Wednesday, November 7, 2007

What a Difference a Year Makes!

The Capital Cafeteria loudspeaker called out a special promotion given the visit of French President Nicolas Sarkozy. After speaking to Congress, the legislators joyfully made their way to lunch. As they perused the fine offerings, a neatly dressed man spoke into the microphone.

"Get your free French Fries, here! By Congressional order French fries are as American as apple pie. Yes, they actually passed something today besides hot air and gas, which reminds me. The Chile Fries are now banned as the Vice President got Chile mixed up with Venezuela."

Yes, what a difference a year makes. Freedom Fries are gone, and France lined up as the good cop in our negotiations with Iran on nuclear technology. But what else happened?

Pakistan did a 180 degree turn. Earlier this year Vice President Dick Cheney visited Islamabad to encourage President Musharraf to do more to crack down on al Qaeda in his country. While claiming to go after those same Islamic extremists, the Pakistani President just suspended the constitution and installed martial law. He quickly set his sights on dismantling the few key legs left of democracy, an independent judiciary, a free and independent press, and his non-extremist political opponents.

As the Bush administration tried to make Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad look like Hitler, out paraded the Pakistani dictator in his military uniform. George's face deflated at the visual, so he called Pervez personally to tell him "take your uniform off". Until that happens, my guess is the Hitler reference stays buried.

But the U.S. is in a quandary and must make Pakistan look better than Burma, the prior scene of closed media and protester head cracking. So what did the Bush administration say?

"Pakistan has been on the path to democracy. Burma hadn't been on the path to democracy. And it requires different tactics to achieve the common objective."-George W. Bush

Both have left the path and are off roading. Pervez strikes lawyers and Bhutto supporters with his Hummer, while the Burma junta runs over Buddhist monks. In neither case have U.S. companies restrained the business they do with brutal leaders.

"Let me remind you that this is a country of 150 million inhabitants who happens to have nuclear weapons. It is very important for us that one day we shouldn't wake up with a government, an administration in Pakistan, which is in the hands of the extremists."-Nicolas Sarkozy

I think we're all aware of this, Mr. French President. The problem is the visual of Pervez dressed in his military uniform tossing the helium filled globe around the room. What additional leverage does he currently have with those nuclear weapons?

"No country has done more in terms of inflicting damage and punishment on the Taliban and the al-Qaida since 9-11," Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte told the House Foreign Affairs Committee. "Their record is quite impressive."

Well, Mr. Negroponte, care to explain why Pakistan released 28 suspected suicide bombers right after conducting their coup? That act combined with Cheney's Februrary dress down raises doubts to your statement. The Washington Post reported on his trip on Feb. 27th, 2007:

The White House signaled its growing impatience with Pakistan's failure to crack down on Islamic extremists, dispatching Vice President Cheney for an unannounced visit yesterday to pressure President Pervez Musharraf to do more against a resurgent Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters.

Arresting judges, media, lawyers, and political opponents and releasing the very Islamic extremists cited as the reason for imposing martial law? Something isn't adding up. I feel some Bush math coming on...