I’ve always supported the kind of civil society and democracy development that comes from “genuinely within” a country — along the lines of what George Soros has done with the Open Society Institute in Eastern Europe.
However, George Bush’s 2nd inaugural address, “There is No Justice Without Freedom,” set global expectations so high of what America would and would not accept from allies and partners that now we look as if we are denying our own democratic DNA as we support the power-usurping (again) Pervez Musharraf.
I feel that the problems Musharraf faces inside Pakistan are bigger than his country, and America has a tremendous amount of complicity and responsibility for helping to trigger and antagonize these troublesome currents. But the problem we are facing is not just who lost Pakistan, but who lost the region, and the world?
Tonight, I did a short clip on this issue with CNN correspondent Brian Todd on the Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer. Here is the comment I logged:
It’s terribly hypocritical to go into the world and talk democracy, as boldly and as robustly as this administration did, and then cozy up to a dictator like Musharraf. President Bush can now no longer give a pro-democracy speech.
Steven Clemons, New America Foundation
The fact is that we have to deal with democrats and dictators around the world. The CNN clip did a good job showing how we had worked with Saddam in the past and other tough self-dealing thugs like Noriega, Marcos, and the Shah. We could get away with that in the Cold War when America was clearly a better overall alternative to the Soviet Union — but today, there is nothing else for global citizens making choices about their own governments to compare America to.
Our choices define us — and yes, we still have to deal with some of the world’s bad guys. But Bush set up a huge hypocrisy test which he shouldn’t have. George W. Bush’s pretensions in January 2005 puffed up a democracy bubble that Musharraf has definitively punctured.
— Steve Clemons