November 8th, 2007

Shooting elephants: Musharraf, Pakistan, and Iran

Pakistan faces a crisis. President Musharraf has gone a route that appears to be highly tyrannical—declaring a state of emergency, suspending human rights guarantees, and arresting his enemies (including the head of the Supreme Court). For this, he’s been roundly criticized. We who are fortunate enough to live in this country look at his actions and see violations of all we hold dear in government.

But what were his alternatives, and what are the alternatives for Pakistan? Here’s some food for thought, neither tasty nor pleasant, but probably realistic:

…the potential ruling of the Supreme Court invalidating his October reelection…would have left the country without a constitutional president, which would have only deepened the current constitutional crisis. He would not have stepped down as president of course — at this point the “constitution” of Pakistan is so FUBARed that nobody even knows quite what it is anymore, and purely formal questions would have made it necessary to invoke a “state of emergency” — which here really meant little more than “I’m going to shut the Supreme Court up before the Supreme Court rules that Pakistan has no legitimate government.” I would remind you as well that [chief supreme court justice Iftikhar] Chaudhry is a post-Musharraf-coup judge who came to be chief justice when he sworn an oath to Musharraf’s provisional constitutional order of 1999 — precisely the same oath he now decries.

In Spanish we have a saying, if you shoot an elephant, make sure you kill him with the first shot. Musharraf’s real mistake was to dismiss Chaudhry in March without “killing him” politically — now Chaudhry is on a rampage, a personal vendetta, and has the standing — and grass-roots prowess — to consider a kind of coup against Musharraf, provided he can gain army backing.

The dreadful truth is that, as I’ve written here in a slightly different context, the choice in many countries seems to be between the Scylla of dictatorship and the Charybdis of anarchy—or worse. That, I’m afraid, may be the choice facing Musharraf today. Those who would like him to institute reforms are ignoring the fact that reforms can be a tricky thing in a country so filled with opposing power-hungry forces that are bent on the destruction of even the modest rights and stability that were previously available in Pakistan. And Chaudhry is by no means the worst of those forces, nor is it clear that Musharraf’s downfall would lead to his victory. Once the forces of chaos are unleashed, events can spiral out of control.

Many have likened this current crisis in Pakistan to events in the late 70s in Iran, when the America-friendly but repressive Shah was toppled and the Islamicists won, ushering a reign of repression and terror that has been considerably worse—not just from the US point of view, but for the Iranian people—than the Shah’s.

I’ve written a great deal about how that revolution came to be, and it’s sadly relevant to the situation today in Pakistan. Please read this, a study of how the Shah’s efforts at reform (and those of his short-lived successor, Bakhtiar) helped bring about the downfall of their governments and usher in the mullahs:

Khomeini didn’t have to worry about making martyrs of his enemies, nor about whether to allow them to remain in Iran and exercise freedom of speech. Tyranny doesn’t struggle with the same sort of philosophical questions about how much toughness is too much, questions with which its opponents wrestle mightily.

Musharraf needs to wrestle with such questions, of course; otherwise, he becomes as bad as those who would overthrow him. And he may have indeed overstepped in his recent actions, which is why President Bush has pressured Musharraf to hold elections as planned in February, and the Pakistani leader has acquiesced.

Whether this will save him—or Pakistan—remains to be seen. I certainly don’t have enough information on the situation there to even begin to make a prediction.

History’s a bit—although only a bit—easier to understand than the future. President Carter, for example, was instrumental in undermining the Shah’s rule and helping to usher in its terrible aftermath by pressuring him for reforms despite the forces arrayed against him, forces that were empowered and unleashed by those very reforms (see this for an in-depth discussion of that process). Bush must be careful not to do the same, while at the same time being careful Musharraf does not become more repressive than absolutely necessary, a difficult judgment to make.

The quoted saying about shooting elephants is one of those cynical remarks that contain sad truths. Oh, if only the world were a better place, a world in which Machiavelli and his works were demented irrelevancies! Unfortunately, it is not, and enraged elephants on the loose can be very very dangerous.

32 Responses to “Shooting elephants: Musharraf, Pakistan, and Iran”

  1. Vanderleun Says:

    All of which is to say that if you are going to shoot the elephant you had better get ready to ride the tiger.

