Thursday, December 23, 2004

America's Blind Spot: Pakistan

After Tom Brokaw declared his retirement from the active TV Anchor career, Time ran his interview. One of the questions was - was there anything about which Tom Brokaw had any regrets. Tom answered that he wished the media were more forthcoming as far as connecting the dots of dangers of terrorism. I wondered are there any such things at present which are slipping through media's glare which Tom Brokaw may be tempted to castigate as media's failure in future. Despite 9/11 attacks, the 9/11 commission and a deeply divisive election surrounded around these issues; failure of America in taking certain precautionary measures to secure America’s ports, checked in luggage during air travel and other continued security lapses merit one such continuous media attention. It is clear that media continues to fail in that. The other such topic that comes to my mind in this respect is America's Foreign Policy towards Pakistan and how it is America’s blind spot.

There are few columnists who have bought President Bush's Iraq policy story line that it is a struggle for democracy and it is America's duty to support these efforts for democracy and pay the necessary cost. Charles Krauthammer, William Safire are the names that come to my mind in this category. President Bush argues that paying price in the struggle for democracy is a good policy for America because it secures America as well as it is the right step in the direction of responding to "America's calling in supporting Freedom". It is indeed the act of a political genius to shift the justification of Iraq war from the war against terrorism, the war to stop WMDs and the war to enforce UN resolutions to a pure, simple and elegant formulation of war for spreading Freedom. May be for this sheer demonstration of political acumen and deftness American people awarded President Bush with the second term. All these esteemed columnist think that 3 million more votes vindicate their position of buying into President Bush's Iraq war justification based on love for Freedom.

The only small problem with such a fantasy theory is how to reconcile this purest love and urging for Democracy and Freedom with hosting a dictator at White House. It is one thing for a Pakistani General to say that Pakistan is no more than a condom of America; but is another for an American Administration to continue the policy of sleeping with a dictator while still singing the song of Democracy and Freedom in Rose Garden. I do not see anything apart from total failure, again the failure to connect the dots as Tom Brokaw may call; in the media coverage in pointing out this colossal contradiction in President Bush's foreign policy. We know that this president would hardly listen or be sensitive to any idea which does not fit his fantasy world. This presidency in its second term is structurally incapable of evolving any of its policy including the foreign policy. The entire basis for the mandate and "the earned political capital" is this adamant political philosophy cloaked as the epitome of unwavering worldview and strength. But why would media fail to point out this continued contradiction and cave in to President Bush's fairly tale of "march of freedom"? Charles Krauthammer cannot even wait there and wants to chastise every one else for stopping only at Ukraine and not backing Iraq struggle. Folks, we are yet again to miss yet another opportunity to connect the dots.

The problem with hosting the dictator Musharraf at Rose Garden is a moral problem too. With this presidency riding so much on “values”; it is astonishing that how this value contradiction is not pointed out. The moral problem is as follows. Democracy in the end is not “fair”. 55 million voters who did not vote for President Bush are aware that they have to endure all the policies in next four years which they precisely wanted to avoid. Everyone knows how much water this talk of “national unity” holds. Politics in 21st century America is divisive, brutal and winner takes all bloody battle. A perfect Gladiator Game of Post-Modern flavor. Welcome to the new world. There is full understanding with this looser block of voters that President Bush will be all busy in trying to fulfill expectations of those 58 millions who voted for him. Busy in fulfilling at least what he perceives as expectations of those who backed him. This is fair game in this ruthless world of politics. Then on what basis such a large body of society endures such a pain in Democracy and does not jump off into Atlantic and Pacific from their costal homes? The basis is those elected would not stray from the Democratic norms and would not huddle with those who follow the non-democratic politics and do not accord any sanctity to such brutes. In today’s Global World, expectations of adherence to Democratic norms extent well beyond domestic elections and applies to which jokers an elected president should deal with. It is as if President Bush does not even want to think that there are 55 million voters in this country and they are still living in this country to accept his commandments only due to something called Democracy and that very same process he wants to trample along for his simple urge of a song and dance in Rose Garden with a tin pot dictator. It is shameless behavior.

In President Musharraf, we have a wily dictator who has gone backward effortlessly on many of his promises to turn the Pakistani presidency to a duly elected president. He is one of the smartest dictators around to have the gumption to turn away Pakistani soldiers from South Wazaristan and abandon the search for Osma as soon as President Bush is reelected as if he was waiting to carry the farce until the election. He is the person who wants rest of the world to believe that all along his active military and political career he has been associated with Pakistani Military and Intelligence establishment and yet he does not know who is Dr. Khan and what he was doing in his spare time. Alas the world would have been different only if the brotherly love which Collin Powell and President Bush have showered on dictator Musharraf because he had had so many attempts on his life; was available to many other worthy souls in this world. The truth is dictator Musharraf has been simply swindling Bush Administration, has been simply fooling America and meanwhile President Bush wants American People to turn away from this obvious contradiction when he is pontificating about "march of freedom in Iraq" and many intellectuals like Kruammanther and Safire buy into this whole hypocrisy.

The core issue is - is this hypocrisy of any benefit and advantage to American people in real terms? When one sees the illustrious achievements of Dr. Khan in the rarified filed of Nuclear Proliferation; we realize the true loss for America of this crazy policy. When one understands the role of Pakistan in supplying the crucial talent to the over achieving, immensely destructive team of 9/11 attacks; one realizes the future potential of such talent crop and their possible profound contribution to the world terrorism due to a non-democratic regime in Pakistan. When one understands that like a drunken and incapacitated Westerner, America is simply babbling "Osma - wanted dead or alive", but in reality American people have to hear from the dictator Musharraf that Osma may not be there in Pakistan. Why, why the American people are expected to show the dumbness and callousness, as like which is on full display by this administration; while realizing the dangers of "pampering Pakistan"? Why is the media quiet about this? Why do Charles Krauthammer and William Safire of this world do not raise this issue but want others to join the chorus of this administration's Christmas jingle of "march of freedom in Iraq"? To William Safire, is this "Chicken Pakistan" of the American media? We know Bush Administration is Chicken on this issue but it is not acceptable that media too is chicken about Pakistan. Or is it that these esteemed critics and media are completely dazzled by the shine of Bush victory in Election 2004 accompanied by the heavy drumbeat of "march of freedom in Iraq" lyrics written by that, that other worldly genius mind named Karl Rove? May be they need to ask Indians how to get out of the spell of this heady and powerful drug called "Pakistan as a partner in War on Terrorism".

December 7, 2004.

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