Sunday, November 11, 2007

Realists Discover the Bush Doctrine

This weekend's "Hot Topic" commentary over at the Wall Street Journal argues that realists have caught the neoconservative spirit on Pakistani democracy:

Whatever Pervez Musharraf's failings in Islamabad, his impact in Washington has been nothing short of miraculous. With his declaration of emergency rule, the Pakistan President has single-handedly revived the Bush Doctrine. The same people who only days ago were deriding President Bush for naively promoting democracy are now denouncing him for not promoting it enough in Pakistan.

"We have to move from a Musharraf to a Pakistan policy," declared Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden on Thursday. "Pakistan has strong democratic traditions and a large, moderate majority. But that moderate majority must have a voice in the system and an outlet with elections. If not, moderates may find that they have no choice but to make common cause with extremists, just as the Shah's opponents did in Iran three decades ago."

Joe Biden, neocon.

The Senator's epiphany underscores that Pakistan has long been the playground not of democracy promoters but of the foreign-policy "realists." General Musharraf may have taken power in a coup, but when Colin Powell famously gave him the for-us-or-against-us choice after 9/11, the general chose "for." He is a U.S. ally in a rough neighborhood, his government captured such al Qaeda bigs as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and as an authoritarian he was of the moderate kind. The Bush Administration did push Mr. Musharraf to restore democratic legitimacy, but quietly and without great urgency. Brent Scowcroft would have approved.
Read the whole thing. See also my earlier posts on neoconservatism and Pakistan (here and here).