  2. sergey Says:

    If somebody declared emergency rule in Russia in 1917, it would save many dozen million lives, maybe prevented WWII and Cold War. This is from murky realm of alternative history, of course, but very probable. And Islamic revilution in nuclear state is the last thing we need now.

    And quite analoguos events in Georgia where stakes are hundred times less illustrate this point again: where democratic culture is absent the only choice is between anarchy and despotism.

  3. expat Says:

    Pressuring for reform is often done very stupidly, without understanding the culture well enough to suggest how best to get from here to there. Points are pushed that reflect our own latest advocacy fads and make good videos for the nightly news but can be very disruptive to the society in ways we don’t even begin to grasp. We come across as finger-pointing bullies.

    We don’t even understand our own culture well enough to predict the effects of changes on basic structures such as marriage and family. Humility is called for.

  4. Chris White Says:

    What do we get if we apply the same logic and analysis to some other countries who have faced or are facing the posited choice between the ‘Scylla of dictatorship and … Charybdis of anarchy—or worse’? You’ve given us Iran under the Shah as an example of another situation similar to that of Musharraf’s with the suggestion that the Shah should have been less accommodating to those calling for a more free and open society. Did you say the same thing about Iraq under Saddam? Does it also apply to Kim Jong-il and North Korea? Does this leaning toward dictatorship being a lesser evil than anarchy apply to all dictatorships, or only right wing dictatorships?

    Donald Rumsfeld when asked about looting in the early days of the occupancy said, “Freedom’s untidy, and free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things … stuff happens.” Do you interpret this remark as being in favor of anarchy?

  5. neo-neocon Says:

    Chris White: I can’t believe that even you think that the situation in Pakistan now, or in Iran under the Shah, is analogous to that of Saddam or Jong-il. By that token, I would think you’re saying that the Shah would be equal to the ayotallahs. No, not all dictatorships are created equal. Do you really not understand the difference, in terms of degree of oppression and threat, both to us, the people of the respective countries, and the world? Is that what you really take that away from this post of mine? Or is it just a straw man argument?

    But then again, some Leftists argue Bush is nearly equivalent to Hitler, so I guess it shouldn’t surprise me if you don’t understand distinctions of degree.

  6. Vanderleun Says:

    “Does it also apply to Kim Jong-il and North Korea? Does this leaning toward dictatorship being a lesser evil than anarchy apply to all dictatorships, or only right wing dictatorships?”

    I’d say the difference is between a dictatorship that may or may not be temporary and an Islamic dictatorship that will be permanent until undone by the force of arms.

  7. Occam's Beard Says:

    “Does this leaning toward dictatorship being a lesser evil than anarchy apply to all dictatorships, or only right wing dictatorships?”

    The critical distinction is between whether the dictatorship is merely by a strong man, or by a strong man buttressed by ideology. The former will naturally come to an end in time; the latter, as Vanderleum pointed out, can last indefinitely until undone by force of arms.

    So the Shah did not equal Castro, Pinochet did not equal Kim Il Sung, Franco did not equal Mao.

  8. stumbley Says:

    “So the Shah did not equal Castro, Pinochet did not equal Kim Il Sung, Franco did not equal Mao.”

    But to the moonbat left, GWB equals them all.

  9. njcommuter Says:

    In considering our actions and inclinations, go back to these definitions: A liberal believes that things can be better and should be better. A conservative knows that they could also be much, much worse.

  10. Chris White Says:

    You are correct in assuming that even I see differences in various dictators, although I find it a less than compelling exercise in ranking relative evils. I asked a group of questions trying to get at some of the underlying presumptions and biases that are being applied here. Here are a few more.

    Forgive me for being impertinent, but isn’t this really about protecting our own interests? Is it possible to define those interests without regard for the impact on the people living in those countries where we intervene? If so, then which of our sometimes-competing interests trumps which others? Is spreading democracy a lesser interest than security or economic concerns? Is denying Russia or China or France (oh, right, we like them again) influence a greater interest than accepting self determination on the part of certain foreign countries?

