The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Friday, December 28, 2007


Over the next few weeks, we’ll all hear and read thousands of words that condemn Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf’s regime and canonize Benazir Bhutto as a liberal democrat who would have had the best chance to “bring democracy” to her forlorn country. It may be that Bhutto will accomplish more in death than she would have in life—if, and it’s a big if, her assassination results in a popular movement against Islamofascists in Pakistan.

Andrew MacCarthy takes a contrarian view, noting that the problem that the West faces isn’t Musharraf himself, but a near majority of the populace who are sympathetic to Islamists. He notes that a “recent CNN poll showed that 46 percent of Pakistanis approve of Osama bin Laden.”

Could Bhutto have somehow changed public opinion? Possibly, but Islamofascists have been characteristically unwilling to moderate their views. McCarthy discusses the situation:
In Pakistan, it is the [Musharraf] regime that propounds Western values, such as last year’s reform of oppressive, Sharia-based Hudood laws, which made rape virtually impossible to prosecute — a reform enacted despite furious fundamentalist rioting that was, shall we say, less well covered in the Western press. The regime, unreliable and at times infuriating, is our only friend. It is the only segment of Pakistani society capable of confronting militant Islam — though its vigor for doing so is too often sapped by its own share of jihadist sympathizers.

Yet, we’ve spent two months pining about its suppression of democracy — its instinct not further to empower the millions who hate us. For the United States, the question is whether we learn nothing from repeated, inescapable lessons that placing democratization at the top of our foreign policy priorities is high-order folly.

The transformation from Islamic society to true democracy is a long-term project. It would take decades if it can happen at all. Meanwhile, our obsessive insistence on popular referenda is naturally strengthening — and legitimizing — the people who are popular: the jihadists. Popular elections have not reformed Hamas in Gaza or Hezbollah in Lebanon. Neither will they reform a place where Osama bin Laden wins popular opinion polls and where the would-be reformers are bombed and shot at until they die.

We don’t have the political will to fight the war on terror every place where jihadists work feverishly to kill Americans. And, given the refusal of the richest, most spendthrift government in American history to grow our military to an appropriate war footing, we may not have the resources to do it.

But we should at least stop fooling ourselves. Jihadists are not going to be wished away, rule-of-lawed into submission, or democratized out of existence. If you really want democracy and the rule of law in places like Pakistan, you need to kill the jihadists first. Or they’ll kill you, just like, today, they killed Benazir Bhutto.

It is, in fact, a noble sentiment to encourage democracy throughout the Moslem world—a place where true democracy is quite rare indeed. But past history seems to indicate that it may be “high-order folly,” particularly when we expect instant gratification and ram the democratic process down the collective throat of a country that may not be ready for it. In today’s Pakistan it could very well result in an Islamist-led government—and that’s not in the West’s interest, no matter how you look at it.