Friday, April 28, 2006

This is so not good in so many ways...

Musharraf insists: I'm not George Bush's poodle

Not that you didn't expect that. After all, there's this Osama bin Laden guy who we understand is connected to 9/11, who's been on the lam for a while.

General Pervez Musharraf, facing a surge of anti-American sentiment, yesterday warned that covert US air strikes against al-Qaida inside Pakistan were an infringement of national sovereignty.

Admitting that his popularity was waning, the Pakistani president insisted he was "not a poodle" of George Bush and rejected accusations he was running a military dictatorship.

Speaking to the Guardian at Army House in Rawalpindi weeks after a tense visit by the US president that brought a torrent of domestic criticism, Gen Musharraf insisted he was his own man.

"When you are talking about fighting terrorism or extremism, I'm not doing that for the US or Britain. I'm doing it for Pakistan," he said. "It's not a question of being a poodle. I'm nobody's poodle. I have enough strength of my own to lead."

If necessary he had "teeth" to bite back, he added. "Yes sir, I personally do. A lot of teeth. Sometimes the teeth do not have to be shown. Pragmatism is required in international relations."

First of all, there's the poodle metaphor. Can autocratic leaders of nuclear powers be poodles? Tony Blair kind of fits the bill. But then again there's nothing like "I'm nobody's poodle" to convey that you're a poodle.

If he were serious about democracy, you have that Iraq conundrum, but perhaps worse: these folks know they've been used by the US as an "ally" for decades.

If he's not serious about real democracy, you have a nuclear-armed pre-Khomeini Iran-like situation brewing.

It was a stupid, stupid presumption to think that real government of the people would not inevitably come into conflict with ceremonial democracies such as ours.

Ultimately what governments need to be to survive is to be real governments of the people, and that's why we're on a collision course politically with the rest of the world, tyrannies aside.

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