    In Pakistan the judiciary and political opponents are being rounded up, not the Taliban or student radicals. If we waffle and make excuses for Musharraf, if we allow him to hold another rigged election and retain power, what are the odds that this will ease tensions in Pakistan? What are the odds that it will intensify the support there for radicalism? Should we urge Musharraf to slaughter his opponents (Shoot that elephant!) to avoid having them continue to disrupt his regime? If we are seen in Pakistan as apologists and supporters of Musharraf what is the most likely result whenever his regime ends? If we use Occam’s Beard’s notion of a strong man without the buttress of an ideology being a lesser evil, when and why did Saddam slip from being a better choice than the supposed anarchy that might follow him to being a threat needing immediate removal? Are the answers to these questions beyond debate?

    My own sense is that the more we support repressive regimes and use power rather than diplomacy to effect change, the more we fuel the flames of radicalism. The more we promote freedom, self-determination and lessen economic hardships around the world, the more we enhance our long-term interests.

    Aside to njcommuter – Maybe liberals also know things could be much, much worse, but work to try to make them better; conservatives accept things being bad if it doesn’t hurt them directly.

  11. stumbley Says:

    Chris:

    If you believe that “diplomacy” can be practiced with radical Islam, I have a bridge to sell you in Brooklyn.

    “but work to try to make them better”

    Yep, like Zoe’s Ark: http://www.news.com.au/story/0,23599,22700419-401,00.html

    “The charity wanted to flying 103 allegedly Sudanese children to France, where French families had paid thousands of euros each to look after them.

    But Chadian authorities who detained and subsequently charged members of the charity, flight crew and three reporters say the operation amounted to kidnapping.”

    Or UN Peacekeepers in Congo: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A3145-2004Dec15.html

    “UNITED NATIONS, Dec. 15 — U.N. peacekeepers threatened U.N. investigators investigating allegations of sexual misconduct in Congo and sought to bribe witnesses to change incriminating testimony, a confidential U.N. draft report says.”

    Please, spare us your good works.

  12. stumbley Says:

    And Chris, would you for once just think about things like this (from Iraqpundit):

    “Before you start calling me names, let me say something. Nobody’s saying everything’s back to normal.

    … I know those who are wedded to the idea of a failed Iraq are calling me a deluded idiot and worse. But things are improving slowly. My relatives in Baghdad say there’s no comparison; things are much better than they were six months ago. They can visit friends in different areas and walk about the neighbourhood in the evening.

    Frankly, I don’t understand why so many mock us for wanting a future for Iraq. Is your hatred for George Bush so great that you prefer to see millions of civilians suffer just to prove him wrong?

    It really comes down to this: you are determined to see Iraq become a permanent hellhole because you hate Bush. And we are determined to see Iraq become a success, because we want to live.”

  13. Cappy Says:

    This should be a big opportunity to save $$$ on aid to Pakistan. As long as his army is beating lawyers Musharraf can set up a recruiting office outside American divorve courts. He’ll have more recruits than he can handle!

  14. Ymarsakar Says:

    You KNOW what will happen in every country around the world and so-Chris

    Is it so very hard to believe that the person that does a good job will almost be guaranteed a product of quality while those that are incompetent are guaranteed an early grave? Why do you need a magic ball to predict whether the competent man will perform better than the incompetent Leftist?

    to change it by deciding which governments are “good” and which are “bad” based on a calculus developed by brilliant patriots back in the day when Stalin was in power.-Chris

    Are you not yourself deciding whether Mushareff is “good” or “bad”? So are you criticizing the way we do it, or are you accusing us of doing it at all?

    Does it also apply to Kim Jong-il and North Korea? Does this leaning toward dictatorship being a lesser evil than anarchy apply to all dictatorships, or only right wing dictatorships?-Chris

    It applies to every dictator that seeks Leftist aide or is supported by Leftist organizations. The fact that the Left tried to depose Mushie in Pakistan, called Karzai a puppet, and succeded in deposing the Shah of Iran, is not what decides whether Mush, Karzai, and the Shah are allies of human progress and liberty. However, being targeted by the Left is a very very good recommendation. Just as being helped by the Left is a very bad recommendation for your allegiance to human progress and liberty.

