opinion web
Liberal Opinion Conservative Opinion
Robert Scheer
Robert Scheer
26 Oct 2015
An Idiotic GOP Is Looking at the Wrong Thing in Its Clinton Probe

The Republicans on that committee investigating Hillary Clinton are idiots for focusing on decisions about … Read More.

19 Oct 2015
Bernie Blew It: He Sold Out Instead of Confronting Clinton

Bernie blew it. By embracing rather than confronting Hillary Clinton, Sen. Sanders fell into the trap of … Read More.

12 Oct 2015
Go Ahead, Back Hillary Clinton and Forget All About Her Record

Go Ahead, Back Hillary Clinton and Forget All About Her Record Go ahead and support Hillary Clinton, those of … Read More.

Musharraf Borrows From Bush Playbook


"The war on terror" made me do it. That's the excuse that works for George W. Bush to rationalize his assaults on the rule of law, from arbitrary arrest to torture. So why not try some war-on-terror obfuscation to bail out his president-dictator buddy over in Pakistan?

That's the card Bush played at his Saturday press conference when he once again celebrated Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf as a strong ally in the war on terrorism: "If you're the chief operating officer of al-Qaida, you haven't had a good experience. There has been four or five No. 3s that have been brought to justice one way or the other, and many of those folks thought they had found safe haven in Pakistan. And that would not have happened without President Musharraf honoring his word."

Of course, Bush's statement was utter nonsense. Al-Qaida has been having a very good experience, with its CEO Osama bin Laden, whom Bush had promised to get "dead or alive," being still very much alive and apparently moving with his minions quite easily across the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. So too, his Taliban sponsors, who seem to get stronger each month. Afghanistan is no closer to stability than Iraq, that other war-on-terrorism battleground where Bush once claimed triumph.

But now, even Pakistan is a war zone in which the terrorists seem to be thriving, and that is more troubling than the chaos in that other country we invaded to seize its imaginary nuclear bombs. Pakistan has real ones, upward of 80 of those suckers, as well as the aircraft and missiles to deliver them, if some of the religious extremists in the military ever get in charge.

Some highly placed folks in the Pakistan military supplied the transport planes used by Abdul Qadeer Khan, the father of the "Islamic bomb," to transfer key nuclear weapons technology out of Pakistan and into North Korea, Libya and Iran. If Musharraf is such a determined warrior against terrorism, why has he pardoned Khan, the man who did so much to help those rogue nations that Bush warned us against, while preventing U.S. intelligence agents from interviewing him?

And we shouldn't let Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto off the hook, because Khan's network flowered under her tenure in office — but Bush does not hold that against her.

Heck, U.S. presidents have tolerated Pakistan's nuclear madness ever since first President Jimmy Carter and then Ronald Reagan enlisted Pakistan to back the U.S-recruited Islamic fanatics, such as bin Laden, in their revolt against the Soviet puppet leader in Afghanistan. Reagan didn't even care when the CIA warned him that Khan was kick-starting the Iranian nuclear weapons program that Bush now says may lead to World War III.

But Bush's coddling of Musharraf goes further. He dropped the sanctions on Pakistan imposed as punishment for its nuclear program and instead rewarded the Pakistani president with $10 billion in military aid to fight terrorists. But what has fighting terrorists got to do with arresting your country's lawyers and judges? Nothing, but here, too, the Bush people have an excuse: Musharraf is not a bad man — he's just made a few mistakes.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, on a day last week when thousands of peaceful opponents of the dictatorship were being rounded up, called Musharraf a "reasonable man." As for the mass arrests: "We think this was a bad decision. Full stop. A bad decision." But bad decisions, like destroying the last vestiges of democracy in Pakistan, do not a bad dictator make, according to the Bush contingent. As Rice said, "I don't have any doubt that he is somebody who tries to have the best interests of his country at heart."

In response to calls from Rice and Bush, Musharraf did say something about holding elections as soon as he gets a new supreme court appointed that will back his claim to be president. Bush wrote the book on that one.

The opposition parties, whose members are being jailed by the thousands, said they wouldn't participate in elections under conditions of martial law, but Bush called Musharraf's vague promises of elections "positive steps," and said, "I take a person at his word until otherwise."

Bush is no dummy, and he knows that if you want to act like a dictator, you'd better not look like one, so "get rid of the uniform" is another bit of advice he offered the general-dictator-president of Pakistan. He could have added, "and smile more." The best way to sell repression is with a smile or, if you can't manage that, a smirk, as Bush well knows.

E-mail Robert Scheer at To find out more about Robert Scheer, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at



0 Comments | Post Comment
Already have an account? Log in.
New Account  
Your Name:
Your E-mail:
Your Password:
Confirm Your Password:

Please allow a few minutes for your comment to be posted.

Enter the numbers to the right: comments policy
Robert Scheer
Oct. `15
Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
27 28 29 30 1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31
About the author About the author
Write the author Write the author
Printer friendly format Printer friendly format
Email to friend Email to friend
View by Month
R. Emmett Tyrrell
R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr.Updated 26 Nov 2015
Froma Harrop
Froma HarropUpdated 26 Nov 2015
Ray Hanania
Ray HananiaUpdated 26 Nov 2015

11 Jul 2007 Coddling Pakistan

30 Apr 2008 No Country for Old Men

15 Dec 2010 Return of the Great Triangulator