why America Is Losing the War on Terror.
America cannot lecture Musharraf about democracy because the current occupants of the White House do not believe in democracy. And various U.S. administrations have stifled democracy movements abroad (and here at home), assassinated their leaders, and selected and installed their replacements. But that does not stand in their way when they want to decide who is a brutal dictator and who is not.
So, which governments are dictatorial? Cuba? Cuba is deemed a dictatorship because it is a small island nation with a leader who, for decades, has defied the behemoth 90 miles to the north. Is China a dictatorship in the eyes of America? No, because although it represses its people and sells lead toys for profit, China owns America’s debt and there is too much money at stake. Burma is owned and operated by a brutal, insular, and ignorant military junta that will summarily round up and kill thousands of pro-democracy protestors in order to maintain power. But we can’t make too much of a fuss about it, because oil companies such as Chevron (who once named an oil tanker after Condoleezza Rice) are doing business there and need to get paid.
And Iran, of course, is a terrorist state because Bush the Decider says so. The U.S. once eliminated a democratic government in Iran by staging a coup, overthrowing Prime Minister Mossadegh and installing a puppet regime under the Shah. Not surprisingly, it was all about the oil, as Mossadegh’s government voted to nationalize Iran’s petroleum industry. Backlash against the Shah’s autocratic rule led to the Iranian Revolution, and the rest is history. Sometimes, it is difficult to distinguish the terrorists and the dictatorships from the democracies.
As Musharraf consolidates his power, unconstitutionally, in the name of fighting terrorism, so too, does his patron, Bush. The two men are cut from the same cloth. And neither can hold onto power forever.Copyright © 2007 by David A. Love