Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has done his part to shed even more light on the subtle nuances of Bush Administration diplomacy. Musharraf claims that a U.S. official threatened to bomb Pakistan "back to the Stone Age" if it didn't help in the war on terrorism.
Musharraf made the claim to CBS News. He said the threat came from then U.S. deputy secretary of state, Richard Armitage. Bush was "taken aback" by the allegation, claiming he only became aware of it "in the newspaper today."
While I'd like to give the Bush Administration the benefit of the doubt, it's hard. They've behaved like bullies for so long that this seems like more of the same. The accusation fits snugly with the Bush's style of diplomacy, "we'll explain what you need to do and you'll do it...or else."
Armitage was part of the Project for a New American Century (PNAC). This is a group that thinks America, as the last remaining superpower, should reshape the world to its advantage. This includes through the use of military force, if necessary. In September of 2000 PNAC published "Rebuilding America's Defenses". This pre-9/11 document stated:
|Further, the process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event – like a new Pearl Harbor.|
The rest of us saw 9/11 as a tragedy. PNAC saw it as an opportunity. Other prominent members of PNAC include Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, John Bolton, Lewis "Scooter" Libby and Paul Wolfowitz.
Bush also seems to have combined the advantages of reduced workload and plausible deniability. Send out the enforcers with vague instructions and let them handle the dirty details. Then you can head to Crawford to clear brush.
Bush is probably being totally honest when he says, "All I can tell you is that shortly after 9/11, Secretary [of State] Colin Powell came in and said President Musharraf understands the stakes, and he wants to join and help route out an enemy that has come and killed 3,000 of our citizens." Bush wouldn't necessarily know that "Musharraf understands the stakes" means it had been presented as "help us or head for a bomb shelter".
I hope that our next president, whoever it is, can repair the damage from this type of ham-fisted thuggery. The good news is that Bush has set the bar so low it should take almost no effort to raise it. And I hope president #44 raises the bar a lot. I love America and want to see it return to the behavior that's always made me proud.
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