Watching the debate over whether Huckabee’s withdrawn “attack” ad is over the top, and other assorted Iowa psychodramas makes interesting contrast with the rest of the world’s electioneering outside the Great Satan.
In Kenya they’re burning churches and rioting; in Pakistan riots lead to murder and arson. Hamas and Fatah are at it again in Gaza. At some point, someone might wonder how such a crass hyper-power can rather peacefully conduct voting in a way most abroad apparently cannot.
In the case of Pakistan, however, we are starting to see a disturbing pattern: the rioting and violence continues, the conspiracies mount, and the three general factions square off (the al-Qaeda/Islamists “death to the West” clique; the military/dictatorship “at least we provide order and secure the nukes” bunch; and the “reform” and democracy Bhuttoites [“forget our past corruption”]).
The common denominator is that it is somehow America’s fault for: either “propping” up a dictator,” or not pressing him enough to reform, or naively backing him up against a wall, or demanding he fight terrorists, or giving him a pass not to fight terrorists, or rigging an American-backed Bhutto return, or exposing a brave heroine to the clutches of her enemies without proper security, or this or that or that or this.
And these endless, and self-contradictory indictments are often voiced by Pakistani elites of two types. They are either opposition figures whose past careers are ample proof of corruption and lost opportunities-or expatriate intellectuals in European capitals and American universities (who sound like they had a little bit more opportunity at the good life than those who grow up in El Paso or Bakersfield), endlessly faulting some aspect of U.S. foreign policy–always forgetting why they are here and not over in Pakistan, and why perhaps they might do more good to match their idealistic and often vituperative rhetoric by returning to the land of their birth to enact real change on the ground, a country that sorely needs those with such international experience and expertise.
The media usually, but unknowingly, provides some exegesis: they have shown now for the nth time the shrieking rioter who serially beats the skeleton of a completely burned out and utterly destroyed bus with a long wooden stick–then cut away to the typical interview with some government grandee, ensconced in a beautiful home of tile and gardens, defending the indefensible of the government in mellifluous English.
Meanwhile, we are daily reminded that Pakistan’s 1998 detonation of a nuclear weapon remains the greatest foreign policy lapse of the last quarter-century…