Pakistan is providing another good example of the bankruptcy of the U.S. government’s foreign policy of empire and intervention, which has brought so much damage to our country. Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf has declared a national emergency and has seized emergency powers. His security forces have detained about 500 opposition party members, lawyers, and human rights advocates. He has closed several privately owned television stations. The BBC and CNN have been shut down. He has even fired the Supreme Court, which was getting ready to rule that he was ineligible to continue serving as president.
Don’t forget that Musharraf is an army general who took power in a coup and who has refused to permit democratic elections in Pakistan. Don’t forget also that he is a close friend and ally of President Bush, who has sent Musharraf some $10 billion in hard-earned U.S. taxpayer money since 9/11.
Will Bush order an invasion of Pakistan to liberate the Pakistani people and bring democracy to that country? Don’t forget that that was one of Bush’s supposed reasons for invading Iraq—well, after Bush couldn’t find those WMDs that he scared Americans with in order to garner their support of his invasion.
No. Not only is Bush not going to invade Pakistan, he is going to continue sending Americans’ hard-earned money to Musharraf because Musharraf continues to be a pro-U.S. ruler.
And that’s what U.S. foreign policy is all about. It’s not about freedom, democracy, or any other such bromides that Americans are taught in their public schools. It’s about control through the installation of pro-U.S. regimes—that is, regimes that agree to do the bidding of U.S. officials when called upon to do so. That was what the 1953 CIA coup in Iran was all about. It’s what the 1954 coup in Guatemala was all about. It’s what the brutal sanctions against Iraq in the 1990s were all about. It’s what the invasion of Iraq was all about. It’s what the proposed war on Iran will be all about.
Thus, while U.S. officials will issue the standard regrets over what Musharraf has done, the fact is that they couldn’t care less what Musharraf does to the Pakistani people as long as he continues to be a loyal member of the U.S. Empire.
That in fact is why the U.S. partnered and allied with the shah of Iran and Saddam Hussein, two well known dictators in the Middle East. That was the time, of course, when Iraq and Iran were considered friends and partners of the U.S., despite the brutality of their regimes against their own people. The only reason that the U.S. government has turned against Iran is because the Iranian people have refused to re-install a pro-U.S. regime, as exists in Pakistan. The only reason U.S. officials turned against their ally and partner Saddam Hussein (whom they later called the new Hitler) was because he refused to do their bidding.
Musharraf is claiming that his powers are temporary and is even citing Abraham Lincoln’s use of emergency powers during the Civil War. He is citing the “war on terrorism” for his justification. He is rounding people up and detaining them without trial. He is using the military to fulfill his orders.
Let’s just hope that Bush doesn’t learn any valuable lessons from his friend and partner Musharraf. After all, let’s not forget that Bush himself and the Pentagon seized some rather monumental “emergency” powers themselves after the 9/11 “emergency”: e.g., the power to round up and incarcerate Americans as “enemy combatants, subject to being tortured (as long as it’s not defined as torture) and imprisoned indefinitely. Indeed, as the president and his attorney-general designate have pointed out, the president now wields the power to ignore the Constitution and laws enacted by Congress, as long as it’s done as part of the “war on terror.” The president now also now wields the power to spy on Americans and monitor their telephone calls and emails. And how many times have we heard the neo-cons refer to Abraham Lincoln as their model for the president’s “temporary” curtailment of civil liberties?
Heck, let’s just hope that the right “emergency” doesn’t come along that will cause Bush and the Pentagon to spread their powerful, post-9/11, “war no terrorism” wings over larger numbers of Americans, as their partner and ally Musharraf has done in Pakistan. An “emergency” arising out of, say, a U.S. military attack on Iran and the inevitable blowback that such an attack would produce.