    Socialism, fascism, communism, islamic jihadism and islamofascism are all born of the Left and fed with Leftist policies. They are not all the same, yet nor are they exactly all that different. If you purge the Left from any attempt at “democracy”, then the chances of it working increases exponentially.

    I can’t believe that even you-Neo

    Open the mind up for lobotomy, Neo. It is the only way to believe!

    Is spreading democracy a lesser interest than security or economic concerns?-Chris

    So long as the democratic, security, and economic concerns are located near Leftist interests, then nothing will trump them. Should such interests collide with that of locals, such as the Iraqis, then the interests of the Left trumps everybody else.

    It is a simple aristocracy-peon relationship.

    oh, right, we like them again-Chris

    ‘We’ doesn’t include you. Unless it does. If so, obviously you just messed up every post of yours where you used “we”, because you really really didn’t mean “us”.

    In Pakistan the judiciary and political opponents are being rounded up, not the Taliban or student radicals.-Chris

    The Left avoids the use of force, assassination, and hard intimidation. That’s why you just cannot imagine how the judiciary and political opponents can be made, through efficient and useful violence, to support Taliban and terrorist agendas. It is a limitation of the Left that applies to most of their members. I cannot do anything to change that nor can Neo.

    why did Saddam slip from being a better choice than the supposed anarchy that might follow him to being a threat needing immediate removal?

    Since the UN never authorized Saddam’s removal, what exactly are you talking about Chris? The US never had a chance, a legitimate chance according to your belief in international law, to remove Saddam, let alone create any chaos in Iraq, until 2003. If you are asking why we didn’t want to remove Saddam, the same question applies to you. Why didn’t you and your international community want to remove Saddam in Gulf War 1? We can say that we finally removed him and did something good. You guys have no excuse, in comparison.

    and use power rather than diplomacy to effect change

    As if there is any diplomacy, except begging on your knees for the Iranians to not harm your citizens, without power.

    The more we promote freedom, self-determination and lessen economic hardships around the world, the more we enhance our long-term interests.

    Again, you seem to believe that freedom, self-determination, and economic prosperity can come through a lack of power and security. As a premise, that is totally inadequate and wrong. What is else is there to say? No matter how many questions you ask of Neo, Chris, or of us, it still will not change the fact that we believe in force and you don’t. We believe in power, that it is a good thing, while you do not.

  15. neo-neocon Says:

    About good works.

  16. Ymarsakar Says:

    Neo, I was wondering what you thought of the Times article, written before the fall of the Shah. It was a very eerie look back into history, concerning how the press viewed the Ayatollah. It was a glowing depiction of Ayatollah R K. Almost wistful wish that the Ayatollah would return to Iran and spread peace and tranquility amongst the violence and turmoil.

    What a bunch of dupes.

  17. Ymarsakar Says:

    So the Shah did not equal Castro, Pinochet did not equal Kim Il Sung, Franco did not equal Mao.

    Those that fight against the darkness do not equal those that fight against the light. Such a belief is against nihilist practices, though.

  18. Ymarsakar Says:

    My version of the “elephant” saying is this.

    People will revenge minor slights and injuries. People cannot revenge major injuries.

    The good works thing can also be distilled down to the fundamental difference between Chris White’s philosophy and the classical liberal philosophy. I don’t understand why it requires long comments and lists of questions asking what can be easily understood from studying this philosophical differences between classical liberalism and fake liberalism.

    .To a certain extent when I talk about nihilism, it compares favorably to the use of power as opposed to negotiations and diplomacy. A nihilist may believe that both using force are the same as the other, given the premise that force will never produce anything good. So whether the US wins a war or North Vietnam wins a war, doesn’t really matter since both outcomes are equally bad in the view of a nihilist. This makes perfect sense so long as you recognize that nihilists believe that there is no way to progress humanity from war, violence, terror, and slavery with force.

    I tend to conclude that Chris views power much as a nihilist views force, or war. Whether the US overthrows Saddam or not, doesn’t really matter. Whether the Shah is overthrown or Pakistan thrown into chaos does not matter. What matters is that any treating with Saddam, the Shah, and Mushareff be conducted using diplomacy, also known as international writ, sanction, or law.

