"Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities"
From the "Irony Is Still Dead" files:
Over the weekend, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called for a "quick return to constitutional law." Lamentably, she wasn't talking about a return to constitutional law in the United States. She was talking about Pakistan.
Rice's remark about constitutional law was prompted by the state of emergency President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan declared in his country Saturday night. Musharraf has not said how long the emergency will be in effect. This is not to be confused with the state of emergency Mr. Bush declared in his country on September 14, 2001 that is still in effect and will be for the indefinite future. These two states of emergency are completely different, of course. Mr. Bush declared an emergency because terrorists attacked two major cities in his country. Mr. Musharraf declared an emergency because terrorists threatened to take control of his country.
Former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto has accused Musharraf of using the specter of terror to maintain his hold on power. Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore has accused Bush of using the specter of terror to commit "a gross and excessive power grab."
Musharraf's suspension of Pakistan's constitution defied strong warnings from the United States. On November 1, Condi Rice broadcast the message that “…it would be quite obvious that the United States wouldn’t be supportive of extra-constitutional means.” Musharraf apparently didn't take her seriously.
Who can blame him?
It is not, of course, like Pakistan and America are wholly identical when it comes to their heads of state practicing absolute executive powers. Well, yeah, Messrs. Bush and Musharraf did first take power under unsavory circumstances at about the same time (Musharraf in 1999, Bush in 2000). But hey, at least the division of powers works differently in the two countries. Pakistan's Supreme Court was considering a ruling that would put Mr. Musharraf out of office. America's Supreme Court, on the other hand, made a ruling that put Mr. Bush in office. And Musharraf fired the high court justices who wouldn't go along with his "provisional constitutional order," whereas Mr. Bush merely fired the U.S. Attorneys who wouldn't play ball with his political agenda.
Here are a couple more differences. America is the first true global hegemon in the history of humanity. Pakistan is not and never will be. America has the largest economy of the world's nations, posting an estimated gross domestic product of over $13 trillion in 2006. Pakistan's 2006 economy, at just under $438 billion, was 26th among the world's countries and less than four percent the size of America's.
And yet, amazingly, Pakistan can get whatever it wants from America while America can't get anything it wants from Pakistan (see, I told you the two countries were different!). Condi Rice is reviewing whether or not we should try to make Musharraf behave by cutting off his allowance, but as Senator Joe Biden (D-Delaware) has noted, our "hands are tied" from withholding Pakistan's foreign aid because, despite Condi's assertions to the contrary, the Bush administration has in fact put "all its chips" in Pakistan on Musharraf.
That brings up a couple more differences between America and Pakistan. If Musharraf falls from power, Pakistan's nuclear weapons might fall under the control of dangerous ideologues, while America's nuclear weapons are already under the control of dangerous ideologues.
And while America stands alone in the world diplomatically, Pakistan has joined with Turkey and Iran to form an "Axis of Weasels," a loose confederation of middle eastern countries whose economies and defense budgets are well under five percent those of the United States, yet who manage to lead America on a seemingly endless foreign policy goose chase.
And who do we have to handle this situation? Condoleezza Rice and her department full of career diplomats who don't want to deploy to Iraq, the invasion of which created the foreign policy pickle barrel we now find ourselves in.
Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, bless this bed that we lie on…
Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes from Virginia Beach, Virginia. Read his commentaries at Pen and Sword, ePluribus and Military.com Jeff's novel Bathtub Admirals (Kunati Books, ISBN: 9781601640192) will be available March 1, 2008.