Monday, June 18, 2007

US Support For Democracy In Pakistan? You Must Be Joking!

As regular readers of this page may remember, Pakistan has seen increasing civil unrest during the past three months, since General-turned-President Pervez Musharraf dismissed the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.

Why would he do that? The General-President must call an election before the end of the year, and the Chief Justice was prepared to enforce the law that requires Musharraf to resign his commission if he wishes to stand for re-election.

As we have mentioned here several times in the last three months, Musharraf's transparent attempt to subvert the law has not gone unnoticed by the people of Pakistan, who have taken to the streets -- in demonstrations led by lawyers!

The demonstrations have been remarkably peaceful, with one notable exception in which Pakistani police were apparently ordered to shoot the protesters.

Otherwise, the demonstrators have obviously been content to march and chant; they have repeatedly urged the General-President to resign by chanting "Go, Musharraf, Go!"

So it would seem reasonable to describe the demonstrators as supporters of the Chief Justice and opponents of the General-President -- except if you write for the New York Times, in which case you might prefer to describe them as "pro-Western moderates".

No, I am not kidding!

According to David Rhode, whose reporting has been mentioned in favorable terms not long ago, on this very page,
TENS of thousands of pro-Western moderates took to the streets of Pakistan recently and demanded an end to military rule.
It's a remarkable inversion of reality, of the type we have seen over and over, from the so-called "liberal media" as well as from the overtly pro-fascist liars who constitute the "mainstream media" in post-democratic America.

In the rest of the article, which ran yesterday, Rhode spins everything that isn't nailed down. It's enough to make me dizzy -- almost enough to make me vomit.

From the title of the piece, "Can Pakistan Mix Well With Democracy?", down to the very last paragraph, Rhode can be seen spinning, outright lying, and condescending -- in equal measure. For instance, he somehow managed to write:
Before the Iraq war, the United States might have welcomed such a vigorous call for democracy.
... despite the fact -- obvious everywhere else in the world -- that the United States has never welcomed vigorous calls for democracy anywhere -- even (especially!) in the United States. But the NYT can hardly admit that, can they?

Instead, Rhode continues:
But with the war faltering, Bush administration officials, and some Democratic presidential candidates as well, are reacting with caution, fearing that democracy could be a recipe for instability.
The war in Iraq is "faltering"? There's a good one! But whether it's "faltering" or not, the war in Iraq has very little to do with the situation in Pakistan. So why is Rhode linking the two stories like this? Because his sources are doing it?
George Perkovich, a senior analyst at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, described the state of debate in Washington this way: “People on the right and the left will say: ‘You’re just going to repeat the same mistake as Iraq. Don’t you understand that these places can’t change and that you’re much better off having someone with a heavy hand, who can have some kind of order versus disorder?’”
If this is the state of debate in Washington -- "the same mistake as Iraq"! "these places can't change"! -- then there's nothing left to do but to shut down Washington and send all the so-called experts home.

If Rhode is to be believed, Pakistanis don't understand the USA any better than Americans understand Pakistan:
Pakistani moderates find the American attitude bewildering and dangerous. Just as they are beginning to believe democracy might return, they complain, the United States is abandoning them.

“This is a movement of the enlightened, urban upper middle class,” said Rasul Baksh Rais, a Pakistani political analyst, in a telephone interview from Islamabad. “Where in the Muslim world have you seen a movement going on for three months and not a single shot fired by the protesters? It is unique in many respects.”
It is unique, and it's certainly dangerous. But it's hardly bewildering.

It's a very sad story but it's a familiar one, and for good reason: it's been repeated over and over. And the consequences have always been horrific.

In the past few days, three high-ranking American officials -- Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte, his assistant Richard Boucher, and chief of the US Central Command William Fallon -- have made visits to Pakistan, in an attempt to shore up the faltering regime of the military dictator.

Here we go again.