    Since the Shah and Musharraf used force and violence and power against people, they must be forced to stop doing so. Saddam is different only to the extent that he knew what the Left was doing and got ahead of the Left by bribing the Left’s international mechanism, the UN, to side with Saddam rather than anyone else.

    The end result is that Saddam gets protected because he is more evil and corrupt, given the Left’s focus on international law and corruption. At the same time, Musharraf and the Shan of Iran are eliminated because they were simply not ruthlessness enough in their treatment of their own people or the international community. This, obviously, is not what classical liberalism wishes to promote.

    Ruthlessness pays large dividends in the end. And mercy is only allowed to the strong and ruthless. Mercy isn’t parceled out to the weak and whiny, for example. That’s not mercy, that is just foolishness.

  19. Ymarsakar Says:

    But to the moonbat left, GWB equals them all.

    Well, duh. I have personally seen GWB execute 2 billion people single handedly. It was the most awesome sight I have ever seen. Such is a marathon worthy of the second coming of Hitler, doubt it not.

  20. njcommuter Says:

    With regard to Scylla and Charybdis: One of the tactics of those who wish to bring a government down is to force it into that situation, to present a civilization with things that its rules cannot handle. The “lawfare” waged against the US military on multiple fronts is a low-intensity version of this. So is civil unrest.

  21. Doom Says:

    I certainly do not envy his place in his country. He had tried to be egalitarianly high minded, allowing an opposition candidate back, not treating traitors as such in his obviously tenuous national situation (how many assassination attempts is it up to), and being a party favorite, in some small way, on the international scene for his seeming incredible “open mindedness”. You know, sometimes though, a spanking is called for and if it is not done, it comes back to haunt. As you said with elephant hunting.

    History alone will be able to judge him, his past actions, and the outcome. Win, lose, or draw, however, the world doesn’t bother waiting for the truth of such things. And more to the point, they are busily rewriting his history as we speak. Hopefully some truth with emerge and be maintained. Though, I suspect he will either perish or become a U.S. citizen in short order, though my hope is otherwise.

  22. Ymarsakar Says:

    Saddam is different only to the extent that he knew what the Left was doing and got ahead of the Left by bribing the Left’s international mechanism, the UN, to side with Saddam rather than anyone else.

    Clarification and correct. Sadam is different only TO the Left.

    This is based upon the assumption that the use of force and power only produce endless misery and anti-Americanism. Thus whether the Shah used force or Saddam used force did not matter to the Left. Those two were equal in their eyes, and they are equal in their eyes even now.

    Chris White, for all his vaunted criticisms of American interference in local affairs, never speaks a word about Carter’s interference with the Shah’s government. Obviously it is not because Carter’s interference was better than the omnipotent CIA Chris speaks of. It is only because Carter’s intervention was done in the correct manner. The non-violent, but still intimidating, manner. The international manner. The international law that caters and protects people like Saddam, yet savages people like the Shah of Iran and Musharraf.

  23. Ymarsakar Says:

    Ramsey Clark’s protection of Saddam compared to his attack on the Shah is one case in point. Why would he, a member in high and good standing in the Left, treat one differently than the other unless the Left recognizes that they are different, yet claims that they are not?

  24. Xanthippas Says:

    Bush must be careful not to do the same, while at the same time being careful Musharraf does not become more repressive than absolutely necessary, a difficult judgment to make.

    “More repressive than absolutely necessary.” What a delightful turn of phrase! One must note of course that the people Musharraf is oppressing are those who hunger for democracy and reform, not the terrorists, who are free to take-over more and more towns and villages in Western Pakistan.

    …the choice in many countries seems to be between the Scylla of dictatorship and the Charybdis of anarchy—or worse.

    Not in Pakistan. The choice is between the desires of one man to hold on to power, and democracy and free elections. As you may recall, Pakistanis at one time elected their government, and are probably qualified to do so again.

  25. Xanthippas Says:

    Again, you seem to believe that freedom, self-determination, and economic prosperity can come through a lack of power and security. As a premise, that is totally inadequate and wrong. What is else is there to say? No matter how many questions you ask of Neo, Chris, or of us, it still will not change the fact that we believe in force and you don’t. We believe in power, that it is a good thing, while you do not.

