I didn't expect much good from either Obama or McCain when I watched the last debate. But one thing really stood out. Barack Obama apparently thinks that we alienated the people of Pakistan by supporting General Musharraf, and that we should encourage liberal democracy in that country.
Excuse me? What the f--? I thought that democracy promotion was exactly what led to the train wreck that we are now engaged in in Iraq. At a moment when countries from Russia to most of Latin America are losing faith in the U.S. model of liberal "democracy", isn't it foolish to keep making it the centerpiece of our political strategy? And make no mistake, in the mouths of the American foreign policy establishment, promoting "democracy" really means promoting liberal capitalism, which looks like it is now headed for terminal crisis.
Simply put, the "democratic" parties in Pakistan are the creatures of a small, Westernized elite who are either corrupt, ineffectual, or both. There are only two powers that are willing and able to govern Pakistan effectively: the mullahs, and the army. To weaken one is to strengthen the other. Nawaz Sharif and the late Begum Benazir Bhutto were both renowned for phenomenal venalty and hypocrisy. They were overthrown for good reason- Sharif, for his part, was soft on the Taliban allies along the Northwest Frontier, launched an unsuccessful invasion of India, called for the establishment of Quranic Law in Pakistan, and was about to launch a purge of the military when he was overthrown. This scumbag is supposed to be the voice of freedom and the friend of America? No, no, no. Sharif and his allies- and the allies of the slimy Bhutto family- need to be in jail, not competing in elections (which are a luxury Pakistan cannot afford).
Pakistan badly needed to be ruled by the army in 2000, and it still needs to be ruled by the army today. The virtues that the military embodies in its members- discipline, nationalism, self-sacrifice- are the only thing that can save Pakistan from the corruption of the Westernized politicians, the oppressiveness of the feudal elite and the truly evil fanaticism of the Salafist clerics. Those reactionary classes are the reason Pakistan is in such dire straits today- with a moribund economy, an exploding population, and more than half the country illiterate and many of those 'literates' educated only in Quranic schools. Pervez Musharraf is arguably the most important soldier on the side of good, in the War on Terror today. America stabbed him in the back, in one of the truly filthy episodes of a filthy Bush presidency. If you thought our betrayal of Chiang Kai-Shek was bad, you ain't seen nothing else.
It's my hope that after seeing how inneffectual and greedy the civilian parties are, the Pakistanis will quickly end their flirtation with liberal 'democracy' which is simply ill-suited for Pakistan today and for any country in its position. I hope that Musharraf will realize the criminal irresponsibility, bordering on treason, of the 'democrats' when they forced him from power, and I hope the U.S. will realize that Musharraf is a good man, a modernizer and a moderate Muslim, and someone who represents Pakistan's best chance for a future in which Christians, Hindus, Ahmadiyyas, moderate Muslims, women, and the poor all have their interests respected. Pakistan today is a society in which Christians, Hindus and Ahmadiyyas are routinely hanged for 'insulting' the prophet Muhammed. If you don't think that is a good idea, then military rule is the only solution.
I hope that Musharraf launches another military coup- not for his good, but for the good of the nation- and does not shy away from his duty. And I hope that this time, whoever is the U.S. president will put hard-headed considerations of what we want to accomplish in that region, above airy and fluffy rhetoric about "democracy", "freedom" and "liberal values".