Sunday, May 13, 2007

Veneer of Constitutionality

Do I get angry, do I just shake my head at this from the Financial Times?

Gen Musharraf insisted on Saturday that he would not impose a state of emergency, a move that would further undermine the veneer of constitutionality that Washington and London require from him.

The anger eventually subsides at the matter-of-factness with with the Financial Times describes the colonial relationship Musharaff has with Washington and London. Then I'm left with the question of whether or not Washington has calculated that Musharraf ruling under a state of emergency is tangibly worse for US interests than his removal from power.

My best guess is that this is a dance. Of course the US would rather see Musharraf impose a state of emergency than lose power. We are not yet at the point where those are the exclusive alternatives and it is not clear that imposing a state of emergency would effectively prevent Musharraf's removal from power, but if it was a choice either/or, the US would certainly pressure Musharraf to impose the state of emergency.

So who is the dance for?

Who is impressed by this claim that Washington and London "require" a "veneer of constitutionality" from Pakistan's dictator?

My guess for that is this is part of the willful self-delusion of a lot of Westerners in dealings with the post-colonized world. It is particularly striking in issues involving the Middle East but it is present elsewhere as well.

Edit: I hope I was clear that reading that Washington and London require "a veneer of constitutionality" but not fair elections from a pro-Western (I won't say puppet because the term is overused, but ... ) dictator - especially when this tidbit was presented in such an off-hand way, was shocking to me and made me wonder for a second if the year was 1807 or 2007. I'm angry that Washington and London are in a position to require anything from Pakistan's dictator. Fortunately, as is pointed out in a comment, the imperial prerogative of Washington and London has been substantially weakened, while not ended by the last five years or so of really counter-productive policies (from Washington and London's point of view).


Ziad said...

I don't know enough about Pakistani politics. I'm guessing Benazir Bhutto is being cultivated as a "fresh" face (though she's been president twice I think) In the event Musharraf's control over the masses slips.

Weather Bhutto would be welcomed a 3rd time is the question. The loss of Pakistan means the simultaneous loss of Afghanistan so all efforts will be made to prevent it. And with India next door they would have leverage over any Pak government.

Still, all this along with the surge sputtering, with even Cheney saying he'll talk to Iran, with the Saudi snub of Maliki it almost seems they're rushing to put their fingers in the dam as each new leak develops.

Sooner or later something is gonna give. I wonder if its occurring to even the true believers what a bad idea invading Iraq was.

Arnold Evans said...

In today's environment, pretty much every regime change in a Muslim country, esp. anywhere near the greater Middle East, no matter how it happens, will produce a government at least as anti-American and probably more anti-American than what is there now.

I'm sure the Americans wish they could get Bhutto back, but after Musharraf would be either an Islamic government or a secular government that depends a lot more on the Islamists and is a lot more favorable towards them than Musharraf's government.

I don't think we've yet seen the full extent of the failure/backfire that is the result of recent US Middle East policy.

Somewhat on this subject, my latest blog post about how successful anti-Western Islamists have been lately in democratic political systems was originally part of this response to your comment.