A FRIEND REMINDED ME OF BUSH’S POOR PERFORMANCE in November 1999 recalling names of political leaders in four of the world’s leading hot spots.
The article, “Bush fails reporter’s pop quiz on international leaders,” reminds us that Bush had trouble recalling Lee Teng-hui of Taiwan and could not recall the leaders of India, Pakistan and Chechnya.
My guess is that Bush would get Taiwan and Pakistan today, but still would fail India and Chechnya. But what we need to remember is Bush’s weak commitment to supporting democratic process abroad.
In preferring a general who can instill order over messy democracy, Bush said about the leader of Pakistan: “The new Pakistani general, he’s just been elected — not elected, this guy took over office. It appears this guy is going to bring stability to the country and I think that’s good news for the subcontinent.”
More from the clip:
Gore released a statement Friday taking Bush to task for his comments on Pakistan’s recent coup.
“I find it troubling that a candidate for president in our country — the world’s oldest democracy — would characterize the military takeover as “good news,” Gore said. “Further, I find it even more disturbing that he made these comments about a nation that just last year tested nuclear weapons — shortly after voicing his public opposition to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
A spokesman for President Clinton also criticized Bush’s comments.
“It is very dangerous for this country to condone the overthrow of democratically elected governments,” said David Leavy, spokesman for the National Security Council.
(Karen)Hughes said Bush was not endorsing the coup, but was stating his interpretation of events as they stand.
“Neither he nor the United States government supports a coup — the overthrow of a democratically elected government,” Hughes said. “What he was speaking to was what appears to be an encouraging prospect, that what has happened appears to have brought stability and resulted in an easing of tensions between Pakistan and India.”
Hughes said (Pervez) Musharraf “has said he’s committed to reinstating democratically elected government, and he seems to have brought stability to a country that had been in turmoil, and Governor Bush hopes he is committed to keeping that promise.”
The Clinton Administration has expressed disappointment that Musharraf has not offered a timetable for restoring democracy in Pakistan, but U.S. officials have not been alarmed at the military coup, describing Musharraf as reasonable.
I haven’t written much yet on a related subject that really burns me — American aid and support of Karimov in Uzbekistan. More on that later.
However, I think it is important to remember that Pakistan’s roadmap to democracy is still largely unaddressed. And Bush seems to be fine with that, which makes the hypocrisy of Iraq even more disturbing.
— Steve Clemons