It is fascinating the way that reality sometimes has a way of breaking through the walls of falsehood and deception that form around people’s minds. What is happening in Pakistan is a textbook example of this psychological phenomenon.
Thanks to incessant indoctrination at the hands of government officials, including those in the public (i.e., government) schools, there has been a large segment of Americans that honestly believes that U.S. foreign policy is based on spreading “democracy” in the world. Thus, when President Bush ordered his military to attack Iraq, this segment of Americans automatically bought into the president’s rationale for having to kill hundreds of thousands of Iraqi people — he just wanted to bring “democracy” to Iraq” — well, that is after those scary WMDs with which he scared the American people failed to materialize.
So, from the time that the president gloriously announced “mission accomplished!” that segment of Americans has continued to hold that the U.S. government is occupying Iraq for the sake of “democracy”—and that all the killings of the Iraqi people in the invasion and occupation have been “worth it”—that is, worth the spreading of “democracy” to that country.
If evidence to the contrary was introduced to any member of this segment, it would simply be discarded and disregarded. For example, if you reminded any of these people that the U.S. government had supported, especially with U.S. taxpayer money, Saddam Hussein, the Shah of Iran, the Emir of Kuwait, and other unelected dictators in the Middle East, not to mention military dictators in Latin America, the members of the segment would simply not permit such evidence to enter their minds, and they simply would not discuss it. They would not permit their minds to absorb or process any evidence that was inconsistent with the democracy-spreading thesis about U.S. foreign policy to which their mind had adhered.
Then comes Pakistan, and specifically anti-democratic, military strongman Pervez Musharraf’s brutal crackdown on his own people. Here is a reality that the segment of true-blue believers in the democracy-spreading thesis cannot avoid, no matter how hard it tries. How does one avoid a story that is on the front pages and evening news every day, not to mention all over the Internet?
Musharraf is a brutal army general who took over Pakistan in a coup. Before he became a partner of George W. Bush, he was a partner of the Taliban. The only reason he switched sides was because of an offer from President Bush of large amounts of U.S. taxpayer money and the promise of U.S. bombs over Pakistan if he failed to accept the offer of a partnership with President Bush. He is not elected and, in fact, will permit only elections that are rigged to keep him in power. He has recently declared martial law, enforced by his military and police goons. He has unilaterally dismantled Pakistan’s judiciary, jailed lawyers and judges and others for disagreeing with him, and made it illegal to say bad things about him.
The fact is that Musharraf is a dictator par excellence. In fact, it would be difficult to find a better example of a dictator — and a brutal, violent one at that.
So, what is the democracy-spreading President Bush doing about this? He’s continuing to pump millions of dollars of U.S. taxpayer money into the coffers of Musharraf and his military goons while, at the same time, trying to make it look like he disapproves of Musharraf’s crackdown on the “terrorists.” In fact, President Bush’s public face of “disapproval” of Musharraf’s crackdown reminds us of his public face of “disapproval” of torture — pretty words but without substance or commitment.
The Pakistan situation provides another example of how the American people lose because of U.S. foreign policy. Suppose a Pakistani lawyer put into jail is raped, tortured, or even killed at the hands of Musharraf’s military or police goons. If there is a later terrorist attack against Americans by a family member of the lawyer, one can already hear U.S. officials exclaim, “We’re innocent! We’re innocent! We didn’t do anything wrong. The terrorists hate us for our freedom and values.” Yeah, like never mind that the U.S. government supported this dictator and his military and police with billions of dollars in U.S. taxpayer money, which was used to buy the weapons that were used against the Pakistani people—well, at least that part of the money that didn’t end up in the Swiss bank accounts of Musharraf and his goons.
The Pakistan crisis provides a much-needed dose of reality about the U.S. government’s pro-empire, pro-intervention foreign policy. It’s a reality that once again reminds us of the wisdom of America’s founding principle of foreign policy: free trade with everyone and entangling political alliances with none.