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Democracy in Pakistan

 There is a rush to judgment by the media and our government, both Democrats and Republicans, reacting to Pakistan’s Pervez Musharraf’s declaration of emergency and suspension of their constitution.  Everyone now waving the flag of democracy says this is the anti-democratic conduct of a dictator, and should be stopped immediately!

Unfortunately, those of us hung up on democracy for the sake of democracy don’t look at history and realize that not all people are politically mature or responsible enough to handle democracy.  Adolf Hitler came to power through democratic elections.  And Germany was far greater advanced intellectually, technically and materially than most nations of that time. 

The law of unintended consequences comes into play when good people over-preach democracy, without looking around the corner.  Hamas, whose faithful followers kill, murder and perpetually create mayhem, was democratically elected in Gaza, and presents the world with one of the most serious threats to peace in the Mid-East.

Sometimes it is wise to support the best of the worst, in order to not go deeper into chaos and misery.  During World War II, we made allies with one of the most tyrannical butchers in history, Joseph Stalin, and at the time, it was absolutely the right thing to do.  Winston Churchill said, “If Hitler invaded hell, I would at least make a favorable reference to the devil in the House of Commons.” 

The United States’ failure to consider such sentiments in large part led to the present MidEast troubles as we withdrew our support for the Shah of Iran, and allowed the socalled “voice of the people” force him into exile.  The unintended consequence was to set up an Islamic state far more repressive, and of greater threat to the peace of the world, than the Shah ever was or would have been.  Shades of the same kind of thinking seem to be reflected in the United States’ policy toward Musharraf today.

Musharraf is the man in the hot seat.  His life has been threatened many times by Islamic terrorists.  By tempering our criticism at this juncture, what a bargain we might strike by pressing him to allow our troops access to Pakistani territory in pursuit of Bin Laden.

Benazir Bhutto, the previously twice-elected Prime Minister of Pakistan, was twice-dismissed for involvement in various corruption scandals.  She is no bargain either.  And her conduct during the present governmental crisis does not lend support to the perception of calm, rational thinking.  While it is alleged that her problems were politically motivated by the opposition, and undoubtedly there is much to that, the saying goes, “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.”  And surrounding Bhutto’s stay in power, there was plenty of smoke.  Much of the evidence of corruption, money-laundering and whisking away of funds into foreign banks comes from French, Polish and Swiss governments.

When the choice to be made is between a benevolent dictator, a scandalous and corrupt democrat or a state-sponsored terror regime, the elimination of the first choice may be all it takes to head down a slippery slope to the last.  We had better watch our step.

There is a saying, “Better the devil you know than the one you don’t.”


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The December 2007 Edition of the Valley Patriot
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