    That’s silly. Please explain to me how the situation in Pakistan, wherein a single dictator oppressed democratic reform is economic prosperity through power and security. Musharraf has too much power, and uses it to subvert democracy. What power he has he turns on in his democratic opposition, not the terrorists that are to us the justification for him staying in power.

    Liberals believe in power. We surely do, as you saw in the debates over Bosnia. But we don’t think a belief in the power of military force translates into propping up dictators who actually fail to serve our national security interests.

  26. Xanthippas Says:

    He had tried to be egalitarianly high minded, allowing an opposition candidate back, not treating traitors as such in his obviously tenuous national situation (how many assassination attempts is it up to), and being a party favorite, in some small way, on the international scene for his seeming incredible “open mindedness”.

    Musharraf, the egalitarian! He “allowed” one of the opposition candidates back in the country, and she was-conveniently-nearly killed. And I see that as in the United States, a traitor is defined by his/her opposition to the leader, not by his/her opposition to country. And crushing dissent and democracy is a “spanking”! What was Burma then? Domestic abuse?

  27. Ymarsakar Says:

    What a delightful turn of phrase! One must note of course that the people Musharraf is oppressing are those who hunger for democracy and reform, not the terrorists

    Xan can’t even prioritize the people that the US Constitution is supposed to preserve and protect, thus I am not very sure he knows terrorists from those that actually hunger for peace and prosperity.

    And that, in the end, is why Murphy still rules.

    The choice is between the desires of one man to hold on to power, and democracy and free elections.

    When people value words on paper more than they value the people those words are designed to protect, you tend to get these kinds of sentiments and statements.

    It is as if Xan and Company can simply proclaim democracy and free elections via words on paper, such as on the internet, and suddenly it will happen. Their objections to Iraq is solely the result of envy and jealousy that we would dare to try to win at democracy and free elections where the Left have utterly failed in. You don’t hear Xan talking about democracy and free elections in Afghanistan and Iraq, after all. Like a double hulled ship, there are water tight compartments sealed off from other compartments in the ship. What happens to one doesn’t affect the other, so to speak.

    Please explain to me how the situation in Pakistan, wherein a single dictator oppressed democratic reform is economic prosperity through power and security.

    I’m not exactly sure that this would be a productive use of time. After all, even if I do explain things and you do understand my explanations, it still will not change your fundamental philosophical premises and assumptions. Only experience, the shock of psychological defeat or of actually seeing things for yourself, would ever be capable of changing a person’s philosophical beliefs.

    Pakistan is still in play, whereas Iran has already finished the process. The Shan of Iran was in the business of stabilizing Iran and bringing Iran into the modern world, so that the youth of Iran would be educated in Western skills and processes that would remove Iran’s reliance upon Western technology and refining capabilities. This all ended when the Shah lacked the power, and the will what power he did have left, to stabilize his country.

    Power and security are the fundamental bedrocks of economic prosperity. Without the knowledge that the roads are safe, that upheaval and turmoil are not going to suddenly erupt, and that one’s investments are safe from confiscation and war, then there is no such thing as “economic prosperity” for there would be economy to begin with.

    Musharraf has too much power, and uses it to subvert democracy

    Your idea of democracy, X, has nothing to do with the well being and best interests of the people in Pakistan. It sounds good, for sure, but that is all that it is good for.

    What power he has he turns on in his democratic opposition, not the terrorists that are to us the justification for him staying in power.

    The fact is that you would never, ever, support Musharraf in cracking down on terrorists, given the fact that any crackdown on terrorists would inevitably drag in innocent people. You don’t even like the Patriot Act, X. Don’t even try to kid us on this subject. So does it really matter who Musharaff cracks down on to you, when all you care about is the fact that Musharaff has used force which you have not authorized and violated civil liberties which you hold above the lives of good men and women?

    We surely do, as you saw in the debates over Bosnia.

    Certainly European whining and begging along with United Nations corruption and mercenary practices have power. Not enough though to make a difference in human progress, of course.

    into propping up dictators who actually fail to serve our national security interests.

