Our nation's second highest diplomat went to Pakistan. Did he complain about General Musharraf shutting down the Supreme Court and replacing it with his loyalists? Did he press General Musharraf to release judges and lawyers from prison?
Of course, Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte was just following the lead of The Decider. Bush said Pakistan's General Musharraf "truly is somebody who believes in democracy," the Washington Post reported Wednesday. Tom Malinowski of Human Rights Watch said "it's hard to imagine how the administration will be able to achieve anything in Pakistan if the president is so disconnected from reality." Malinowski added, "Almost everyone in Pakistan who believes in George Bush's vision of democracy is in prison today" and "Calling the man who put them in prison a great democrat will only discredit America among moderate Pakistanis."
Defenders of President Bush's "no consequences for the crackdown" policy basically have only one argument: say what you like about General Musharraf, but the only alternative is Al Qaeda and the Taliban.
This argument refuses to engage what people in the democratic opposition in Pakistan have been saying for months: there is not widespread political support in Pakistan for violent Islamist movements; efforts to combat these movements by the government are undermined by the lack of democratic legitimacy; Musharraf cares more about preserving his own power than combating these movements; U.S. policy, if anything, is encouraging extremism by helping to block a democratic, nonviolent path to reform.
Now consider this: while U.S. policy has been predicated on the assumption that any real sanction on Musharraf is impossible, the Commonwealth group of countries has suspended Pakistan's membership.
Earlier, the European Parliament passed a resolution calling for an end to emergency rule.
Why has the U.S. Congress failed to act? The uninterrupted flow of U.S. military aid - including military aid for weapons systems that have no plausible relationship to fighting Pakistani insurgents - is being interpreted in Pakistan as U.S. support for Musharraf's crackdown.
Ask Congress to take action.