    Since when did you care about national security interests, Mr. Uber Patriot, given that you called your opponents “nationalists”?

    Cognitive dissonance here. What did I say about compartments… oh ya, a change in one does not affect the other. That is only true to a certain extent though. A flood in both watertight compartments will bring the ship down, X. So it is logical for you to try to rationalize why suddenly national security interests (security interests *scoff*) matter to you in any real sense of the term.

    And I see that as in the United States, a traitor is defined by his/her opposition to the leader, not by his/her opposition to country.

    Given that Bhutto tried to leech her “country” dry of wealth, I am not exactly what your point is.

  28. Bugs Says:

    I think we’ve run into one of the contradictions of our form of government: What if the people democratically elect a tyrant, thug, or theocrat who will promptly subvert or even destroy democracy?

    The idealist says yes in all cases – it’s democracy in action. The pragmatist says…maybe not.

    And no, I’m not talking about the relatively minor things the Bush administration has done, presumably to increase security in America. I’ll call Bush a tyrant if he’s still in office in 2009. Otherwise, he’s just a highly controversial president.

    Nobody says opposition to Bush means being a traitor. Being a traitor is hoping for and acting to bring about your country’s defeat in a war because of your opposition to Bush.

  29. Doom Says:

    A traitor, I think, by any standards, could be said to include anyone who indicates it would not warn it’s own nation’s troops of an impeding ambush (assuming it could do so safely, but perhaps more heroically if that act endangered the messenger). Our media indicates it would not give warning. No, traitors are what traitors are, there are no middle grounds, once a certain line has been crossed and a certain decision made, there is no other means of identifying certain realities.

    As far as the difference between supporting one’s leader and supporting one’s nation, sometimes, if rarely, and on particular topics, there is no difference. For a group who adamantly opposes authority, the police, and the military, which selects and elects presidential families who call their protective services personnel “pigs”, and who work to undermine security networks, intelligence systems, and national secrets, both material and military, being called a traitor should be your honor. The only reason it isn’t, is because it would put you out with too many of your non-comrade fellows. At least, the ones who stay far enough away from politics and news not to know better. Traitor is a poor word to use, but it works, for now.

  30. Ymarsakar Says:

    To be more accurate, they are enemy spies, saboteurs, agent provocateurs, and insurgents.

  31. Ymarsakar Says:

    Bush is a tyrant based upon the sole criteria that the Left cares about. Bush is preventing the enslavement of individuals to ideology, specifically Leftist ideology.

    In the case of the former Shah of Iran and Musharaff, the ideology they resisted and are resisting is the ideology of islamofascism. Given the family relationships between fascism and communism, a mutual alliance based upon blood connections can be made. And has been made.

    One often heard accussation from the Left is that fascism goes with Bush and the right wing nuts. Given the fact that the Left knows absolutely nothing about intimidation, assassination, executions, and so forth, it is very very unlikely that the Left can tell the difference between a Communist agenda for purging humanity of undesirables and a Fascist agenda for purging humanity of undesirables. Iranian mullahs are hot on gays, while Communists are hot on the rich. Just as Communists were behind the doors raking in the money, so are the followers of the Islamic Jihad having gay orgies behind closed doors.

    I would recommend to anyone, except our enemies of course, that they rely NOT upon the Left’s judgement of groups that conduct operations using hard core violence. The Left is simply too sensitive to violence. They are no good at analyzing it, using it, or resisting it. Given that fascism and communism both used violence and the purging of undesirables, it is a toss up whether the Left is correct about Bush being a nazi or about the fascists being on the right, as opposed to standing right by the highest members in the Left.

  32. Occam's Beard Says:

    Well said, Doom.

    Disagreement with policy is one thing; loyal Americans can disagree on policy, but those rejoicing in the tribulations of the US and crestfallen at its triumphs are, objectively, traitors.

    Assorted dimwits trying to prove their cleverness by taking a knee-jerk contrarian stand adopt the form of traitors, but generally lack the intellect to do so with conviction. (Hollywood is chock-a-block with such.) A relatively small cadre of hard-core subversives manipulate the public opinion of legions of cognitively disenfranchised nitwits who yearn to strike a pose and be considered fashionable.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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